Why You'll Probably Never Use All the Power in the New M2 MacBook Pro

For most of us, it's just too powerful

  • The M2 MacBook Pro is a big jump over even the screaming-fast M1 version.
  • Only very high-end tasks—3D VFX, for example—will really push them. 
  • You can currently grab an M1 Pro for a steep discount.
Someone in a library using an M2 MacBook pro.


Apple's new M2 MacBook Pro is so overpowered for most people that it's like taking an SUV to the local store instead of just walking or riding your bike. 

You know who was complaining about the M1 MacBook Pros being too slow? Nobody. And yet here we are, with an even more impressive pro laptop from Apple, mostly unchanged but for the M2 Pro and M2 Max systems-on-a-chip (SoC) that power them, and some hideous new default wallpaper. For most of us, this extra power will be wasted, but for some users, the extra grunt will be worth the asking price right away.

"Professionals and power users who want high performance for operations such as video editing, 3D rendering, scientific simulations, and other demanding applications are likely to purchase the M2 Pro chips," Alaa Negeda, a technology consultant and the CTO for AlxTel, told Lifewire via email. 

More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

Let's get the raw specs out of the way first. CPU-wise, the new M2 MacBook Pros are around 20 percent faster than the already speedy M1 versions and 30% faster in the GPU department. There are more processing cores and a faster media engine (a specialist chip for processing video and so on), and you can now stuff these machines with up to 96GB RAM (up from a 64GB maximum in the M1 Pros). 

There is also faster Wi-Fi, better HDMI, and better support for higher-resolution external displays, all while getting up to 22 hours of battery life (up from 18 hours). 

Now, the M1 MacBook Pro is crazy fast. Not only does it tear through video-processing tasks and other high-end jobs, it also feels way snappier than the regular M1-based Macs, the Mac mini, and the MacBook Air. If you already have one of those and don't know immediately why you would replace it with the M2 Pro or M2 Max version, then you don't need to replace it. 

So, who can make use of this? Well, it's a pretty esoteric bunch. Musicians already have enough power with the previous MacBook Air, let alone the Pro. Video editors can also edit multiple 8K streams of video on the M1 MacBook Pros. 

"Video encoding and decoding, image and video processing, 3D rendering, complicated simulations, and machine learning workloads are examples of tasks that can test the performance limitations of M2 Pro CPUs," says Negeda.

The only people who will really be able to push these new machines will be people who do 3D movie graphics for a living, software developers of complex apps who want to shave some seconds off their compile times, and perhaps scientists running specialized software. But mostly, it's about video and being able to take previously studio-bound tasks, requiring powerful desktop Macs, on the go. 

"One of the significant benefits of using high-performance laptops in video production is the ability to work on projects on the go. With the MacBook Pro's portability and powerful processing capabilities, our staff can easily take their work with them and continue editing, color grading, and visual effects outside the studio. This allows us to be more efficient and responsive to clients' needs," Scott Fischer, proprietor of the Kearny Point video production studio, told Lifewire via email.

A straight-on view of the M2 MacBook Pro.


The Rest of Us

The problem for some users is that the MacBook Pro isn’t just about insanely fast chips or the ability to stuff them full of RAM and SSD storage. It’s about that beautiful, big screen, the speakers that sound so good that they will keep surprising you, or the proliferation of ports: three Thunderbolt/USB, an SD card slot, MagSafe, and HDMI. 

This makes it the perfect machine for photographers (that screen, and the SD card slot), writers (the screen, the battery life, and the great keyboard), and musicians (the speakers and the ability to plug in a ton of accessories without dongle and hubs). 

But for those people, there’s now a great new option, although one that might be short-lived: the previous-generation M1 MacBook Pro. Although now discontinued at Apple, you can still pick up an officially refurbished model at Apple’s refurbished clearance store, saving almost $500. And you’ll probably be able to score some good clearance bargains at other stores. 

The other option is, of course, the MacBook Air, and while you can extend its Thunderbolt ports with an adapter, it doesn’t have the Pro’s incredible display.

For most of us, then, even the M1 Pros are overkill for our processing needs. But one other feature comes with buying something so over-provisioned for your current needs: longevity. Macs tend to last for years, and with this much power, you could still be happy with the same laptop a decade from now. And suddenly, these machines look a lot less expensive.

Was this page helpful?