Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: 6 Key Differences, Specs, and Full Comparison

Apple M2 vs Apple M2 Pro featured image

Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: 6 Key Differences, Specs, and Full Comparison

Key Points

  • The Apple M2 and M2 Pro have several major differences, including CPU cores, memory bandwidth, RAM limits, Wi-Fi support, GPU cores, and support for external monitors.
  • The M2 Pro offers higher performance and is better suited for graphically intense operations and AI applications.
  • The M2 Pro has a higher RAM limit of 32GB compared to the M2’s 24GB.
  • The M2 Pro is a better choice for professionals and power users, while the M2 is suitable for daily tasks and moderate to heavy workloads.

What is best for you when it comes down to the Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro? Shopping for a new computer can be a drag, especially with the plethora of specs each one has. Thankfully, if you’re in the market for an Apple computer, there is less to consider.

The Apple M2 and the M2 Pro follow on the heels of the hugely successful Apple M1, the first foray of the manufacturer into proprietary desktop and laptop architectures in decades. You get high performance, great battery life, and cool thermals.

When you start looking at the different tiers of M2s available now on the market, there are some crucial decisions you need to make for yourself. Before you purchase an M2 Apple computer, why not explore your options armed with some of the info provided in this shootout?

Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: Side-by-Side Comparison

Apple M2Apple M2 Pro
Transistors20 billion40 billion
CPU Cores812
GPU Cores1019
Memory Controller100GB/s of memory bandwidth200GB/s of memory bandwidth
RAM Limits24GB32GB
Wi-Fi Supported66E
Support for External MonitorsUp to 4K at 60HzUp to 8K at 60Hz

You can clearly see the six major differences between the M2 and M2 Pro. The M2 Pro has more CPU cores, higher memory bandwidth, higher RAM limits, better Wi-Fi, more GPU cores, and better support for external monitors.

Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: What’s the Difference?

Both of these processors share the same overall architecture, the M2 Pro just has more of everything. As you might expect, this does lead to considerable performance differences.


Best Travel Choice
Apple 2022 MacBook Pro Laptop with M2
  • Up to 24 GB of RAM
  • 13-inch retina display
  • Active cooling
  • Can drive displays up to 8K resolution
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12/07/2023 07:59 pm GMT

The M2 serves as the baseline model for the Apple Silicon range. It is what you’ll find in computers like the MacBook Air and Mac Mini. It is a highly performant and low-energy processor. The M2 gives you the same level of power whether you’re plugged in or running on a battery.

The M2 sees considerable gains over the previous M1. Apple’s latest has slightly higher memory bandwidth and more transistors on the die of the CPU itself. As with the M1, the M2 has higher levels of processor available, like the M2 Pro.

The M2 Pro takes all the performing elements of the M2 and effectively doubles them. You’ll have higher performance when doing graphically intense operations. Things like AI applications are sped up quite considerably thanks to the doubled bandwidth.

It does more of everything essentially, the same tasks you might find yourself bottlenecked with on the M2 have more room before they butt against the limits of the M2 Pro. If you’re looking for high performance within a certain boundary, the M2 is a great choice.

Power users will likely opt for the M2 Pro, especially when staying within Apple’s ecosystem. It simply provides more raw power behind it to tackle more intensive tasks where the M2 might falter.

Availability and Pricing

Serious Power at a Low Price
Apple 2023 Mac Mini
  • M2 processor (8 CPU cores, 10 GPU cores)
  • 8 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
  • Over 15,000 apps and plug-ins are optimized for M2
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12/08/2023 02:40 am GMT

The Apple M2 powers the lower-end Macbook Air and Mac Mini. You’ll also find it in the lower-end iMacs. These are the more affordable computers in the Apple range, providing a good midpoint between performance and affordability.

The M2 Pro you’ll find also in the Mac Mini, but also in the MacBook Pro line of computers. There are some key differences in the MacBooks, like active cooling in the Pro series versus passive cooling in the Airs. The M2 Pro only resides in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

Users might find the extra screen real estate worthwhile, especially when coupled with the extra power on tap. Both the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro feature the same M2 processor, however. The only real difference is the form factor and active cooling when comparing the two.

As has been noted when comparing the M2 against Intel or AMD processors, these processors are only readily available in Apple products. You won’t be finding the components themselves resting on a store shelf or sold separately by retailers.

The Mac Mini still remains a great choice for those looking to get into the Mac workflow without spending Mac Studio or MacBook Pro prices. Offering up a M2 Pro means you effectively get the power of a Mac Studio in a much more affordable package provided you’re willing to use USB hubs and the like.

Memory Considerations

Power to Spare
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro Chip
  • 16 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores
  • 1 TB SSD storage
  • 32 GB unified memory
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Only needs a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to get to work
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The Apple M2 only has a maximum of 24GB of the unified RAM Apple has made a core tenet of the Silicon line. This is by no means a bad thing, as more RAM enables you to run a plethora of tasks before hitting the CPU’s limits.

By comparison, however, the M2 Pro allows for an additional 8GB of RAM from the factory. This brings the M2 Pro’s maximum RAM pool up to 32GB, which should be more than sufficient for most strenuous tasks.

These memory considerations were a large part of what made stark differences in how the M1 and M1 Pro were stacked against each other, so the M2 and M2 Pro don’t show much difference in that regard.

The M2 Pro is a more powerful processor, so the higher RAM pool coupled with the doubled memory bandwidth can let applications and tasks fly.

Neural Engine

Best Performance
Apple 2023 MacBook Pro
  • 16 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores
  • Active cooling
  • Features Wi-Fi 6E for high speed connections
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12/07/2023 10:04 pm GMT

Apple realized the market had a need for specialized AI hardware. Rather than release expensive enterprise processors or GPUs, they have instead opted for the Neural Engine. Every processor in the M2 lineup comes with the Neural Engine.

This means hobbyists can effectively do AI work when using an M2, but it won’t be hitting the same performance metrics as the M2 Pro.

As the M2 Pro has more GPU cores and CPU cores to handle the math-heavy portions of AI processing, it makes a better choice for professionals looking for a personal workstation.

The M2 should make a great fit for beginning developers or developers who don’t mind waiting for workloads to process. The M2 Pro is a great choice for professionals, however. It won’t replace server farms for rendering AI workloads, but it gives a flexible and portable option for home use.

Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: 6 Must-Know Facts

  1. The Apple M2 is available in Mac Minis, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros which have 13-inch screens.
  2. The Apple M2 is based on the same processors as the mobile CPU that powered the iPhone 13.
  3. The Apple M2 only draws roughly 15 watts of power from the wall even at full load.
  4. The Apple M2 Pro has double the capabilities of the M2 in every metric aside from RAM.
  5. The Apple M2 Pro has more performance cores and efficiency cores for handling multi-threading.
  6. The Apple M2 Pro is only available in the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch, as well as select Mac Minis.

Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between the Apple M2 vs. M2 Pro, it really comes down to what you need as a computer user. If you’re looking for a reliable daily driver that can handle moderate to heavy work, then the M2 is a great choice.

The M2 Pro is reserved for serious users who might need the extra power to actually process their work. You could do the same workloads with the M2, but the M2 Pro will save precious time that could be better spent on other tasks.

The M2 Pro also has the distinction of being overall a better choice for gaming. Now, Macs aren’t generally the first choice of gamers, but the M2 Pro can handle Windows ports with minimal issues — provided optimization is on point.

In short, the M2 will fit most folks, while the M2 Pro is a great choice for power users and serious professionals.

Apple m2 vs Apple m2 pro infographic

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the M2 Pro better in overall specs?

If you’re after just raw power, the M2 Pro is a clear winner. It has more of everything that matters, especially when considering the differences in how the Apple Silicon works compared to traditional x86 processors.

Can I expand the RAM on a M2 Mac?

No, that is a decision you’ll have to make before ordering it. Expanding the memory simply isn’t supported, you can expand storage through external hard drives or SSDs.

Does the M2 Pro support external displays?

Yes, you can drive a display at 8K resolution to 60Hz. It also supports multiple displays, driving up to six monitors at the same time.

Can the M2 handle most workloads?

The M2 Pro may be highly powerful, but the M2 is more than adequate for most tasks. It’ll handle even serious workloads like development without a hitch, it just might take more time when it comes to rendering the output.

Is the M2 Pro available for purchase?

Yes, it is on store shelves right now. The M2 launched first, but the M2 Pro and M2 Max are now ready for consumers.

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