MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

The latest MacBook Pro 13-inch combines old and new – but is it a success?

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

There’s no doubt that the MacBook Pro 13-inch is a fantastic laptop for creative professionals, but some odd design choices and a more exciting MacBook Air coming soon, makes this entry feel a little directionless.

For

  • Excellent performance
  • Long battery life
  • Very good build quality
  • Almost silent in use

Against

  • Old design
  • Only two Thunderbolt ports
  • Touch Bar feels more redundant than ever
  • New MacBook Air could be better buy

Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Spec Sheet

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)
Storage: 1TB SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 720p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.4kg)
Size: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)

The new MacBook Pro 13-inch is here, now packing Apple’s new M2 chip, a powerful upgrade over the original M1 chip that debuted two years ago in the previous model. This is an exciting prospect for anyone who was impressed with the M1’s prowess – and that includes us.

So, a MacBook Pro with this new chip, aimed squarely at creative professionals, is destined to be one of the best laptops for graphic design, as well as one of the best laptops for video editing – and much more.

However, while almost every other Mac and MacBook has been given an exciting visual refresh, including the 24-inch iMac and upcoming MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) keeps the same design as the previous models. For some people, that may be a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but it does leave this MacBook feeling a little overlooked. 

For this MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review, we’ve spent several weeks with the MacBook Pro, running numerous creative applications on it, including Photoshop and Premiere Pro to fully get a feel of the creative potential this new MacBook offers. You can read more on how we test laptops to see how we evaluate these products. For now though, read on to find out our thoughts on Apple's latest MacBook.

Design and display

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

It looks like... a MacBook (Image credit: Future)

If you were hoping for a redesign in the vein of the MacBook Air and iMac, then we have some bad news: the new MacBook Pro 13-inch has the same design as the previous model. If you liked that design, then this may not be an issue, but there’s no escaping the feeling that this design, which was already feeling a little dated when it returned two years ago with the M1 version of the MacBook Pro, is now decidedly archaic.

So, it has the same big, chunky bezels around the screen as the previous model, and in this day and age where most laptops have thin surrounds, it’s not the stylish mobile workstation that it once was, especially when compared to the likes of the Dell XPS 13, for example – or even the MacBook Pro 14-inch.

While it keeps the same design, the new MacBook Air gets a redesign that slims down the bezels, and also increases the screen size to 13.6-inches. That means it actually has a bigger screen than the 13.3-inches of the MacBook Pro 13-inch. With this in mind, the MacBook Pro 13-inch no longer seems like the default suggestion for creative professionals, especially those who work with visual mediums. The new MacBook Air offers a larger screen for less money.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

Is this new MacBook already dated? (Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 13-inch also keeps its 720p webcam, whereas all other MacBooks now come with an improved 1080p webcam, another case where the MacBook Pro 13-inch feels a step behind the rest of the lineup. While the boosted M2 chip should help improve the webcam quality anyway, there’s only so much it can do.

The Touch Bar also makes an appearance. This thin LED screen above the keyboard has been around for a few years now, and while it has proved handy for giving users context-sensitive shortcuts when working in certain apps, it’s not been really supported by third-party apps, and all other MacBooks that had it have now dropped the feature, leading the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro 13-inch to feel out of place and slightly unloved.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

The build quality remains impeccable (Image credit: Future)

Elsewhere, the build quality remains impeccable, and it remains light enough to easily carry around with you, making it an excellent choice for people looking for a powerful laptop to work on.

However, it’s worth noting that once again, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) comes with just two USB-C ports plus an audio jack – a rather limited amount for a laptop aimed at creative professionals.

Performance

Benchmarks

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,554; Multi-core: 8,722
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,935; Multi-Core: 8,972
Handbrake: 54 fps
Blender Monster: 146; Junkshop: 70; Classroom: 68
Battery Life: 15 hours and 31 minutes

The MacBook Pro 13-inch is the first device to come with Apple’s new M2 chip, which features an 8-core CPU with four efficiency and four performance cores, with a 10-core GPU, which is two more than the GPU in the Apple M1 powering the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020), and more than the M2 chip in the base model of the new MacBook Air.

So, while the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13-inch are now powered by the M2 chip, the MacBook Pro continues to have the edge when it comes to graphical performance. That fact may sway people who need graphical grunt for their projects, but it’s also worth noting that the new MacBook Air can be configured to come with an M2 chip with 10-cores as well, though for a higher price.

The neural engine of the M2, which handles a lot of AI and machine learning features in apps such as Adobe Photoshop, has been boosted, with Apple claiming 40% faster performance, and you can now configure the MacBook Pro 13-inch up to 24GB of unified memory. The previous model maxed out at 16GB.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

This MacBook is great for multi-tasking (Image credit: Future)

We ran a number of benchmark tests, which you can view in the boxout on this page, and we saw a decent increase in processor performance in Geekbench 5 and Cinebench compared to the MacBook Pro 13-inch with an M1 chip. This, coupled with the fast unified memory (our review unit comes with 16GB), meant the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is particularly good at multi-tasking.

We ran several apps, including the Adobe Photoshop photo editor, while also browsing websites on Safari, and the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) kept pace brilliantly. macOS felt fast and responsive, and we even edited 4K video with various sources playing at once, and the MacBook Pro 13-inch kept performing. We also hardly heard the fans fire up, which means this is a workstation laptop that is almost completely silent in use.

However, there have been reports that some MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) units aren't properly cooling themselves, and that leads to throttling, where components inside a computer deliberately slow themselves down to avoid overheating - which impacts overall performance. We didn't experience this while testing the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), but we'll be keeping an eye on those reports. Hopefully if there is an issue, it may be one that's easily fixed with a software update.

Overall, we found the performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) to be very good, and a step above the previous model.

Battery life

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

(Image credit: Future)

The M2 chip isn't just a powerful bit of hardware, it's also very efficient. This is important in a laptop, as it means it can provide plenty of power for the tasks you require of it without draining the battery too fast.

Apple boasted of how the M2 chip could offer an 18% performance boost to CPU tasks while still using the same amount of power as the M1 chip - an exciting prospect considering how powerful - and power-efficient - the M1 chip was.

In our tests, we found Apple's claims to be on the money, with the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) lasting 15 and a half hours in our battery test, which involves playing a looped 1080p video.

This is very impressive, and easily beats the previous MacBook Pro 13-inch's score by several hours. During our review of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), we were able to easily get a whole workday out of the battery, and that was while performing intensive tasks such as video editing.

For people looking for a powerful laptop that they can work on pretty much anywhere without worrying about running out of battery, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is a great option, then.

Price

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is on sale starting at $1,299 / £1,299. That's actually the same price that the previous M1 model launched at, which we should give Apple credit for. It means if you were eying up an M1 MacBook Pro - hold off and get the M2 model instead, as you'll get a much more powerful device for the same price.

Because of this, Apple has stopped selling the M1 model, though you'll still be able to buy it from other retailers like Amazon or Currys - while stocks last, at least.

This model comes with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU M2 chip, alongside 8GB of unified memory and 256GB SSD storage. That's probably not enough storage for creative professionals, especially ones working with large file sizes.

As with other MacBooks, you can configure the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) with more SSD storage and memory, which we'd recommend you do, but that also increases the price of the laptop - quite substantially. Still, we'd avoid the base model for creative professionals.

Should you buy the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)?

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is a strange laptop to review. On the one hand, it performs brilliantly and has exceptional battery life.

However, its outdated design, 720p webcam and lack of ports means there are many better laptops for creative professionals out there. Perhaps the biggest threat to the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), however, is the upcoming MacBook Air (M2, 2022), which comes with a bigger screen, better webcam and speakers, and similar performance - but for less money.

So, unless you're completely wedded to the idea of getting a MacBook Pro, or love the Touch Bar (come on, there must be some of you out there), you'd be better off skipping the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) and getting the MacBook Air instead.

Read more: The best MacBook Pro deals

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Verdict
8

out of 10

Apple Macbook Pro 13 (2022)

There’s no doubt that the MacBook Pro 13-inch is a fantastic laptop for creative professionals, but some odd design choices and a more exciting MacBook Air coming soon, makes this entry feel a little directionless.

Matt has been a technology journalist for well over a decade, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a senior editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.