Apple won serious plaudits for the performance of its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips found in the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, but it looks like Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake chips could offer some serious competition.
The desktop Alder Lake chips have just gone on sale, and while comparing desktop and mobile chips isn’t a particularly fair comparison for obvious reasons, it’s still interesting all the same. Especially when rumor has it that Apple will be putting a modified version of its M1 Max chip in a Mac Pro desktop next year.
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MacRumors (opens in new tab) has been examining the benchmarks for early adopters. Geekbench results (opens in new tab) for the new Intel Core i9-12900K show a processor that offers around 1.5x the performance of the M1 Max in the multi-core tests, with an average of around 18,500 points compared to 12,500 for Apple’s chips. It’s a similar story for the i7-12700K (opens in new tab) against the M1 Pro, too.
That’s a result that Intel can be rightly proud of, though again comparing desktop chips with mobile ones isn’t actually that useful. And that’s not just because of the raw performance difference between classes, but also the respective power draw where Apple understandably has the upper hand, because it’s designed its chips to run off a battery rather than the power outlet.
Intel’s new processors use 125W of base power, and 241W with Turbo Boost. Comparatively speaking, the new MacBook Pro draws a tiny amount of power (opens in new tab).
For Apple, power efficiency is as important — if not more so — than raw speed. Indeed, the company promised (opens in new tab) “industry leading performance per watt and incredible efficiency,” while still offering solid if not world beating performance.
And while early leaks suggest that the mobile version of Alder Lake could comfortably beat the M1 family for performance, it would take enormous efficiency gains for Alder Lake powered laptops to meaningfully close the power draw gap on the MacBook Pro, in part thanks to Apple’s integrated GPU.
As noted when Apple unveiled the M1 Max, it can deliver “performance comparable to a high-end GPU in a compact pro PC laptop while consuming up to 40 percent less power, and performance similar to that of the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops while using up to 100 watts less power.”
We’re still some way before these comparisons can be made in an entirely fair way. The M1 Max desktops aren’t expected until next year, and nor is the Alder Lake mobile chip. Only when both are available to be freely benchmarked will we find out how much ground Intel can make up on efficiency, and Apple on performance.
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