Intel and AMD Processors Still Beat Apple’s M1

image credit: Geekbench

published by Chand Bellur
November 12, 2020 at 12:39 p.m.

 

  • Apple’s new M1 processor boasts exceptional performance, beating every processor in Geekbench’s single-core benchmark chart.
  • Multi-core scores reveal that several Intel and AMD processors are much faster than Apple’s new M1 chip.
  • Multi-core processors perform multithreaded tasks, such as graphics processing and video rendering, much faster than a single core.
  • While Apple’s M1 chip should deliver a speedy user experience, existing AMD and Intel chips excel at multi-core tasks, making them a better option for professional users.
  • A dozen Macintosh models with Intel processors, some as old as 2017, offer faster multi-core performance than Apple’s newest M1-equipped models.

Apple’s M1 Processor Provides a Responsive User Experience

Apple’s new M1-powered Macs finally underwent Geekbench tests, and the results are astonishing. The new MacBook AirMacBook Pro, and Mac Mini scored an extraordinary 1687, 1714, and 1682, respectively. The next fastest processor in single-core benchmark charts is AMD’s Ryzen 9, with a score of 1628. The fastest Intel processor only has a single-core Geekbench score of 1423. When it comes to single-core tasks, Apple’s M1 processor leaves the competition in the dust.

Overall, a computer with a faster single-core processor will outperform a machine with slower multiple cores for most tasks. This is because most apps only use one core. Although the M1 chip features multiple cores, other processors’ cores work together faster and more efficiently. Fast single-core performance makes for an overall snappy user experience, which Apple’s new Mac lineup seems to deliver.

Apple didn’t disclose the M1’s clock speed; however, Geekbench tests found it running between 3.04 GHz and 3.20 GHz, depending on the machine. The MacBook Pro clocked the M1 at the highest speed. These are considered high clock speeds, which tend to utilize more power. The M1 chip delivers low power consumption at high clock speeds by delegating the workload between high-efficiency and high-performance cores.

Professional Users Will Fare Better with Intel or AMD For Now

If you’re using advanced, creative applications, such as image processing (Photoshop), digital audio workstations (Ableton Live 10), and 3D modeling (AutoCAD), other processors are better options, at least in theory. While the M1 offers exceptional single-core performance, several of Apple’s older Macs outclass the new ones. Also, many Windows laptops and workstations provide more power for professional apps than Apple’s latest M1 Macs.

When Apple unveiled its new line of Macs, some marketing rhetoric was a bit misleading. The company claims better performance than the best selling Windows machines or 98% of competing laptops. By Apple’s own admission, Windows PCs are more powerful than Apple’s newest Macs. After all, AMD makes the fastest chips, and Apple doesn’t use them.

Most consumers, even those who purchase Apple’s iPhone, purchase inexpensive Windows PCs. Go to any big box store, and you’ll find a brand name Windows PC for $300. Apple’s cheapest notebook starts at $929. You can purchase Windows laptops for the whole family for the price of one MacBook Air.

The abundance of inexpensive, low-end Windows PCs is part of why Macs with Apple silicon may seem impressive. This, combined with Apple’s misleading marketing, pit affordable PCs against pricey Macs. Some comparably priced Windows PCs offer better performance than Apple’s newest Macs. On the high end, the most powerful Windows machines surpass Apple silicon.

M1 Macs Not Best Option for High-End Users

If you’re looking for a workstation or high-end laptop for creative work, the new M1 Macs will cut the mustard. It’s just that you can get more performance for less money in the Windows PC market.

Although Apple’s new Macs seem like an excellent option for casual users, they’re also untested. Sure, they’ve undergone Apple’s rigorous quality assurance process, but it’s unknown how they perform in the real world. Out in the field, users may encounter defects related to the processor. The M1 processor integrates Apple’s T2 security chip, which has a known security flaw.

Beyond the M1 chip, macOS and third-party developers need more time to support the processor fully. Although several apps support the M1 processor natively, through Apple’s Universal Apps, others must use Rosetta 2 emulation software. Although this is seamless to Mac users, some emulated software offers slower performance on Apple silicon.

At this point, Apple’s new Macs are a good fit for those who love Apple. If you’re a die-hard Apple enthusiast, you’re probably already sold on the latest Macs. For everyone else, it’s either best to wait until the M2 processor debuts or buy a Windows PC.

I recently switched from a MacBook Pro to a Windows PC, and I couldn’t be happier. The differences between Windows/macOS and Android/iOS are so small; smart consumers can do better than reflexively opting for Apple products.

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