Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

First M1 Benchmarks

Yesterday, in my summary of Apple’s first own-designed Mac processors, I wrote:

Despite the M1 being an apparently entry-level configuration, Apple is promoting big performance gains. Graphics on the MacBook Air, it says, are up to five times faster than the highest-specced Intel model; on the MacBook Pro page, it says that machine learning performance is eleven times faster. Those are big leaps for complex tasks, but we’ve been down this road before. The Intel iMac was said to be two to three times faster than the PowerPC model it replaced, while the first MacBook Pro was apparently four to five times faster. Those tests were conducted using benchmarking tools, while the comparisons this year are being made using real-world tasks. All of this is to say that we can’t know just yet how fast these new Macs are. Even though they are not Apple’s most performative products, could they perhaps out-perform their Intel-based cousins? Or are they modest updates that help guide users and first- and third-party developers onto a new platform?

It appears that, today, we have an answer.

Juli Clover, MacRumors (emphasis in the original and very appropriate):

The M1 chip, which belongs to a MacBook Air with 8GB RAM, features a single-core score of 1687 and a multi-core score of 7433. According to the benchmark, the M1 has a 3.2GHz base frequency.


In comparison to Macs, the single-core performance is better than any other available Mac, and the multi-core performance beats out all of the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro models, including the 10th-generation high-end 2.4GHz Intel Core i9 model. That high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 1096 and a multi-core score of 6870.

Benchmarks for the two other M1 models have also appeared on Geekbench and show similar performance. Again, I will stress that testing does not necessarily translate directly to real-world performance, but it certainly seems like the ostensibly lowest-end Macs you can buy are outperformed only by the highest-end desktop Mac configurations and only in multicore tasks.

And, apparently, the two notebooks also get about one-and-a-half to two times the battery life of their Intel-based predecessors. Oh, and the MacBook Air doesn’t have a fan.

I was prepared for big gains, but I am stunned by these results.