Apple claims that each new M1 model – the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini – is about three times better than its predecessors, even claiming that the new MacBook Air is faster than 98 percent of PC notebooks sold last year.
We can only take Apple’s name on this and the company does not disclose details such as clock speed, so it is not an easy case to look at GHz to see if the machine is fast or slow. Apple only produces a number of cores – there is an 8-core CPU, an 8-core graphics card (7 entry-level Air), and a 16-core neural engine.
In this article we will see how Apple gets these results.
However, the first results look impressive. For example, the MacBook Air M1 beat the 16- inch MacBook Pro in Geekbench.
2.8x faster CPU
According to Apple, the new M1 CPU is 2.8 times faster than the old MacBook Pro CPU. Apple also claims that the MacBook Pro M1 is “three times faster than the best-selling Windows laptop in its class.”
How Apple got to this figure is explained in detail in the footnotes – with interesting details. With good printing, to get to the desired performance Apple compares “Intel Core i7-based PC systems with Intel Iris Plus graphics.”
Apple goes on to say that the new “13-inch MacBook Pro is now the world’s fastest business notebook,” a claim based on comparisons with “Intel Core i7-based PC systems with discrete discs.”
These types of comparisons are cheaper quad-core models with a Core i7 CPU, not higher quad-core models from Intel’s 10th generation or 8-core Core i9.
The performance enhancement alone sounds reliable, tested with examples from daily programs and made open source: With Xcode 12.2 with Apple Clang 12.0.0, Ninja 1.10.0.git and CMake 3.16.5. Capture: this is the ARM version of Xcode. Performance ratings with software non-native like Premiere or Word can be very bad.
Five times faster drawings
Integrated graphics solutions such as the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 from the old MacBook Pro are slow and only suitable for play at a very limited level. With the M1 chip designs, Apple promises significant improvements in performance – with about five features.
Native ARM applications are still in short supply, so the Final Cut Pro 10.5 preview version was selected to test the graphics performance alongside a 10-second project with Apple ProRes 422 at a resolution of 3840×2160 and 30 frames per second.
The offer is clearly accelerated for the MacBook Air by 5.3 – which is impressive. But the M1 also does well in the “real” game test. Compared to the Intel’s Mac mini, the M1 version offers four times the frame rate, impressive performance, and much more, as the game may not have been available in the ARM version.
Compared to the MacBook Air with a better Iris graphics card, performance has increased significantly – with Tom Raider at a rate of 3.1. Most impressive of Shapr3D performance, here real-time 3D performance has only increased 2.2 times.
But not to be overlooked: Apple tested the performance of M1 chips with 16 GB of RAM. Not 8 GB that comes normally. M1 models with 8GB of RAM may be moving very slowly, especially as the RAM in the M1 CPU and graphics card sharing.
The neural motor should also reach 11 times as soon as possible. However, this was tested in a very special case: in the pre-release version of Xcode 12.2 and Create ML 2.0, with the action separation model made in the app.
This only works if the software engineer supports this engine, which reminds us a little bit about the old Altivec unit of the G4 processor (it was Apple’s 128-bit vector processing unit marketed as Speed Engine).
Apple’s performance promises seem to be more realistic. However, as a reference point, Apple uses weak entry models and, above all, applications that are now available as ARM versions.
We’re curious to see how the new Macs will handle it compared to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, especially with apps that don’t have ARM models yet.