We’ve seen the results of a whole bunch of benchmarks measuring M2 Mac speeds in the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. We can now add web browsing speed into the mix – for whatever that’s worth.
On the one hand, web browsing is probably the single most frequent activity on a Mac. On the other, the speed of the browser itself pales when compared to your connection speed, and the speed of the webserver at the other end. There’s a third real-life factor too …
Namely, the other apps your Mac is running at the time. You’ll only see the fastest speeds your machine can achieve when only the browser is open. If you have a lot of other apps open, doing things in the background, then you’ll see dramatically slower speeds. But with these things noted, let’s see how the chips compare.
Apple’s WebKit team designed Speedometer as a way of simulating user interactions with websites and web-based apps in order to measure the responsiveness of the browser. Macworld spotted Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hanson tweeting his own results, using the Apple tool Speedometer 2.0.
Apple’s chip team continues to embarrass everyone else in the business. Just clocked a clean 400 on the Speedometer 2.0 test for the M2 Air. That’s 33% faster than the M1 (and A15) can do. 2.5x faster than a 4.2Ghz i7 Intel iMac. Bananas.
The site then decided to run its own tests, which included comparisons between browsers. It tested the following chips by using equivalent-model MacBook Pro machines:
On each, it tested the latest versions of:
Safari Technology Preview
Here’s what it found, first for the different chips:
When I tested Safari 15.6, I experienced an 18 percent increase of the M2 over the M1. That’s a little more than half of what Heinemeier Hanson’s tweeted, but he compares the M2 to an M1 score that is not stated. As I pointed out earlier, a 33 percent increase would mean that the M1 posted a 300 score.
Our results are an average of three trials, and while I didn’t get an exact 400 score for the M2, I got an average just above that, and one of the trials actually scored 408. Our testing also found an 11 percent boost of the M2 over the M1 Pro.
There was a smaller difference when using Chrome 104. The M1 and M1 Pro scores were almost identical at 308 and 309, and the M2 topped out at 339.
This apparently shows that Chrome – which Google always like to claim is the fastest browser – can’t keep up with Safari on Apple Silicon. However, as Macworld’s Roman Loyola notes, we have to remember that Speedometer is an Apple-designed tool, and thus Safari may be optimized for the browsing activities which the tool simulates.
That doesn’t mean Apple is doing anything nefarious. It simply means the company has its own ideas and data on which browsing features are most commonly used, and it designs Safari to optimize those activities, and Speedometer to measure them.
Finally, Safari Technology Preview. This is the latest public beta of the next version of the browser, and this hit an average score of 420, with a maximum one of 425.
If you’re trying to choose between the M1 and M2 MacBook Air, we put together a video discussing the differences. This covers the design, ports, keyboard, trackpad, screen, camera, performance, and SSD.
If you want to measure your own machine’s browser speed, you can do so here. Remember, though, to quit all other apps – or not, if you want to see the real-life speed! If you do real-life tests of the M2 Mac speeds, do post your results in the comments.
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