In the world of cutting-edge CPUs, AMD’s Zen 4 processors have emerged as true contenders for the crown of performance. The ever-insightful team at Phoronix decided to quench the curiosity of tech enthusiasts by pitting the mobile Zen 4 against its rival, Apple’s formidable M2 silicon, in a series of rigorous Linux benchmarks.
The comparison involved two mobile Zen 4 processors: the Ryzen Z1 Extreme and the Ryzen 7 7840U, both featuring an octa-core, 16-thread design. Let’s delve into the details of these processors’ remarkable capabilities.
The Ryzen Z1 Extreme, a high-performance Zen 4 processor, is the powerhouse behind handheld gaming devices like the ROG Ally. Armed with an impressive 5.1 GHz boost clock and a configurable TDP (cTDP) ranging from 9W to 30W, this chip effortlessly commands its domain. On the other hand, the Ryzen 7 7840U, residing inside Acer’s Swift Edge 16, shares similar specifications, with a 5.1 GHz boost clock but a slightly higher 28W power draw and a cTDP between 15W and 30W.
In stark contrast, the M2, which empowers the MacBook Air 2022, boasts an octa-core, Arm-based design. It cleverly integrates four performance “Avalanche” cores and four efficiency “Blizzard” cores. The Avalanche cores peak at 3.5 GHz, while the Blizzard cores achieve a maximum clock speed of 2.4 GHz. It’s essential to note that the MacBook Air adopts a passive cooling solution, unlike the MacBook Pro, while both the ROG Ally and Swift Edge 16 are equipped with active cooling solutions. A critical aspect of Phoronix’s evaluation was the use of the 8GB version of the MacBook Air 2022, and the testing took place on Asahi Linux, which remains a work in progress, leading to potential untapped performance on the M2 due to incomplete Linux support.
The much-awaited moment arrived as Phoronix unveiled the benchmark results, and the Zen 4 processors truly lived up to their reputation. Against the Apple M2, the Ryzen Z1 Extreme exhibited a remarkable 28.7% higher performance in the balanced mode on the ROG Ally, and this gap widened to an astonishing 95.7% when the ROG Ally was pushed to performance mode. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 7 7840U displayed its prowess, outperforming the Apple M2 by an impressive 75.8%.
The performance-per-watt numbers for the Ryzen Z1 Extreme and Ryzen 7 7840U were equally noteworthy, showcasing the efficient design of AMD’s Zen 4 lineup. Unfortunately, Phoronix faced challenges while attempting to gauge the Apple M2’s real-time power consumption metrics on Linux, as the PowerCap/RAPL or HWMON driver for the M2 was absent. Hence, precise power efficiency comparisons remained elusive, leaving room for further exploration in this area.
Naturally, debates ensued regarding the validity of the comparison between Zen 4 and Apple M2. Some skeptics argued that it’s akin to comparing apples and oranges, considering the varying factors, such as cooling mechanisms and the M2’s Asahi Linux setup, which might not be as optimized as native macOS for the Apple silicon.
Nonetheless, Phoronix’s meticulous testing did shed light on the Zen 4 processors’ prowess, establishing them as true contenders in the competitive landscape of CPU performance. As technology continues to evolve, tech enthusiasts and industry experts eagerly await further advancements from both AMD and Apple, undoubtedly resulting in even more intriguing showdowns in the future. For now, the battle of Zen 4 versus Apple M2 has left us all in awe of the computing power that these processors bring to the table.