The Apple M1 vastly outperforms an Intel Core i9 by compressing video

Handbrake is a very powerful and versatile free software for encoding and compressing video, which achieves exceptional results, both in quality and size of the resulting file.

The first betas of the build for Apple’s M1 are now available and users have started testing it.

Handbrake supports hardware compression (as well as software), which takes much more advantage of the computer’s capabilities.

Intel processors also have hardware compression, so they don’t play at a disadvantage at this point.

The first tests carried out by a user, which have appeared in the forums, give spectacular results with the Apple system being more than 3 times faster than an Intel Core i9.

In the test, a Mac Mini with M1 with 8GB of ram has been compared against an iMac with i9 processor (9900k) with Radeon 580x and with 48GB of ram.

It has been compressed 5 minutes at 1080p with H265, taking the iMac 1 min 48 sec and taking the Mac Mini 34s.

Also, other interesting news is that the new system allows hardware compression with constant quality (CQ) or variable bit rate, something that was not possible with Handbrake on macOS.

Video encoding

Those of you who have worried about these issues will know that video encoding is something of the most demanding in terms of power of a computer equipment.

It is not a use for people who are dedicated to video, it is used by almost all users. For example, to make a videoconference, which so many are done these days due to COVID. The image from your camera has to be processed to be compressed and sent over the Internet, and it requires a lot of power. Or when you modify a video that you have recorded with your camera. Or when you want to use the Sidecar feature to work with your iPad and your Mac as one team. Or send by AirPlay.

And it’s not just about power, it’s also about consumption. Optimizing this process is key so that the battery does not drain immediately.

If your team gets very hot when you do a videoconference (and you hear the fans blowing), be it on Zoom, on Teams, on Skype… it is because it is taking a lot of effort to work that video.

Putting a dedicated hardware is very important since it does not take up the main processor’s process time, it becomes faster and consumes less battery. But it is important that the software is well made to take advantage of that hardware, that it is up to date and well designed.

For example, encoding a 2 hour 4k movie in H265 by software could take 50h without problem on a Mac with i7 with 16GB of ram, while the iPhone 11 is already capable of recording and compressing from all 4 cameras to the Once in 4k in real time (which would be those 2 hours in 30 minutes) and consuming a tiny part of the energy. Obviously the Intel using hardware encoding is much faster than software, but this was intended to show the importance of specialized hardware.

So, if the software is well done, this improvement will greatly benefit everyone, both those who are dedicated to video and those who do not.