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M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: Key Differences and Full Comparison

m1 max vs. m1 ultra

M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: Key Differences and Full Comparison

Key Points

  • The M1 Ultra has 20 CPU cores, the Threadripper has 64 CPU cores
  • The M1 Ultra has a unified memory size limit of 128GB, the Threadripper can utilize 512GB
  • The M1 Ultra draws 96 watts of TDP, the Threadripper draws 280 watts
  • The M1 Ultra is a better product, but not solely because of performance

Being on the cutting edge of computing means having the ability to outperform the competition. Since its release in 2020, Apple‘s new M1 chip has made a splash. The M1 Ultra has excellent thermal performance, with it drawing a fraction of the wattage that comparable x86-64-based processors are using. The system is directly integrated into the chipset itself and it brings some distinct advantages.

On the other side of this comparison is AMD’s Threadripper 5995wx, a 64-core monster of a desktop processor. AMD pulled out the stops to create something that handles multiple threads of processing effortlessly, but it’s not without its trade-offs. The Threadripper is a strong and capable CPU, but its cost and performance make it a bit of a sticking point against Apple’s latest iteration of the M1.

Let’s do a deep dive into the tech and specs of both of these processors.

M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: Side-by-Side Comparison

What are some of the differences between the M1 Ultra and Threadripper? Look at the overview below for more information.

CharacteristicM1 UltraThreadripper
Release DateMarch 2022March 2022
CPU Cores2064
GPU Cores48None
Memory BandwidthBandwidth of up to 800GB/sBandwidth of up to 204GB/s
Unified Memory Support128 GB512 GB
Thermal Draw Power96 watts280 watts
Infographic M1 Ultra vs Threadripper

M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: What’s the Difference?

There are fundamentally a few major differences between the M1 Ultra and Threadripper, but they are both top-of-the-line processors. Both the M1 Ultra and Threadripper are expensive, befitting their nature as cutting-edge hardware.

M1 Ultra

The M1 Ultra is the latest iteration of Apple’s own in-house chipset, and it packs quite a punch for its form factor. Available exclusively in the Mac Studio and retailing for $3999, the M1 Ultra bundles two of the M1 Max chipsets together to get something extraordinarily powerful.

Of special note is that the M1 Ultra doesn’t draw nearly as much energy as the Threadripper, clocking in at only 96 watts of thermal draw power. It runs cool, but it handles multi-core processes effectively. It doesn’t maintain the same ultra-powerful performance as the Threadripper, but it is certainly no slouch. The M1 Ultra uses a completely different architecture compared to most desktop machines, running a proprietary ARM-based processor.

Being ARM-based bestows some additional benefits beyond just performance, with the architecture having a far lower thermal draw even while stacking multiple cores on a chip.

The Apple M1 Ultra is built from two of the M1 Max chips.

Threadripper

The Threadripper 5995wx is AMD’s top-of-the-line CPU, launched in March of 2022. It is an expensive piece of technology, but the core count and thread count more than make up for it. There are 64 cores on offer with 128 threads usable. The Threadripper supports a far larger amount of memory than the M1 Ultra, coming in at 512GB, but where it lacks is in the bandwidth for delivering that memory. The 5995wx still utilizes the x86-64 architecture standard, compared to the M1 Ultra’s ARM-based architecture.

The Threadripper is the current apex of the x86-64-based chipsets, at least for workstations or high-end desktop use. The architecture itself dates back to the 1980s, back when IBM was still a hardware manufacturer. Being an evolved iteration of legacy technology, it maintains compatibility with legacy applications and can be utilized with Windows, Linux, and BSD-based operating systems.

Effectively, the M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper comes down to use cases. For professionals who need a stable reliable system, the M1 Ultra comes out on top. The 5995wx is far more expensive than the Mac Studio itself, clocking in at $6499 compared to $3999. The Threadripper would also require the requisite components of a desktop build. So, the $6499 isn’t accounting for the PC case, motherboard, RAM, GPU, power supply, or any of the other accessories that make it an actual functional PC.

High Memory Capacity
AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ PRO 5995WX, 64-Core, 128-Thread Desktop Processor
$5,599.99
  • Features 64 cores for demanding professional software applications with support for high memory capacity and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • 64 Cores and 128 processing threads, based on AMD "Zen 3" architecture
  • 4.5 GHz Max Boost, 288MB cache, DDR4-3200 support
  • For the advanced Socket WRX80 platform
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/29/2024 09:42 am GMT

Use Cases and Cost

Their uses align similarly with both the M1 Ultra and Threadripper being intended for professional use. The performance of both is indicative of it as well, with the two processors excelling at a variety of tasks and providing absolute overkill in terms of speed. Where they differ perhaps comes into play for their intended use cases.

The Threadripper being x86-64 means it maintains a large degree of compatibility with legacy Windows and Linux applications and processes. The M1 Ultra has Rosetta, but that will be sunset soon enough, and it’s up to developers to provide compatibility and equivalent toolchains for users going forward. The Threadripper’s cost is more extreme in comparison to the M1 Ultra, but this also allows the end-user to build a machine truly tailored to their specific needs.

The Mac Studio only comes in two varieties, with the M1 Max and M1 Ultra being the sole options afforded to Apple users.

M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: Must-Know Facts

  • The M1 Ultra, M1 Max, M1 Pro, and M1 are all system-on-chip processors
  • The first Apple M1 marked an end to Apple’s long relationship with Intel and using their processors
  • The AMD Threadripper 5995x is the third version of their Zen architecture
  • The Threadripper isn’t meant for consumer use, but rather it is AMD’s look at the professional workstation
  • The original Threadripper was released in 2017 and had only 16 cores

Evolution of the M1 Ultra

Apple shocked users by announcing its departure from its longstanding relationship with processor giant Intel. The M1 was released in 2020 and marked the first commercially successful product to run an ARM-based processor. Instead of relying on multiple components connected to a motherboard, the M1 had the needed components directly on the chip itself.

In the intervening two years since its release, the M1 range of products has grown and grown. Higher performance models have come on the market, like the M1 Max and the subject of this article, the M1 Ultra. Even the lowest model of the M1 still boasts insane speed and performance for something originally thought to excel at mobile device use.

Where the M1 Ultra and the others in its line excel is in providing a system on a chip, or SoC. Computers centered around SoCs can pack quite a bit of speed into otherwise anemic specs, since there is minimal distance between the major components. Data and voltage aren’t traveling distances through cables or traces on the motherboard, and there’s no need for the motherboard to act as the central controller for all components.

Apple announced the successor, the M2 chip, earlier this year.

Evolution of the Threadripper

AMD released two landmark products in their long history in computing in 2017, with the launch of the Ryzen processor series and the first Threadripper. The manufacturer has been part of computing for quite some time but had grown into stagnancy before the release of the Ryzen series. Ryzen and Threadripper were a shot in the arm for desktop computing, providing massive power gains and prices where AMD could compete and outclass Intel in their own market niche.

This wasn’t the first time AMD was the first on the block with a powerful and affordable rival to their competitors, after all their Athlon and Phenom processors remained a good choice for desktop builders during their heyday.

Zen and the Threadripper come after a bit of a shift in AMD’s direction. Designed by a team spearheaded by engineer Jim Keller, the architecture was designed from the start to have a more than 40% increase in the instructions per cycle (IPC). Keller and his team exceeded this goal with a 52% increase in the IPC by the time the first of the processors hit retail space in 2017.

Zen and Threadripper have made a considerable impact on the computing world, and custom implementations of AMD’s newest architecture have made their way inside the Sony Playstation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.

M1 Ultra vs. Threadripper: Which One Is Better? Which Should You Choose?

If you’re looking for a self-contained machine that requires no assembly, get the M1 Ultra. It is a state-of-the-art chipset and as the technology matures the compatibility will only get better and better. While the $3999 price tag is certainly a hard one to swallow, it’s nearly half the price of the Threadripper.

The M1 Ultra might not have the same performance statistics as the Threadripper, but it is a better chipset from a cost, performance, and effectiveness standpoint. The M1 Ultra is only present in Apple’s high-end Mac Studio. The Threadripper is just an individual component, not a self-contained and pre-configured computer ready for use like the Mac Studio.

The Threadripper represents the pinnacle of performance in computing as of today for most uses, but unless you’re building a render farm for making CGI films, your money could be better spent elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Threadripper line good for gaming?

You could certainly use the Threadripper for Windows-based gaming. It might prove to be a bit overkill unless you’re after just the most cutting-edge hardware you can place inside a desktop case. There are other options that are more affordable as well, but the Threadripper is x64-based architecture like any other offering from AMD and Intel in the desktop space. As such, it will play any game you want to play on it provided you’ve got an accompanying graphics card to drive the visuals.

What sort of work does the M1 Ultra excel at?

The M1 Ultra has found its niche in a variety of spaces. Audio and video production have seen it embraced warmly, with the high memory bandwidth solving issues for large audio post-production sessions or editing long-form video. As with most things Apple-related, there is a good deal of concentration in production, whether it is in audio, software, video, or graphics in general.

M1 as a line has seen widespread adoption by numerous software engineers as well, with companies like Twitter and Uber assigning kitted-out Macbook Pros running the M1 to all production staff.

Will there be an M2 Ultra?

The M2 Ultra is rumored to be present in an upcoming return of the Mac Pro line. At the moment there is only speculation as to what the current product line for Apple holds as they pivot to the M2 processors. Given the general success of the M1 product line, it is a safe bet to assume there would be a general M2 and then subsequent jumps in power and speed for different price points.

Is the M1 Ultra good for gaming?

The M1 Ultra certainly has enough power to be good for games, but it lacks support. That said, there are some M1-compatible games out on the market at this time. Popular titles like Minecraft, Resident Evil Village, World of Warcraft, and Factorio all have stated native compatibility with the M1 product line.

Why is the Threadripper so expensive?

The previous line of Threadrippers up until the 5000 series had an enthusiast-priced model with slightly lower specs and a pro model intended for workstation usage. AMD, unfortunately, decided to target the professional market solely with the 5000 series line, with the 5995x competing more with the Intel Xeon series of workstation processors over something like a consumer-grade i7 or i9. With the Threadripper’s current price point, it’s unfortunately not an advantageous purchase for home builders.

For those using it in render farms or doing intensive video or audio processing, the Threadripper presents a great package, however. It lacks in memory bandwidth compared to the M1 Ultra certainly, but 64 logical cores and 128 CPU threads available for applications optimized for multicore processing put it above Intel’s Xeon family.

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