Apple's M1 MacBook Air smashes Windows on ARM in new benchmarks

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
A benchmark test published on Tuesday shows a massive performance gap between Mac computers powered by Apple's M1 chip and Windows on ARM machines running the latest 64-bit x86 apps via an official emulator.

MacBook Air


Conducted by PCWorld, the evaluation pits a Microsoft Surface Pro X against the new M1 MacBook Air, two devices that incorporate ARM processors.

As noted by the publication, there are precious few ARM-based Windows boxes from which to choose as only two chips -- Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 -- power the platform. Microsoft's derivative SQ1 and SQ2 processors, designed in partnership with Qualcomm, are in the Surface Pro X.

PCWorld's Windows testbed relied on a first-generation SQ1, though any gains derived from the more recent SQ2 are thought to be insignificant.

The MacBook Air crushed the Surface Pro X in both single- and multi-score Geekbench 5 testing. Apple's new laptop scored 1730 points in the single-core process, beating Surface's score by just over 1000 points. Multi-core testing revealed an even larger disparity, with MacBook Air clocking 7454 points to Surface's 2734 points.

Results from Maxon's Cinebench also gave the M1 a commanding lead with single- and multi-core scores landing at 1496 and 6838, respectively, handily beating Surface Pro X's 371 and 1604.

Moving on to open source video transcoding tool Handbrake, MacBook Air finished transcoding a 12-minute 4K video into a 1080p H.265 file six times faster than the Surface.

It should be noted that Microsoft's 64-bit x86 emulator is still in beta. Still, even with a concerted software development effort, Windows on ARM lacks the hardware chops to catch up with Apple's macOS and M1 integration.

The first in an expected line of in-house designed Mac chips, the M1 debuted in November and currently powers the new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini. Early benchmarks, and AppleInsider's own reviews, have revealed blazing compute speeds and extremely high levels of power efficiency compared to legacy Intel models.

With high performance chip designs on the horizon, Apple Silicon could soon represent a paradigm shift in personal computing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,397member
    We’re the Mac benchmark tests running under Rosetta 2 ?   If you run the Windows on Arm under x86 emulation you should at least compare oranges to oranges and run x86 Mac versions under Rosetta 
  • Reply 2 of 21
    chadbag said:
    We’re the Mac benchmark tests running under Rosetta 2 ?   If you run the Windows on Arm under x86 emulation you should at least compare oranges to oranges and run x86 Mac versions under Rosetta 
    It took me a minute to get your point. Your point is very good, although I would rather see Windows apps recompiled for Windows on ARM so we can get an "Apples to apples" comparison. Who really cares about emulated app comparisons when we can compare native apps instead?

    Surely there are some native apps for Windows for ARM. How about Microsoft Office which just announced support for M1 Macs today. Is there a Microsoft Office for Windows for ARM yet? That would be a pretty good comparison.
    gregoriusm
  • Reply 3 of 21
    To me the headline implied running Windows on the Air.
    I was expecting to see Parallels or another emulator running Windows better.
    My 2012 Mini runs Windows better than most dedicated Windows machines.

    gregoriusmrazorpitbulk001Detnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    chadbag said:
    We’re the Mac benchmark tests running under Rosetta 2 ?   If you run the Windows on Arm under x86 emulation you should at least compare oranges to oranges and run x86 Mac versions under Rosetta 
    Yes good point this is an imperfect comparison for sure.  I imagine the gulf of performance is a combination of M1 hardware over the "Qualsoft" chips and, I bet, the even more significant edge of Rosetta 2 over however MS is emulating X86 under Windows ARM.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,832member
    Even if the M1 is running Rosetta 2, Windows is hamstrung here by emulating X86. IIRC Microsoft will be releasing an X64 emulator soon. Then compare Rosetta 2’s X64 emulation to the new MS X64 emulator.
    UPDATE: the PCWorld comparison used the new (beta) emulator.😳
    edited December 2020 gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    While this is nothing unexpected. I am hoping the spectacular debut of M1 processor will drive the entire industry towards ARM processors. But expect the rest of the industry to take a few years to come anywhere near what Apple has managed.
    edited December 2020 razorpitwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    I suspect Microsoft purposely aimed low...  because it was competing with Chromebook and did not want to cannibalize Intel laptop sales.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 21
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,410member
    In other news...

    iPhone smashes knockoff iPhones
    iPad smashes knockoff iPads
    Airpods smashes knockoff Airpods

    Edit:
    I realize people will come and defend the knockoff Mac software because they have a squirt of originality compared to most knockoffs. My point wasn't that they're knockoffs but that Apple always smashes the followers. Doesn't surprise me here either.
    edited December 2020 aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Is this a surprise, it's clear even an iPad Pro could probably beat a similarly priced Windows device, ARM or x86, add onto the fact the M1 is at least twice the performance, and Apples built up true emulation and native support better than Windows has at this point on ARM, and this will be consistent for years until Microsoft starts believing ARM processors are the future.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    The last sentence of the PCW article says:
    "But without the combined miracle of a much better CPU from Qualcomm or another Arm chipmaker and continued improvements from Microsoft, the future of Windows on Arm looks grim.

    Not if MS decides to commit to a version of Windows that will run on Arm Macs.  As Federighi noted. the ball is in their court.

    MS just needs to further embrace the "agnostic" philosophy it has been preaching, and be willing to sacrifice some hardware sales to benefit its software division.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    chadbag said:
    We’re the Mac benchmark tests running under Rosetta 2 ?   If you run the Windows on Arm under x86 emulation you should at least compare oranges to oranges and run x86 Mac versions under Rosetta 
    True! PCWorld just "recycled" the MacBook results from MacWorld, didn’t bother to make a good analysis.
    Anyway, the Geekbench results are all native.
    In Cinebench the MacBook app is running native, but we can use the Mac mini Cinebench under Rosetta scores from Anandtech: 999 and 5257 (single and multi). Still miles away.
    Edit:
     Martin Nobel run Cinebench R23(x64) in Windows inside a virtual machine running on a Mac M1. The single core score was 495!!!!!!! Still ahead even though it is running in a non-optimised virtual machine. Amazing.
    edited December 2020 williamlondonspock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    cpsro said:

    UPDATE: the PCWorld comparison used the new (beta) emulator.😳
    In that case Rosetta 2 would appear to be a stunning achievement.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    XedXed Posts: 964member
    chadbag said:
    We’re the Mac benchmark tests running under Rosetta 2 ?   If you run the Windows on Arm under x86 emulation you should at least compare oranges to oranges and run x86 Mac versions under Rosetta 
    I recall reading about Rosetta 2 results on the M1 right away.

    https://mjtsai.com/blog/2020/11/16/performance-of-rosetta-2-on-apple-m1/
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    inexco said:
    To me the headline implied running Windows on the Air.
    I was expecting to see Parallels or another emulator running Windows better.
    My 2012 Mini runs Windows better than most dedicated Windows machines.


    You all should know that Roseta will smoke any other x86 emulations for long as M1 has unique features speeding x86 emulation. dont remember what exactly but was something with memory ordering or task scheduling....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 21
    frantisek said:
    inexco said:
    To me the headline implied running Windows on the Air.
    I was expecting to see Parallels or another emulator running Windows better.
    My 2012 Mini runs Windows better than most dedicated Windows machines.


    You all should know that Roseta will smoke any other x86 emulations for long as M1 has unique features speeding x86 emulation. dont remember what exactly but was something with memory ordering or task scheduling....
    Rosetta is NOT emulation but code translation from Mac(Intel) to Mac(ASi) that generally takes place at installation time.  AFAIK MS chose to do a more traditional run-time emulation which generally sucks in comparison.

    even if MS does port Windows to ASi it will still lack native software unless the individual developers cross-compile.  Would they do that for such a small target audience if they aren’t being forced to do so is the question.  Here’s where Microsoft gets screwed by its primary selling point—backwards compatibility.  They will have to sacrifice that if they want to make a forced-march to a different ASI, and they must make a forced March if they want their developers to go along.  My money says they never leave x86, for better or worse.

    it will be interesting to see what solutions Arm is able to bring to the table, but they are even more compromised by their architecture.  
    razorpitspock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    The interesting thing is that although these benchmarks are a good way of looking at the M1's raw performance, they still don't fully capture many of the other ways that the Apple Silicone Macs out perform other ARM based systems. (Such as Android based systems.) You might be familiar with a computer running slowly even though the processor is not maxed out, nor the device overheating, these slow downs are caused by the various inefficiencies in the design of the system. They can be particularly noticeable in multi-tasking environments.

    One such advantage is in how memory is utilised on the ARM based Macs, which is why a laptop with just 8GB of ram is able to run not just professional software, but not slow down while using that software in rapid switching between different applications. This is simply not possible for Windows and Android on comparable hardware. This effect is already noticed on smartphones, where the iPhones need less ram to perform the same functions and can always rapidly switch between apps.

    As Apple make the hardware and software, they have also tailored the system to take advantage of these differences, generating these further gains which aren't trivially measured with a benchmarking tool, but experienced in real world use.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    robaba said:
    frantisek said:
    inexco said:
    To me the headline implied running Windows on the Air.
    I was expecting to see Parallels or another emulator running Windows better.
    My 2012 Mini runs Windows better than most dedicated Windows machines.


    You all should know that Roseta will smoke any other x86 emulations for long as M1 has unique features speeding x86 emulation. dont remember what exactly but was something with memory ordering or task scheduling....
    Rosetta is NOT emulation but code translation from Mac(Intel) to Mac(ASi) that generally takes place at installation time.  AFAIK MS chose to do a more traditional run-time emulation which generally sucks in comparison.

    even if MS does port Windows to ASi it will still lack native software unless the individual developers cross-compile.  Would they do that for such a small target audience if they aren’t being forced to do so is the question.  Here’s where Microsoft gets screwed by its primary selling point—backwards compatibility.  They will have to sacrifice that if they want to make a forced-march to a different ASI, and they must make a forced March if they want their developers to go along.  My money says they never leave x86, for better or worse.

    it will be interesting to see what solutions Arm is able to bring to the table, but they are even more compromised by their architecture.  
    From what I understand MS also uses code translation with recompilation, but it does that in small batches of code when needed, while Rosetta usually recompiles all executable code together ahead of time. MS emulation seems to cache translated code but I imagine that method still creates additional lag compared with Rosetta. I also imagine that Rosetta is far more optimised considering that Apple made the M1 and Rosetta together and knows pretty well what it wants, while MS probably has to worry about emulation method compatibility with future ARM chip variants.

    I think MS problem isn‘t being unable to force-march developers, it’s not giving good incentives for developers to program for ARM. There is no strategy for a broad ARM ecosystem of Windows computers, from tablets to workstations. If there aren’t ARM machines for power users and there is no Windows ARM machine that really disrupts what Intel machines offer, then most developers will not see why is it worth investing time and money supporting these ARM machines, even more so when there is x64 emulation.
    I mean, if no one tries to sell an ARM Windows machine arguing it has better performance than an Intel alternative, then no consumer that buys it will really care too much about wether the app is native or not... it’s not like they will have high expectations.
    spock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 21
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,431member
    Two things...

    1. Rosetta is not emulation (as others have pointed out). It translates x64 code so that it can run natively on the M1's CPU and GPU cores.  That translation happens when the application is installed or run for the first time after an update. It can also happen JIT (just in time) when arbitrary x64 code is executed.

    2. The point of the comparison wasn't about the performance of the hardware (M1 vs. SQ1), it was about the real world performance of the system, including the operating systems. This is the performance a user can expect to get out of the system.
    spock1234tmayGG1watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    The issue as I see it is if a Windows user wishes to buy a Windows computer that uses ARM for better battery life (and other advantages) vs a Mac user who wants to do the same thing.

    The Mac user, even at the debut of the machine, appears to have to make few, if any, real compromises. The machine is so fast it runs software that's not complied for its processor at very acceptable speeds. Most software just works. Software that is compiled for it runs really quickly. Benefit = superfast machine for most software. Best in class battery life. Lots of other ARM related benefits that we all know about.

    The PC user wanting to experience the benefits of ARM is hugely compromised. Microsoft is well behind the curve here and this issue is not likely to be fixed in the short term. The machine is expensive, extremely slow, with loads of software compatibility issues and the battery life is probably half what the Mac user is getting. All in all, it's an absolute turkey.

    It does though help to highlight the fantastic job Apple is doing here. This is not easy. I'm sure next year will see some new form factors that take further advantage of Apple Silicon and Apple's excellent industrial design know-how. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,832member
    skingers said:
    cpsro said:

    UPDATE: the PCWorld comparison used the new (beta) emulator.😳
    In that case Rosetta 2 would appear to be a stunning achievement.
    It’s the overall M1 system that smokes Microsoft. Rosetta 2 is just part of it.
    watto_cobra
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