Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max Tests Show Solid Gaming Performance

Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max processors in the new MacBook Pro offer powerful graphic performance. That’s intended for artists rendering video and other professional tasks, but tests show that it translates to solid gaming performance.

PCMag tested gaming on a 14-inch MacBook Pro running an M1 Pro processor with a 16-core GPU and a 16-inch model running an M1 Max with a 32-core GPU. It compared these to a Razer Blade 15 Advanced running a Core i7 processor with GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, which it described as a “a state-of-the-art high-end Windows gaming laptop.”

When testing Rise of the Tomb Raider with Very High graphic detail, the M1 Max was able to generate 116 frames per second on average, compared to the Core i7’s 114 fps. The M1 Pro average was 79 fps, but that’s still above 60 fps. On Hitman, the M1 Max had an average of 106 fps, the M1 Pro averaged 104 fps and the Core i7 average 103 fps.

PCMag’s Tom Brant summed up the results: “The answer to whether or not the M1 Pro and M1 Max are good for gaming is: ‘It depends on the game.’ That’s a significant triumph for Mac silicon, since it’s essentially the same answer to whether or not an Nvidia or AMD GPU in a Windows gaming laptop is good for gaming.”

Given most macOS cross-platform games are still x86 and the fact macOS has never really been a platform for gaming, however, it’s no surprise to see the M1s struggling when compared to their PC counterpoints. So another way to think about it is that Apple’s already matching the RTX 3060 without the benefit of game developers optimizing for its M1 chips. That’s an impressive start for Apple, even if there’s no indication yet that the Mac will attract optimized games in the future.

“Ultimately, the state of Mac gaming simply inches along with the introduction of M1 Max and M1 Pro, as good as the chips are,” the report concludes. “The hardware appears to be ready, but a critical mass of games that can take advantage of it simply doesn’t exist. On the other hand, if your preferred relaxation method at the end of a long day of content creation is revisiting classics like 2016’s Hitman, your new MacBook Pro will happily oblige.”

If more games become optimized to take advantage of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, and Apple’s desktop chips deliver the performance improvements we’ve seen so far with M1, Apple could be on course to redefine the performance expectations of desktop PCs, just like it redefined the expectations around laptop chips late last year.

Check out the entire report over at PCMag.