Apple impresses with the performance of the new M1 Macs (Macbook Air, Pro, and Mac mini), but how does this compare with the performance of Windows PCs running ARM like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X? The PC World site has carried out a series of benchmarks. The competition is completely knocked out for the moment.
If you have read the thousands of reviews of the latest ARM macs, including the excellent MacBook Air M1 review by our colleague Sam Azzemou, you can already imagine that these machines have quite astonishing performances. Not to say unprecedented at this price level. Yes, you read that right: the first-price MacBook Air M1 outperforms much more expensive Intel PCs and even macs. It is particularly true in video encoding, but also in terms of battery life, or energy dissipation.
Our colleagues from PC World decided to compare the raw performance of the latest MacBook Air M1 (from € 1129) with that of two Windows ARM PCs, an HP Pavilion x360 Convertible with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU (recommended retail price 599 €) and of course the Surface Pro X with a custom ARM SQ1 chip (from 1125 €) which is supposed to be a more powerful variant of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chip – the ARM chip dedicated to so-called “Always Connected” PCs. And as you will see, the numbers are nothing short of impressive. Apple seems to be back in the game when it comes to computers and is now particularly competitive at the entry level.
These benchmarks show how the new MacBook Air M1s leave the competition knocked out
For now, however, two things should be noted. The ARM chip designed by Microsoft and Qualcomm for the Surface Pro X suffers from several major handicaps. First Windows on ARM only offers 32-bit x86 (Intel) application emulation, while in the latest macs, the Rosetta 2 emulation layer runs in 64 bits. Support for 64-bit applications in Windows on ARM machines is very recent. And again, it is only available in a beta version of Windows. Gold, Even with this new support, the performance of the Surface Pro X ARM struggles to rival that of the MacBook Air M1.
As you can see in the Geekbench 5 benchmark above, not only does the Surface Pro X get atomized by the MacBook Air M1, it offers poorer performance than the HP Pavilion i5, a very inexpensive machine.
Another benchmark this time Handbrake also shows the overwhelming leadership that Apple now holds in video encoding. The MacBook Air M1 thus managed to convert a 12-minute 4K video to 1080p H.265 in just 23 minutes. The Surface Pro X ARM took 2 hours to perform the same operation :
“The SQ1 purred around fps, and it took nearly two hours to transcode a 12-minute 4K video, Tears of Steel, to 1080p H.265. Apple’s MacBook M1 simply blows up the Surface Pro X “, notes the magazine. And to add: “Apple and its M1-chip MacBook Air have accomplished what Microsoft has yet to do: deliver a viable ARM ecosystem, both from a software and hardware perspective.”
PC World concludes that “Windows on ARM needs a miracle” to match the performance of new Macs with an Apple Silicon chip: “It’s hard to believe that further development will bridge the vast performance gap between Windows on ARM and Apple M1 Macs. Six months from now, Microsoft may be able to boast significantly better emulation performance. But without the double miracle of a much better CPU from Qualcomm or other ARM chipmaker and the continuous improvements from Microsoft, the future of Windows on ARM looks bleak” , concludes PC World.
Read also: Macs M1 – Apple tests well-started chips to ridicule Intel in 2021 and 2022
Finally, we note that developers have managed to run Windows 10 on M1 Macs in a virtual machine – something that is currently, officially at least, impossible to do while waiting for the various vendors of virtualization software to offer a update. The height of humiliation: according to the Geekbench 5 test, Windows runs faster on the Mac M1 than on Microsoft’s Surface Pro X …
Source: PC World