The new MacBook Pro and Air are a huge leap forward in performance, and we've got the numbers to prove it. After I finished my MacBook Air with M1 (2020) review, it immediately became clear why Apple has moved on from Intel.
Yes, the new Apple M1 chip is the game-changer that Apple's claimed it would be. And to prove it, we've put the M1 MacBook Air and Pro up against two of the best laptops there are: the 11th Gen Tiger Lake-based Dell XPS 13 and the Asus ZenBook 13. Those laptops have only one win when compared to the M1 MacBooks.
Oh, and we've also got some M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro battery life results that will definitely wow you, if performance isn't your main priority.
MacBook M1 vs Intel: Performance benchmarks
Simply put, the M1 chip in the MacBook Air crushes the competition — and the past as well. Just look at the below Geekbench 5 scores, where the new MacBook Air's score of 5,962 crushes the 5,084 from the Asus ZenBook 13 and beats the 5,319 from the Dell XPS 13. Both of those PCs run on Intel's 11th Gen Tiger Lake Core i7 processors, with 16GB of RAM each (the same amount of memory in the M1-equipped MacBooks).
If you were expecting higher numbers from the M1 MacBooks, I'll note that we're using the Geekbench 5.1 scores, which are comparable to the Geekbench 5.2 scores we got from the aforementioned PCs. The Geekbench 5.3 scores for the MacBooks are much higher, but that test isn't comparable to older versions, as Geekbench itself says. Oh, and Geekbench 5.1 isn't optimized for Apple Silicon, so these scores may be a bit low for Apple.
|Geekbench 5||Handbrake video transcoding||PugetBench Photoshop|
|M1 MacBook Air||5,962||9:15||653|
|M1 MacBook Pro||5,925||7:44||649|
|Dell XPS 13 (Tiger Lake)||5,319||18:22||588|
|Asus ZenBook 13 (Tiger Lake)||5,084||17:51||743|
|Intel MacBook Air 2020||2,738||27:10||n/a|
|Intel MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)||4,399||12:43||569|
The M1 MacBook Air and Pro win again on our Handbrake video transcoding test, converting a 4K film to 1080p at 9:15 and 7:44 respectively. The Air's time is almost a third of the 27:10 the previous Intel MacBook Air needed, while both M1 scores are around half (or less) of the times posted by the XPS 13 and the ZenBook 13.
Oh, and on the PugetBench Photoshop test — which performs 21 different Photoshop tasks, three times per run — the M1 Air (653) and Pro (649) beat the XPS 13 (588). Again, though, this test isn't optimized for Apple Silicon — it's an Intel-based test running through Rosetta 2, so Apple's scores may improve when it's optimized.
MacBook M1 vs Intel: Gaming benchmarks
The MacBook Air has never been known as a gaming machine, but the M1 chip may change its reputation there as well. While the below Civilization VI scores are on slightly lower resolutions (1440 x 900 on Macs vs 1920 x 1080 on PCs), the M1 MacBook Air (37 fps) and MacBook Pro (38 fps) ran circles around the 16 fps rate from the ZenBook 13, and handily beat the XPS 13 as well.
|Civilization VI: Gathering Storm||Resolution|
|M1 MacBook Air||37||1440 x 900|
|M1 MacBook Pro||38||1440 x 900|
|Dell XPS 13||21||1920 x 1080|
|Asus ZenBook 13||16||1920 x 1080|
|Intel MacBook Air (2020)||7||1440 x 900|
|Intel MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)||18||1440 x 900|
The poor old Intel MacBook Air? It only ran Civ VI at 7 fps, an unplayable rate if ever there was.
MacBook M1 vs Intel: Battery life results
And if endurance is your key metric, well, Apple did it again. The new MacBook Air (14:41) lasted hours longer than the Dell XPS 13 (11:07), and it also beat the ZenBook 13 (13:47) by almost a full hour. Need more endurance? The M1 MacBook Pro (16:32) redefines all-day battery life.
|M1 MacBook Air||14:41|
|M1 MacBook Pro||16:32|
|Asus ZenBook 13||13:47|
|Dell XPS 13||11:07|
|Intel MacBook Air 2020||9:31|
|Intel MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)||10:21|
In the end, it's shocking to see what the Apple M1 chip allows. Apple's refined its strength in the ARM-based processor field in the iPhone for so long, and its got amazing results to reap by bringing that tech to the laptop world.
One wonders how the 16-inch MacBook Pro (and the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro) will be revolutionized by Apple Silicon in the years to come.