8-Core vs. 10-Core: Which One to Choose?

8 Core vs 10 Core

The range of Apple computers has only seemed to increase, with new technology making choosing what is best for your use case even harder. While it may seem obvious to want 10-cores over 8-cores, it is not so easy, so how do you choose between the two?

Unless you are going to be doing extremely intensive work constantly, there is no real need to go for the 10-core, as the 8-core version will still be a lightning fast laptop. Anything bigger than a 14-inch MacBook Pro will have a 10-core CPU.

Join me as we look at the differences in offerings among the new MacBook Pros as well as the technical considerations to take into account, and some recommendations for which one is right for you.

When to Choose an 8-Core MacBook Pro?

The difference between an 8-core versus a 10-core is not going to make a lot of difference that is readily detectable. If you look at it through a more analytical approach by using benchmarks, you won’t see a whole lot of difference.

The chances of you running into a performance bottleneck because you have 8-cores rather than 10-cores is very unlikely, so the few hundred dollars in price difference isn’t going to be worth it for most people.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is the only version that has an 8-core CPU option.

Given the fewer cores, it is possible that you can better battery performance on the 8-core version as opposed to the 10-core, but this will only be perhaps 20 minutes to at maximum 40 minutes more battery life.

If you’re doing only low intensity activities on the laptop, then it is almost assuredly not going to make any difference to battery life, but you could notice this difference if you’re running the laptop at high intensity, as the 10-cores are more likely to be engaged.

When To Choose a 10-Core MacBook Pro?

If you’re thinking of running some very intensive programs or running lots of applications at once, it may be worthwhile to consider the 10-core version over the 8-core, but there are many other considerations that should come first.

For example, the amount of cores should perhaps be entry five or lower on a list when going through each aspect of a MacBook Pro.

You’ll want to make sure the screen is big enough for what you want, the internal storage is large enough, the GPU is powerful enough and overall the laptop is what you want, before you start discounting a particular model just because it has only 8- or 10-cores.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is the only laptop that comes with 8-cores, so if you want a 16-inch MacBook, your only choice is 10-cores.

It is not such an easy choice to say that 10-cores are automatically better than 8-cores, or that because you have 25% more cores, you then have 25% more power. Effective power for a laptop hinges on many other factors rather than just the sheer core amount.

What’s the Difference Between 8-Core and 10-Core CPUs?

There’s more going on than just the difference between two cores.

Apple has stated that to both maximize the profitability of its production lines and also as an eco consideration, they are not just throwing away the 10-core M1 Pro CPUs that don’t quite meet Apple’s quality standards.

This practice is known as ‘binning’, and basically means the 10-core chip is not good enough to meet the proper specifications to be named as such. However, Apple is instead denoting these ‘failures’ as 8-core variants of the M1 Pro.

The actual setup of the CPU is that the 10-core model has 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores, while to contrast this, the 8-core model has 6 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores.

In principle, this means that for more intensive activities, you’re getting so much more efficiency out of the 10-core version, as the two extra cores are dedicated to performance.

This also means that at the lower end you have two efficiency cores for both, so the base performance is identical. 

So it is possible that you could see a 10% to 25% increase in power for high end performance with the 10-core, rather than it always being the case that the 10-core version will always be sailing along at up to 25% more powerful than the 8-core.

Is 8-Core CPU Enough for Gaming and Streaming?

An 8-core CPU is a good start for getting a computer to handle gaming, streaming or both. However, your CPU is not the only consideration that comes into it.

Depending on the game, having a powerful enough GPU is going to be a lot more important, and for doing multiple tasks that is common with streaming, you’ll want to make sure you have a lot of RAM. 

General consensus seems to be that you want to be running on at least 6-cores for streaming, so 8-cores is a considerable improvement on this and should be great for most games. Go for at least 8GB of RAM but better to go with 16GB.

Is a 10-Core MacBook Pro Worth It?

You’ll have some performance differences that have been shown via testing. 

This means more tracks possible at the same time on Logic, with approximately 10 to 20 more tracks. You can also expect 10% faster performance in both Lightroom export and Xcode, and a similar boost in games.

This 10% boost also carries over for general tasks like video editing and Blender work. 

However, with the release of the M1 chip, core numbers have become very hard to compare across different generations. For example, you’re looking at 16-cores for the M1, with half being for standard processing like the CPU, and the other eight for graphical processing.

The question isn’t whether or not you need 8- or 10-cores for your CPU, it’s whether you want the 14-inch MacBook Pro or something different.

If you’re only just able to scrape together the extra few dollars to afford going from 8-cores to 10-cores, you shouldn’t waste your money. The actual difference will be almost impossible to tell, and that extra investment could’ve gone on other things that will make a difference.

For example, you can spend a few hundred more to go up to a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU, but that money would be much better spent at pushing the unified memory to 32 GB, which would be very useful if you’re dealing with large files, such as video editing.

This money could also go towards swapping out the 512 GB SSD for the twice as big 1 TB storage drive.

If you spend your time doing low processor activity, such as consuming media, emails, social media and other such tasks, then the M1 chip is mainly going to switch to what are called the efficiency cores, which number two. Even a 10-core CPU only has two efficiency cores.

So when operating in these types of environments, whether 8-core or 10-core, you’ll be using the two efficiency cores, meaning the same amount of processing power and energy usage.

It would seem that unless you’re doing something that is extremely CPU intensive and are doing it all day, there is no real reason to go for the 10-core over the 8-core if you can’t afford it. It just won’t be any significant difference.

  • Laura Bais

    Laura is a co-owner of Computer Zilla and an editor. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Cultural Studies and a Master's degree in Journalism, both of which have sharpened her skills as an editor. During her college years, Laura served as a marketing team leader for one student asso...