Is Intels new i9 chip faster than the M1 Max? This week is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that sees various tech companies announce new products, services and concepts. This year Intel has made its presence felt with some bold claims regarding its latest 12th generation core i9 processors. Intel claims that their top-end i9 chip can outperform Apple’s best in class M1 Max.

The latest Intel chip is the Core i9 12900HK, not the most memorable name, but unusual naming conventions aside, the chip sports 6 high-performance cores clocked at up to 5GHz and 8 efficiency cores for a total of 14 cores. Intel claims that this makes the chip the fasted mobile chip available. By contrast Apple’s high-end M1 Max reached 3.2Ghz speeds with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores. And it seems in benchmarks the claims Intel are making hold true.

What Intel doesn’t detail is the performance per watt when on battery vs when connected to a power cord. The intel core i9 uses a whopping 115 watts of power to achieve its peak performance, and only marginally faster than the M1 Max when doing so. The M1 Max chip uses almost half that amount of power the majority of the time at a mere 60 watts. And even when the M1 Max ramps up to full speed it doesn’t exceed 90 watts of power. Unfortunately, Intel hasn’t given us figures that demonstrate what happens to performance when their new chip is running on battery. But it can be reasonably assumed that the chip throttles significantly when running on battery. The M1 Max by contrast offers the exact same performance when on running on the battery as when plugged in.

Because of the high power draw of the new intel chip, it has unfortunate consequences for form factor due to thermal throttling. This kind of power draw requires space for a robust cooling system that you just wouldn’t be able to fit in a laptop as thin and sleek as the MacBook Pro. Even if you did cram one of the chips into the new MacBook Pro somehow, battery life would be diminished due to power consumption. And space required for a larger cooling system would further reduce the room for battery capacity.

The other elephant in the room is that Intel has not announced a shipping date. This new chip is based on theoretical production capacity and won’t ship until ‘later in 2022’ by which time Apple’s M2 series chips will likely be shipping in volume. Nice try Intel.


Featured image: Slejven Djurakovic via Unsplash

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