Apple M2 Benchmarks Leaked: Mediocre CPU Gains Meet Impressive GPU Boost

M2
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's first MacBook Air and MacBook Pro systems based on the next-generation M2 processors aren't due to be released until July, but the first benchmark results are already here. However, newly-posted Apple M2 benchmark results show that the new processor doesn't tout explosive gains in general-purpose CPU performance, with a 10% gain in single-threaded and a 16% gain in multi-threaded work. However, according to this leaked benchmark, its GPU is significantly faster than its predecessor — up to 67% faster.

Someone with an Apple M2-based system has submitted CPU benchmarks to Primate Labs's Geekbench 5 database (where BenchLeaks (opens in new tab) discovered them). Geekbench 5 benchmarks don't reflect real-world performance across a range of applications (cryptography heavily impacts overall GB5 results), but the integer and float benchmark results can help us draw a few preliminary assumptions about what we can expect from the new Apple chips.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple M2Apple M1Apple M1 Pro 8CCore i7-12800HCore i7-11800HRyzen 7 5800H
General specifications4P, 4E, up to 3.49 GHz4P, 4E, up to 3.20 GHz6P, 2E, up to 3.22 GHz6P, 8E, up to 4.80 GHz8P, 2.30 ~ 4.60 GHz, 24MB16P, 3.20 ~ 4.40 GHz, 20MB
Single-Core | Integer175915971616156313311247
Single-Core | Float208318961896188515561617
Single-Core | Crypto302127832812370337843546
Single-Core | Score191917461760176715211473
Multi-Core | Integer8196701385921130582318081
Multi-Core | Float98408624104601206488739239
Multi-Core | Crypto129641013717028845362725075
Multi-Core | Score8928765395741139083268305
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Apple's M2 has the same CPU and GPU architectures already used by Apple's A15 SoC for smartphones. Meanwhile, since M2 leverages the performance-optimized N5P fabrication technology, it can run its high-performance Avalanche cores at up to 3.49 GHz, yielding a 10% gain over its predecessor. Apple's high-performance Avalanche cores and energy-efficient Blizzard cores are faster than previous-generation Firestorm and Icestorm cores used for the M1 generation of SoCs, but mainly because of larger clocks, larger caches, and an improved memory subsystem — not as a direct result of significant IPC gains.

In general, Apple's M2 isn't much faster than its predecessor in single-thread workloads, which is surprising. However, Apple's new Avalanche cores are significantly faster in single-thread workloads than Intel's Golden Cove cores (used for Alder Lake CPUs), and this is perhaps what matters most.

As far as multi-thread performance is concerned, the M2 is tangibly faster than the M1, with up to 16% more performance. Part of that is because the A15 Blizzard e-cores have a much more significant improvement than the Avalance p-cores, but higher clocks, enhanced caching algorithms, and a better memory subsystem all factor in. As a result, the M2 approaches Apple's M1 Pro SoC in multi-threaded workloads. Meanwhile, since Intel's 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors have more cores than Apple's M2, they are significantly faster in GB5's multi-threaded workloads.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple M2 10C GPUApple M1 8C GPUApple M1 Pro 8C CPU/14C GPUIntel Core i7-12800H 96EU
GB5 Metal Score30627182843994919287
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But while the M2's performance in general-purpose workloads looks like a mixed bag (we will have to test ourselves before drawing any conclusions here), graphics is where the new SoC shines — our comparison above shows an impressive 67% improvement. It is because Apple has increased the number of GPU clusters in its entry-level SoC. It also uses a new GPU architecture for A15 and M2, a combination that brings a rather dramatic performance enhancement to the chip, at least based on results obtained in Geekbench 5. We can only wonder what to expect from real-world applications, but M2's new memory subsystem will be advantageous here.

Current test results should be considered preliminary and taken with a grain of salt. But generally, it looks like the M2 will not significantly improve single-thread performance. Instead, it will focus on higher performance in multi-threaded CPU workloads and bring an even more considerable boost to GPU-processed tasks.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • dehjomz
    While this update is not a massive improvement over m1, what Is impressive is (if found to be true in other apps) the notion that m2 at 3.5 Ghz has much better single core performance than Golden Cove which boosts to 5 Ghz+. The m2 consumes barely 30W under an all core load, which means an individual core is consuming approx 5W. Also, this is a second generation 5 nm design. What is going to happen when TSMC 3nm is in volume production, and apple can use the increased density to offer more cpu and gpu cores and bigger caches?

    Luckily for Intel and AMD , apple isn’t a merchant cpu Vendor. Dell, Lenovo, HP, can’t buy avalanche or blizzard cores for use in laptops. But if apple were to enter the cpu market, and could produce at scale, this level of performance at such little power consumption could render the more power hungry x86 products obsolete overnight Especially if windows can run x86 apps on ARM similar to Rosetta 2 on macOS. Intel and AMD had better be careful. Shots fired.
    Reply
  • Quenepas
    dehjomz said:
    While this update is not a massive improvement over m1, what Is impressive is (if found to be true in other apps) the notion that m2 at 3.5 Ghz has much better single core performance than Golden Cove which boosts to 5 Ghz+. The m2 consumes barely 30W under an all core load, which means an individual core is consuming approx 5W. Also, this is a second generation 5 nm design. What is going to happen when TSMC 3nm is in volume production, and apple can use the increased density to offer more cpu and gpu cores and bigger caches?

    Luckily for Intel and AMD , apple isn’t a merchant cpu Vendor. Dell, Lenovo, HP, can’t buy avalanche or blizzard cores for use in laptops. But if apple were to enter the cpu market, and could produce at scale, this level of performance at such little power consumption could render the more power hungry x86 products obsolete overnight Especially if windows can run x86 apps on ARM similar to Rosetta 2 on macOS. Intel and AMD had better be careful. Shots fired.

    I'm sure this has been discussed in the higher echelons of Apple executive branch. Apple entrance as a silicon provider for other vendors would shoot their stock to the roof at the expense of Intel, AMD and Nvidia. A key player that would see the most benefit would be Microsoft who would rapidly allocate resources to run Windows natively in MX SoCs.

    Still it seems Apple strategy is to provide "long lasting" devices so they can monetize throughout it's lifetime. Apple market penetration is still in single digits and would be interesting if it has improved with these new offerings.
    Reply
  • kaalus
    Mediocre CPU? This must be a joke. It's 4 or 5 times more efficient per watt than anything Intel or AMD have, and twice as good compared to other Arm processors. Basically, a gem, a wonder that is several years ahead of everything else. But TH calls it "mediocre".
    Reply
  • scottsoapbox
    kaalus said:
    Mediocre CPU? This must be a joke. It's 4 or 5 times more efficient per watt than anything Intel or AMD have, and twice as good compared to other Arm processors. Basically, a gem, a wonder that is several years ahead of everything else. But TH calls it "mediocre".

    Mediocre CPU GAINS
    It's embarrassing you can't even read the title of the article you are incorrectly criticizing.
    Reply
  • techconc
    It’s kind of funny how we just focus on the CPU still. With 20% CPU increase, 35+% GPU increase, 40% NPU increase, 50% memory bandwidth increase, improved media blocks, etc. it’s clear that the M2 is a worthy successor to the M1. All this while maintaining industry leading performance per watt. It’s even more amazing in the context of this raising the bar for Apple’s LOW END silicon for PCs.
    Reply
  • grince
    I want to see a comparison between this and ryzen 7 6800u, I believe they should be very close. (but apple efficiency would win.)
    Reply
  • kaalus
    scottsoapbox said:
    Mediocre CPU GAINS
    It's embarrassing you can't even read the title of the article you are incorrectly criticizing.

    "Apple's M2 Benchmarked: Mediocre CPU Meets Impressive GPU" is the title of the article.

    When you learn to read, please come back.
    Reply
  • grince
    kaalus said:
    "Apple's M2 Benchmarked: Mediocre CPU Meets Impressive GPU" is the title of the article.

    When you learn to read, please come back.
    :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: are u guys 12 or something?


    Reply