M2 vs. M1 Pro / Max / Ultra: The older chips still win (for the most part) over base M2

M2 vs. M1 Pro / Max / Ultra: The older chips still win (for the most part) over base M2

Now that the second generation of Apple Silicon for Mac has landed (albeit in a machine almost no one should buy), it’s time to look at the performance of M2 versus M1 Pro, M1 Maxand M1 Ultra.

We do not yet have M2 benchmarks, but we still know a lot from Apple’s own statements …


You can read a more detailed paragraph at the launch of M1 chip, but here’s the story:

Apple introduced its first set of M1 Macs with M1 MacBook Air, Mac miniand MacBook Pro – everyone praises well. Since then, the company announced its first desktop computer with the M1 chip 24-inch iMacredesigned the MacBook Pro with more powerful variants M1 Pro and M1 Max, since its powerful Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip, which can even surpass the 2019 Mac Pro.

Apple announced the M2 at WWDC, first available in a much smaller upgrade to 13-inch MacBook Proto be followed by 2022 MacBook Air. If you are not in love with the Touch Bar, the latter will be the one to buy.

M2 versus M1 Pro / Max / Ultra

We have to wait for the M2 benchmarks, but in the meantime Macworld performed its comparisons using Apple’s own statements about the performance offered by each of the chips in question.

M2 versus M1 Pro

With twice as many performance cores, it is already a win for the upgraded versions of the older chip.

M1 Pro generally offered CPU performance more about 60 percent higher than M1. Apple says that the M2’s CPU is 18% faster than the M1, so there’s still a pretty big gap there. When the benchmarks arrive, we suspect that the M1 Pro will still deliver multi-core performance that is about 35 percent higher than the M2.

The M2’s GPU is 35 percent faster than the M1’s, according to Apple. But the M1 Pro, with up to 16 GPU cores and much more memory bandwidth, is about twice as fast as the M1. So expect the M1 Pro to still come in about 40 percent faster than the M2.

You can also have more memory and get twice as much memory bandwidth with the M1 Pro. The only area where the M2 wins is in the Neural Engine, where the 2nd generation chip is 40% faster – so if you use AI applications it may be a factor worth considering.

M2 versus M1 Max

As you might expect, a comparison M1 Max benefits even more.

If the M1 Pro is faster than the M2 in most ways, the M1 Max will definitely be. It has the same CPU, so performance there will not change – still probably about 35% faster than M2.

The GPU is twice as large and offers twice as much memory with twice as much memory bandwidth as the M1 Pro. Expect GPU performance that is approximately 2.5 times higher than M2. M1 Max has two media engines, which gives it similar features but twice as high performance as M1 Pro or M2.

The same Neural Engine rider applies.

M2 versus M1 Ultra

No surprise gluing two M1 Max chips together to create the M1 Ultra doubles the gap.

You actually get 20 CPU cores, so it will be more than 2.5 times faster than the M2’s CPU. The GPU has up to 64 cores and is probably 5 times faster than M2. There are four media engines as well.

In fact, the M1 Ultra will actually beat the M2 each way, including Neural Engine, because it has two 16-core neural motors. While they each perform 11 trillion operations, the combined 22 trillion operations are still about 40% faster than the next-generation Neural Engine in the M2.


Basically, if you are buying now and are not strongly AI-based, then there is no competition: buy a machine with one of the upgraded M1 chips. Of course, everything will change when the M2 Pro / Max / Ultra chip lands, but there will always be a better machine on the way no matter when you buy.

Check whole Macworld bit for more.

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