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Rocket Lake i7 Loses to Apple M1 in Single-Threaded Performance

Intel Core i7-11700K
(Image credit: Future)

The Intel Rocket Lake CPU launch is less than a week away, but according to new benchmarks from PassMark, Team Blue’s new best CPUs for desktop may already be having some trouble taking off. Of the two Rocket Lake CPUs that PassMark has tested, the Intel Core i9-11900K and the Intel Core i7-11700K, only the i9 beats the Apple M1 in single-core performance. That’s pretty embarrassing, since Intel’s been targeting Apple hard in its ads lately, and since the M1 is primarily a laptop CPU.

PassMark Single Thread Performance Score
Single Thread Performance Score
Intel Core i9-11900K3,741
Apple M1 8 Core 3,550
Intel Core i7-11700K3,542

Specifically, PassMark gives the M1 a single-threaded performance score of 3,550. That’s slightly above the Intel Core i7-11700K’s 3,542 score, though it is significantly below the Intel Core i9-11900K’s 3,741 score.

So, we’re not looking at too drastic of a difference here, but given that the i7-11700K has an MSRP of $399 while you can get a full Mac Mini with an M1 for $699 is disconcerting. 

Intel’s new desktop CPUs will likely still blaze past the M1 in multi-threaded tests, since Apple’s chip lacks hyperthreading. But Intel still can’t be happy seeing its newest desktop CPUs losing out to a laptop chip in any category. Especially given that the M1’s pro-level successor, the M1X, is already in the works. 

Rocket Lake’s already gotten a bit of flack for sticking to a 14nm process, and as more companies move to their own bespoke processors, this is a rough time for Intel to stumble. 

  • atomicWAR
    Yeah this is not what I would call a "fair" result. Yes apple wins (save the i9 11900k) in single thread performance but your also not using the whole core on the x86 side since hyperthreading/symmetric multithreading is not being used for this test. I WOULD be more impressed if these scores counted the hyperthreading for the core being taxed which typically adds about 20% more performance. Until then it is an apples to oranges comparison that doesn't mean near as much as the article would like you to believe. Pun intended...
    Reply
  • salgado18
    I'd say it's a bit irrelevant, since you can only get a new Mac with an M1, and can't use the M1 outside a Mac. Nice to see the chip is fast, but until they compete for the same space, doesn't mean much.

    Also, it's a brand new chip, while Rocket Lake is built upon older architectures and a worse node.
    Reply
  • Brian28
    atomicWAR said:
    Yeah this is not what I would call a "fair" result. Yes apple wins (save the i9 11900k) in single thread performance but your also not using the whole core on the x86 side since hyperthreading/symmetric multithreading is not being used for this test. I WOULD only be impressed if these scores counted the hyperthreading for the core being taxed which typically adds about 20% more performance. Until then it is an apples to oranges comparison that doesn't mean near as much as the article would like you to believe. Pun intended...
    It's not to be taken in isolation, as the multi-core performance is very relevant. But it's absolutely fair, as there are still some workloads that are not designed to be multithreaded at all. That means they can't use HT, either. The test is called single-thread, not single-core.
    Reply
  • atomicWAR
    Brian28 said:
    It's not to be taken in isolation, as the multi-core performance is very relevant. But it's absolutely fair, as there are still some workloads that are not designed to be multithreaded at all. That means they can't use HT, either. The test is called single-thread, not single-core.

    I am not saying your argument isn't without merit but when you are comparing threads and only using only part of one CPU core for the test and the whole core on the other CPU, the test is really incomplete in my eyes. Heck imagine throwing an IBM Power 10 CPU where there are 8 threads per core and only counting one. Again it would not be without merit but it would paint a very incomplete picture.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    atomicWAR said:
    Yeah this is not what I would call a "fair" result. Yes apple wins (save the i9 11900k) in single thread performance but your also not using the whole core on the x86 side since hyperthreading/symmetric multithreading is not being used for this test. I WOULD only be impressed if these scores counted the hyperthreading for the core being taxed which typically adds about 20% more performance. Until then it is an apples to oranges comparison that doesn't mean near as much as the article would like you to believe. Pun intended...
    Hyperthreading only kicks in if a single thread doesn't saturate the execution resources of a core and if another thread can fill in the gaps. If the test can saturate the execution resources of the core, then Hyperthreading is irrelevant.

    EDIT: On another note, Hyperthreading is irrelevant anyway since if a single thread is spawned for this test, it's not going to trigger Hyperthreading anyway.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Straight from the passmark site:
    The sample rate for the 11th gen is too small for accuracy.
    It's impressive that the M1 runs at lower Mhz and is still up there.
    11th gen is still severely nerfed if they are actually running at the stated Hz, 3.5 instead of 5.3 is huuuuge.
    Intel Core i9-11900K @ 3.50GHz
    (86%)
    3,741$599.99*Rank: 1
    No. of Samples: 2
    Cores: 8 Threads: 16
    > Compare
    Apple M1 8 Core 3200 MHz
    (82%)
    3,550NARank: 2
    No. of Samples: 61
    Cores: 8 Threads: 8
    > Compare
    Intel Core i7-11700K @ 3.60GHz
    (82%)
    3,542$399.99Rank: 3
    No. of Samples: 3
    Cores: 8 Threads: 16
    Reply
  • andrep74
    Doesn't matter if it's fair or not. If at the end of the day someone gets their job done on a machine that costs 1/2 as much, on a battery that lasts twice as long, and runs just as fast, they're not going to lament the lack of hyperthreading.

    What Intel and AMD really need to worry about is M1X or M2. It's amazing that these chips emulate older architectures and worse nodes at or near the same performance level as the current-gen x86 chips. One has to wonder if Apple's clout has led to their current monopoly on 5nm and whether that has the most significant impact on overall performance, and, therefore, their future.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    andrep74 said:
    What Intel and AMD really need to worry about is M1X or M2. It's amazing that these chips emulate older architectures and worse nodes at or near the same performance level as the current-gen x86 chips.
    Apple isn't using emulation. They're using what's called Binary Translation. If you understand the ISA well enough, which Apple has plenty of experience in that regard, then you can effectively "recompile" the executable in real-time and run with minimal performance loss.

    It's the same principle as how .NET and Java based apps work.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    andrep74 said:
    Doesn't matter if it's fair or not. If at the end of the day someone gets their job done on a machine that costs 1/2 as much, on a battery that lasts twice as long, and runs just as fast, they're not going to lament the lack of hyperthreading.

    What Intel and AMD really need to worry about is M1X or M2. It's amazing that these chips emulate older architectures and worse nodes at or near the same performance level as the current-gen x86 chips. One has to wonder if Apple's clout has led to their current monopoly on 5nm and whether that has the most significant impact on overall performance, and, therefore, their future.
    Holy lurker, Batman. You've been here almost 13 years and that was your first post?
    Reply
  • Lorien Silmaril
    atomicWAR said:
    Yeah this is not what I would call a "fair" result. Yes apple wins (save the i9 11900k) in single thread performance but your also not using the whole core on the x86 side since hyperthreading/symmetric multithreading is not being used for this test. I WOULD only be impressed if these scores counted the hyperthreading for the core being taxed which typically adds about 20% more performance. Until then it is an apples to oranges comparison that doesn't mean near as much as the article would like you to believe. Pun intended...

    I don't feel like you understand what "single thread" testing means. Intel can't boast about single thread performance then lament not being able to hyperthread because, you know, there's only one thread.

    the comparison was totally fair.
    Reply