Apple M2 chip: price, specs, and performance

The Apple M2 logo ringed by a semi-rainbow dropshadow against a off-white background
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple M2 processor has been on the market for a while now and plenty of laptops and other machines are powered by the chip. This latest piece of Apple silicon was revealed during the company's WWDC 2022 event, alongside other Apple products like the MacBook Air 2022 and MacBook Pro 2022. 

Since then, the rest of the Apple M2 product stack has been filled out with the Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, as well as the high-end M2 Ultra. Together, these are some of the best processors you're going to find anywhere.

After the success of the M1 chip powering Apple's many other laptops, such as the MacBook Air (M1)13-inch MacBook Pro (M1)14-inch MacBook Pro (2021), and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021), it's understandable that people want to see what Apple has planned for it's next generation of silicon.

It's also behind other devices like the Apple Mac Mini (M1)24-inch iMac (2021)Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2021), and the latest iPad Air 5, so the M-series chips are becoming essential to several Apple product lines going forward.

These are all nearly unanimously best-in-class devices, so seeing what these devices are capable of with an Apple M2 chip is definitely an exciting prospect. And with the reveal of the Apple M2 featuring a number of superpowered GPU cores, the best Mac games will really stand out.

With Metal API integration into Unreal Engine 5, developing games for the Mac is easier than ever (though whether developers will actually do so remains to be seen). An Apple M2 chip will definitely incentivize that development.

With Intel Alder Lake chips showing the awesome potential of big.LITTLE architecture when it comes to performance and both Intel Raptor Lake and AMD Zen 4 are expected to be released later this year, the Apple M2 is facing some stiff competition. So what do we know about the next generation of Apple silicon? Let's dig into all the nitty-gritty details.

Apple M2 chip: Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Apple's next generation of mainstream Mac and iPad processors
  • How much does it cost? The chip doesn't sell on its own, it depends on the price of the device it powers.
  • When is it out? It was announced at WWDC 2022 on June 6, 2022, and first shipped with the new MacBook Air and new MacBook Pro 13-inch on July 2022.

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) in Apple Park, Cupertino

(Image credit: Future)

Apple M2: Release date

The Apple M2 was announced during the company's WWDC 2022 event on June 6, 2022. The chip does not sell on its own, with the first two products featuring this new Apple Silicon being the MacBook Air 2022 and a new MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022.

Apple iPad Pro (2022) spec highlights press image

The key highlights of the iPad Pro (2022) line, which runs on Apple M2 silicon (Image credit: Apple)

Fast-forward to October 18 and Apple pulled the wraps of a trio of new iPads, including the new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2022), both of which trade their respective predecessors' M1 chips for M2 silicon.

Apple M2: Price

The Apple M2 doesn't sell on its own – although, can you imagine if that was Apple's big play for 2022? That would be a trip.

No, the Apple M2 is only sold as part of one of its products, so it's those device price tags to look out for.

Prices from a lot of hardware manufacturers in the past year have steadily increased. Whether we want to chalk that up to companies pulling a fast one over on consumers, or it's because costs have actually gone up enough to drive up the prices on the finished products, things are just more expensive in 2022, and tech products especially so.

The most affordable offering is the MacBook Air 2022, with prices starting at $1,199, and the more premium MacBook Pro 13-inch at $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899. That's more expensive than the last generation of hardware, though thankfully both the M1-powered variants of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch are still available at their original MSRP.

The Apple M2 chip design

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple M2: specs and performance

While the number might be bigger, the Apple M2 is clearly not meant to outperform the most recent M1 Pro and M1 Max chips (much less the M1 Ultra). 

That MX designation powers consumer devices, while the MX Pro and MX Max chips run inside higher-end professional devices, while the MX Ultra is intended to power desktop workstations, like the Mac Studio and the new Mac Pro (2022).

The Apple M2 chip is an 8-core SoC, featuring a 4+4 core configuration, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores; running with a TDP around 10-15 watts. The second generation of Apple silicon is designed on an enhanced 5nm process, with 5 billion transistors, 100GB/s of memory bandwidth, and up to 24GB of unified memory.

This will likely only matter in terms of the graphics and the neural processing components of the SoC, which a MacBook Air or an iPad Pro don't need nearly as much as a MacBook Pro; useful for video editing or 3D modeling work.

The M2 features a 10-core GPU, and a neural engine capable of 5.8 trillion operations per second, more than 40% more operations than on the M1, according to Apple.

Apple M2: frequently asked questions

Apple M2 FAQs

Is Apple M2 better than M1?

The Apple M2 chip is definitely better than the Apple M1 chip, though the performance of the M1 vs M2 chip isn't as huge as the M1 was over the last Intel chip in the MacBook Air (2020).

Is it worth upgrading to M2 from M1?

Since you can't upgrade the processor in an iMac or MacBook directly, upgrading to the M2 from the Apple M1 chip would require buying a whole new device. This is a very expensive proposition, especially given the relatively small performance improvement compared to upgrading to the M2 (or even the M1) from an earlier Intel-based MacBook. So, no, it probably isn't worth upgrading from an M1 to M2 (or M1 Pro/M1 Max to an M2 Pro/M2 Max MacBook Pro).

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).

With contributions from