The Apple M1 vs Intel Core i9 comparison is one many are making now that the new generation has come out and the prices of these CPUs are dropping. If you’re a seasoned PC user, you know that until 2020, Apple had a partnership with Intel which entailed only using Intel-manufactured CPUs in their products. However, that all changed when Apple released its first CPU line: the Apple M1.
The CPU is the heart of any computer, and with the releases of the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra, it’s safe to say that Apple has surprised the industry. Still, Intel has always had some of the best CPUs and still holds a significant market share today.
So, will Apple’s M1 processor be able to compete with Intel’s equivalent generation of CPUs, spearheaded by the Core i9? What if you just want to choose the one that better fits your needs better?
We’ve got you covered. This comparison will review the fundamentals: price, performance, and battery life. In the end, you’ll know which CPU is best for you and your budget. Let’s jump right in!
Apple M1 vs Intel Core i9: Side-by-Side Comparison
While not everything is specs and numbers, it’s crucial to have a fair comparison. For this, we’ve taken models of these CPUs that came out around the same time.
|Intel Core i9-12900 HK||Apple M1 Max|
|Max Wattage||Up to 140 watts||Up to 110 watts|
|Max Memory||64 GB||64 GB|
|Memory Formats||DDR4, DDR5||DDR4, DDR5|
Apple M1 vs Intel Core i9: What’s the Difference?
As we saw in the section before, a raw data comparison can be hard to understand. So, we’ll focus on the CPU’s performance for content creators and gamers, which is what you’re likely interested in.
You can only find the M1 Max in MacBook Pro laptops. The other versions, M1 Pro and M1 Ultra, are available in the MacBook Air and the iMac. For the sake of this comparison, we’ll be comparing the M1 Max with Intel’s I9 12900 HK, a processor made with laptops in mind, and using the MSI Raider GE76 for reference.
This is the most crucial difference between these CPUs: Apple’s M1 is exclusive to Apple’s products, whereas Intel’s i9 can be combined with PC components from other manufacturers.
Apple’s M1 was introduced in November 2020. After that, the M1 Pro and M1 Max appeared in October 2021, being more powerful and professional-oriented versions.
Production started once Apple stopped using Intel processors for Mac computers. This change allowed Apple to keep improving its products on its own terms, without dealing with setbacks from other companies.
Intel’s Core i9 12th Gen was released in January 2022. Improving upon its predecessors with a higher core count and an evolved hybrid architecture, the Core i9 12th Gen instantly became an industry standard. The price and compatibility with most PCs attracted laptop manufacturers, and the users were delighted with its capabilities.
First, you should note that the M1 cannot be bought as it is. To get it, you need to buy one of Apple’s laptops that come with it. You can buy many CPUs from the i9 lineup on their own, except for the one we’re using for reference. So, the price of the M1 depends on which Apple computer you’re interested in buying. A good option could be the MacBook Air M1, which starts at $999.
The price of the Core i9 12th generation starts at around $400. Remember that it’s only the CPU you’re buying. You’ll still need to buy a motherboard, RAM, and all the other components that make up a PC. In the case of the i9 12900HK, you must buy a laptop that already has it installed, so it’s difficult to put a price on it.
Though we can say that laptops that come with Intel’s i9 are more expensive — for example, the MSI Raider GE76 costs $2,999 — they are also more powerful. Let’s explore how the difference in performance between these chips impacts their price.
Finally, we get to the meat and potatoes of any tech comparison! Let’s see what happens when we put these processors through the standard benchmarks and also some oriented more towards content creation.
Video editing is one of the more demanding activities for a computer, so it’s a great way to get fair results. The basic benchmark test used for this purpose consists of rendering a 1080p 12-minute video transcoded from a 4K H.264 video file.
In this case, both processors offered an incredible performance with just a few seconds of difference. The Apple M1 Max finished the task in 4 minutes and 49 seconds, and the Intel Core i9 in 4 minutes and 42 seconds.
Blender, a famous 3D modeling software, is another great test. In this run, the Intel-equipped MSI GE76 Raider completed the task in 3 minutes flat. The M1 Max MacBook Pro did it in 3:21. Even if the i9 has a better raw performance than the M1, the reality is that there are a lot of Apple applications that can make a difference for you as a creator.
Apple Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, or Adobe Audition are some professional tools that define the work and creative life of many people, and all of these programs integrate seamlessly with Apple products.
So, overall, this content creation test leaves us with the impression that both processors are excellent in what they do. However, the i9 is better in CPU-centric benchmarks, which makes sense considering how much more expensive it is.
Now, it is no secret that Apple computers aren’t the best for gaming. However, M1-equipped MacBooks perform well when running certain games, even if they don’t support many titles.
Why? Because, as is common for Apple products, many games and software aren’t compatible with macOS. So, we can safely say that this is a clear win for Intel just from the get-go.
Additionally, Intel processors support the installation of external graphic cards, such as those made by Nvidia and AMD. With the Apple M1, you are left only with the integrated graphics hardware and with no option for customization.
Thus, it’s practically a given that a PC or a laptop with an i9 CPU will have better gaming performance than one with an M1, as you’ll be able to add a GPU and upgrade it over time to keep up with the requirements of the latest titles.
Even if you can use emulators and other programs to play games not otherwise available on macOS, we don’t need any benchmarks to say this is still clearly a point for Intel.
Power consumption is a fundamental and challenging topic for manufacturers of portable devices. It’s a matter that really defines the user experience.
Luckily for us, both processors take advantage of their hybrid architecture to save energy. Hybrid architecture is a new technology that combines two core types in one CPU. A lot of energy is saved by dividing tasks between high-powered performance cores and low-powered efficiency cores.
We’ve run the same tests as before to determine a winner, but we now looked at power consumption. For example, in Cinebench R23, the i9 may draw up to 115 watts of power, while the M1 draws a mere 55w. This difference can be observed in all performance tests.
To further add to this, the M1 chip lasted up to 20 hours in the video playback test! On the other hand, the Intel i9 stayed on for just 4 hours and 53 minutes. This makes sense, as Apple often optimizes their tightly knit systems not for raw performance but for sustained performance.
Overall, the numbers tell us that there is a massive advantage for the Apple M1, both in power usage and hours of runtime.
Apple M1 vs Intel Core i9: 5 Must-Know Facts
- The M1 family consists of the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. They can all be found in a variety of Apple devices.
- Both processors innovate using hybrid architecture, improving battery life and power efficiency.
- The i9 is slightly more powerful, but the M1 is cheaper and more power-efficient.
- Intel first introduced the Core i9 series in May 2017, with its 12th gen coming out in 2021.
- Apple introduced the M1 lineup in November 2020, breaking away from Intel for the first time in over a decade.
Apple M1 vs Intel Core i9: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
So, even after all the information covered, we recognize it’s a tough decision. Both processors showed they are more than capable CPUs, so it all comes down to whether you prefer Apple products or their alternatives.
This is because choosing between Apple and Intel is all about deciding between the tools that each of these companies supports in their products, such as operating systems, games, and productivity apps. If you want to run modern AAA games, you’ll want an Intel-equipped system. This CPU, matched with an added GPU, will give you an incredible gaming experience.
Now, if you are into Apple’s software and design or are a student who needs that battery life more than the benchmark performance, the M1 will be your choice. Ultimately, both companies continue putting out products that deliver incredible performance in any context. You won’t be disappointed no matter what you choose!