Benchmarks for Apple's latest and greatest silicon SoC (system-on-a-chip), the M1 Max, have already appeared online, just a few hours after it was unveiled at the Apple Unleashed October 2021 event. The more powerful 10-core M1 Max with 32GB of memory was allegedly the variant used, though as with all leaked benchmark results, don't take anything as gospel just yet.
With that disclaimer out of the way, the M1 Max achieved a single-core score of 1,749 and a multi-core score of 11,542 if these results are genuine.
The previous M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro achieved 1,732 and 7,590 respectively on the same test, so while there's a decent improvement on multi-core performance, these scores feel a tad lackluster when you look at the performance boost Apple was showing off during its presentation.
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Our socks have not been knocked off
By another comparison on Geekbench, a Dell XPS 17 running an Intel Core i9-11980HK achieved a single-core score of 1,658 and a multi-core score of 10,059, a little under what's supposedly being achieved by Apple's latest flagship chip.
Let's not get things twisted – it isn't that the scores are unimpressive, as they sit very comfortably at the top-tier of portable workstation benchmarks, but the margins are pretty slim and the price of the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch can quickly feel ridiculous, with the most affordable M1 Max (32 core) 14-inch MacBook starting at $3,099 / £2,999 / AU$4,649.
Thankfully, there are other things that could also be impacting performance numbers, such as the benchmarks being run on a pre-release version of macOS Monterey.
It also reported that the CPU is running a base clock of 24MHz, but Geekbench's John Poole has since mentioned to MacRumors that this is likely attributed to Geekbench itself not correctly identifying the clock speed of the new M1 Max, rather than there being an issue with the processor.
Regardless of our feelings on the performance jump, Apple has proved itself to be a formidable rival to its competitors, despite Intel and AMD having decades of developmental experience.
Opinion: Mac is back baby
Ugly camera notch aside, both of the latest MacBook Pro devices equipped with the M1 Max feel like the first Apple laptop to really appeal to its intended market for some time. These scores, while not mind-blowing when stacked against the rest of the mobile workstation market, have shown that you can get near-desktop Mac performance on a portable Mac laptop, with the M1 Max outperforming every current Mac device other than the Mac Pro and iMac Pro models that are equipped with Intel's high-end 16 to 24-core Xeon chips.
Additional variety to the CPU/GPU market is always welcome too, given the near-monopoly that previously existed. Macs have long been favored by those working in creative jobs such as video and audio editing, but the previous MacBook models missed a few beats by removing ports and including that divisive Touch Bar.
With this fresh look and powerful SoC, the MacBook Pro no longer feels like an expensive folly for some people. Even if these benchmarks are accurate when re-testing on a full macOS Monterey build, the M1 Max is plenty powerful enough to run the demanding applications it promised it could during the Apple Fall Event. Now we just need to see if those promised performance boosts are achievable.
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