Apple's M1 Max trounced by Intel's new laptop chip — but is it a fair fight?

Intel Core CPU artwork
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has a hot (probably very hot) new mobile chip out and it's pretty happy with it. The snappily-named Core i9-13980HX promises a lot, and early benchmarks show that it's a bit of compute beast, especially compared with Apple's own M1 Max.

The M1 Max is of course the obvious comparison for the new chip — Intel's top-of-the-line mobile silicon against the best you can put into an Apple portable. But is that comparison really fair?

So many cores, so little time

First, the tests.

The folks at PCWorld were able to get their hands on an MSI laptop running the new Intel Core i9-13980HX curing CES and they were allowed to run a Cinebench benchmark just to get a feel for what kind of numbers the machine was capable of.

The result, a score of around 31,000, is impressive indeed. And it's a number that's much higher than the M1 Max's multi-core score of around 12,000.

But just how fair is that comparison?

Well, the Intel Core i9-13980HX has more cores than your average apple orchard — 24, to be exact. Apple's M1 Max has 10.

With that in mind, it's probably fair to say that you'd expect that Intel's chip would be around 2.4x faster. Looking at the numbers, it's coming out a little above that.

Then there's the fact that Intel just announced its new mobile chip and you can't buy anything with it installed just yet. The M1 Max was announced in October of 2021 — more than a year ago. We're waiting for Apple to announce the M2 Max any day now which, presumably, will be faster per core than the old model. It won't have 24 of them, but if it did you can probably expect it to post scores around the 31,000 mark.

So when all is said and done, Intel's chip does indeed post a higher Cinebench score than Apple's — as well it should.

Apple's best MacBook chip won't be competing with that Core i9-13980HX any time soon, it seems. But something else worth noting is the price of that MSI laptop PCWorld got to test. It'll be priced at around $4300, a price that somehow manages to make the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro seem cheap at $3500.

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.