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Apple's M1 chip smashes Intel and AMD in new single-thread benchmarks

Macbook Air M1
Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / iMore)

What you need to know

  • New Apple silicon benchmarks have revealed the power of the M1 chip.
  • It destroyed processors from both Intel and AMD in single-thread performance.

New benchmarks for the M1 Apple silicon chip reveal Apple's first attempt at a processor is faster than every single AMD processor and all but one Intel i9 chip in single-thread performance.

From Notebook Check:

The M1 Apple Silicon has jumped into second place in the current PassMark CPU Mark chart for desktop chip single-thread performance, with a current score of 3,550 points. This is a few points ahead of the Intel Core i7-11700K (3,542 points), which Gamers Nexus brutally described as a "waste of sand". While there's no chance of the Apple M1 catching the chart champion i9-11900K on 3,741 points, it might certainly be another sign that it could be Alder Lake, and not Rocket Lake, that offers a complete reversal of fortune for Intel.

As the report notes, the only chip it couldn't beat was Intel's i9-11900K processor, which costs almost as much as the M1 Mac Mini. Second in the desktop CPU rankings for single-thread performance, the M1 beat every laptop CPU on PassMark by some distance.

Apple introduced the M1 chip to its M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini in November of last year, and they're easily the best Mac devices available right now. The low-powered chip for Apple's laptops and base-model Mac Mini has proven to be something of a powerhouse, and Apple is likely to build on this growth when it releases the second generation of Apple silicon this year. In fact, benchmarks last year show that the M1-powered Mac can emulate x86 instructions faster than they can run natively on an Intel-powered computer.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

  • That's impressive, especially since this is rev 1. More so when you consider power, heat and cost. Benchmarks aren't always a good indication of real world functionality, but I don't feel I've lost any performance going to the cheapest M1 Mac Mini. I'm not a heavy user, so haven't been hit with any noticeable compatibility issues, save Parallels (for Windows VM). That's not a deal breaker, and they are actively working on it. This is not Apple's first attempt at processors though, which shouldn't be forgotten.
  • Rosetta nerfs performance and most creative apps ans plugins aren't native. It also increases SSD wear, forcing you to up-spec the SSD for more endurance; due to the low RAM capacity in these machines causing massive swapping. Not even worth it unless you use Apple's software. The spec package isn't Resolve-friendly, either. RAM capacity issues and the GPU isn't competitive with RTX/RX dGPUs. But, it's a bit better than an Intel Xe, so I guess thats a win? The things that benefit most from the CPU are also the things that generally cede back performance due to running under Rosetta, or due to the speck packages on offer. The issue with M1 isn't really the CPU. It's the GPU, RAM capacity, and I/O issues with external SSD drives (slower I/O speeds than a $350 windows laptop with vanilla USB 3.0 ports)... plus the external display limit. Tons of creators and gamers are using 2-3 year old Intel and AMD CPUs with no issues. It's really the GPUs and other areas that get stressed more, as software evolves to take more advantage of them and footage becomes higher resolution and heavier. The CPU is rarely the bottleneck for them. These first machines are basically a beta produced to drop Intel from the lower-end machines and recoup R&D spending via massive profit margins.
  • That's cute, but the component upgrade prices are criminal. $200 for 256 GB SSD storage and $200 for 8GB shared memory - more than the price of a 1TB Evo Plus or WD Black and 2x 16GB DDR4-3200+ SODIMMs. I cannot justify those prices just to acquire "usable" specs in a PC. They're insane. This is why people (esp. on YT) are going out of their way to make 8GB look "good enough," when it simply isn't. Not for me. And 256 GB non-upgradeable storage in a $1,300 laptop that sees reduced speeds with almost every USB-3 external SSD on the market is also insulting.
  • Directly from the Passmark website. Also single threaded speed tests mean jack in real life. CPU Test Suite Average Results for Apple M1 8 Core 3200 MHz
    Integer Math - 35,673 MOps/Sec, Floating Point Math - 36,227 MOps/Sec, Find Prime Numbers - 150 Million Primes/Sec, Random String Sorting - 22 Thousand Strings/Sec, Data Encryption - 8,723 MBytes/Sec, Data Compression - 152.0 MBytes/Sec, Physics - 1,336 Frames/Sec, Extended Instructions - 8,090 Million Matrices/Sec, Single Thread - 3,483 MOps/Sec CPU Test Suite Average Results for Intel Core i7-11700K @ 3.60GHz
    Integer Math 91,584 MOps/Sec, Floating Point Math - 52,650 MOps/Sec, Find Prime Numbers - 72 Million Primes/Sec, Random String Sorting - 39 Thousand Strings/Sec, Data Encryption - 17,317 MBytes/Sec, Data Compression - 328.1 MBytes/Sec, Physics - 1,087 Frames/Sec, Extended Instructions - 23,159 Million Matrices/Sec, Single Thread - 3,542 MOps/Sec