What are the differences between the Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max?
Apple recently unveiled the MacBook Pro 2023 line-up with the next-gen M2 Pro and M2 Pax Pro silicon. But what are the main differences between the two chipsets?
Apple M2 Pro vs M2 Max
They are built on a 5nm process. Both the M2 Pro and M2 Max have up to 12 CPU cores, and while the former supports up to 19 GPU cores, the latter is configurable to 38-core GPU. The 2 silicon chips have a larger L2 cache compared to the previous gen M1 Pro. This results in up 30% faster graphics performance in games, and image processing. The 2 silicon chips have a 16-core Neural Engine, and Apple’s media engine is capable of hardware acceleration for H.264. HEVC and ProRes video encoding and decoding. The M2 Pro allows streaming of multiple 4K and 8K resolution videos. Even more impressively, Apple's website states that the M2 Max with its dual video encode engines and dual ProRes engines is actually twice as fast as the M2 Pro when it comes to video encoding.
(Apple M2 Pro)
Note: Apple's Unified Memory is embedded in the SoC. The memory is shared between the CPU and GPU based on the tasks that are running, as opposed to allocated/reserved memory (RAM) in a regular system. But I'm going to refer to Unified Memory as RAM in this article, not just for the sake of simplicity, but also because they both serve the same purpose.
(Apple M2 Max design)
The Apple M2 Pro chip has 40 billion transistors, is capable of 200GB/s of unified bandwidth, and is configurable up to 32GB of low-latency memory. The M2 Max SoC has 67 billion transistors, supports up to 3x more memory i.e. 96GB of RAM, at 400GB/s of bandwidth.
Apple claims that the M2 Pro offers 80% faster performance than the Intel-based MacBook Pro (Core i9) while working on Adobe Photoshop, and can run compilations in Xcode 2.5x faster. The MacBook 2023 models are touted as highly power-efficient, and that they can deliver up to 22 hours of battery life, but that's likely under lab test conditions. The real-world usage results will be a tad lower.
Mac M2 Pro vs M2 Max price comparison
The 14-inch MacBook M2 Pro with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD costs $1,999 at Apple's store. The 12-core CPU/19-core GPU version with 1TB of storage is available for $2,499. The 14-inch MacBook M2 Max with 12 CPU cores, 30 GPU cores, 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD is quite expensive at $3,099. Refer to the comparison chart below to check the other configuration options, all models support up to 96GB of RAM.
The 16" Apple MacBook M2 Pro's price starts at $2,499 for the 512GB SSD trim that has a 12-core CPU/10-Core GPU, while the 1TB model (also with the same cores) carries a price tag of $2,699. The Apple MacBook M2 Max costs a whopping $3,499, but has 32GB of RAM, a 12-core CPU and a 38-core GPU.
It's also worth noting that the M2 Pro is used in the top-end model of the Mac Mini, it has a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU. There are some higher configuration options that you may choose from.
M2 Pro or M2 Max - Which one should you choose?
Both laptops run on macOS 13 Ventura, and share many similarities in terms of the tech specs. The M2 Pro should be more than enough for casual users, office use, and students, it can handle your daily tasks from checking email, browsing, streaming videos, working on documents, spreadsheets, and even some light games. You may want to go for the 16GB RAM variant if you do a lot of coding, or other memory intensive tasks. The M2 Max on the other hand is ideal for users whose work involves editing high resolution photos, videos, or graphics design, that's when the GPU power will make a difference.
Thanks @Ashwin for this good and extended review. That’s how all articles should be here. :]