The first M1 Macs have been out in the wild for almost three full months, and the fear is approaching Intel. This week, the company shared a detailed slide show of reference results Tom’s Hardware (via Six colors), aiming to show that there are several ways it still has a leg up on Apple Silicon … depending on how you look at things.
One of Intel’s focuses is on what it describes as “productivity”. The company compares its 11th generation “Tiger Lake” processors to Apple’s M1 for things like browsing and using Microsoft Office. Intel says:
Comparison of Microsoft Office 365, runs native on both Intel and Apple processors: 11th generation system performs some functions such as PDF export, up to 2.3 times faster (against Apple M1)
Comparison of the most popular browser (Chrome), which runs original versions on both Intel and Apple processors: The 11th generation system is more than 30% faster in general and almost 3 times faster in the electronic sharing improvement (vs Apple M1)
Other references from Intel also focus on things like content creation, using software from Adobe and Topaz Labs, as well as games.
Intel also compared the M1 to the Intel Evo, which is “the second-generation upgrade to Project Athena to make the best portable devices.”
There are some bizarre results from testing between the M1 and Evo, with Intel claiming that the M1 in the MacBook Pro failed on things like using Zoom and PowerPoint. Tom’s Hardware explains:
Intel claims that the M1 in the MacBook Pro it tested failed eight out of 25 tests it uses, including “Switch to Calendar” in Outlook, “Start Video Conference” in Zoom and “Select Picture Menu” in PowerPoint. Intel’s workloads do not explain how these run, but they are also simple tasks that work quite well on just about any modern processor, so they are weird choices. (I had many Zoom conferences while testing the MacBook Pro without any problems.)
There are several things to keep in mind with this testing. First of all, these tests were performed by Intel, and therefore they should be treated with skepticism; Of course, the company will pick and choose the specific tasks where Intel chips can still work better than Apple’s M1.
For example, Tom’s Hardware points out some suspicious choices that Intel made when testing battery life:
In battery life, Intel switched to an Intel Core i7-1165G7 laptop, the Acer Swift 5, instead of sticking to the Core i7-1185G7 in the whitebook it used for performance testing. It also tested a MacBook Air. They ran Netflix streams and tabs and found that the MacBook Air came in front with a six-minute difference.
Intel did not increase the battery life of the MacBook Pro. In our tests, Intel PCs beat for hours.
Intel’s timing of releasing this counter-argument to Apple Silicon is also exciting. Jason Snell at Six colors points out the M1 is a low-end chip for low-end system, and Intel “has only a small window” left to be able to find favorable comparisons:
Inconsistent test platforms, shifting arguments, omitted data and the not so faint scent of desperation. Today’s M1 processor is a low-end chip for low-end systems, so Intel only has a small window to compare favorably with these systems before Apple’s silicon Macs of the highest quality are shipped and do the job so much more difficult.
If you’re interested, you can find the full slide show from Intel over at Tom’s Hardware.
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