Sci/Tech

2020 M1 MacBook Versus 2017 iMac Pro And 2018 MacBook Pro

I recently purchased Apple’s newest MacBook Pro with its in-house M1 “Apple Silicon” chip. This paradigm shift in CPU architecture will take place over the next few years, but the results are already astonishing. Although benchmarks don’t necessarily translate to “real world” performance, they ARE objective metrics. Let’s compare my 2018 MacBook Pro (MBP) to the new 2020 MBP M1… and just for fun my iMac Pro. 🙂 All the devices are running MacOS Big Sur 11.0.1. Geekbench (GB) 5.3.1 and Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test 3.2 were used for benchmarking.

2020 M1 MacBook Pro (left) and 2018 MacBook Pro (right)

When comparing the outer shells of the 2020 M1 MBP to the 2018 MBP, there’s no difference. In fact, the only discernible differences are that the 2020 MBP has a dedicated “esc” key (previously it was built into the touch bar) and the arrow keys are in the upside-down T configuration seen in many notebooks.

2018 MacBook Pro2020 MacBook Pro2017 iMac Pro
CPUIntel Core i5-8259U (2.3 GHz, 4 cores)Apple M1 (3.2 GHz, 8 cores)Intel Xeon W (3 GHz, 10 cores)
GPUIris Plus 655M1 integratedRadeon Pro Vega 64 16 GB
RAM8 GB8 GB64 GB
GB CPU (single-core)93317261163
GB CPU (multi-core)396575349727
GB Compute (OpenCL)76961930960505
GB Compute (Metal)71162195659453

The benchmarks speak for themselves, and I can tell you the “real world” performance feels much snappier around MacOS and optimized apps. I upgraded from the 2018 MBP because my defective butterfly keyboard (so glad Apple did away with that) made it ridiculously difficult to type, and I’m very happy so far! 🙂

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! 🙂 It’s pretty helpful and I was wondering if you could help me with a question I have.

    I have a 2017 15″ Macbook Pro.
    2.9GHz i7
    16GB RAM
    Radeon Pro 560 4GB GPU

    And it’s getting slow for my workflow, I hate the keyboard and I’m way more sedentary now than what I was before. So mobility is not a crucial need for me anymore.

    I was wondering if I could get at least the same performance of this computer if I buy a new M1 iMac with top-of-the-line specs.

    What do you think?

    I’ve been doing some research to try to find a theoretical comparison between the two, and all I’ve found are benchmarks, which indicate that the iMac would be better, but I don’t know if those numbers actually translate to real life situations.

    I use Adobe Creative Suite for graphics and Blender/C4D for basic modeling and rendering.

    1. My first thought is that if you can wait a little longer, I’d wait for the updated 27″ iMac (hopefully later this year) with a second generation Apple Silicon chip to power it. With your workflow, I think having a more powerful chip coupled with a larger screen could be extremely helpful for modeling/rendering. If the newly released 24″ iMac already came with a new chip, then the decision would be a little tougher. I’d wait! 🙂

  2. Would you recommend trading in an iMac Pro 2017 3.2Ghz, 32Gb ram, 8Gb graphics and 1Tb hard drive for the new m1 while awaiting the release of the “M1X”. The resale value on the Pro is worth more now potentially than when the new chip releases. Interested in your thoughts?

    1. Really depends on your workflow. That’s trading a very capable desktop for a more portable laptop. I’ve never had a reason for a 16 inch notebook (what the M1X is rumored to be in), so if I was in your shoes, I’d just keep the iMac Pro and purchase an M1 MacBook Air. From what I’ve seen, there really aren’t any significant differences between that and the M1 MacBook Pro.

      If you’re looking to replace the desktop entirely, then that’s a tougher call. While you’re right about the cost only depreciating over time, you probably won’t get the value it’s worth to you right now by reselling it. I’d still keep the iMac Pro if it were me.

  3. Would you be interested in selling your 2018 MacBook Pro? Or did you trade it in when you upgraded? Glad to know though that M1 has been performing well! The future is bright.

    1. Because the keyboard isn’t really working, I’m using it with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to power a side project. For now, I’m going to hold onto it! 🙂

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