Well, that was a surprise, wasn’t it?

No one – particularly yours truly – expected Apple to unleash new chips and new Macs in January.

But that’s exactly what they did earlier today. We now have two new chips – the M2 Pro and M2 Max, a couple of new MacBook Pros and, rather excitingly, a new Mac mini.

The announcement only took place a few hours ago. I’ve already made a video about it (because, of course I have) but if you’re interested to hear my initial thoughts and, more importantly, what I’ve preordered – read on!

Hello, M2 Pro and M2 Max!

The arrival of the M2 Pro and M2 Max was inevitable, but today’s announcement does leave a few questions unanswered, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Apple’s Newsroom tells us that the new M2 Pro chip features 20% more transistors than the M1 Pro and is, as a result, 20% faster. It comes in 10- and 12-core variants and the GPU now goes up to 19-cores (it’s reportedly 30% faster than the M1 Pro GPU, too).

The M2 Pro comes with either 16GB or 32GB of unified memory (the same as the M1 Pro). There’s no 24GB option like you get with the standard M2 chip, which some might find odd, but I assume there’s a technical reason for that. Or perhaps Apple just couldn’t be bothered to add to the spec choices.

We’re told that the M2 Pro is 80% faster at animation rendering than the M1 Pro, and 25% faster at compiling in Xcode. Photoshop users will be happy to hear that there’s a significant boost in image processing for that app – by up to 40%, according to Apple.

The M2 Max arrives with a 12-core CPU and a GPU that comes in two flavours – a 30-core variant, and a hold-onto-your-trousers 38-core edition. It also benefits from a larger cache than the M1 Max GPU and, consequently, offers 30% faster graphics performance.

There’s a new media engine, too, which has “twice the ProRes support”, thus improving media playback and transcoding.

Clearly, and as was the case with the M1 Max, the M2 Max chip is geared towards heavy video and image editing. DaVinci Resolve users will apparently enjoy 30% faster colour grading performance and there are lots of gains to be had for 3D renderers, too.

Both the M2 Pro and M2 Max are built on a second-generation 5-nanometer process. This has immediately been criticised by Max Tech’s Vadim Yuryev, who took to Twitter to suggest that the new chips are “simply overclocked and tuned up” and that we should “expect MASSIVE thermal throttling on the 14″ M2 Max high-end spec.”

I too look forward to sussing this out for you guys!

New MacBook Pros for 2023

The M2 Pro and M2 Max chips have headed straight into 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

While these are technically brand-new Macs, you’ll be sorely disappointed if you were expecting any meaningful changes beyond the boosted internals. These are the same MacBook Pros that were redesigned and launched in 2021.

That’s ok. These are undoubtedly the best MacBook Pros Apple has ever made. I can’t think of a single thing I’d like to improve at the moment.

There have been some price hikes in the UK, unfortunately. The 14-inch starts at £2,149, which is around £250 more than the M1 Pro version, and the 16-inch now starts at £2,699.

So, what more do you get for your hard-earned? Well, beyond the increased performance on offer from the M2 Pro and M2 Max, there’s now up to 22 hours of battery life to be had (1 hour longer than the previous generation), and both laptops support WiFi 6E.

That’s it. And, immediately, I’d suggest that if you’re an M1 Pro or M1 Max MacBook owner, there’s little reason to upgrade.

If you’ve been holding off and waiting for these M2 machines, you’re probably in for a treat. Although I would wait for the reviews to hit the shelves because if the M2 architecture doesn’t provide enough of a performance increase, there’ll be a rather tasty market to explore for M1 generation MacBook Pros!

Finally – an M2 Pro Mac mini!

The Mac mini has been updated. Although, if, like me, you were hoping for a redesign and a flash of colour – prepare to be disappointed.

The new Mac mini looks identical to the previous version. They haven’t changed the chassis one bit. This is slightly troublesome because that might mean we still have some rather irritating Bluetooth issues on our hands. I’ll report back on that, although the presence of Bluetooth 5.3 might be a good sign.

The big update to the Mac mini can be found inside. You can now preorder a Mac mini with an M2 chip. This basically makes it a desktop version of the M2 MacBook Air that was launched last year, although whether or not the 256GB SSD base model will suffer from the same single NAND chip issue remains to be seen.

What is rather lovely is the fact that Apple has dropped the starting price of the Mac mini. The base model now costs just £649, which is £50 cheaper than the M1 version.

Are you feeling ok, Tim?!

As an entry-level machine for macOS, the base model Mac mini just gets better and better.

However, it gets even more exciting! If you’ve got £1,399 to spare, you can buy yourself an M2 Pro-equipped Mac mini with 16GB of unified memory. That can be maxed out with a 19-core GPU, 32GB of unified memory and a whopping 8TB of SSD storage.

It is, potentially, a killer Mac which Apple is clearly aiming at small businesses and creatives who want serious desktop power withoug having to fork out for a Mac Studio. It’s a serious shot across the bow for many Windows-based desktops, too.

Providing the new Mac mini performs well, this is a seriously smart move by Apple. It does, however, leave some rather big question marks over the Mac Studio – particularly when the Apple silicon-based Mac Pro finally arrives this year.

Are we heading towards an increasingly confusing Mac line-up? I hope not, but it’s something I’ll be digging into over the next few weeks and months.

What I preordered

I know what you really want to know today; what have I ordered? Just how hot is my credit card? What plans do I have for the new Macs that are now winging their way to my studio?

I’ve preordered an M2 Mac mini (that’s right – not the Pro version) with 16GB of unified memory and a 512GB SSD. The plan (which I’ve been forced to bring forward by about three months – thanks, Tim) is to use it as a centrepiece for my new music studio build.

I’ve also preordered a 14-inch MacBook Pro. I went for the decked-out M2 Max with those 38-cores of GPU, a bump up to 32GB of unified memory, and a 2TB SSD.

Both of these configurations match the configurations of the machines they’ll be replacing, with one obvious exception.

The M2 Mac mini directly replaces the M1 Mac mini with which I built this business, and the 14-inch MacBook Pro will kick my 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro out of the door to become my main production machine. The reason for the reduction in screen estate is because, as noted previously, I’m getting rather fed up with the size of the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The plan is to see just how far we’ve come between the M1 and M2 generations. Will the M2 Mac mini be noticeably more performant than the M1 version I fell in love with? Will the M2 Max MacBook Pro feel like a quicker video editor than my existing production powerhouse?

Unfortunately, I have to wait until 3rd February to find out – but I’ll report back!

Final thought

Today’s announcements didn’t need an event – these releases were prime press release fodder.

The M2 chips are relatively incremental upgrades over the M1 versions they replace unless you’ve got the budget for the M2 Max, which does appear to up the ante significantly in terms of graphics performance.

We only have Apple’s word to go on right now, though, which is why I can’t wait to get my hands on these machines and really put them to the task.

Stay tuned.

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