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Posts tagged with "M2"

The New M2 Mac mini and MacBook Pros

Source Apple

Source Apple

Reviews of the new M2-based Mac minis and MacBook Pros are out, and of the two computers, the mini is the one that I find the most interesting. With Apple silicon no longer limited to the entry-level mini, it’s now possible to spec the tiny desktop so it rivals some configurations of the M1 Mac Studio, leading The Verge’s Chris Welsh to dub the higher-end mini configuration the ‘Mac Studio junior.’

That’s a great way to look at that model, but it also fills many more roles than just the slot immediately beneath the Mac Studio. As Dan Moren of Six Colors explains:

It’s hard to argue that the mini’s versatility isn’t the biggest part of why the product is still going strong, nigh on two decades after its debut. If the iMac, the Mac Studio, and the still-waiting-in-the-wings Apple silicon Mac Pro are the bricks of Apple’s Mac lineup, the Mac mini is the mortar, with its various configurations filling the gaps in between.

Welch strikes a similar note:

But remember that there’s no such thing (yet) as an iMac with an M2 Pro inside. So for anyone who wants a Mac desktop but finds the Mac Studio to be overkill — and it’s exactly that for many use cases — this M2 Pro Mini could make a ton of sense. And it doesn’t cost anywhere near as much.

I’ve owned the 2009 and 2014 Mac minis, as well as a fully-spec’d 2018 Mac mini, which I’m still running as a home server. I’ve also tested the M1 version of the mini. It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of Apple’s tiniest desktop machine, which started as a way to attract Windows users into the Mac universe with a modestly-powered and priced desktop. That original mini has morphed into a Mac that now fulfills a remarkably broad spectrum of use cases. I’m sure that if I weren’t using an M1 Max Mac Studio, I’d have an M1 Pro Mac mini with 32 GB of unified memory, a 4 TB SSD, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet on my desk instead.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The M2 MacBook Pro is less interesting than the mini, not because it’s a less capable computer, but because the design is identical to the M1 version of the laptop and the speed gains are incremental over those models. Of course, as Jason Snell points out on Six Colors, most users won’t be upgrading from an M1 MacBook Pro to the M2 model, and for them, the jump will be significant and worthwhile:

The fact remains, though: If you want the very best laptop Apple has to offer, the MacBook Pro will not disappoint you. The M1 models were great in late 2021, and these new M2 models are even better—albeit incrementally so.

I’m fascinated with Apple’s gaming narrative. Ever since WWDC, Apple has touted Metal 3 and the M1, and now, M2’s videogame performance. There aren’t a lot of games that take advantage of Metal 3 yet, so it’s still hard to judge how Apple’s computers stack up to their PC counterparts, so I was particularly intrigued by Monica Chin’s imperfect, but insightful take on how the MacBook Pro with M2 Max’s performance compares to gaming laptops that she’s tested for The Verge:

I think — put the pitchforks away, I know these are totally different things and there are all sorts of problems with this comparison — that the simplest way to think of the MacBook Pro with M2 Max is as the addition of an RTX 3070 GPU. It’s not quite providing the frame rates that we’ve seen from the biggest RTX 3070 computers out there (MSI’s GS76 gave us 114fps, for example) but it’s not too far off, and it’s well above what we’d expect to see from an RTX 3060 gaming machine. The M2 Pro Mac Mini, which only put up 62fps on Tomb Raider, is closer to RTX 3050 territory.

There are far more economical ways to achieve that sort of gaming performance than buying a MacBook Pro, but it’s still interesting to see where the laptop falls on the gaming spectrum because it speaks directly to the capabilities of its GPU. As with the M1-based MacBook Pros, the M2 models also distinguish themselves compared to the MacBook Air by their superior displays, higher memory configurations, the wider variety of ports, and ability to drive multiple external displays.

If there’s anything missing from Apple’s current laptop lineup, it’s the ability to configure a laptop with the horsepower of an Air but the memory and storage capacities and screen of the MacBook Pro. I think there are a lot of ‘pro’ uses for a laptop that would benefit from that sort of configuration but don’t require a lot of raw CPU or GPU performance. However, given the lines along which Apple distinguishes its ‘Pro’ laptops from the Air, I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.


What Wreckfest Tells Us About the Future of iPhone and iPad Gaming

In November, HandyGames released Wreckfest for iPhones and iPads. The demolition racing game was originally released by Bugbear Entertainment on PC in 2018 and the following year on PS4 and Xbox One. Since then, the game has been brought to current-generation consoles, streaming, and now, mobile platforms.

Although Wreckfest is several years old, it’s one of the more demanding console games brought to mobile recently, which makes it a good test for Apple’s latest SoCs. That’s what MrMacRight did on his YouTube channel, testing the game on everything from an original iPhone SE with an A9 chip to a 12.9” iPad Pro with an M2 chip.

There’s a lot of the sort of technical detail in MrMacRight’s video that I love, along with settings recommendations if you want to get the most out of whatever device you’re using to play the game. To me, though, the most interesting part of the video is the point in the Apple silicon lineup where the game’s performance drops off and how the choices the publisher made to bring Wreckfest to mobile affect the game.

The M1 and M2 SoCs handle Wreckfest well, maintaining an almost steady 60fps throughout. The first dip comes when trying to run the game at 60fps on an iPhone 14 Plus with an A15 SoC that ran into thermal throttling issues. Still, with tweaks to the game’s settings, it remains playable on a wide variety of iPhones and iPads thanks to quality reductions of some graphics assets, which also serve to reduce the size of the game and its memory footprint. Those graphical compromises made by HandyGames are understandable but also a bit disappointing for anyone with an M1, M2, or A16 device, which could handle better graphics and textures.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Big picture, MrMacRight’s analysis of Wreckfest suggests that we’re still in the early days when it comes to games that approach console quality coming to the iPhone and iPad. Plus, the sheer size of the gaming market that is still on older A-series SoCs means the sweet spot for game development will likely take a few more years before the performance that is possible on M-series and A16-based devices becomes the norm for most mobile gamers. Whether Apple silicon gets to that point before another solution, like game streaming, takes widespread hold, it will likely be one of the most interesting stories to follow in mobile gaming.

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M2 MacBook Air Ordering Begins July 8th With Deliveries Starting July 15th

The M2 MacBook Air, revealed by Apple during its WWDC keynote, now has order and release dates. When the new MacBook Air was announced during WWDC last month, Apple simply said the laptop would be released in July. In a press release today, the company said it would begin taking orders on Friday, July 8th at 5 AM Pacific Daylight Time, with deliveries beginning on July 15th.

The new M2 MacBook Air features Apple’s next-generation SoC, a 13.6” Liquid Retina display, a 1080p FaceTime camera, a four-speaker system, MagSafe charging, and up to 18 hours of battery life. The new model comes in four colors: midnight, starlight, silver, and space gray. Pricing starts at $1,199 and $1,199 for education customers. For more details on the M2 MacBook Air, be sure to check out our WWDC overview of the laptop and episode 280 of AppStories.


The M2’s Unique Combination of Unified Memory and GPU Performance May Reveal Apple’s Videogame Ambitions

As I mentioned on AppStories, I’m intrigued by what Apple is doing with the Apple silicon GPU and memory and what it could mean for gaming. Although no one has had a chance to put the M2 through its paces yet, AnandTech does an excellent job of putting the facts and figures from Monday’s keynote into perspective, explaining what it means for what will undoubtedly be a multi-tiered M2 chip family like the M1 family.

With the M2’s memory, Apple’s SoC picks up where the M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra left off. Like those higher-tier M1s, the M2 uses LPDDR5-6400 memory that supports 100GB/second of memory bandwidth, which is a 50% increase in bandwidth over the M1. The M2 also supports up to 24GB of unified memory, a 50% increase over the M1 Air.

That memory is paired with a GPU that can be configured with up to 10 cores, two more than the top-tier M1 Air. According to Apple, that 10-core GPU delivers a 35% increase in performance.

However, it’s the combination of more, higher-bandwidth memory and a more powerful GPU that should make a significant difference in the M2 Air’s performance of graphics-intensive tasks like rendering game assets. As AnandTech explains:

Apple’s unconventional use of memory technologies remains one of their key advantages versus their competitors in the laptop space, so a significant increase in memory bandwidth helps Apple to keep that position. Improvements in memory bandwidth further improve every aspect of the SoC, and that especially goes for GPU performance, where memory bandwidth is often a bottlenecking factor, making the addition of LPDDR5 a key enabler for the larger, 10-core GPU. Though in this case, it’s the M2 playing catch-up in a sense: the M1 Pro/Max/Ultra all shipped with LPDDR5 support first, the M2 is actually the final M-series chip/tier to get the newer memory.

We won’t know more until reviewers put the new M2 MacBook Air through their paces, but the M2 Air appears to be a significant step forward compared to the M1 model. As one of Apple’s most popular Macs, that’s important because it sets a performance benchmark that game developers need to target if they want to make a game for the majority of Mac owners.

During the keynote, Apple showed off two games running on the M2: No Man’s Sky, an older but frequently updated game, and Resident Evil Village, a game that arrived on the PC and consoles just last fall. Resident Evil Village especially caught my eye because it’s such a recent release. It’s just one game, but it stands in contrast to others that have been used to demo gaming on the Mac in the past.

It would be a mistake for anyone to pin their Mac gaming hopes on the scant details we have so far. However, the keynote made it clear to me that Apple has gaming ambitions beyond Arcade, and its unique SoC architecture has moved Macs one step closer to that becoming a reality.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2022 hub or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2022 RSS feed.


M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro: The MacStories Overview

Yesterday during their WWDC keynote event, Apple unveiled the updated M2 Apple Silicon chip. While the M2 might not be quite as revolutionary of an upgrade as the M1 was over previous Intel chips, it’s still a very solid year-over-year improvement which continues to boost Apple ahead of the competition.

Debuting with the M2 inside are the all-new MacBook Air and the upgraded 13” MacBook Pro. While the MacBook Pro has very few changes other than the new processor, the MacBook Air sports a completely new industrial design. Let’s take a look at Apple’s latest entires into the Mac lineup.

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