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M2 benchmarked against other Apple silicon, reminds us M1 Ultra is top dog

Apple M1 Ultra Chipset
Apple M1 Ultra Chipset (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple's new M2 chips are speedy, but new benchmarks show how far behind the M1 Ultra they are.
  • New benchmarks compare the M2 chips with all other Apple silicon.
  • The M2 and M1 Ultra sit at other ends of the spectrum, but "2" isn't always better than "1."

While all of the talk right now is about Apple's new M2 chips, it's easy to forget that the best Apple silicon money can buy right now is the M1 Ultra — but this latest round of benchmarks soon reminds us all.

Apple's latest Apple M2 chip powers the impressive 13-inch MacBook Pro and the upcoming MacBook Air. It's also a chip that replaces the low-end M1 that kicked this whole Apple silicon transition off what feels like a long time ago. In reality, the transition was announced in June of 2020 and it's largely complete — we're just waiting for the Mac Pro, now. And because that M2 is so flashy and new it's sometimes important to remember that it, too, is the low-end chip. If you need raw horsepower, you're going to want the M1 Ultra that is currently offered in the $4,000 Mac Studio.

Want proof of that? Look no further than a new Macworld report that takes the benchmarks for every different flavor of Apple silicon and throws them into one chart. That chart shows that, as expected, the M2 bests the M1 by 1,200 points in the Geekbench 5 multi-score test with a score of 8,908. That's a reasonable output, to be sure. And it's great if you're running single-thread tasks. But what if you're someone using apps that make use of more cores?

Well, you're going to want that Mac Studio.

Graph showing Apple silicon benchmarks

Graph showing Apple silicon benchmarks (Image credit: Macworld)

As this graph shows rather neatly, the high-spec M1 Ultra with more cores than an apple orchard scores 23,369 in the same test. That's a huge result and one that should give M2 buyers food for thought. Perhaps not only because they might want to pick up an M1 Ultra, but also because it sets expectations nice and high for the M2 Ultra. And if Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is correct, that new Mac Pro will be powered by an M2 Extreme — whatever that turns out to be.

Just imagine the score that thing will manage!

The upshot? If you're in the market for a speedy little machine, the best Mac for you is likely to be the new MacBook Air. But if you need power, that ain't if chief.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.