Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: Which Processor Is Faster?

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Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: Which Processor Is Faster?

Key Points

  • The Apple M2 and AMD Ryzen are both powerful processors, but they have key differences in performance and power draw.
  • The Ryzen 9 7950X3D outperforms the M2 in synthetic benchmarks and multi-core performance.
  • The M2 has a much lower power draw of 15 watts compared to the Ryzen 9’s 170 watts.
  • The M2 is only available in Apple products, while the Ryzen 9 is readily available and can be more expensive when considering additional components.
  • The M2 utilizes unified memory, which allows for high-performance interactions between the CPU and RAM, while the Ryzen 9 uses conventional RAM modules.

Who is the real winner between the Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen? For years, Apple has co-existed in the same general space as Intel and AMD. Macs utilized x86_64 processors, a controversial move for those accustomed to the PowerPC platform.

Apple Silicon started a move away from the off-shelf OEM components on offer from AMD and Intel. It has been a few years since the introduction of the Silicon chips, but there is certainly something quite special given the speed and low thermals.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is among the most powerful processors ever released. It features many cores and CPU threads, but how does it stack against the M2? Both of these CPUs accomplish the same general goal, but there are differences that merit exploration.

Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: Side-by-Side Comparison

Apple M2AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
Clock Speed2.4 GHz base frequency4.2 GHz base frequency
Core Count816
Thread Count832
L1 Cache2 MB1 MB
L2 Cache20 MB16 MB
L3 Cache8 MB128 MB
Thermal Draw15 watts170 watts
Semiconductor Size5nm5nm
Processor TypeDesktop and LaptopDesktop

Just looking at the spec sheet, you can see a pretty wide divide in terms of raw stats. However, specs aren’t indicative of performance, especially in the case of the Apple M2.

Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: What’s the Difference?

apple m2 vs. ryzen
The Ryzen 9 compares quite favorably to the Apple M2 processor.


Both of these processors are built for speed. You can definitely see that come to the fore when it comes down to how they are utilized for various workloads. There are still some very stark differences that can be illuminated, however.


The Apple M2 has a lower base clock frequency and boost frequency. Now, this doesn’t amount to much because computers don’t solely rely on raw power to handle tasks. When it comes down to performance, the M2 is no slouch.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is the most powerful Ryzen CPU in the consumer lineup. It tears through most benchmarks like it’s nothing. When comparing synthetic benchmarks between the two, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D comes out ahead.

Popular benchmarks like Passmark see a fairly large edge when it comes to multi-core performance. The Ryzen 9 scored 62,907 points for example, while the M2 scored only 15,285 points. Single core performance on Passmark evened the odds somewhat.

The Ryzen 9 scored 4,270 points against the M2’s 4,006 points. This is a consistent trend when looking at synthetic benchmarks. Popular tests like Cinebench were also utilized, with the Ryzen 9 coming out ahead yet again.

The single-core metrics for Cinebench R23 greatly favored the Ryzen 9, which scored 27% higher on the single-core test. Just about every popular testing software for hardware has the Ryzen 9 ahead, which can be seen when pitting the M2 against other powerful desktop-grade processors.

Thermal Draw

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is power-hungry, make no mistake. You’ll be expecting close to 200 watts of power from the wall just to get the CPU running. That is before any components like your GPU, RAM, and so forth.

By comparison, the M2 has a much lower power draw. Anyone familiar with the M1 series of CPUs won’t be surprised to see the M2 having a similar profile. Apple’s proprietary chip only draws 15 watts of power, even when plugged into the power source.

Now, this perhaps isn’t a fair comparison as the Ryzen 9 is a desktop processor meant for serious use. However, the same M2 that powers iPads and Macbooks is going to be residing in things like the Mac Mini.

As such, it brings that similarly low power draw and high performance to a small desktop form factor.

Availability and Pricing

Serious Power at a Low Price
Apple 2023 Mac Mini
  • M2 processor (8 CPU cores, 10 GPU cores)
  • 8 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
  • Over 15,000 apps and plug-ins are optimized for M2
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/26/2023 08:36 am GMT

The M2 is only available in Apple products. You won’t be going to your local Best Buy or finding the processor for sale on NewEgg. What this effectively means is that you are locked into the Apple ecosystem when purchasing an M2.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D is readily available from retailers like Amazon, NewEgg, and Best Buy. Pricing greatly differs between the two as well.

Now, you can get into an Apple M2 at the bare minimum with the Mac Mini line. The base model and configuration as an M2 processor and all other necessary components for under $700 depending on where you look.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D retails for between $630 and $700, just for the processor. When you start pricing out the other components needed for a desktop build, you’re looking at quite an expensive computer.

Additional Components Required

The Apple M2 generally comes with all the required components. The entire system is contained on a single PCB beneath whatever hardware you’re purchasing. This means the RAM, storage, CPU, GPU, and everything else is integrated into a small and efficient package.

The Ryzen 9 7950X3D requires every single component you would come to expect of a custom-built PC. You’ll be needing a GPU of some sort, power supply, RAM modules, storage, a motherboard, and a case at the bare minimum to get things started.

As previously discussed, the Ryzen 9 is by no means an inexpensive consumer processor. So the cost of all these components, even when choosing budget options, is still going to be quite sizable at the end of the day.

Now, for DIY enthusiasts, a custom PC build isn’t a scary task. It’ll really come down to preference when choosing between the two. You’ll just need to ask yourself whether you prefer an all-in-one integrated solution against a bespoke machine tailored to your needs.

Unified Memory vs. RAM Slots

Powerful CPU for Serious Users
AMD Ryzen™ 9 7950X3D
  • 16 cores and 32 processing threads
  • Max boost of 5.7 GHz, overclockable
  • PCI-E 5.0 support
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/26/2023 07:52 pm GMT

Apple’s biggest innovation with the M2 is in the use of unified memory. With unified memory, you aren’t getting just 8GB of RAM at the low end, but something highly performant when looking at how the CPU interacts with it. This even extends to your storage, where the built-in SSD is going to serve as RAM too.

Compared to conventional RAM modules, like you’ll find when using a Ryzen 9 7950X3D, it comes off as far more performance-friendly. The DDR5 modules in use by the Ryzen 9 are certainly fast and are leaps ahead of where DDR3 and DDR4 once were.

However, you’ll find yourself marveling at how fast an M2 processor can launch an application. At any rate, they both have their merits. Conventional RAM modules allow for pooling huge amounts of storage without having to dig into a page file.

Unified memory has the benefit of not even needing a page file. Instead, memory blends together seamlessly with storage as needed.

Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: 6 Must-Know Facts

  1. The Apple M2 is based on iPhone processors like you might find in the iPhone 13.
  2. The Apple M2 cannot expand its RAM or base storage.
  3. The Apple M2 is only available in pre-built Apple products.
  4. The Ryzen R9 is only available for desktop computers.
  5. The Ryzen R9 features 16 cores and 32 threads, working similarly to server hardware.
  6. The Ryzen R9 is AMD’s most powerful CPU available for consumer use.

Apple M2 vs. AMD Ryzen: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

Comparing two processors utilizing different architectures is a bit tough. When it comes down to it, despite arriving at the same overall results, they operate quite differently.

That said, the Ryzen 9 is a great choice if you are a power user who already tailors PCs for your use. It is a powerful CPU that is begging for other costly and powerful hardware to support it for any sort of workload you can imagine.

The Apple M2 is great if you’re just looking for a high-performance processor that comes with all the other necessary components. It won’t win speed races, but it’ll certainly maintain the same level of performance whether it’s in a laptop or desktop form factor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the M2 good for gaming?

For Mac-compatible games, it performs quite admirably. Windows games can be played on the M2, but it requires workarounds that can drastically impact performance.

Is the Ryzen 9 good for AI work?

When paired with a suitable NVIDIA GPU, it can do the job quite well.

Is the M2 good for video editing?

Many users report the Apple M2 does quite well when using software like Resolve and Final Cut Pro X for editing videos.

Is the Ryzen 9 good for gaming?

You’ll come across GPU bottlenecks before you ever feel the Ryzen 9 strain when gaming.

Is the Ryzen 9 available for laptops?

There are mobile variants of the Ryzen series, but the R9 7950X3D is only available for desktop computers.

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