Apple M2 vs. Apple M1: This is how the new chipsets differ

Apple M2 vs. Apple M1: This is how the new chipsets differ

With the M2 chipset, Apple has presented the new generation of its in-house Apple silicon chip – with significantly more power, of course. Find out now what distinguishes the Apple M2 from the Apple M1 and what advantages the new model offers when working productively.

About 1 1/2 years after the release of the M1, Apple has now followed up with the M2 chipset – and promises a chip that is both more powerful and more energy-efficient. Appropriately, Apple introduced the new MacBook Air with M2 and updated the MacBook Pro with the M2.

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The biggest differences between the M1 and M2 are to be expected primarily in terms of performance. But: The first benchmark tests are still pending, which is why only Apple's own data is the basis for this comparison.

Apple M2 Apple M1
8 CPU cores 8 CPU cores
Up to 10 GPU cores Up to 8 GPU cores
Up to 24GB of shared memory Up to 16GB of shared memory
16 neural engine cores 16 neural engine cores
20 billion transistors 16 billion transistors
5 nanometer process (2nd generation) 5 nanometer process (1st generation)

After the M2 2020 – with which Apple heralded the switch from Intel chips to its own processors – Apple presented the M1 Ultra and the M1 Max in 2021 and the M1 Ultra in 2022, which combines two M1 Max for even more performance.

However, with these stronger chips, Apple is primarily targeting professional users who place high demands on their hardware and also carry out complex workflows. The M2 is to be understood as the successor to the M1 chip for the average user.

The Apple M2 is a so-called one-chip system that houses components such as the processor, graphics unit and other components. The advantage: All components are ideally matched to each other and less space is required. Due to its compactness, a SoC is mainly used in mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets – and in Macs.

That's how much stronger the M2 is compared to the M1


The M2 allows up to 24 GB of RAM. Image: © Apple 2022

  • An 18 percent faster CPU
  • A 35 percent more powerful GPU
  • A 40 percent faster neural engine
  • 50 percent more memory bandwidth – up to 24 GB of fast shared memory
  • Better media engine with higher bandwidth video decoder – ideal for 8K H.264 and HEVC video
  • ProRes video engine for simultaneous playback of multiple video streams in 4K and 8K
  • Higher security through new Secure Enclave
  • Better noise reduction thanks to new image signal processor (ISP)

Higher performance with the same energy requirement


With the same power requirement, the new M2 achieves 18 percent more computing power. Image: © Apple 2022

Apple manufactures the M2 – like the M1 – in the so-called 5-nanometer process, but in the second generation. In this way, Apple achieves better performance without increasing transistor density at the same time. In return, the new M2 chip is slightly larger.

The M2 has 20 billion transistors, 25 percent more than the M1. Other functions of the chipset benefit from this, such as the memory controller with a bandwidth of now 100 GB/s.

That's twice as much as its predecessor, so you can use up to 24 GB of fast shared storage. The M1 is limited to a maximum of 16 GB of RAM. The larger memory bandwidth is the basis for even more complex workloads, such as extensive video editing or complex tasks such as 3D modeling.


The M2 achieves nearly 90 percent of the peak performance of the latest 12-core PC laptop chip – while consuming a quarter of the power of the 12-core chip. Image: © Apple 2022

Even if the M2 – just like the M1 – has 8 processor cores, the new CPU scores with faster performance cores with a larger cache, which, in cooperation with the more efficient cores, deliver higher performance – the so-called "multithreaded" performance is around 18 percent higher.

In practice, this means that you can carry out CPU-intensive tasks such as music production with effect levels more efficiently – with low energy consumption at the same time. According to Apple, the M2 offers almost twice the performance for the same power consumption compared to the latest 10-core PC laptop chip.

Apple does not reveal exactly how high the processor clocks. This is probably also due to the fact that the cores of modern processors clock at different speeds.

35 percent more graphics power


The new M2 delivers 35 percent more graphics performance. Image: © Apple 2022

If the improvements in the processor area are comparatively moderate, the performance increase in the GPU is more impressive: Apple promises a 35 percent higher graphics performance compared to the M1 for its new chipset. Even with the same energy requirement, the GPU performance is still 25 percent higher.

The higher performance per watt made possible by the M2 chip is decisive for the long battery life – the system remains cool and quiet even with graphics-intensive games. Macs have never been a real gaming machine, but the better graphics performance could bring some impetus, especially for Apple Arcade.

For real gaming, however, the M2 chip is still inferior to a dedicated graphics card. But blockbuster games were never the focus of the Mac anyway – and that won't change with the M2 either. Nevertheless, the graphics performance is more than impressive, especially when compared to internal graphics units from other manufacturers.

Apple installed the new M2 chip in these devices

  • Macbook Air 2022
  • MacBook Pro 13 inch 2022

Macbook Air 13 M2

The new MacBook Air with M2 has a thinner design and the body measures just 11.3 millimeters with a weight of 1.2 kilograms – Apple has reduced the volume by 20 percent. The screen bezels are narrower, the MagSafe charging port is back, and the camera has been improved. Thanks to the M2 chip, the MacBook Air is the ideal working device for on the go and is well equipped for all everyday tasks. Apple promises the following performance improvements:

  • Tackle heavy workloads with ease and edit even complex video tracks nearly 40 percent faster in Final Cut Pro. Compared to the MacBook Air with an Intel chip, the performance is even about 15 times higher.
  • Perform photo editing in Photoshop, like applying filters and effects, 20 percent faster than before.

MacBook Pro 13 M2

Apple has also updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro and integrated the new M2 chip. According to Apple, upgrading to the new model gives you the following advantages:

  • Edit RAW images in apps like Affinity Photo 40 percent faster than its predecessor. In models with an Intel chip, it is even up to 3.4x faster.
  • Graphically demanding games like "Baldur's Gate 3" run almost 40 percent faster than the predecessor and 3.3 times faster than MacBooks with an Intel chip.
  • Thanks to the M2's new media engine, you can play up to eleven 4K streams and up to two 8K streams and convert video projects up to 3 times faster.

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