The Google Chrome browser is now available as a native Apple M1 application, for those of you lucky enough to have M1 Mac Mini, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro systems. (If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the M1 is Apple’s latest in-house designed ARM silicon, which the company first started selling this week in traditional form factor laptops and Mac Minis.)
Google presents Chrome for download either as an x86_64 package or as a native M1 option – which seems a bit strange, since the native M1 version is actually a universal binary, which works on both M1 and traditional Intel Macs. Presumably Google is pushing separate downloads due to the much smaller file size required for the x86_64-only package – the universal binary contains both x86_64 and ARM applications and weighs 165 MiB versus the 96 MiB of the Intel-only package.
In our previous tests, we stated that the previous version of Google Chrome, which was only available as an x86_64 binary and had to run with Rosetta 2, was fine. That was and still is a true statement; we find it hard to believe that someone using the non-native binary for Chrome under an M1 machine would find it “slow”. That said, Google’s newer, ARM-native .dmg is available today, and – as expected – it’s considerably faster if you’re doing something complicated enough in your browser to notice it.
The first benchmark in our gallery above, Speedometer, is the most prosaic – all it does is populate lists of menu items over and over, using a different web application framework each time. This is probably the most relevant metric of the three for “ordinary web page,” if such a thing exists. Speedometer shows a huge advantage for M1 silicon running natively be it Safari or Chrome; Chrome x86_64 running via Rosetta2 is insignificantly slower than Chrome on a brand new HP EliteBook with Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U CPU.
Jetstream2 is the broadest of the three benchmarks and includes workloads for data sorting, regular expression parsing, graphical ray tracing, and more. This is the closest thing to a “traditional” outside-the-browser benchmark and is most relevant for all types of general web applications, especially heavy office applications such as spreadsheets with tons of columns, rows and formulas, as well as graphical editors with local instead of cloud processing. Chrome x86_64 under Rosetta2 takes a significant backseat to everything else here, although we’d stress again that it does not feels sluggish at all and would perform quite well compared to almost any other system.
Finally, MotionMark 1.1 measures complex graphic animation techniques in the browser and nothing else. Safari has an absolute crushing advantage in this test, even more than doubling the performance of M1 native Chrome. The Apple M1’s GPU power also has an outrageous impact on these test results, with Chrome both natively and x86_64 translated on the M1 surpassing Chrome on the Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U powered HP EliteBook.
List image by Aurich Lawson / Apple