Corel Painter shows the big picture for Apple Silicon performance

The company says its industry-standard painting application runs twice as fast on an M1 Mac as on Intel. There's a lesson there for Mac users: these laptops are fast.

Apple, Corel, Mac, MacBook Pro, Apple Silicon, Painter, M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max

Corel Painter, one of the world’s leading creative applications, runs twice as fast on M1 Macs as on Intel-based machines, which hints at even better performance on the latest M1 Max and M1 Pro MacBook Pros.

Painter's big Mac picture

That’s according to Corel, which told me today that introducing a fully Apple Silicon-native version of Painter 2022 unlocked “significant” performance gains. These are particularly noteworthy when you consider what the application does – since the early ‘90s it has striven to be the digital equivalent of artistic tools; it's already in most digital creatives' tool bags.

Corel said artists upgrading to Painter 2022 on M-series Macs will see “significant brush engine performance improvements, and we’re excited about what these boosts will mean for artists who work and live by deadlines.”

Corel, which tested its software on an entry-level 2020 MacBook Pro with an M1 chip and an Intel-based 2019 MacBook Pro, highlighted two key metrics:

  • Users can expect overall brush engine performance that is up to 4.7x faster on Macs with M1 chips compared to running on the same Mac using Rosetta 2.
  • Users can also expect the software to run twice as fast when compared to Intel-based Macs.

That’s significant, but potentially much more so for digital creatives considering an investment in an all-new MacBook Pro. Apple has told us what to expect from those machines, which are equipped with M1 Pro and M1 Max processors.

With a 30-year history on Mac, Painter is one of those unique applications to have gone through three major processor transitions with Apple. It was on the original AIM Alliance Macs, made it to the Intel Macs, and now it’s running on M-series Macs. That shared story means you can consider it a barometer for Mac performance.

(I’m lucky enough to be working with a new 16-in. MacBook Pro at present, and while I’m not ready to write the review, I can say the battery life and computational performance it is delivering is phenomenal.)

Performance machine, Apple's 'big beast'

We’ve also seen some additional benchmark figures leak that suggest the kinds of speed and performance benefits Apple professionals can expect from these machines.

Most recently, we saw Passmark place Apple’s M1, M1 Pro and M1 Mac chips in the top four positions of its performance benchmark charts. Prior to this, Geekbench data revealed the big advantages of these new chips, which compete with high-end gaming PCs, but require far less energy and deliver across a far wider gamut of need.

Apple’s silicon development teams appear to have figured out how to make those billions of transistors work for you.

Corel’s claims aren’t surprising, of course. Apple made its own sets of similar claims when it introduced the new Macs, claiming the 16-core GPU in M1 Pro and 32-core GPU in M1 Max (in the 14-inch MacBook Pro) provide:

  • Up to 9.2x faster 4K render in Final Cut Pro with M1 Pro, and up to 13.4x faster with M1 Max.
  • Up to 5.6x faster combined vector and raster GPU performance in Affinity Photo with M1 Pro, and up to 8.5x faster with M1 Max.
  • Up to 3.6x faster effect render in Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio with M1 Pro, and up to 5x faster with M1 Max.

The 16-in. models deliver even higher performance, including up to 1.7x faster Final Cut Pro rendering and up to 4.9x faster object tracking in the 16-core chip.

Apple also cited battery life enhancements, which means third-party apps should work faster and last longer on one charge.

More improvements in the pipeline

We already know Adobe Creative Cloud applications run twice as fast on M1 Macs, and that performance achievement will only increase on the new M-series chips on MacBook Pro. With Apple reportedly plotting a path to introduce the new processors in a 2022 iMac Pro and with anticipation around the subsequent release of an all-new Mac Pro— perhaps with multiple processors — this seems to be a really good time to be a creative pro using a Mac.

I’d be interested to learn more about the level of computing performance other key application developers are experiencing as they migrate to Apple Silicon – particularly on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro. Anyone for whom time is money will certainly want to look into this.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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