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ISSUE 20.05.F • 2023-01-30 • Text Alerts!Gift Certificates

In this issue

APPLE NEWS: Apple announces new Mac products

Additional articles in the PLUS issue • Get Plus!Why?

WINDOWS: How to choose and use the best PowerToys for Windows 10/11

FREEWARE SPOTLIGHT: Volume² — a comfortable, useful addition to Windows

ON SECURITY: Passwords don’t work — until they do


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Apple announces new Mac products

Will Fastie

By Will Fastie

The MacBook Pro and Mac mini are upgraded to new versions of Apple’s M2 system on a chip.

All models became available last Tuesday.

There’s not a lot of news here. The move to the M2 series of Apple silicon was inevitable and expected for both product lines, so the new products are not much of a surprise. But it’s important to keep up, because Apple silicon keeps evolving.

Apple’s new M2 silicon

Underpinning the new Macs is the existing M2 SoC, plus the new M2 Pro and M2 Max SoCs. The two new models come about six months after the M2’s debut.

M2 SOC dies
Figure 1. Apple’s new M2 SoCs — M2 Pro (left), M2 Max (right)Source: Apple, Inc. Not to scale.

It’s getting a bit harder to keep track of specifications. is a great source of excruciatingly detailed specs on just about every piece of silicon Intel makes; these days, I wish Apple had an Ark, too. Here are the highlights, including the original M2 (Figure 2); you can also check out Apple’s press release, sketchy as it may be.

M@ SoC Specs
Figure 2. M2 SoC basic specifications

For Intel chips, we always know clock rates. To the best of my knowledge, Apple has never officially released the rates for any of the M-series chips. Reports around the Web deduce a clock rate by running benchmarks and then comparing the results to other chips with known rate. I consider this technique a bit speculative (comparing Apples to oranges, as it were).

However, it’s clear what Apple’s approach is — throw more cores, memory, and bandwidth at the problem. With the RAM so close to the CPUs and this very high-speed bus connecting them, latency goes down and effective performance goes up. In particular, the number of GPU cores in the M2 Max is high.

The Web is also speculating about future M2 SoCs, which have been called “Ultra” and “Extreme.” Again, no confirmation of any kind from Apple. But this is idle speculation because it really doesn’t matter whether Apple releases more M2 models or skips to a new “M3” generation — we know more will be coming, just as we know there will be forthcoming generations of Intel chips.

The Mac mini

The new Mac minis come in two configurations, one with the M2 SoC and the other with the M2 Pro SoC.

The Apple website for the mini confuses this a bit, listing three models on its Tech Specs page. It shows two models for the M2 version, which I think is a bit misleading in that the only difference between those two is the amount of storage — 256GB vs. 512GB.

Some of the headlines I’ve seen about this mention that performance has improved (true) and the price has dropped (true). That’s a comparison of the entry-level M1-based Mac mini with the entry-level M2-based Mac mini. Both have 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (SSD), so the result is that the M2-based model has better performance for $100 less. That’s the second price reduction in a row for the Mac mini entry model. The original M1-based mini was less expensive than the Intel-based mini, and now the M2 version is less expensive still.

That is headline-grabbing, for sure. But it is not realistic. Folks want to keep their PCs longer, which means the devices must be configured with enough resources to last for five years or more. These minimal configurations of 8GB/256GB are simply not enough. For a Mac, I think the minimum RAM should be 16GB and the minimum storage should be 1TB. When that is taken into consideration, my recommended model would cost $1,199, not the $599 Apple touts. And that’s for the M2 version — the M2 Pro version comes in at $1,499.

Just to be crystal clear, keep in mind that the decision about how much computer to buy today must be based on the expected lifetime — because these devices cannot be upgraded later. That’s why considering a beefier unit up front is important.

Historically, the Mac mini has been a portal to Apple, the PC at an attractive price for someone switching from Windows. These price points no longer reflect that. As an example, upgrading storage from 256GB to 512GB adds $200 to the price. That’s a huge premium. If you consult my last Terabyte Update, you’ll find that the market cost of 1TB was $100. Apple’s incremental price is four times higher.

You all know what a Mac mini looks like. The back of the unit is more interesting (Figure 3).

Rear of Mac mini models
Figure 3. Mac mini with M2 (top); Mac mini with M2 Pro (bottom)Source: Apple, Inc.

The difference? Two or four Thunderbolt ports.

Mac minis continue to be extremely interesting. I’m just saying they are not quite as attractive to a Windows defector as they once were because the realistic entry price is higher.

The MacBook Pro

The bigger news, for the Apple faithful, is the suite of new MacBook Pro laptops with M2-series SoCs. In this segment, Apple has an established (and growing) market in which price is not the primary consideration. And the huge premiums for RAM and SSD are the same as for the Mac mini. An M2-based, 13″ MacBook Pro with my minimum configuration is $1,899; as usual, Apple is promoting the entry-level configuration at $1,299.

The 14″ and 16″ models offer a choice of the M2 Pro or M2 Max SoCs. Fully tricked out, the 16″ model sports the M2 Max, 96GB RAM (!), and an incredible 8TB SSD for $6,499. Check the specs and pricing for yourself. Heavy metal.

If Apple can put this kind of horsepower into a laptop, why would anyone even think about the antiquated Mac Pro? It makes me think that the Mac Pro is finally at the end of its life, which may be more apparent when the Mac Studio (the inflated Mac mini) gets its M2 or “M3” updates.

In Apple’s press release for the MacBook Pros, the imagery was all about what the new models could do. That’s fair; we’re at the point where making a physical distinction between generations is difficult, and how the new models can be used is more to the point. That’s why I didn’t bother to include an image here.

We are getting close to the end of the Intel-to-Apple silicon transition. We’ll see upgrades to the Mac Studio and iMac sooner rather than later, and I think we’ll get the news that there will no longer be a Mac Pro. Apple and Intel will finally part company, completely.

Talk Bubbles Join the conversation! Your questions, comments, and feedback
about this topic are always welcome in our forums!

Will Fastie is editor in chief of the AskWoody Plus Newsletter.


Here are the other stories in this week’s Plus Newsletter


Lance Whitney

How to choose and use the best PowerToys for Windows 10/11

By Lance Whitney

Microsoft packs a lot of cool tools into its free PowerToys offering. Here are some of the best.

Microsoft’s latest incarnation of PowerToys has been around for a few years. Geared for Windows 10 and 11, PowerToys aims to add more features and flexibility to Windows.


Deanna McElveen

Volume² — a comfortable, useful addition to Windows

By Deanna McElveen

Have you ever stumbled across a program that is so sleek, so well executed, and so simple that it feels as if it’s always been a part of Windows?

A program you just know must be on all your computers, or they won’t feel like Windows?


Susan Bradley

Passwords don’t work — until they do

By Susan Bradley

Let’s get real. We all would love it if every website requiring credentials would just launch to our desired page without our having to enter in a password or do any sort of authentication.

The process of entering a password or passphrase that is unique to every website is essential for security, but untenable. We usually counter our inability to remember more than a few passwords by using a Password Manager program (hopefully your display is not surrounded by Post-It™ notes). Password managers work great, until they are no longer safe.

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