The launch of Apple’s next generation of Apple Silicon in the M2 chip should have heralded a wave of positive improvements in its consumer-focused laptops. While the M2 MacBook Air has yet to be released, the M2 MacBook Pro is on sale right now. And it’s very hard if not impossible to recommend.
Those looking for a new laptop with a modern design should wait for the next MacBook Air. Those looking for performance should look at the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops which are still streets ahead of the entry-level MacBook Pro. Poor reviews for the M2 MacBook Pro have been backed up this week by teardowns on the laptops, slower storage options, and both overheating and throttling issues when performance is demanded.
This is why you should ignore Apple’s M2 MacBook Pro.
The various launch reviews of the entry-level MacBook Pro pretty much pegged the machine as a throwback to the Intel-powered MacBooks of 2016. Yes the laptop does feature the new M2 Apple Silicon that certainly offers more performance than those Intel machines, but that’s about it. Everything else, from the tired display with huge bezels, the lack of I/O ports, the continued misplaced belief in the touch bar, screams out that this is a Frankenstein laptop of whatever Apple had left on its shelves.
That point has been driven by iFixit. The team has conducted one of its ever-popular teardowns on the new macOS laptop and the findings are stark… Apple has essentially rebadged the 2020 model, switched out a few small components, and replaced the M1 processor with the M2 processor.
Apple has also locked down the hardware so that even if the M2 and M1 boards fit in either case, they won’t recognise the new keyboard, trackpad, or TouchID circuitry. The modularity that could have been offered here, and the advantages this would offer from the point of recycling and upgrading, has been ignored.
iFixit also confirmed the move to a single SSD chip for the 256 GB version on the M2 machine, which offers a performance cut of near fifty per cent compared to the dual SSD chip 256 GB version of the M1 MacBook Pro.
Given the Pro designation, it’s disappointing that the M2 MacBook Pro is running hotter and macOS is having to throttle the performance when it is placed under significant load. Max Tech’s Vadim Yuryev has been running tests on both the M1 and M2 models, asking them to render a video file that Yurev acknowledges is a very demanding real-world test… but this is a MacBook Pro, and consumers have come to expect great things from Apple’s “Pro” label. What they get is disappointing:
“We exported 8K Canon RAW and saw temps hit 108°C, more than we’ve ever seen on a Mac, even an Intel Mac. The fan was maxed out at 7200RPM the entire time, so there was nothing the MacBook Pro could do to cool itself down except for heavily throttle down the M2 chip. This led to much worse performance than the M1 Pro chip, which didn’t have to max out its fans.”
This is significantly worse than the M1, which under the same test saw the CPU and GPU run at full power for the full test and the cooling fans working as advertised, all of which negate the need to throttle the chip.
Apple’s decision to carry on with this MacBook Pro is courageous. There was an argument that providing an M1 MacBook Pro that looked just like the Intel-based MacBook Pro laptops created an air of continuity in 2020. But with the design of the larger MacBook Pro established in 2021, and 2022’s MacBook Air following in this same mould, the M2 MacBook Pro is a throwback in terms of design.
The M1 MacBook Pro had a slight power advantage over the MacBook Air – enough to satisfy the marketing department perhaps, but those looking for a genuinely powerful Mac laptop would go for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. With the revelation that the M2 is little more than the first M1 laptop with the new chip bodged into, that any ask for significant levels of power will cause overheating and throttling, the argument around consumers asking for a bit more power has been blown away.
It’s tough to recommend this MacBook Pro at all. With the M2 MacBook Air due to be released later this month, Apple has a better offer for consumers, and a better offer for professionals.
Why anyone would buy this MacBook Pro is a mystery. But not as big a mystery as to why Apple decided to release it.