Apple’s A12Z under Rosetta 2 beats Microsoft’s native ARM-based Surface Pro X

Well, it took all of about 10 minutes for someone to do what most everyone expected: Somebody benchmarked Apple’s iPad crammed into a Mac mini case – and even with the Rosetta 2 translation layer running, it beats Microsoft’s native ARM-based Surface Pro X.

Apple's Developer Transition Kit
Apple’s Developer Transition Kit

Juli Clover for MacRumors:

Apple’s Developer Transition Kit equipped with an A12Z iPad Pro chip began arriving in the hands of developers this morning to help them get their apps ready for Macs running Apple Silicon, and though forbidden, the first thing some developers did was benchmark the machine.

Multiple Geekbench results have indicated that the Developer Transition Kit, which is a Mac mini with an ‌iPad Pro‌ chip, features average single-core and multi-core scores of 811 and 2,871, respectively.

As developer Steve Troughton-Smith points out, the two-year-old A12Z in the ‌Mac mini‌ outperforms Microsoft’s Arm-based Surface Pro X in Geekbench performance, running x86_64 code in emulation faster than the Surface Pro X can run an Arm version natively.

Averaging seven Geekbench 5 benchmarking results, Microsoft’s Surface Pro X features a single-core score of 726 and a multi-core score of 2,831, meaning the A12Z outperforms the Surface Pro X in single-core testing and is on par or slightly better in multi-core performance.

The Surface Pro X features a Microsoft-designed 3GHz Arm processor based on the Qualcomm SQ1 chip.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, this is Microsoft we’re talking about, so, really, beating whatever they can cobble together isn’t that hard. Wait until Apple begins shipping real Macs with real Apple silicon designed for Macs!

Apple’s Developer Transition Kit is an iPad packed into a Mac mini case, running an Apple A12 variant — not even an A13 — and yet Apple knows it’ll be plenty for developers to “make it so.” They’ll get their apps running well on an A12Z, this glorified iPad stamped with Mac branding, and when the first Macs with Apple’s custom silicon ship to the public by the end of the year, they’ll be packing A14-class SOCs.

We’ll have to bolt ’em down, lest they spontaneously take flight!

I can’t wait to see the benchmarks almost as much as I can’t wait to see the faces of the remaining Wintel boat anchor holdouts when they see the benchmarks!

Yes, this is going to be FUN! And fun, dear friends, is exactly what we need after the start of this wonderful year.SteveJack, MacDailyNews, June 23, 2020


  1. That seems very encouraging for Apple. I can hardly wait to see what new family of Apple Silicon is capable of. I’m sure a lot of computer makers are going to be tripping over themselves to produce some ARM laptops and desktops when Apple starts selling theirs. I’m sure the Apple Silicon extended battery life alone will be something most consumers will desire. I have a good feeling the coming ARM MacBook from Apple will do much better than Microsoft’s Surface Pro X and hopefully Samsung’s Galaxy Book S.

    1. Roger, yes it can run x86 Mac apps under Rosetta 2 emulation (with a performance penalty). No it can’t run x86 Windows because there is too much low-level processor-specific code. By the time Apple silicon Macs become available, there may be work arounds, but don’t bet the farm on it.

  2. I fully expect that when Apple does release the first official ARM Mac that the processor will be significantly upgraded from A12Z. It will help with customer acceptance if the initial version has a big boost over the rivals and even can match equivalently prices Intel PCs.

  3. The talk at Blender and other open source sites is that they are just going to abandon the Mac over Apple silicon. They say that Apple’s restrictions make open source development impossible. I hope Apple has some plans for alternatives – it doesn’t matter how fast the processor is if everything is iPhone apps. Even now the Mac has fallen far behind on 3D modeling software.

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