The MacBook Pro… but not the recent M1 Pro and Max models, the M1 regular model, the 2-port model, but with a next-generation M2, maybe a Mini-LED display, maybe even a new design. Like… the MacBook Pro having a love baby with the MacBook Air design. Again.
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So, back in November of 2020 when Apple announced the first wave of custom silicon Macs, it was all about ultra low power, entry level, getting M1 into the existing enclosures of the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and 2-port MacBook Pro.
That’s the MacBook Pro that was first released back in 2016, the one Phil Schiller said was for people who wanted something just a little more than the MacBook Air. Including a Retina display and a better-than anemic Intel Y-Series chipset. And, poetically, without a Touch Bar back then, but the only one remaining with a Touch Bar now…
It was meant for a new wave of customers, of people for whom Pro was less Mac Pro as in professional and more AirPods Pro as in premium. Maybe coders or designers with lighter workloads, maybe photographers or videographers always on the go, maybe just hipsters or founders who coveted the pro brand but didn’t need all the pro power, size, and weight that traditionally came with it. Whatever. It just made the word Pro… more accessible, affordable, and to some, more infuriating than ever.
But, it legit let those who wanted an ultra-light that could sustain performance and last on battery just a little longer than a MacBook Air, and didn’t want to pay full price for a MacBook Pro Pro, just… get their goldilocks on.
And now it’s time for Round 2. More specifically, M2. Now, I’ll get to what that means in a minute. Because the actual reports are… kinda thin. Like, thinner than iPhone 6 thin. But with the M1 iPad Pro and M1 Pro and Max MacBook Pros going mini-LED… and the M2 MacBook Air rumored to be going mini-LED as well, I think chances are good the M2 MacBook Pro will go mini-LED right along with them. Because having the worst display in the line-up right in the middle of the lineup… would just make the kind of sense that doesn’t. And I’ve already got a whole entire video up previewing the M2 MacBook Air, so I’ll drop a link to that in the description below the like button.
As to 120Hz ProMotion adaptive refresh rate… probably not. Apple seems to be keeping that feature for serious pros, at least for now.
Notch? Maybe? The combination of the distinctiveness and the ability to have both smaller bezels and a bigger camera is a winner in every way but aesthetics. And I’m still here for it. As long as we get that better 1080p camera. Otherwise, f the notch. Let it burn. Right along with the Touch Bar, as I imagine it will.
We should also get MagSafe back, because Apple seems to be all-in on that, all-around, going forward. And hopefully that means in addition to the two USB4, or combo USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 ports. Because going down to one, like the old 12-inch MacBook Nothing, would just make it a non-starter, a game-stopper, for way too many people.
HDMI and SDXC… like anything above and beyond those two ports… just doesn’t seem likely though either.
Back to M2. Where M1 was based on the iPhone 12’s A14 generation silicon, M2 should be based on the iPhone 13’s A15 generation silicon. And that means, what we’re looking at, is even better performance and efficiency. Where the M1 cores are a… song of Fire and Icestorm, M2 should be getting Avalanche and Blizzard.
Specifically, 4 Blizzard efficiency cores, though they offer over 20% higher performance as well. And 4 Avalanche performance cores, which are over 10% faster, but also considerably more efficient.
They’re still 5 nanometer, though probably the second-generation TSMC N5P process, and still ARMv8 instruction set, but out of the three major improvements offered by ARMv9, only the new matrix multipliers sound like they’ll be anything even remotely novel or useful to Apple in any way. So what that all means is processors that are still ultra low power but that can run cooler, so they can sustain heavier workloads longer.
The G14 graphics cores, well, they’re on average 20% better core-for-core, but in the relatively tiny iPhone 13 thermal envelope, they can throttle hard.
The MacBook Pro is nowhere nearly that tiny, and is also reportedly going from 8 GPU cores in M1, to 10 GPU cores in M2. And that could mean a 50% improvement overall, if not more.
So, anyone doing any amount of graphics work would be in for just a much better time.
And A15 also includes ProRes Media Engines for the iPhone 13 Pro. Similar to the ProRes media Engines Apple added to the M1 Pro and M1 Max this past October.
The M1 MacBook Pro already had H.264 and H.265, aka HEVC, custom encode/decode blocks, but if Apple doesn’t keep those exclusive to the higher-end Pros, and brings them over to the low-power models as well, that could be a real advantage to anyone who does a lot of video but just can’t afford or just doesn’t want to carry around a lot of MacBook Pro yet.