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November 24, 2021

Does The M1 Max Actually Perform Better Than Intel or AMD’s Rival Offerings?

I recently bought into the Apple hype machine and purchased the 2021 M1 Max Macbook Pro (upgrading from an M1 Macbook Air). And while I love the laptop, I wanted to know if it actually offered better performance than the current alternatives (and if so by how much).

What Laptops Compete With the M1 Max?

The M1 Max smokes most laptops currently on the market. Here’s a table of some popular laptops with the best Intel & AMD processors available vs the Macbook Pro M1 Max (in December 2021).

ComputerPriceSingle-Core GeekBench ScoreMulti-Core GeekBench ScoreProcessor
16″ Macbook Pro M1 Max$3499174911542M1 Max
ASUS ROG Strix Scar$2,20011014808AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop$3,10012395907Intel Core i7-10875H
Dell XPS 13$170011513555Intel Core i7-1185G7

Keep in mind that each generation of processor that AMD and Intel releases gets dramatically faster. And that 11th gen Intel processors (codenamed Tiger Lake) and AMD’s Zen 3 processors (like the Ryzen 5900) were released in early 2021 and late 2020 respectively.

Meaning that the comparison table above is going to be completely useless by Spring-Fall of 2022 when the next gen drops. We really need to examine Intel and AMD’s upcoming offerings to determine just how impressive the M1 Max actually is.

Intel Core i9 12900KF) 12th Generation, codenamed Alder Lake

Intel started selling their 12th gen CPU’s in November 2021 (just in time for this article). These processors haven’t made their way to any laptops as of this writing. And while it’s certainly unfair to compare a maxed out desktop chip to the M1 Max… Let’s do it anyway! I want to see how future-proof this chipset really is.

When I search for the Intel Core i9 12900K in Geekbench 5, I get a single-core score of 1956 and a multi-core score of 17099 (The M1 Max was 1749, 11542).

That’s impressive, but remember that we’re comparing a power-hungry desktop chip to a laptop chip that runs on very little power. In all likelihood a laptop using a lower-power version of this chipset is probably getting similar performance to the M1 Max vs. easily beating it.

That’s what Intel has to offer, onto AMD!

AMD’s Zen 4

AMD’s Zen 4 is the first of their 5nm product line and is likely to have some very fast multi-core performance. That said, its release isn’t expected until “sometime in 2022,” meaning it’s going to be a while before real laptops are equipped with this chipset.

Which means we can’t actually get real Geekbench scores for this chipset yet. That said, I speculate that this chipset will be more performant than Intel’s Alder-Lake due to AMD’s 5nm design. But, that’s pure speculation not based in anything other than how AMD’s been beating Intel the past few generations.

Remember that we’ve already compared AMD’s Zen 3 processors above (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX). Those exist and the M1 Max absolutely smokes them (1749/11542 vs. 1101/4808). I don’t think the M1 Max’s lead is going to hold up when the Zen 4 is released, but until it’s released we can’t say for sure.

Conclusion

Apple did it! They actually built a laptop that’s faster than the competition! And if you’re like me and require a Mac for XCode development or working in Final Cut Pro, you’re extremely happy Apple finally built a very high performance device for you to work on!

That said, Intel and AMD next-gen processors are likely to catch up or surpass Apple in the near future. Meaning this computer won’t be game-changing for very long. By mid-2022 I expect you’ll be able to find faster Windows laptops for a good amount less money than what Apple charges.

And if we’re being honest most of you don’t need this much machine. AMD’s Zen 3 and Intel’s 11th gen PC’s are perfectly fast for most tasks that you’ll find yourself doing. These top of the line PC’s are mostly for people doing video editing, 3D modeling, programming, or hardcore gaming. Not checking emails.

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.