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Apple M2 vs Apple M1 Ultra: Is newer better?

Apple finally officially announced the M2 chipset at WWDC 2022, but how does it compare to the high-end M1 chipset?

Apple has come out with its second-generation of chips with the M2 processor, now available in both the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 and MacBook Air 2022.

But which is the best chip option for you? Keep reading to find out how the M2 compares to the M1 Ultra.

Release date

The M1 Ultra is the fourth chip in the Apple Silicon M1 series, coming in as the most powerful. The M1 Ultra chip can be found in the Mac Studio, which is a workstation PC that has a similar design to the Mac Mini.

The M2 is the newest out of the M-lineup, being announced during WWDC 2022. As previously mentioned, it can be found in the MacBook Air 2022 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 and is not currently being featured in any Apple desktop devices.

Pricing

Since the chips are not being sold individually, the price will depend on which laptop they are housed in.

The cheapest laptop that features the M2 chip is the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022, which has a starting price of $1299/£1349.

Looking at the M1 Ultra, the only place it can be found is the Mac Studio, which has a starting price of $3999/£3999.

Since the Ultra only comes in a desktop, it’s not too surprising that it costs a lot more money, though it does mean that you will need to splash out if you want to stick with the most powerful M1 processor.

Specs

The M1 Ultra is built on the first-generation Apple Silicon architecture, using a 5nm process from TSMC and featuring 114 billion transistors. The Ultra was made by connecting two M1 Max die together using UltraFusion packaging architecture, which allows it to pack so many transistors and cores.

The M2 chip, meanwhile, has been built on second-generation Apple Silicon that uses a similar 5nm process from TSMC but with an additional 4 billion transistors when compared to the M1 family.

Apple M2Apple M1 Ultra
Process node5nm5nm
Transistors20 billion114 billion
CPU cores820
GPU cores1064

However, as you can see from the table above, the M1 Ultra chip packs a lot more transistors than the M2 chip, with a whopping 114 billion. This high transistor count explains how the Ultra chip can manage 20 CPU cores and 64 GPU cores, which is the highest core count out of all the M-Series processors.

Since the number of transistors will usually result in better performance, it looks like the Ultra is the most powerful of the two processors.

The astonishingly high core count for both the CPU and GPU count also suggests that the M1 Ultra will be more proficient for graphics performance, making it the better choice for media professionals. We’ll confirm this when we get the new laptops running off it in for testing.

Performance

Since we haven’t been able to test out the M2 chip, we can’t make any definitive comments on the performance as of yet. However, Apple has provided some benchmark results of its own, which should give us an idea of how powerful this new chip is.

It’s important to note that Apple has not directly compared the two chips, though we can gauge the difference with what we know about both chips.

We know that the M1 Ultra chip is about twice as fast as the M1 Max chip, which is the second most powerful processor in the M1 series. It is also around three times as powerful as the vanilla M1 chip.

The M2 chipset board from Apple

Apple has also claimed that the M2 chip has an 18% CPU performance boost over the M1, with the GPU seeing a boost of 35%.

So, while the M2 chip may be more powerful than the original M1 chip, it does not seem to come close to the M1 Ultra. This isn’t too surprising since the Ultra is designed to work in a desktop, which will be able to provide more power than a traditional laptop with improved cooling systems and continuous power from an outlet.

Plus, since the M1 Ultra is in a desktop, it does not have the same battery restrictions as the M2, with Apple quoting it as having a 17-hour battery life when browsing the web on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

In conclusion, there is little doubt that the M1 Ultra chip is packing a lot more power than the M2, however, as of writing their use cases are very different, and they are not housed in the same type of PC device, making them hard to compare.

Make sure to check back in with Trusted Reviews soon, as we will be checking out the benchmarks and power of the M2 chip once we have a supported laptop in for testing.

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