Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:
Benchmarks are all very well, but one almost universal comment made about M1 Macs is how much faster they feel, even when performance measurements don’t show as big a difference as we might like.
I tell anyone who asks about the speed: the late 2020 MacBook Air M1 feels consistently fast — not necessarily having a faster top speed — but plowing through every tasks that would slow down the early 2020 MacBook Air Intel.
Since I had two 16GB RAM MacBook Air’s back to back from each architecture over the last year — I was certain the speed difference wasn’t anecdotal over the same tasks. Which is supported by this explanation:
[…] Because those processes are handed over to the Efficiency cores, all they do now is slow other macOS background tasks, to which we’re much less sensitive.
And while there are many more elements, it mostly boils down to optimization:
[…] Because Macs with Intel processors can’t segregate their tasks onto different cores in the same way, when macOS starts to choke on something it affects user processes too.
The chip wars will argue for years if Apple Silicone is faster than other processors — but the integration that Apple now has will make the end result clear: M family will feel way faster.