Which Mac is right for my workflow? MacStadium’s new machine benchmarks are here to help you decide.

By Matthew Pulsipher|

September 06, 2023

Option overload – How to select the right Mac 

Here at MacStadium, we simplify Mac for business. We know that choosing the right configurations and number of Macs can be confusing, even for veteran macOS and iOS development teams. There are several options to pick from – all at different price points and power capabilities. How do you know if you’re selecting the right Mac? 

Lucky for you, we have the inside scoop on all things Mac hardware (literally and figuratively – Check out our first look at the M2 Mac mini). 

As Mac cloud experts, we evaluate every Mac desktop model and configuration to figure out which machines provide the best “power per dollar” ratio for our customers. We use this evaluation process to determine which machines to stock for online purchases and to make use case-specific recommendations to customers. 

We’re excited to provide even more value to our customers through our Mac benchmarks. We want you to feel confident when selecting which Mac to use. Our newly public benchmarking results are designed to help you easily see how different Macs perform in a data center environment for a variety of applications, including CI/CD. 

MacStadium’s Benchmarking Process Breakdown 

When evaluating Macs, our main goal is to determine the optimal performance of a given piece of Mac hardware, including CPU performance, GPU performance, and real-world performance for CI/CD applications. To achieve this, we’re using a series of synthetic benchmarks. 

Here’s a look into each type of benchmark: 

Cinebench R23 

Cinebench is a commonly used benchmark, focused on raw CPU performance. This benchmark is a great indicator of the pure compute power of a given CPU in a computer. Its cross-platform availability allows for the direct comparison of CPUs across architectures and OSes. 

Additionally, the benchmark always runs for a minimum of 10 consecutive minutes, which can help measure thermal impacts on performance across sustained workloads. Due to its narrow focus on CPU-based rendering, it only reflects the computing power of the CPU, and may not represent real-world performance for general applications. 

Geekbench 6 Multi-core 

To get a sense of real-world CPU performance, we use Geekbench 6 Multi-core. Geekbench 6 is a cross-platform benchmark that measures the performance of common real-world tasks in a replicable, synthetic manner. The Multi-core result was selected for comparison because it reflects the total compute power of a given machine. 

Additionally, with Apple Silicon, Mac models of a given generation differ primarily on the number of cores available on the CPU. Compared to Cinebench, Geekbench better reflects real-world performance on common tasks, and we have found that the results correlate closely to other real-world benchmarks. 

Geekbench 6 Compute 

To measure each machine’s GPU, we used Geekbench 6’s Compute benchmark, which runs a GPU-accelerated compute benchmark using Metal. The goal of this test is to provide a relative GPU performance measure across different Macs, which has a direct impact on graphics processing tasks, AI/ML tasks, and other GPU-accelerated workloads.  

XcodeBenchmark 

As many of our customers run CI/CD workflows, we have included XcodeBenchmark, by Maxim Eremenko. This benchmark simulates the build of an extremely complex iOS application, with a large selection of popular component libraries and complex dependencies. This test is used to gauge the relative performance of Macs against each other when building applications in Xcode. 

Testing Methodology 

Our benchmarking approach consists of several parts, including: 

Testing time: We ran each test three times with a 10-minute break in between each test. This ensured parity across Macs as well as a more accurate sampling of a machine’s peak performance. Additionally, setting a 10-minute interval between tests mitigated any thermal impacts. 

Location: All tests were performed on standard Bare Metal instances of each Mac at MacStadium’s data centers, allowing for a temperature-controlled environment. 

Type of OS: The latest supported OS was used at the time of the test for each machine, with older Macs using older OS releases if needed. 

Selecting the results: We took the best result of the three test runs for each test for our final result. 

Multipliers 

To help customers understand the differences between our Bare Metal offerings, we have devised a “multiplier” value for CPU, GPU, and Xcode performance. These multipliers use an M1 Mac mini as the baseline and are scored according to the Geekbench Multicore, Geekbench Compute, and Xcode Benchmark results, respectively. This multiplier represents the difference between a given machine and the baseline machine. For example, if a machine has a Geekbench Multicore score that is 20% higher than an M1 Mac mini, it will have a CPU multiplier of 1.2.  

Where can I find the full list of benchmarks? 

We’ll continue to bring you the most current Mac data by updating our benchmarks throughout the year. Don’t miss out – Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on our latest benchmarks and best practices. 

Our Top Pick - Mac mini with M2 Pro 

Ready to accelerate your build? Take it to the next level with the Mac mini with M2 Pro. It offers nearly the same Xcode performance as the Studio Max with M2. Here’s the breakdown: 

  • 12 Core CPU 
  • 19 Core GPU 
  • 32GB RAM 
  • 2TB SSD 

During our testing, we found that M2 is approximately 20% faster per-core than M1. Want to see how the rest compare? 

Quick Recap 

Selecting Mac hardware is a challenge for everyone. Plus – Who has time to watch hours and hours of YouTube videos to find a single answer? Our main mission is to simplify Mac for our customers. That’s why we created our own machine benchmarks. Our benchmarking system was designed with devs top-of-mind, using the latest and greatest methods to get the most accurate results. Whether you’re a large team looking to scale your CI/CD workflow or just getting started, using MacStadium’s benchmarks can help you make a confident investment. 

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