Avid readers of T3.com may remember when the Apple M2 Max benchmark leaked last month. It caused a mild amount of furore, as the performance leap many had hoped for turned out to be more of a hop.
The M2 Max is expected to feature in the updated top-spec version of the MacBook Pro 16-inch, replacing the M1 Max chip found in the current generation. The Max variant is the most powerful version in the current line-up, offering more power than the vanilla M1 chip and the M1 Pro.
Now, another benchmark has leaked for the M2 Max, with better scores for both single-core and multi-core performance. It posted 2,027 in single-core and 14,888 in multi-core – up from 1,853 and 13,855, respectively, last time out. This one had a slightly higher clock speed – 3.68GHz against 3.54GHz last time – but otherwise looks like the same setup.
And it's a stark reminder of why you need to take benchmark scores with a pinch of salt. Within the space of a few weeks, we've seen two markedly different scores posted from the same device. One, as we reported on at the time, was underwhelming, while the latest one looks like the more substantial jump in performance that many had expected.
So what's the difference? Well, it could be any number of things, and therein lies the problem. Benchmark testing is designed to evaluate how a processor handles certain tasks. These tasks are designed to test the extreme limits of a processor for a short period of time, but fail to evaluate the performance over a sustained period. It's like picking the best marathon runner by watching them sprint 100m – sure, it might broadly separate the good and the bad, but it's not specific enough to pick the best for the job.
What's more, variables like the temperature can affect how well a processor performs, leading to results that aren't indicative of what the device can do under normal conditions. It makes it all too easy to manipulate the test and skew the results.
The new MacBook Pro models are expected to be unveiled in 2023. They will undoubtedly be quick, and capable of handling anything and everything you can throw at them. But you don't need a benchmark score to tell you that.