Skip to main content

Apple's M1 MacBooks Are Stronger Than Intel MacBooks, Even When Emulated

Apple M1
(Image credit: Apple)

Editorial Note: A previous article about leaked Apple M1 performance proved false. Rather than continue to proliferate misleading performance numbers, we've redirected that story to the results below, which have been submitted to the publicly accessible Geekbench database:

Apple’s new M1 Silicon chips start shipping this week, which means the public is finally starting to put them to the test. So far, we’ve already seen the chip’s performance numbers in benchmarks for native apps and in graphics tests. But now we’re finally starting to see statistics for how well emulated apps run on the M1.

Emulation has been a bit of an albatross around Apple Silicon’s neck since it was first announced. Even if the new chips are faster in theory, would they be worth it if your favorite x86 programs need to be emulated to run on them? What if the emulation makes them slower in practice? However, according to new benchmark results uploaded to the Geekbench website, this doesn’t appear to be a concern.

Over the weekend, a Geekbench user uploaded numbers for an M1-equipped MacBook Air running an emulated version of the x86 Geekbench test through Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation layer. The laptop’s single-core score was 1,313, while its multi-core score was 5,888. That’s about 79% as powerful as the same laptop running the native version of Geekbench, which hit scores of 1,687 on single-core tests and 7,433 on multi-core tests. Still, that gives it higher single-core scores than any current Intel Mac, including the 2020 27-inch iMac with a Core i9-10910 processor. And as for multi-core, it's still leagues ahead of what a Core-i7 2020 MacBook Air can do.

That’s a relief for anyone who was worried that having to process the Rosetta 2 translation layer would make their new M1 MacBook less powerful on some popular programs than older, Intel-based models. And emulated performance is key, since even certain mainstays like Microsoft Office won't have native M1 support at launch.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Geekbench. Test a real benchmark please.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    I remember using Office under emulation on a first-generation Intel Macbook. Start-up time was absolutely agonizing.
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Apple, shmapple, who's got your dapple?...;) No sale, but thanks for the effort there, shmapple!
    Reply
  • shady28
    There's a 1716 Geekbench single core score from a Tiger Lake 1165G7 Dell 9130 running Linux.

    Nice clickbait article though.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    shady28 said:
    There's a 1716 Geekbench single core score from a Tiger Lake 1165G7 Dell 9130 running Linux.

    Nice clickbait article though.

    The article is no clickbait, considering that's the score of an emulated, first generation Apple laptop silicon, so that's pretty amazing.

    If it can also beat it with power and heat, Intel is in real trouble in the mobile space, though not anywhere else. They already lost the console wars and mobile phone markets.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Geekbench. Test a real benchmark please.
    Geekbench is a real benchmark, it's just a general one and not a specialized one.
    Reply
  • shady28
    Sleepy_Hollowed said:
    The article is no clickbait, considering that's the score of an emulated, first generation Apple laptop silicon, so that's pretty amazing.

    If it can also beat it with power and heat, Intel is in real trouble in the mobile space, though not anywhere else. They already lost the console wars and mobile phone markets.

    It didn't beat Tiger Lake in Cinebench single thread - it lost to be blunt - andTiger's multi-thread is within spitting distance of M1 - not impressive given M1 is a 4+4 (fast+slow) core vs Tiger's 4C. Tom's compared it to 10th gen parts and zen 2. That's why it's clickbait. All the new cores (Tiger Lake, Zen 3) are much faster in terms of single thread performance.

    The only place M1 breaks new ground is in performance/watt. But that has to translate into real gains a user can see and feel. In this case, it's probably battery life, but TGL was already hitting 11-13+ hours on Tom's tests of the XPS 9310.

    This is the best x86 has to offer in a similar space to M1, and M1 isn't really blowing it away or anything :

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/dell-xps-13-9310
    Reply
  • SamX79
    shady28 said:
    There's a 1716 Geekbench single core score from a Tiger Lake 1165G7 Dell 9130 running Linux.

    Nice clickbait article though.

    is this what you are talking about?! https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/3435728
    it is running Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS 5.4.39-ww33bkc x86_64
    11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7
    1552 Single-Core Score
    4429Multi-Core Score

    NEXT
    Reply
  • CAlbertson
    shady28 said:
    It didn't beat Tiger Lake in Cinebench single thread - it lost to be blunt - andTiger's multi-thread is within spitting distance of M1 - not impressive given M1 is a 4+4 (fast+slow) core vs Tiger's 4C. Tom's compared it to 10th gen parts and zen 2. That's why it's clickbait. All the new cores (Tiger Lake, Zen 3) are much faster in terms of single thread performance.

    The only place M1 breaks new ground is in performance/watt. But that has to translate into real gains a user can see and feel. In this case, it's probably battery life, but TGL was already hitting 11-13+ hours on Tom's tests of the XPS 9310.

    This is the best x86 has to offer in a similar space to M1, and M1 isn't really blowing it away or anything :

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/dell-xps-13-9310

    This "M1" is the absolute low-end of the line. They are putting it inside a Macbook "Air" which is Apple's entry level machine. We should be comparing the M1 to an Intel i3. It is not very fair to say "Apple's lowest-end notebook is not super fast." So what?

    Today Apple sells a Mac Pro with a 28-core Xeon processor inside. Apple promises to replace this with something much better within two years. THIS will be the one to watch. Will they use 200+ ARM cores or will they build faster cores or do both?

    Being faster than an i3 and running with no fan is nice but not really impressive as the i3 is a low bar. being faster than a 28-core Xeon will be impressive. But we will have to wait.
    Reply
  • shady28
    CAlbertson said:
    This "M1" is the absolute low-end of the line. They are putting it inside a Macbook "Air" which is Apple's entry level machine. We should be comparing the M1 to an Intel i3. It is not very fair to say "Apple's lowest-end notebook is not super fast." So what?

    Today Apple sells a Mac Pro with a 28-core Xeon processor inside. Apple promises to replace this with something much better within two years. THIS will be the one to watch. Will they use 200+ ARM cores or will they build faster cores or do both?

    Being faster than an i3 and running with no fan is nice but not really impressive as the i3 is a low bar. being faster than a 28-core Xeon will be impressive. But we will have to wait.

    I understand where you're trying to come from, but Tiger Lake is the "U" line. The U line is specifically for thin and light laptops, spec'd either for 15W or 28W. In point of fact, Tiger Lakes's predecessor "Ice Lake" was used in the MacBook Air 2020. So Tiger Lake was never meant to be a powerful chip either.

    There's the "H" series Tiger Lake that is coming in Q1. Those are the 35 / 45W laptop chips for bulkier gaming rigs, and they're expected to have a 6 core variant. I expect Apple will have the performance / watt crown for some time though, since they have the very best node on the planet for their products (5nm). Even AMD is not expected to have much access to that until Q4 2021.
    Reply