Apple M1 vs Intel i7: Cherry-picked benchmarks and shifting Tiger Lake SKUs leave Intel looking revolutionary rather than evolutionary
A series of slides from Intel has attempted to show how Tiger Lake can outperform the Apple M1 and how an Intel Evo laptop is likely a better choice for many over an M1-based MacBook Pro or Air. It’s understandable that Intel perceives Apple as a threat on multiple levels, with the latter ditching Intel chips while in the process of becoming self-sufficient in this space by 2022 and Team Blue’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, already dismissing the rival as a “lifestyle company in Cupertino”. But the production of these slides certainly indicates that Intel is rattled by Apple’s direction, so the former wants to show that its Tiger Lake chips can keep the latter’s M1 chip down through a series of clearly cherry-picked benchmarks.
Starting with “productivity performance”, Intel demonstrates that the i7-1185G7 working alongside 16 GB RAM can hammer the M1 inside an Apple MacBook Pro with 16 GB memory in multiple applications. So we can see almost three times greater relative performance for the Intel chip in photo enhancement (WebXPRT 3 – Chrome) and 2.3x faster speeds when exporting PowerPoint to PDF. As PC World points out, it’s advantageous for Intel to utilize WebXPRT 3 for these particular tests, but these are common tasks users might find themselves facing on a daily basis – so it’s understandable why Intel would highlight these specific applications.
“Content creation” performance also looks impressive for the Intel Core i7-1185G7 vs. the Apple M1. Tests involving Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro favor the Tiger Lake part, but the results in the Topaz Labs benchmarks are outstandingly one-sided. The GigapixelAI enlargement tool powers along at a 6x faster rate with the Intel chip than the Apple processor. Major shots are also fired in the “gaming performance” slide, where Intel simply awards 0 to the M1 for games that wouldn’t run on the MacBook Pro, such as Metro: Exodus, Hitman 2, and “countless more”. But even the most fanatical of Apple fans would concede that MacBook Pro laptops were not built for gaming.
There are signs of shenanigans with the “battery life reality” slide because of some SKU shifting. Now we have the M1 in a MacBook Air facing off against an Intel Core i7-1165G7 in an Acer Swift 5. Different Apple laptop, different Tiger Lake processor, similar battery runtimes: 10 h 12 m for the former and 10 h 6 m for the latter. Looking through all of these slides as a neutral layperson you would see that the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processors are definitely decent parts. But, like every other company wanting to compare a product with one from a rival, it’s clear to see Intel has carefully assembled these benchmarks…and the SKU swapping is certainly suspect.
Team Blue may have missed a beat here though. Instead of focusing on rising up against the much-vaunted Apple M1 chip and trying to bring the rival down a few pegs, it would have been better for Intel to simply attempt to produce a superior part that outgunned its opponent in a battery of benchmarks that were more universally recognized. Since Ryzen’s introduction in 2017, this is the path AMD has been taking – evolving and improving rather than resorting to taking pot-shots at faster-moving competitors while falling further behind.