Apple M2 Max performance projections show upcoming Apple Silicon sailing past Core i9-12900HK in multi-core and reaching RTX 3070 levels of performance
We've been hearing quite a lot of news about Apple's upcoming launches this March featuring the purported Apple M2 silicon. Though we haven't seen Apple M2's real-world performance yet, a rough extrapolation with current Apple offerings should give us a fair idea of what to expect when Apple announces new M2-powered Macs next month or maybe during WWDC.
Macworld has come up with some numbers that could give us a rough estimate of M2 and M2 Max's CPU and GPU performance. Macworld's numbers are based on the inference that the M2 could use a similar scaling from the Apple M1 just like how the A15 Bionic is to the A14 Bionic. This means that M2 can be expected to have double the number of performance cores found in the A15 Bionic.
The A15 Bionic offers two performance cores and four efficiency cores along with five GPU cores (in the iPhone 13 Pro). Therefore, we can consider, for academics sake, the M2 to have four performance cores and four efficiency cores. Considering a similar scaling from the M1 to the M1 Max, the M2 Max can be assumed to have two efficiency and eight performance cores and up to 40 GPU cores.
CPU Performance: M2 Max up to 7% faster than Core i9-12900HK
The A15 Bionic is about 7% and 20% faster than the A14 Bionic in single-core and multi-core tests, respectively (in Geekbench). Considering the M1 and M1 Max's current single-core scores, Macworld estimates both the M2 and M2 Max to cross the 1,800 mark.
In multi-core, the M2 is estimated to fall just short of the 9,000 mark or 27% slower than the current multi-core score of the M1 Max. This is to be expected since the M1 Max has a higher number of performance cores. The M2 Max, however, is projected to be at least 19.5% faster than the M1 Max with a score of 14,632 points.
This means that the purported M2 Max can be up to 7.2% faster than the Intel Alder Lake Core i9-12900HK in multi-core while being roughly on par in single-core — and this would be at a fraction of the power required by Alder Lake-H.
GPU Performance: On the heels of the RTX 3070
Coming to GPU performance, the M2 can be expected to sport 10 GPU cores while the M2 Max can go up to 40 cores. In simple graphics benchmarks such as 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited, the A15 Bionic is about 24% faster than the A14 Bionic. Considering the iPad Pro scores of this benchmark (since there is no desktop version), the M2 can be projected to score more than 10,000 points — a 33% increase.
3DMark Wildlife Unlimited is more suitable cross-platform test. In this test, the A15 is nearly 30% faster than the A14. When projected, the M2 can be similarly 30% faster than the M1 while the M2 Max is expected to be about 23% faster than the current M1 Max.
Macworld notes that the M2 Max's projected score in 3DMark Wildlife Unlimited is "pretty close to the mobile variant of the RTX 3070". However, we could not find a similar such score in the 3DMark database.
Nevertheless, it is not too difficult to hazard a guess that the M2 Max's GPU would be coming anywhere close to current high-end desktop offerings from AMD, Nvidia, and now Intel. We also do not expect Apple to include any form of ray tracing support just yet.
The transition from M1 to M2 is likely to offer similar benefits as that of the transition from A14 to A15 Bionic. Overall, we can expect up to 20% improved CPU performance and up to 30% benefits on the GPU side.
The above projection does have limitations, though. Apple is expected to fab the M2 on the TSMC N4 node, which will bring in its own power efficiency and possible clock advantages. According to TSMC, the 4 nm process should offer up to 11% higher performance at the same power or use up to 22% lesser power for the same performance as the 5 nm process.
Then, there are other variables such as Apple's Neural Engine, video encoding/decoding engines, on-die memory, and storage subsystem performance. All said and done, it is good to once again expect a high performance/power ratio vis-à-vis the current flagship laptop CPUs.