Today Apple announced three new Macs with their first custom silicon for a computer.

One notable omission from the specs of these computers is the processor’s clock speed. Usually this is something similar to:

10th‑generation Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz and 8MB shared L3 cache

Instead, these new computers list their chip (not processor) specs like this:

8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores 8-core GPU 16-core Neural Engine

At first glance, that might seem strange. How are we meant to compare whether the new machine will be suitable for our needs?

Clock speeds don’t matter. You can’t compare the new computers to the old on clock speed.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Apple has been doing this for years. iPhone and iPad have historically never listed a GHz value. It would be unfair to compare a desktop machine with an ultra portable device like a phone based on that one number anyway.

My purely speculative guess is that the chips’ GHz-equivalent numbers would be a lot lower than similar processors. Obviously that wouldn’t look good when comparing them side by side.

However the real performance gains comes from the efficiency of the chip and the other components.

For a 13" Intel MacBook Pro:

Up to 10 hours wireless web Up to 10 hours Apple TV app movie playback Up to 30 days of standby time Built-in 58.0-watt-hour lithium‑polymer battery

And for a 13" M1 MacBook Pro:

Up to 17 hours wireless web Up to 20 hours Apple TV app movie playback Built-in 58.2-watt-hour lithium‑polymer battery

Double the Apple TV app movie playback with a 0.2-watt-hour larger battery.

At the end of the day, whatever the theoretical maximum speed is doesn’t matter. How it feels when it’s actually being used is a better measure of how fast the M1-powered Macs are.