Apple M1 ARM Performance With A 2020 Mac Mini

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 20 November 2020 at 12:22 PM EST.

For those curious about the hardware potential out of Apple's in-house M1 processor powering new Mac Book Pros and Mac Mini, for the past week we have been running benchmarks of this ARM-based processor and have a number of benchmarks to share today looking at how the performance compares to prior Intel-powered Macs along with the Rosetta 2.0 performance for running x86_64 binaries on ARMv8.

This article is looking solely at the performance of the Apple M1 ARM processor performance on macOS 11.0 Big Sur and not that of Linux. For those wondering about the prospects of running Linux on the new Apple M1-based devices and the like that will come in due course, but for today's article it has been using the Phoronix Test Suite and hammering the M1 with macOS Big Sur.

Compared to most articles so far looking at the Apple M1 performance just predominantly using Geekbench, Cinebench, a few browser benchmarks, or the like we have initially focused on over 100 different test cases for evaluating the Apple M1 performance natively and with Rosetta 2.0 where needed. Overall I must say I am rather pleasantly impressed by the performance of the M1 8-core CPU (4 big cores, 4 small cores) and integrated graphics.

Just the raw performance is being looked at for this article today. Unfortunate the likes of osx-cpu-temp for reading the CPU/SoC temperatures does not yet work on the M1. Unfortunately also hitting a snag was the WattsUp Pro with macOS Big Sur seemingly breaking USB serial support and thus unable to provide our power monitoring on a per-test basis. I am currently working on alternatives to workaround those limitations but for this article today it means just looking at the raw performance.

The M1 being tested was within a new 2020 Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage. The M1 performance of this Mac Mini was being compared to a 2018 Mac Mini with Intel Core i7 8700B processor as the previous-generation Mac Mini and the last sporting an Intel CPU. Besides that previous-generation Mac Mini are also results from a Core i7 6700HQ MacBook Pro and then for real historical context was a Core i5 4278U Haswell Mac Mini. All of the systems were freshly re-tested on macOS 11 Big Sur for this comparison today.

Apple M1 macOS 11.0 Big Sur Benchmark Comparison

For those curious how the M1 compares to newer x86_64 hardware, following the Apple Mac comparison in this article are results putting that M1 performance against a Core i7 1165G7 Tiger Lake and Ryzen 5 4500U Renoir laptops running Ubuntu Linux. So there is obviously the OS difference as well but just aiming to provide a basic overview for how the M1 performance compares to those current Intel/AMD offerings. Xcode provided the default compiler (LLVM Clang) across all tested systems.

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