Speed Differences Between 7 and 8 core M1 MBA

I’m looking at swapping out my wife’s MacBook Retina with a new M1 MBA. It will also double as our desktop when connected to a monitor at home. Should I spend the money and get an 8 core with 8 gbs of RAM or settle with a 7 core with 16 gbs of RAM? What are the speed differences?

I’d opt for RAM. Either model will be way faster that any current Mac in the house, and more memory will keep things smooth and happy for years to come.


Is say go for the memory too. It’ll mean you get much more longevity and the extra core only gives a small boost.

I opted for both because I like to play games, where it will add a few frames per second.

Since the cores are GPU cores rather than CPU, I would imagine the vast, vast majority of people would do better with the extra RAM.

Noting though that the 8 GPU core variant also has double the SSD, so the extra GPU core only works out to something like $50 extra if you were going to get the SSD upgrade anyway. And the extra SSD would potentially be of significant value, depending on what all you’re doing with it and whether you need on-device storage.


Agree with all of the above. I would personally opt for the RAM over the extra GPU core. Even though many reviewers have said that the 8GB M1 is sufficient, I think the mostly likely place to see “pressure” in the future is RAM rather than the graphics core. (I would comment that if I found a limitation in graphic performance, I would likely wait for next generation M* based Macs with possibly better GPU performance overall.) Second place for “pressure” will be internal storage. That is why I bought both an M1 MBAir and Mini. Both are 16GB RAM; the AIr has 1TB storage and the Mini has 2TB. I am currently using 800GB on the Minin, and at 1TB I would inevitably run out of internal storage long before the machine would otherwise be at end of life.

Now that RAM and storage are not upgradable, we have to future proof by buying up front, and I would go for as much RAM as you can afford and as much internal storage as you can a) afford and b) reasonably foresee needing in the potential usable lifespan of the device.

Thanks for all the input! I really appreciate it. I’m excited to start my M1 journey!

It looks like refurbished is the way to go on this one. Just an extra $250 for an 8 core, 16gb, 512gb MBA.


Assuming linear, which is optimistic, you’d get just a bit less than 15% capacity with 8 than 7.

But multiprocessing effects in general, and cache sharing in particular, mean you probably wouldn’t even get that. Probably less than 10%.

And that’s capacity. Single thread speed would drop ever so slightly.

Memory is a better bet. Having said that, I’d probably go for the 8-core with 16GB anyway. :slight_smile:


8 core is variously reported as a 10-15% increase in frame rate for games and hardware-accelerated sites/apps (matters if playing a game that struggles to get to 30 or 60, for example.) This is more likely to be noticed after playing long enough to hit thermal limits that degrade performance about 25% on the Air.

For playing 8k video, 8 core will drop almost no frames and 7 core will drop a noticeable few. This is of course not a typical activity and neither have any trouble with 4k.

All academic since the good refurbished deal was found by the OP. :slight_smile: