M2 Chip: The New MacBook Air and Pro Will Be Fuelled by a More Powerful Apple Silicon

M2 Chip: The New MacBook Air and Pro Will Be Fuelled by a More Powerful Apple Silicon
Image: Apple

Apple has today announced its upcoming M2 chip. Yep, already. They’re unstoppable. And not only that, the M2 chip is going to be powering the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

During WWDC this morning, Apple ran through a tonne of updates to the new M2 chip, so let’s jump in.

M2 chip

Following in the footsteps of the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra, Apple has today started the next generation of Apple Silicon for the Mac, introducing M2. Apple reckons this thing takes the performance and capabilities of M1 even further.

“Unlike others in the industry who significantly increase power to gain performance, our approach is different,” Apple SVP of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji said. “We continue to have a relentless focus on power efficient performance. In other words, maximising performance, while minimising power consumption.”

m2 chip
Image: Apple

M2 is built using an enhanced, second-generation 5nm chip that features over 20 billion transistors 25 per cent more than M1. It delivers 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth (50 per cent more than M1). For M2, Apple has enabled up to 24GB of unified memory, up from 16GB but short of the 32GB you find on some ultra-portable PCs.

It wouldn’t be an Apple presentation without throwing shade at non-Apple devices.

apple m2 chip
Image: Apple

Srouji said the M2 chip delivers a 10 per cent greater multi-core CPU performance over M2, and compared to the latest 10-core PC laptop chip, he said the M2 delivers nearly two times faster performance at the same power level (CPU performance is 18 per cent greater than M1). That it “delivers the peak performance of the PC chip while using a quarter of the power”. When talking 12-core, “which needs dramatically more power to deliver an increase in performance”, Apple reckons the M2 delivers nearly 90 per cent of the peak performance of the 12-core chip, while using just a quarter of the power.

“This is what we mean by the power efficient performance of Apple Silicon,” Srouji said.

The M2 chip also features Apple’s next generation GPU, which now has up to 10 cores, two more than M1, and a higher cache and memory bandwidth to enable 35 per cent faster performance. What does this mean? A big boost in graphics performance. M2 delivers up to 25 per cent higher graphics performance at the same power level as M1 and up to 35 per cent higher performance at its max. Once again comparing Apple to the “latest PC laptop”, Srouji said M2 delivers 2.3 times faster performance at the same power level, that “M2 delivers the peak performance of the PC chip using just one fifth of the power”.

We’re talking multiple streams of 4K, a higher bandwidth video recorder and 50 per cent more memory bandwidth.

MacBook Air (with M2)

Apple of course unveiled the new MacBook Air, powered by M2 chip. The latest version of Apple’s entry-level laptop is redesigned with a larger display, a new processor, fresh colour options and — for better or worse — a notch. The first thing you’ll notice about the MacBook Air is the new colour options. Along with traditional Space Grey and Silver, the new Air is available in Straylight (soft gold) and Midnight (dark bluish). It has an aluminium unibody enclosure that looks a bit flatter than before (goodbye wedge) and is more portable, at 0.5 inches thick and 1 kg.

apple m2 chip
New MacBook Air with the M2 chip. Image: Apple

Apple also brought back MagSafe, freeing up the two Thunderbolt ports on the left side. On the right is a 3.5mm headphone jack with high-impedance audio support.

The screen was expanded from 13.3 inches to 13.6 inches but a notch was added in the process. It looks the same as the one on the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, meaning the top edge of the screen is interrupted by a dark rectangle. Along with being larger than before, the new Liquid Retina Display is 25 per cent brighter. MacBook Air features a new 1080p camera with twice the resolution and twice the low light performance of the previous Air. The MacBook Air is still fanless despite gaining the more powerful chip and promises 18 hours of battery life doing video playback.

apple m2 chip
MacBook Air with M2 chip. Image: Apple

You can read more about the new MacBook Air with M2 chip over here.

MacBook Pro (with M2)

The 13-inch MacBook Pro also gets the M2 chip. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also supports up to 24GB of unified memory — along with 50 per cent more memory bandwidth. You can expect up to 20 hours of battery life from the new MacBook Pro. It’s got an otherwise unchanged design, and as I’m typing from the 2021 MacBook Pro, I can only imagine the boost the M2 will give this already super powerful beast.

macOS Ventura

macOS Ventura, coming later this year, will also take full advantage of M2, delivering new features including Stage Manager, and powerful new capabilities with Continuity Camera and Handoff coming to FaceTime. macOS Ventura also includes big updates to Safari, Mail, Messages, Spotlight and more. You can read all about the new features coming to macOS Ventura over here.

Pricing and availability

The MacBook Air and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro will be available on the Apple Store  and in the Apple Store app. They will begin arriving to customers, and will be in selected Apple Store locations and Apple Authorised Resellers, next month.

  • MacBook Air with M2 starts at RRP $1,899 RRP (RRP $1,749 for education)
  • The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 starts at RRP $1,999 (RRP $1,849 for education)

This article has been updated since it was first published.