First Mac mini 2018 benchmarks suggest Mac Pro speeds, unlike MacBook Air

The first Geekbench 4 benchmarks are out for Apple’s new “pro” version of the Mac mini, and the best results are at least intriguing: Equipped with an optional six-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, a $1,099 Mac mini could go toe-to-toe on CPU performance with Apple’s latest eight-core Mac Pro, a machine that sells for $3,799 and up.

Primate Labs’ Geekbench Browser provides access to test results from users around the world, and is often the first place that the processing performance of new computers and devices can be quantified. As of now, there are two results for the “Macmini8,1,” with specs corresponding to one configuration of the just-announced professional update to the Mac mini: an Intel Core i7-8700B CPU running at 3.2GHz with six cores.

Apple’s entry-level Mac mini sells for $799 and features a quad-core 3.6GHz Core i3 with 8GB of DDR4 RAM. The test machine includes 32GB of the same RAM, a $600 upgrade that typically does not impact results.

The first Geekbench result is the strongest, showing a single-core score of 5512, which eclipses all Mac models save for the latest four-core 4.2GHz iMac, plus a multi-core score of 23516. This multi-core number would place the Mac mini at the same general performance level as a mid-range configuration of the Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro, which runs eight cores at 3.0GHz. Apple’s higher-end 12-core Mac Pro and four separate configurations of the iMac Pro all easily outperform the Mac mini, albeit at much higher prices.

But a second, earlier set of results from the same hardware isn’t as impressive, showing a single-core score of 5070 and multi-core score of 16818. As the results were only seven minutes apart, it’s possible that there was some other process running at the same time as the first test, distorting the result. But if the numbers were averaged together, the new Mac mini would be closer in performance to a high-end laptop than a powerful desktop. Further benchmarking and real-world testing will show which is actually the case.

By comparison, early benchmarks for the new Retina MacBook Air are suggesting that Apple’s latest laptop is closer to a 12-inch MacBook than a 13-inch MacBook Pro in performance. That’s not a huge surprise, given the discovery that its Intel Core i5 CPU is only a slightly more powerful version of the chips found in the 12-inch models, now coupled with a fan. Here, the single-core and multi-core scores are both just ahead of the highest-end 1.4GHz MacBook, which scored 3925 and 7567 to the MacBook Air’s 4091 and 7693, respectively.

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro laptops range from 4505 to 5344 in single-core performance, and 8831 to 22556 in multi-core, depending on configuration. With prices starting at $1,299, only $100 more than the base model MacBook Air, they feature better screens, faster processors, and in some cases much better graphics capabilities than the Air, but with slightly thicker and heavier enclosures.

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