M2: Despite its name, the M2 is considered a base-level chip, with slightly more processing power than the original M1. It packs an 8-core CPU and up to a 10-core GPU (two more GPU cores than its predecessor), along with support for up to 24 GB of unified memory. Apple says the second-generation chip has an 18 percent faster CPU and a GPU that’s 35 percent more powerful. The M2 is great for daily tasks like word processing and web browsing, but tasks like editing multiple streams of 4K footage and 3D rendering should be reserved for the M1 Pro or M1 Max.
M2 Pro: The M2 Pro is the next step up from the M2. It has up to 12 cores in the CPU and up to a 19-core GPU, with up to 32 GB of unified memory. Apple claims performance is up to 20 percent faster than the 10-core M1 Pro and graphics are 30 percent faster. We recommend this chip for intermediate video and photo editors. It’s a marginal upgrade compared to the M1 Pro, but it’s the best option for those who want a more future-proof processor.
M2 Max: This is the most powerful processor for the MacBook Pro. It packs up to a 12-core CPU and up to a 38-core GPU (with support for up to 96 GB of unified memory). According to Apple, graphics are 30 percent faster than the M1 Max. The M2 Max is an excellent choice for those who work with graphics-intensive content including graphic design, 3D modeling, and heavy-duty video footage. But as with the M2 Pro, it’s an incremental upgrade if you’re coming from an M1 Max. We recommend the M2 Max if you’re still on an older Intel-powered Mac.
Is It a Good Time to Buy?
Yes. If you’re a power user looking for a powerful MacBook, then this is a great time to snag a 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro, as Apple just released new versions in January. If you don’t need that much power, you can opt for the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with the M2 chip.
These Older Macs Are Still Good Buys
Apple MacBook Pro (14 Inch and 16 Inch, 2021)
Apple no longer sells its 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends) with M1 Pro or M1 Max chips from late 2021. But that doesn’t mean you should steer clear of these older versions completely, especially if you’re trying to save money. We recommend checking third-party retailers (like Amazon, Best Buy, or B&H) to see if any of the configurations with high-end M1 chips are on sale. Just cross-check the price with the latest models and make sure you’re spending decidedly less on the older machine.