Apple Unveils M2 Pro & M2 Max Chips in Updated MacBook Pro & Mac mini

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Announced in a press release during the early hours of January 17, 2023, Apple introduced two next-gen SoCs (system on a chip), the M2 Pro and M2 Max. Building on the M2 architecture found on the MacBook Air, these two SoCs push the performance of Apple Silicon to new frontiers. The M2 Pro and M2 Max chips can be found on the 14" and 16" MacBook Pro models while Apple updated the Mac mini with M2 and M2 Pro chips.

M2 Pro

Built using second-generation 5nm process technology, the M2 Pro consists of 40 billion transistors, which is almost 20 percent more than the M1 Pro and double the amount in the M2. It features 200 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, which is twice that of M2, and up to 32GB of low-latency unified memory. The next-gen 10- or 12-core CPU consists of up to eight high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, resulting in multithreaded CPU performance that is up to 20 percent faster than the 10-Core CPU in M1 Pro. This means apps like Adobe Photoshop can run heavy workloads faster than ever. The GPU can come in either a 16-Core or 19-Core variant. The 19-Core GPU includes a larger L2 cache and can be up to 30 percent faster than that of M1 Pro, resulting in huge increases in image processing performance and enables console-quality gaming.

M2 Max

The M2 Max pushes the performance and capabilities of Apple Silicon even further with 67 billion transistors, which is 10 billion more than the M1 Max and more than three times that of the M2. Its 400 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth is twice that of the M2 Pro and four times that of the M2. The M2 Max also supports up to 96GB of fast unified memory. The M2 Max features the same 12-Core CPU as the M2 Pro but can come with either a 30-Core or 38-Core GPU. Graphics speeds climb up to 30 percent faster than the M1 Max, allowing the MacBook Pro with M2 Max to tackle graphics-intensive projects with ease. From powering visual effects to stitching together gigapixel images, the M2 Max provides fast performance whether plugged in or running on battery power.

MacBook Pro

Both the 14" and 16" MacBook Pro models can be configured with the M2 Pro or the M2 Max chip. The GPU can be 16-Core or 19-Core with the M2 Pro and 30-Core or 38-Core with the M2 Max. Apple states that battery life has been improved, lasting up to 22 hours. The M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro also gets improved connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax). The advanced HDMI port now supports 8K displays. With up to 96GB of unified memory on the M2 Max model, creative professionals can work on scenes so large that other PC laptops will not be able to handle. The fan favorite features are still available on the MacBook Pro, such as the Liquid Retina XDR display, Full HD 1080p FaceTime HD camera, six-speaker system, and studio-quality mics.

Mac mini

The updated Mac mini will be available with a M2 or M2 Pro chip. The M2 Pro model brings pro-level performance to the Mac mini for the first time, enabling users to run CPU-intensive workflows. The Mac mini with M2 and M2 Pro delivers more unified memory and advanced connectivity, including support for up to two displays on the M2 model and up to three displays on the M2 Pro model. When paired with the Studio Display and Magic accessories (sold separately), the Mac mini can provide an optimal desktop experience for creative professionals, all from a compact design.

Apple says the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro or M2 Max, as well as the Mac mini with M2 or M2 Pro, will be available for order today, January 17, in 27 countries and regions, including the United States. Customers, Apple Stores, and Apple Authorized Retailers are expected to start receiving them starting Tuesday, January 24.

The Creative Edge

Thanks to their silicon upgrades, the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini now deliver unprecedented levels of power and performance, allowing users to push their creative vision further than ever before.

For creative professionals working on a MacBook Pro, that dramatic boost in performance means apps like Adobe Photoshop or Xcode run heavy workloads faster than ever. Photoshop users coming from an M1-based system should see 40 percent faster speeds, and that goes up double for users coming from an Intel® Core™ i9-based system. Xcode, on the other hand, is up to 2.5x faster than on the fastest Intel®-based MacBook Pro.

The GPU in M2 Pro can be configured with up to 19 cores―three more than the GPU in M1 Pro — and includes a larger L2 cache.  M2 Max brings incredible performance upgrades, whether plugged in or running on battery power, from powering visual effects, to training machine learning models, or stitching together gigapixel images. Massive files open instantaneously and working across multiple pro apps is incredibly quick and seamless.

The M2 Max chip inside the new Pro has the same 12-core CPU as the M2 Pro, but much like the M1 Max, it really pushes the GPU power more. Apple claims the M2 Max is up to 30 percent faster than the M1 Max in graphics and according to Apple can reportedly handle graphics-intensive scenes so large that “PC setups can’t even run them,” thanks to the 96GB of unified memory in the chip. 

Mac Mini users also have plenty to be excited about, as well, thanks to M2. This marks the first time that Apple is bringing its Pro-level chips to the Mini, with the previous iteration only containing the base-level M1 chip. Apple claims the new M2 Pro Mac Mini is faster than its M1-powered predecessor in categories like graphical performance with apps like Affinity Photo running 2.5x faster and rendering a complex timeline in Final Cut Pro up to 4.2x faster. Those coming from an Intel®-based Mac Mini can expect performance up to 14 faster.

M2 Pro has an immensely powerful and efficient media engine, including hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, and ProRes video encoding and decoding. It’s capable of speeding through the most popular video codecs and can simultaneously play up to five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps, or up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps.

Mac mini users can run high-performance workflows that were previously inconceivable in such a compact form factor. Musicians can produce music with loads of powerful plug-ins and effects without performance drops while photographers can adjust huge images in an instant. It’s a fantastic entry point for would-be creators or streamers.

Excited to try the updated MacBook Pro and Mac mini for yourself? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

20 Comments

I am curious what displays (with camera and speakers) you would recommend with a new Mac mini to replace my old iMac 27"?

Apple Studio 27" is the only choice if you want Apple quality, same display you are used to with iMac, rather than a change. If you want a change, there are wraparound 32", 34" and 44" models from LG which are curved, feel like almost 2 displays next to each other, as opposed to the "regular proportion" of something like an iMac model.

I would suggest seeing them in store. Not the Nano-textured glass but regular, $1600 base model. See it in store and how the nano-textured has a matte finish, advertised as being better in well lit rooms. Yes it's less reflective but it also takes away from the glossy feel which I would miss. I am switching from iMac 27" and there is the $1600 tilt only model or +$400 for one that goes up and down about 4 inches. See Youtube reviews, but see one in store, that is a real test, or just avoid surprises and get something as close to your iMac display, Mac Studio display tilt only or tilt+rise.

The only other choice from Apple (4 displays represented above, regular/nano and tilt/rise+tilt) there is a $6000 32" XDR display from Apple ($1000 of which is just the stand not sold with the monitor) which is labeled as a PRO product but pros complain that the edges show vignetting and viewing angle and color can't be trusted away from center, so not all expensive things are perfect.

How will these new Mac Minis with M2/M2 Pro stack up against Mac Studios with M1Max/M1 Ultra processors?

Excellent question. I'm looking at getting a new desktop type computer and the Mac Mini's look pretty formidable with these recent upgrades. It's definitely a question that needs to be answered

Stay tuned! We are also curious and plan on doing some more in-depth testing.

We will await on your testing results with eager expectation! :) 

Base model of anything should be approached cautiously for a desktop. Years ago I have seen an under powered iMac i5 and it wasn't pretty not even for web browsing.

I would pick Mac Studio M1 Max with 64gb of RAM and 1TB HD as a workhorse for frequent Photoshop use. Maxed out RAM this way (to get more you need double priced M1 Ultra. I would pick it over a Mac mini which likely takes some compromises inside due to its small size, less cooling, some historic layout/space issues. Mac mini if you're a casual user, not one used to running out of resources and slowdowns due to opening 10 Photoshop raw files at a time, layering, etc.

64GB with M1 my choice as mentioned. If Mac Mini could do 64GB RAM, still I would pick Studio M1 MAX, and what would the Mac mini price be then? Pretty close.

I have used iMac 2017 with 40GB RAM initially later 64GB RAM and it has done nicely for me, but Studio M1 MAX would be an upgrade. Which display? Regular Mac Studio display is what I prefer, not nano coated (it looks matte surface no glossy). Regular is what the iMac screen looked like, even if Studio display is better.

When I opened up the pre-order page for the mini, the 'largest' choice is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD.  I expected to see more of both.  Even the plain M2 on the MacBook Air can handle 24GB and 2TB.

Apologies for the delay. It takes some time for all the variations to become fully populated and live on the website. If you check now you should see all the possible configurations. 

I would really like to hear more about relative performance between the Intel, M1, M2, M2 Pro based machines when using Blackmagic Design's Davinci Studio.  Especially noise reduction on 10-bit video.

Stay tuned! We are also curious and plan on doing some more in-depth testing.

The new high-end Mac mini will do video and photo (Lightroom) editing better than my 2017 iMac, which still has advantages with 32 GB RAM (a wonderful upgrade) and a 1 terabyte SSD.  

That may be true and Photoshop (and other software) is M1 and M2 chip optimized (meaning the software can take advantage of multiple cores in a co-ordinated way), but I would not pick M2 Mini over M1 Studio (M1 vs M2 is not enough to pick), because the Studio architecture, hardware, etc of Mac Studio have other benefits vs Mac mini.

To decide one should put down the numbers needed for 1) RAM and 2) SDD size. Then price it out with both M2 Mini and Studio M1 Max. I want 64GB of RAM no matter the architecture. I have used 64GB with 2017 iMac I7 and I don't want less RAM, at some point RAM is RAM and you need it. And I want 1TB SDD. This is a $2600 price tag and if you want M2 Mini with these specs, you are limited by 32gb with the M2 Mini and 64gb with M2 Pro Mini. Which effects the price when you witch from M2 to M2 Pro.

Studio M1 Max gets my vote but M2 Mini will work for others. Studio M1 Max with 64gb RAM that is. You will never think you have too much RAM, I never felt it, and I monitor my Photoshop/etc use take the RAM use to 30gb, 40gb, 50gb on my iMac i7. I use Activity Monitor application of MacOS to monitor my RAM use, and which apps use how much RAM.

Glad news that the base level M2 Mini is now cheaper than its M1 predecessor.

I suppose this means the leftover stock of M1 Mac minis will become substantially cheaper any day now?

While it is always possible for pricing to change at any time, any special pricing that may come about on the M1 Mac Minis or any items would be announced on the day that the special pricing begins via the B&H E-Mail Newsletter. If you have not done so already, you may sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the B&H homepage. 

It would be nice to see, but historically it's not the case. Have a look at the 2 models of iMacs from 2020 still sold here, they are not dropping in price, even though iMac Pros (no longer sold) and Studio M1 Max/Ultra have ben around for a while, not to mention iMac 24" -- both competitions and newer hardware to the 2020 technology.

Yes you will see Mac Mini M1 sold for less than now but it will be $50 or $100 less than now, and before you know it they will be discontinued. I have watched the trends with iMacs and such across several reputable retailers in the past. In 2017 my top of the line (other than RAM and SDD) iMac I7 4.2Ghz 8 core was $2500 for 8GB/512GB. Today the 2020 model is selling new for $2400. Immediately I upgraded my 2017 myself to 40GB (and 64GB 2 years ago) and when the SDD failed 2 years ago it was upgraded to 1TB SDD by Apple authorized retailer.

When M1 Mac minis were new, the previous Mac minis were similarly reduced only $50-$100, and history repeats itself. M1 Minis fit my non desktop needs, so I would like a $100-$200 del to get more RAM for example (same price instead of M2 with less RAM), but for actual desktop Photoshop use, Mac Studio M1 Max interests me a lot more than even fully loaded M2 Mini.

As existing reviews pointed out, while M2 version (of laptops, probably Minis) may beat the performance of M1 on some tasks (and beat it barely), for single core performance the olde M1 version may actually do better. It's all relative and either is a great choice for Mac minis, but when it comes to heavier loads with Photoshop and video, you want to get the Mac Studio as a workhorse.