New Apple Developer Transition Kit benchmarks show Apple silicon already outperforms a MacBook Air

Mac mini
Mac mini (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple's Developer Transition Kit has been benchmarked running native apps.
  • Previous benchmarks showed how apps would run under emulation.
  • It benchmarks better than a base MacBook Air already.

Apple's Developer Transition Kit (ADK) is an iPad Pro's A12Z SoC strapped to a Mac mini chassis. Yes, there's more to it than that, but for benchmarking purposes, it's as much as we need to know. After performing valiantly in benchmark tests run under Rosetta emulation, we now know how quickly that machine can run native Mac apps and it's very promising indeed.

When Geekbench was under emulation, the DTK managed scores in the ballpark of 800 for single-core and 2600 for multi-core. Decent to be sure. Mouth-watering? Maybe not.

Now, feast your eyes on some native numbers shared by 9to5Mac. This is an iPad app, running on the DTK as if it was a "real" Mac app.

Apple Dtk Geekbench Screen

Apple Dtk Geekbench Screen (Image credit: 9to5Mac)

The results show a single-core score of 1098 and a multi-core score of 4555. This compares to the non-native of 800 on the single-core test and 2600 on multi-core. For comparison, the entry-level $999 2020 MacBook Air achieves a Geekbench score of 1005 on single-core and 2000 on multi-core.

At this point, the DTK is already roasting the MacBook Air in terms of multi-core performance. Remember, this is still early hardware that was never intended to be lightning-quick - it was just built to give developers a machine to work on.

Imagine what could be achieved when Apple is trying to put the pedal to the metal.

All of this was made possible after it was discovered that iPad apps could be run on the Developer Transition Kit by starting it in Recovery mode, disabling security features, and then codesigning the apps that needed to be run. And no, Apple probably isn't very happy with whoever did it.

Except it probably should be – these numbers look great already.

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.