Apple’s latest M1 processor is an absolute beast in CPU performance, but its graphics performance doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
Apple unveiled the M1 Ultra as part of its Peak Performance event on March 8. The new processor powers the Mac Studio, Apple’s new machine aimed at creative professionals. As part of its unveiling, Apple execs touted the Ultra’s performance, even pitting it against the Nvidia RTX 3090.
There’s just one problem: In real-world usage, the M1 Ultra doesn’t even come close to the RTX 3090 in performance. In their comprehensive review of the new Mac Studio, The Verge delved into the chip’s performance, confirming the CPU performed every bit as good as Apple described.
“The suite of benchmarks we ran largely backed up our team’s findings,” writes Monica Chin. “In CPU performance, the M1 Ultra is in a league of its own. Compare this to our Mac Pro model with a 16-core Intel Xeon W, and across our CPU benchmarks, there was really no contest: the Xeon is outclassed.”
When it came to GPU performance, however, the M1 Ultra lagged behind the RTX 3090 by a wide margin, and was even bested by Apple’s Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro in some cases.
“On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the RTX was also a solid 30 frames per second faster,” Chin continued. “Now, this is Apple gaming, of course, so Tomb Raider was not a perfect or even particularly good experience: there was substantial, noticeable micro stutter at every resolution we tried. This is not at all a computer that anyone would buy for gaming. But it does emphasize that if you’re running a computing load that relies primarily on a heavy-duty GPU, the Mac Studio is probably not the best choice. “
Given the M1’s impressive performance, Apple has not had to exaggerate benchmarks, and has largely taken an understated approach to describing the M1’s performance. It’s unfortunate the company chose to pit the M1 Ultra vs the RTX 3090, a contest Apple’s latest chip isn’t quite up for.