There has been so much written about the technical specs and raw performance of Apple’s M1, particularly as compared to its Intel-based Mac counterparts but also Intel-based Windows PCs that it’s enough to make your head spin. But a chart with numbers only tells you so much. Real-world performance is often a little different, especially as new software is released that becomes more or less optimised for one platform vs another.
It’s that real-world performance that Chris and Jordan at DPReview TV look at in this video, which puts Jordan’s M1-based 24″ iMac against Chris’s Windows PC laptop to see how they perform for a variety of tasks. No benchmarking software that just presents a number, just the photo and video editing apps we all use on a daily basis to see how long it takes for the two to perform the same tasks.
Chris’ PC in this case is the Gigabyte Aero 15 YB, with an 11th Gen Intel i9 CPU, 32GB RAM and NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPU with 8GB RAM. Coming in at $3,499 (although it’s currently available for $2,999), it’s not an inexpensive machine, by any stretch of the imagination. Jordan’s 24″ M1 iMac, on the other hand, is significantly less expensive. It’s half the price of Chris’ laptop, at $1,699 and features an 8-core M1, 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD.
With that massive price difference, it seems a bit of an unfair comparison, really. But is it? The Windows laptop hammered the M1 desktop in the Lightroom test. It was basically twice as fast (which you’d expect if you’re paying twice as much). When it came to Capture One, though, the results were a little closer. The PC still won, but not by as much.
I think this lends itself well to demonstrating how well optimised certain applications are for specific platforms. Obviously, in these first couple of examples, Lightroom is optimised more for Intel-based systems while Capture One’s M1 optimisation is very impressive.
When it comes to video, DaVinci Resolve was the main comparison between the two. They didn’t test Premiere Pro, because apparently, they’re not big fans of Premiere Pro. To put them to the test, though, they threw some 5.9K 24fps, 10-bit 4:2:0 footage from the Panasonic S1H at them with some multitrack picture-in-picture. There were some noticeable performance slowdowns with both systems, but neither really performed any worse than the other.
For rendering a 30-second clip containing two 5.9K 24fps 10-bit 4:2:0 files, sampled down to 4K 24fps H.264 was sent to both machines and they were left to render. The Intel PC managed it in a very speedy 56 seconds. The M1 iMac wasn’t far behind though, at a minute and 4 seconds.
What was impressive, and an area where the M1 won by default because it’s not available on the PC, was Final Cut Pro performance. Performing the same edits as Resolve, there was no slowdown at all scrubbing through the timeline and the final render came out at 47 seconds – faster than DaVinci Resolve on either system.
They also did some stuff with gaming, if that’s your thing. Surprisingly, the M1 actually seemed to perform quite well, if you put all the settings sliders down to “Potato”.
It was interesting to see a real-world comparison like this. I still can’t see myself switching over to Apple just yet. It’s very exciting to see what will come in the future from Apple, but with ARM-based Windows finally getting x86 64-Bit emulation Windows might be able to catch up on performance per dollar. And given that NVIDIA owns ARM now, there should be some much tighter and more optimised GPU integration in the future, too.