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By Rich Woods
Intel Evo vs Apple Silicon part eight: Conclusion
by Rich Woods
This is the eighth part of our Intel Evo vs Apple Silicon series, where we're taking a look at what each side can do better than the other. The MacBook Pro 13, Razer Book 13, Razer Core X, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, Samsung T7 Touch SSD, and CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 dock were provided by Intel. All opinions expressed are a result of our own testing and experience.
It's been a long road, getting from there to here, but it's time to wrap it up. This has been one of the more fun reviews that I've done in a while, just because it's been a journey. Eight articles is a lot, so let's take a look at where we landed on everything.
The first thing I took a dive into in this series was hardware, because frankly, it was the easiest. There's not much to test. I just had to plug things in and see if they worked. On top of that, the results are incredibly easy to predict. Intel is better at hardware compatibility.
And why is that? Simple, it's because the entire computing industry is built around Intel right now. Up until last year, macOS has only supported Intel processors, and up until 2017, Windows only supported x86/x64 instruction sets. This is the message that Intel wanted to send out when it sent this hardware to reviewers. Everything works with Intel. There might be some things that are better about Apple Silicon, but the ecosystem isn't there.
The key example for me is that Apple's new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro don't support dual external monitors. And yes, I know I've said it a million times, something that a number of people have joked about in the comments, but it's important. Even if you don't use dual monitors, you might want to during the lifetime of the PC. The problem for Intel is that this will undoubtedly be solved by the next generation.
The other thing is more niche, but there's no support for external GPUs on Apple Silicon. It's cool to have a single-cable solution that can connect an eGPU to a laptop that turns a Windows PC into a gaming rig. With the Razer Book, it was wild to be suggested Ultra settings on Forza Horizon 4.
Other than that, most things worked. Intel warned me that Xbox controllers wouldn't work, and I didn't find that to be true. It's only the Xbox Series X|S controller that currently doesn't work, and that's getting fixed. Intel also sent me a Samsung Touch T7 SSD, and that worked fine too.
Probably the other key thing that won't work is biometrics, such as with the Logitech Brio webcam. You can't use the IR camera to log into the Mac. You have to use Touch ID. Naturally, all of this stuff works on Windows.
And of course, Windows has a broader array of hardware to choose from, just when it comes to the PC selection. There are beautiful and unique designs like the HP Spectre x360, touchscreens, convertibles with pen support, tablets, and more.
Intel does better with software than Apple Silicon does for the exact same reason. All desktop software is built for Intel. Some of it has been recompiled for ARM on Windows and Mac, but literally all of it runs natively on Intel.
So the real question is, what are you missing out on with Apple Silicon? I'd say the biggest one is Boot Camp, or a decent Windows experience. Before you discount this idea, keep in mind that Apple even used to boast that its PCs could run Windows.
The only way to run Windows now is through virtualization in Parallels. And it's problematic. Most of Microsoft's built-in apps are 32-bit ARM apps, and the Apple M1 doesn't support 32-bit ARM apps. After all, it's been ages since there's been a 32-bit ARM app in Apple's ecosystem. You can't open the Microsoft Store, Photos, and so on.
The Apple Silicon Mac can run Intel apps using Apple's Rosetta 2, and it usually ends up working pretty well. A lot of these apps seem to take super-long to launch, but at least they work, so you're not actually losing them.
The problem of native apps is a short-term one though. This can only get better over time. Adobe has a bunch of native ARM64 apps in beta, with more on the way. You can also choose to run the Intel versions of Adobe apps side-by-side with the betas; for example, the betas of Premiere Pro and Media Encoder don't support MP3 files, so unless your audio track is WAV, you need to convert it. You can use the Intel app for that.
It's easy to look at hardware and software ecosystems that were literally built for a world where Intel wasn't just the dominant PC chip vendor, but it was the only one. After all, this is precisely why Intel sent these products out, to highlight its strengths, which are completely legitimate.
Now, let's talk about performance of the chip itself. First of all, like I said in my MacBook Pro review, they feel the same in day-to-day usage. For productivity work, both Intel's 11th-gen processors and Apple M1 feel the same. Now that that's out of the way, we can go beyond anecdotal evidence like that.
Apple M1 native 3:13 Apple M1 Rosetta 3:09 Razer Book 13 4:00 Lenovo ThinkPad P17 1:48 Video renders faster on the M1 than it does with the Core i7-1165G7 that was in the Razer Book. I took a two minute 13 second 4K 60fps video, imported it into Premiere Pro, and exported it, getting the results in the table to the right. It's clear that Apple Silicon smokes Intel's Iris Xe graphics, at least as far as that's concerned. I also added the ThinkPad P17, which is clearly way out of the MacBook Pro's class, but I wanted to show what's possible with a top-end Nvidia Quadro RTX GPU. I feel like Apple Silicon is being reported as a home run, and that it punches well above its weight class. That's not true. If anything, it wins in its weight class.
There are also things that are faster on Intel Evo. App launching is faster in almost every case, and opening documents tends to be a lot faster. The problem is that I don't have rendering times for stuff like that, like I do for video rendering. There are parts of the UI where Apple Silicon just feels plain sluggish.
Apple wins on benchmarks too though. I was only able to use Geekbench and Cinebench, which only test the CPU. Sadly, that tells a very one-sided part of the story; however, if you're interested in graphics performance, you can go by the video rendering times.
MacBook Pro 13
M1, macOS MacBook Pro 13
M1, Windows 10 (Parallels) Surface Pro X
SQ2 Razer Book 13
Core i7-1165G7 ThinkPad X1 Nano
Core i7-1160G7 Geekbench 1,720 / 7,668 1,398 / 2,697 794 / 3,036 1,425 / 4,143 1,346 / 4,891 Cinebench 1,495 / 7,771 1,210 / 3,711 1,296 / 4,052
The MacBook Pro does well here, but it does particularly well in multi-core performance. Depending on your work flow, this can make a big difference.
Intel wins when it comes to the hardware and software ecosystems, but Apple wins in performance, so what does this all add up to? Personally, I'd say just wait a year, or even two if you can. All of the issues around Apple Silicon right now are short-term problems. Apple Silicon will support multiple external monitors at some point, and developers will compile their apps to run natively, boosting things like startup time.
The M1-powered MacBook Pro is good, really good. But throughout the time I was using it, my main thought was about how much I liked it, and how much of a shame that is because it has so many deal-breakers built into it.
Right now, Intel still wins, and it's not because of performance. It's because Apple can't check all of the boxes necessary, even if it checks the ones that are right for certain users.
It's a hell of a start from Apple though, and the Cupertino firm should feel proud of what it's accomplished here. Now, it's up to Intel. Most of my complaints about Apple Silicon will be solved over one generation, maybe two. Intel has to use that time to figure out how to compete in terms of performance.
Check out the rest of the series:
Part one: Unboxing the MacBook Pro 13 Part two: Unboxing the Razer Book 13 Part three: Setting up the peripherals Part four: Hardware compatibility Part five: Software Part six: Razer Book 13 review Part seven: MacBook Pro 13 review
By Steven P.
Intel graphics driver version 188.8.131.5216 fixes Iris Xe/Xe Max game launch crashes
by Steven Parker
Intel released the 184.108.40.20616 DCH graphics driver today, and it comes with a developer highlight with support for the New Level Zero loader layer tracing API.
Other highlights for this driver include a fix for crash seen when launching Outriders on Intel Iris Xe Max graphics, game loading time improvements for Death Stranding on Intel Iris Xe and stability fixes have arrived for the DaVinci Resolve video editing software on Intel Iris Xe Max graphics.
Here is the full list of fixes included in this release, which has good news for Intel graphics users who are still experiencing intermittent crashes when launching Cyberpunk 2077 and other titles:
This release also adds a developer highlight with the following change:
Crashes haven't been fixed entirely, however, as seen in the known issues list of this driver release:
The driver is now available for users on Windows 10 version 1709 Fall Creators Update or higher. See the complete compatibility list on the official release notes here.
The newly released 220.127.116.1116 Intel graphics driver can be downloaded by heading here, where it weighs in at around 420MB.
AMD Smart Access Memory support is now available on select Ryzen 3000 series CPUs too
by Sayan Sen
AMD introduced the Smart Access Memory (or SAM) feature - which is a fancy term for PCIe Resizable BAR - back in October last year when it launched the Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs. Today, due to popular demand from previous generation Ryzen owners, the company has now added support for SAM on Ryzen 3000 series CPUs as well.
However, the feature is currently only available on select Ryzen 3000 CPUs, and you'll need a Radeon RX 6000 series GPU to take advantage of it as older Radeon cards do not have support for SAM, as of yet.
The PCIe Resizable BAR feature allows the CPU to have full access to the entire GPU memory, whereas typically a processor can only address 256MB for compatibility with 32-bit OSes. As a result, thanks to the entire VRAM now available, requests from the CPU can be queued parallelly instead of sequentially, which in turn improves the speed of their dispatch.
In terms of benefits, AMD has provided no separate numbers regarding performance improvement when enabling SAM on a Ryzen 3000 CPU. However, the company has stated up to a 16% uptick in performance when pairing its new Radeon RX 6700 XT with a Ryzen 9 5900X.
For Ryzen 5000 users, a 500-series chipset board with the AGESA firmware version 18.104.22.168 (or newer), is all that is needed to enable SAM. Ryzen 3000 series CPU owners, however, will probably have to wait for a compatible AGESA firmware.
AMD launches $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT, claims to rival the RTX 3070 with 50% more VRAM
by Sayan Sen
AMD today has launched its newest member in the Radeon RX 6000 series gaming GPU family, the RX 6700 XT which is also based on the RDNA 2 architecture. The new GPU makes an entry at a reference MSRP of $479, and will be available from the 18th of this month as was rumored previously. Curiously, AMD had launched its predecessor, the RX 5700 XT for $399 so the MSRP has increased by 20% gen-on-gen. However, for the extra price, you do get more performance and 50% more VRAM than the last-gen card.
Most of the specifications of the 6700 XT were known from previous leaks, and the announcement also confirms that it features 96MB of Infinity Cache..
For $479, AMD claims the Radeon RX 6700 XT rivals the $499 RTX 3070 in some games, and it comes with 50% more VRAM. The RX 6700 XT is being targeted for 1440p AAA gaming with over 60fps and AMD thinks it will be a great upgrade for owners of previous-gen cards, like the GTX 1070 Ti. The 12GB VRAM also makes it more future-proof as a lot of the newer AAA titles consume north of 8GB with ultra textures enabled.
Aside from AAA gaming, AMD also believes the RX 6700 XT will be an excellent graphics card for 1440p competitive e-sports and claims to offer well over 165 fps in most of the tested titles like CS: GO, Valorant, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Hyper Scape, and more.
As mentioned above, the RX 6700 XT will be available from March 18 from AMD itself as well as partners like Sapphire, XFX, and ASUS.
Pre-built systems combining AMD Ryzen and RX 6000 GPUs will also be available from OEMs and system integrators.
AMD has also said that RX 6000 series mobile GPUs will be coming to laptops sometime later this year, although no dates have been specified.
By Rich Woods
Intel confirms that its desktop Rocket Lake processors will ship this month
by Rich Woods
If you're in the market for a new Intel CPU but you're holding out for 11th-generation, it's no secret that you won't have to wait long. The company has already said that Rocket Lake-S is coming in the first half of this year.
But the family of desktop CPUs is coming earlier than that, apparently. A retailer already accidentally started listing the products, which led to Intel begrudgingly giving up the release date. The Rocket Lake-S family of CPUs is going to be released on March 30. The news comes via Andreas Schilling from hardwareLuxx:
Back at CES this year, Intel actually showed off its Rocket Lake-S family, specifically the Core i9-11900K, which has eight cores, 16 threads, and a 4.8GHz clock speed with a 5.3GHz turbo speed. It also supports faster DDR4-3200 memory and up to 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes. It uses the same LGA 1200 socket as Comet Lake-S did, but it needs a newer chipset, or a firmware update on some of the older ones.
Intel said that the Core i9-11900K beats the Ryzen 9 5900X in Total War: Three Kingdoms (DX11, 1080p high) by 8%, Gears of War 5 (1080p ultra) by 5%, Metro Exodus (1080p high) by 5%, Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p high) by 4%, Watchdogs: Legion (1080p ultra) by 4%, Farcry: New Dawn (1080p ultra) by 3%, and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla (1080p very high) by 2%. We'll have to wait until the end of the month to find out more.