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M1 Mac mini vs Hackintosh [Performance Tests] [Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Photoshop]



Intro

A few days ago I posted my unboxing and first impressions of the new M1 Mac mini and to sum up I was blown away with how well it performs and how quiet it is while doing everything! Even apps running through rosetta (Apple's Intel translation layer) are very quick and snappy and for most people they won't even know there has been a transition (which is the idea). I've been thinking of ways to show this performance on video and that's what this video is going to be about. Like I said in my previous video my previous "Mac" was a Hackintosh that I built with an Intel i7-8700K (6-cores), AMD RX580 8GB, 32GB of Corsair 3200Mhz RAM & my boot drive was the Samsung 970 Evo NVME M.2 Drive (500GB). In this video I'm going to compare the performance of the two as I'm sure there will be a lot of people in the hackintosh community that are curious and also those who are still undecided between the two. I'll look at Cinebench, Geekbench, Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, Handbrake & will also run the PugetBench for Photoshop test!

Specs

So the two machines I'm comparing are my M1 Mac mini which has the Apple M1 Chip & 16GB Unified Memory and my Hackintosh with an Intel i7-8700K (6-cores), AMD RX580 8GB, 32GB of Corsair 3200Mhz RAM & my a Samsung 970 Evo NVME M.2 Drive (500GB) as the boot drive. The mini is on Big Sur and the Hackintosh is on Catalina. Also worth noting the mini has one fan whereas my Hackintosh has an AiO Liquid Cooler and roughly 8 fans (including the 2 on the gpu).

Results

Geekbench

So first up is Geekbench, I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in numbers and not actually discuss what they mean so let’s try and get some understanding about what it shows first! Supposedly the CPU benchmark performs tests that are representative of real-world tasks and applications and for this higher scores are better.

I ran both the tests twice on the mini in the native ARM one and also running through Rosetta then obviously the Hackintosh is in Intel mode. The numbers are pretty impressive with the mini cleaning up in single core both through rosetta and native and taking the multi core score too for native. It does fall behind in the multi core score through rosetta but still an impressive result.

The GPU test is a different story but perhaps but too surprising as my Hackintosh has a dedicated GPU (RX580). The compute test is designed to test potential for gaming, image processing & video editing but as we’ll see later this dramatic difference in the score doesn’t tell the whole story!

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is a commonly used app on the Mac (made by Apple) that is used for Audio Production, it’s CPU intensive so we can expect both machines to perform well here as seen by their CPU scores in Geekbench. The benchmark has a track playing some audio (which is muted for this video) and you basically just keep enabling tracks to see how many you can get too before the system overloads. I managed to get to 106 on the mini and 104 on the Hackintosh. Neck and neck basically, Logic along with Final Cut can be a motivation for people wanting to build Hackintoshes, it’s apps like these that keep people on the Mac so it’s great to see that the mini can compete here!

Final Cut Pro

The BruceX benchmark is a classic amongst FCP & Hackintosh users, it makes a short timeline at 5120x2700 resolution @ 23.975fps, it’s supposed to be quite GPU intensive. Based on the benchmarks we looked at earlier we’d expect the Hackintosh to crush the mini and while it is faster it’s not dramatically so with just a X seconds difference between the two. Again using FCP is a big motivation in the Hackintosh community so seeing the mini again do well here is encouraging!

Handbrake

Hanbdrake is a useful tool for converting video and I found this “benchmark” on the AnandTech forums, it takes a 4K HDR sample and converts it using the H.265 2160p60 preset. The Hackintosh excelled here and takes an almost 200 second win. In the grand scheme of things this shouldn’t be too surprising, the 8700K in the Hackintosh was a high end processor when it debuted and the mini is a “low end” machine but the score it achieved puts it around the i5-8400 (approx 560 seconds) based on other results from the forum which is more of a mid range processor from the 8th gen so still pretty impressive! It’s also worth noting this is using a beta M1 version of Handbrake so there maybe further gains coming in the future as it becomes more optimised for Apple Silicon.

Photoshop

The last benchmark I ran was PugetBench for Photoshop, there is an M1 Beta version available for Photoshop but I ran it in the Intel version as I think most people will be doing that for now until the M1 version makes it to the stable channel. Interesting the mini actually lapped the Hackintosh and finished before but the Hackintosh scored twice as high. In practical terms I haven’t noticed any issues in Photoshop on the mini but then I am far from a “Pro” user, equally these aren’t “Pro” machines...

Conclusion / What did we Learn?

So not surprisingly the benchmarks tell a mixed bag, there has been a lot of excitement around the M1 Macs in general and the Mac mini for their exceptional performance so far and rightly so but there are areas where there is room for improvement. In terms of what wins between the two? For me the mini is a better package as you can get most of the way to the performance required of a good Hackintosh without any of the hassle, I will be moving my Hackintosh to just Windows now and using it primarily for gaming. Having said all that when you look at the machines this first Apple Silicon batch have replaced it is clear they are supposed to be the “low end” machines and not “Pro” by any means and what they have done is change what is possible at the “low end”. Things like 4K video editing and complex audio production and no longer reserved for the “Pros” and expensive machines and I think that is the real story here. Anyone can now take great 4K footage from their smartphones and with a reasonably priced computer do amazing things to it and for me to quote Apple “This changes Everything”.


Resources:

Cinebench: https://www.maxon.net/en/cinebench

Geekbench: https://www.geekbench.com/

Logic Pro: https://music-prod.com/logic-pro-x-be...

Final Cut Pro: https://blog.alex4d.com/2013/10/30/br...

Handbrake: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/...

Photoshop: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/art...


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