M1 vs M2 MacBook Pro: Should You Upgrade?

Estimated read time 8 min read

Compared to the MacBook Pro M1, did Apple significantly improve the MacBook Pro M2, or is this model no longer in production and you’re wasting your money?

When I discuss the benchmark scores, you’ll be able to see that there is a performance bump, but I am more interested in how the system performs in actual, day-to-day use.

M1 MacBook ProM2 MacBook Pro
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M1 vs M2 MacBook Pro: Specs

M1 MacBook ProM2 MacBook Pro
Display Size (inches)13.313.3
Max Resolution2560 x 16002560 x 1600
Pixel Density227227
Brightness500 nits500 nits
Display BacklightingLEDLED
Display TechnologyWide Color (P3),
True Tone
Wide Color (P3),
True Tone
ProcessorsEight-core Apple M1Eight-core Apple M2
Memory8GB or 16GB Unified Memory8GB, 16GB, or 24GB Unified Memory
Graphics (integrated)Eight-core Apple Silicon M110-core Apple Silicon M2
External Video1 6K display at 60Hz1 6K display at 60Hz
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Touch BarYesYes
BiometricsTouch IDTouch ID
TrackpadForce TouchForce Touch
KeyboardBacklit with ambient light sensorBacklit with ambient light sensor
Dimensions (inches)0.61 x 11.97 x 8.360.61 x 11.97 x 8.36
Weight (pounds)3.03.0
Battery Life20 Hours20 Hours
Ports2 USB 4 / Thunderbolt 3 ports,
Headphone jack
2 USB 4 / Thunderbolt 3 ports
High-impedance headphone jack
Webcam720p FaceTime HD720p FaceTime HD
Advanced image signal processor
SpeakersStereo speakers with high dynamic rangeStereo speakers with high dynamic range
Microphones3 with directional beamforming3 with directional beamforming
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6
Charger61W USB-C67W USB-C
Color OptionsSilver, Space GraySilver, Space Gray

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Design

The M2 model doesn’t offer anything novel in terms of design. It is exactly the same size, weight, and shape as the original. Additionally, no new colors are available for it. Therefore, in both situations, you essentially receive the same laptop.

In terms of ports, there is also no upgrade. Therefore, there are still only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports available, and they are both on the left side. Therefore, you can only use one side to connect accessories and charge both laptops.

I was undoubtedly critical of the M1 model in this particular area. With the M1 MacBook Air, which is an entry-level device, I was ok with it, but with a professional device, it’s one of those little things that can cause a hassle when you’re actually using this laptop in various settings.

In addition, we missed out on the MagSafe update that the M2 MacBook Air received. With only one port left after charging either of these laptops, you can only connect accessories.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Display

Both devices share a 13.3-inch liquid retina display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and a maximum brightness of 500 nits.

The display looks great. There is nothing at all wrong with it. Due to the P3 display’s True Tone feature, which can detect the color temperature of your surroundings, white will always appear as white and not yellow or blue.

But once more, we don’t see an improvement. It falls short of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro’s liquid retina XDR display in terms of quality. It lacks Apple’s adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 hertz, known as ProMotion. Furthermore, it falls short of the 13.6-inch display on the more recent M2 MacBook Air, which costs less.

This seems a little odd to me. I was definitely hoping for a better display with this model. I am aware that a new design would be necessary, but it would set the M2 MacBook Pro apart from the M1 version. We also wouldn’t experience a situation in which a MacBook Air with a lower price tag actually has a better display.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Keyboard and Trackpad

The trackpad and keyboard have also remained unchanged. And while that may be good news to some, it may be bad news to others.

So let’s start with the trackpad, which is probably made by Apple and is my favorite laptop trackpad. I wasn’t really looking for an upgrade because I adore this one so much.

The keyboard is excellent in and of itself. I’ve used a lot of laptop keyboards, and once more, it’s pretty much on par with them all, which brings me to the touch bar.

I appreciate the touch bar personally. I enjoy having sliders for things like brightness and volume. The ability to change the buttons is nice. Additionally, I appreciate that the functionality varies depending on the app I’m using. And I’m aware that many of you aren’t huge fans. In other words, the touch bar is still there for those of you who like it. The touch bar is still present, and for those of you who don’t, perhaps one of the other MacBook models would be more appropriate.

Now, Touch ID is still used for biometric authentication in both scenarios. Both models share the same characteristics. And it’s worked well for me in both instances.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Camera and Audio

The 720p cameras are standard on both the M1 and M2 models. I was already miffed when we first received this camera two years ago, so I was shocked when Apple decided to include it in a pro laptop in 2022. Additionally, the M2 chip is getting a new ISP, or image signal processor, which ought to improve noise reduction.

There were a few small improvements made to the audio system. The 3.5 millimeter headphone jack on the M2 MacBook Pro supports high-impedance headphones, despite being present on both models.

The speakers on the M2 models can also play Dolby Atmos audio when you’re listening to music or watching a movie.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Battery Life

Credit – Apple

One thing that every user is going to appreciate is battery life. The four high-efficiency cores on the M2 are also more efficient than the ones on the M1. And they contribute to the same battery life of 20 hours of video playback and 17 hours of wireless web browsing.

Now both have a 58.2 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, but the M1 version comes with a 61 watt USB-C power adapter and the M2 model comes with a 67 watt adapter. So it should charge a little bit faster.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Performance

The chip is the biggest improvement we notice with this new model, and that’s where you’d anticipate the M2 to simply outperform.

M1 MacBook Pro1748
M2 MacBook Pro1935
Single-Core Performance

M1 MacBook Pro7666
M2 MacBook Pro8980
Multi-Core Performance

First off, it is obvious that Apple took the next step with the M2 if we quickly review the numbers. Additionally, it outperforms the M1 on Geekbench and in terms of single- and multi-core performance.

These numbers demonstrate that even though both chips have four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, the M2’s high-performance cores are actually more potent than the M1’s.

M1 MacBook ProM2 MacBook Pro
CineBench R23

I also wanted to examine long-term effectiveness. So I continuously ran Cinebench R23 Multi-Core for 30 minutes. And as you can see, even after operating at full capacity for 30 minutes straight, both laptops were still able to maintain peak performance. And once more, the M2 wins out.

As a result of the fact that both laptops have an active cooling system or a fan, this level of sustained performance is now possible. As a result, the fan has no trouble keeping the extremely efficient chips cool when they do finally begin to heat up. Furthermore, there’s no justification for reducing performance.

M1 MacBook Pro19567
M2 MacBook Pro27663
GPU Performance

We’re also getting 10 GPU cores on the M2 versus 8 on the M1. The M2 outperforms the competition in GPU performance, as you might anticipate.

M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Pricing

The M1 and M2 models both have a maximum internal storage capacity of 2TB, but the M2 model has unified memory that can reach 24GB as opposed to 16GB in the M1.

When given the option to purchase either of these for the starting price of $1,299, it goes without saying that you should choose the M2 model. Second, and perhaps more significantly, these goods do not exist in a vacuum.

There are other options from Apple:

The new MacBook Air comes with the M2 chip if that’s what you’re after. While an active cooling system is not included, you will get a better display, camera, and speakers.

If you require more consistent performance, you might want to think about the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which costs about $300 more when configured with the same RAM and internal storage.

Which Configuration I Would Recommend?

For the M2 model’s starting price, you get 256GB of internal storage and 8GB of RAM. And for a lot of people, that will simply not be the best fit. You are, for instance, essentially choosing this MacBook over the M2 MacBook Air for performance reasons. And I find it difficult to think that a base model would provide enough RAM or internal storage.

Lastly, keep in mind that neither of these are upgradeable. Therefore, whatever configuration you choose will remain with you for the duration of the device. Additionally, this laptop should serve you well for a while.

If you’re looking for a pro device, I believe you should start with 512GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM. Again, if battery life and portability weren’t top priorities for me, I’d probably lean toward the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Additionally, if this form factor is exactly what you want, I would think about looking at a refurbished M1 MacBook Pro so you can upgrade the RAM or the storage while still saving money.

Avatar for Jaskaran Singh

Jaskaran Singh

Jaskaran, a tech enthusiast from childhood, inspired by his father, began his tech journey by rooting Android phones. He now writes on various tech topics, aiming to simplify complex ideas for a broad audience. His writing is direct, concise, and flows effortlessly, making tech topics accessible and engaging.

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