Retrofuturistic Apple with the M2-based MacBook Pro

Apple scored a big blow by launching, two years ago, a first generation of Macs without an Intel processor. The Californian manufacturer is continuing in this direction this summer by offering two notebooks powered by the second generation of its own system on chip called M2. A grip confirms the power gain, but in the case of the MacBook Pro, we remain unsatisfied.

No doubt the MacBook Air, the other Mac which inherits the M2 chip, is the best take of the two summer novelties. The device starts out $200 less and, on paper, its mechanics don’t suffer so much compared to the 13-inch-screen Pro.

This is the only one of the three MacBook Pros to inherit the new chip. It is a little larger than its predecessor and cannot simply be grafted in its place. The layout of the internal components needs to be redesigned a bit so that everything is framed under the same casing.

Because it’s a bit like that, too: this new Mac has mechanics worthy of the future, but it retains the same look as in 2016. It comes back with two USB-C Thunderbolt ports on one side and an output for headphones listening to the other. Apple does not even add its famous MagSafe power port, which is found elsewhere.

We recognize at first glance the infamous Touch Bar touch bar at the top of the keyboard, which fortunately leaves room for a fingerprint reader and a hardware escape key, which avoids activating them by mistake. But this touch bar, designed to display quick action keys depending on the open application, is still as superfluous as it was in 2016, the year it was first released.

M2: yes, but…

Under the hood, the MacBook Pro gains some 20% muscle and almost four hours of battery life for a total of around 20 hours of video playback. It is very good. Its new chip, however, does not have the same agility as its two larger counterparts. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are powered by a revised version of the M1 chip called the M1 Pro. At Apple, it is conceded from the outset: the M2 chip was designed to be superior to the basic M1, not to the others.

It must be said that at 1700 dollars, the 13-inch screen model is much more affordable than the other two, which start at 2500 dollars.

So what makes this MacBook a… Pro? A ventilation system that keeps hardware cool when peak performance is required. A point which, explained the engineers of Apple during its conference of the developers at the beginning of June, is activated only when it is really necessary. Understand: not often.

During a week of tests, except during the comparative performance benches which push the machine to the limit, the ventilation was heard a number of times comparable to the number of lanes open at night these days in the Ville-Marie tunnel. , to Montreal. Read: not often.

It’s not for lack of having tried, with great blows of video editing and multimedia editing. Result: ventilation is audible, but less than on previous models. The encoding is done at a very acceptable speed. For this, the device inherits a “multimedia engine” which adds welcome hardware acceleration when reading or encoding files containing sound, image or both. Even in heavier formats, such as ultra high definition video (UHD or 4K). Its graphics card also has two more cores than the MacBook Air.

We couldn’t try the MacBook Air with M2 chip. One chosen at a time… but the impression that the time saved by using a Pro for slightly more demanding computer work is not enormous. Obviously, the price difference between the two models also suggests that they have more similarities than differences.

Another of these differences is the display. The MacBook Pro has a slightly higher pixel-per-inch density (227 ppi versus 224 for the MacBook Air). Its display has a slightly larger bezel that hides the web camera. No black notch at the top of the screen for him!

Gray or gray

There is a category of professionals who do not budge: they need a MacBook Pro to work. Even if, often, this work does not require very powerful mechanics. Until recently, there was a chasm that separated the Pro line from other Macs. It must be said that, for a few years, the entry-level MacBooks were powered by a mobile version and, let’s say, watered down with not very powerful processors designed by Intel.

That era is long gone. At Apple, we know which way the wind is blowing. The MacBook Pro is the second best-selling laptop in the world, just behind… the MacBook Air. The latter is offered this summer in four colors, including a blue-black called “Midnight” which was hitherto unpublished in the catalog of portable Apple.

Not so for the MacBook Pro: it’s grey… or it’s grey. A little surprising from a society that has never been afraid of being more colorful than the others. But it does reveal something more fundamental about the newcomer: the device will do for regulars. It allows Apple to offer an improved and low-cost Pro that will not overshadow other, more powerful Pros.

But, clearly, the MacBook Pro is destined to retain number two in Apple’s laptop catalog.

To see in video

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