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Apple M4 (9 cores)

Apple M4 (9 cores)

The 9-core Apple M4 is a rather fast ARM architecture processor (SoC) featuring 9 CPU cores, a 16-core neural engine and a 10-core GPU sporting hardware RT support. The M4 debuted in May 2024 as part of an iPad launch event; it has 3 performance cores running at a clock speed of up to 4.3 GHz and 6 efficiency cores running at much lower clock speeds whereas the M3 (10 GPU cores) had 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores to work with.

The faster 10-core M4 chip delivers 10% higher multi-thread performance and 15% higher graphics performance.

Architecture and Features

It appears the new CPU cores run at faster clock speeds than what the M3 was capable of and they also feature minor architectural improvements; SME2 support seems to indicate that a heavily customized version of ARM v9.4-A microarchitecture is employed for both the performance cores and the efficiency cores. The M4's comes with on-chip LPDDR5X-7500 RAM whereas the M3 was limited to 6400 MT/s; on the other hand, those holding their breath for Wi-Fi 7 and BT 5.4 connectivity are about to be disappointed as the new chip is limited to Wi‑Fi 6E and BT 5.3 just like the M3 was. Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4 support is onboard, just like DisplayPort support is. The updated NPU delivers up to 38 TOPS of performance for AI workloads.

Performance

Single-thread performance, multi-thread performance and NPU performance all got a noticeable boost compared to what we had with the M3 (10 GPU cores). The new 3 nm processor is about 11% faster than the M3 in short-term multi-thread workloads while besting every M3 series chip possible in single-thread tasks by a comfortable margin. Geekbench 6.2 Multi puts the 9-core M4 right above the Core i9-13900H and the Ryzen 7 7840HS; in fact, the M4 is just 3% slower than Intel's top-of-the-line Core Ultra 9 185H chip. A 13% to 18% single-thread performance improvement over M3 series chips is evident if we look at Mozilla's Kraken test results. Octane V2 seems to think the M4 is just 4% slower than Intel's mighty Core i9-14900HX. CrossMark results suggest the M4 is about as fast as the Core i9-13900H.

The 10-core M4 is about 10% faster in multi-thread workloads than the 9-core part is. It also delivers just slightly higher single-thread performance.

While Apple undoubtedly deserves its fair share of praise for what it managed to do here, it is important to highlight that all of the tests we did involve short-term workloads only. The M4 will suffer from heavy throttling if subjected to long-term workloads as there is no active cooling of any kind inside that super-thin iPad Pro case.

Graphics

Much like the 10-core GPU built into the M3, the M4 GPU (10 cores) has hardware support for ray tracing as well as mesh shading and other modern technologies. It supports external displays with resolutions as high as 6K and it can hardware-decode the popular AV1, HEVC and AVC video codecs (encoding is not yet supported for AV1).

As far as performance is concerned, it appears the 9-core M4's GPU runs at significantly lower clock speeds than the (otherwise the same) GPU built into the 10-core M4 chip. This leads to a disappointing situation where the former is about 10% slower than the 10-core GPU built into the M3. Still, the new graphics adapter is almost as fast as the Radeon RX 6500M and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop which is no small feat. Those buying more expensive iPad configurations with the 10-core M4 chip will get a graphics performance boost of about 15%.

Please keep in mind that the tests we did all involve short-term loads. The iGPU is very likely to suffer from heavy throttling when performing long real-life tasks such as gaming.

Power consumption

The M4 is confined to a very thin metal chassis with no active cooling of any kind, so it comes as no surprise that the chip's sustained power consumption is limited to just ~11 Watts, with short-term peaks of up to 15 Watts possible.

Apple's official media release states that the chip is built with a "second generation 3 nm" process (most likely a TSMC process) making for very good, as of H1 2024, power efficiency.

SeriesApple Apple M4

Series: Apple M4

Apple M4 (10 cores) compare - 4.4 GHz10 / 10 cores
Apple M4 (9 cores) « 9 / 9 cores
Number of Cores / Threads9 / 9
3 x 4.3 GHz Apple M4 P-Core
6 x Apple M4 E-Core
Power Consumption (TDP = Thermal Design Power)11 Watt
TDP Turbo PL215 Watt
Manufacturing Technology3 nm
GPUApple M4 10-core GPU
64 Bit64 Bit support
ArchitectureARM
Announcement Date05/07/2024

Benchmarks

Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Kraken 1.1 Total Score *
325.6 ms (0%)
Power Consumption - Geekbench 5.5 Power Consumption 150cd *
9.8 Watt (4%)
01234567891011121314151617Tooltip
Power Consumption - Idle Power Consumption 150cd 1min *
4.2 Watt (5%)
00.20.50.711.21.41.71.92.22.42.72.93.13.43.63.94.14.34.6Tooltip
- Range of benchmark values for this graphics card
- Average benchmark values for this graphics card
* Smaller numbers mean a higher performance

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Other CPUs of the series Apple M4

» Apple M4 (10 cores)
   10x - 4.4 GHz
» Apple M4 (9 cores)
   9x

Surrounding CPUs

+ AMD Ryzen 5 8540U
   6x 3.2 GHz - 4.9 GHz
+ AMD Ryzen 5 7545U
   6x 3.2 GHz - 4.9 GHz
+ AMD Ryzen 5 7540U
   6x 3.2 GHz - 4.9 GHz
+ AMD Ryzen 5 7535HS
   6x 3.3 GHz - 4.55 GHz
+ AMD Ryzen 5 6600HS
   6x 3.3 GHz - 4.5 GHz
» Apple M4 (9 cores)
   9x
- AMD Ryzen 9 4900H
   8x 3.3 GHz - 4.4 GHz
- Intel Core i9-10980HK
   8x 2.4 GHz - 5.3 GHz
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS
   8x 2.8 GHz - 4.4 GHz
- AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS
   8x 3 GHz - 4.3 GHz
> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Benchmarks / Tech > Notebook Processors > Apple M4 (9 cores) Processor - Benchmarks and Specs
Klaus Hinum (Update: 2024-05-20)