Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeNewsAsiaApple's MacBook Pro is a GPU warning shot for Nvidia and AMD

Apple’s MacBook Pro is a GPU warning shot for Nvidia and AMD

The first generation of Apple's M1 chips hit Intel hard, and its 2020 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro achieved rare leapfrog improvements in performance. Within a year, it was competing with the best GPUs from AMD and Nvidia. The new MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max shows for the first time how well Apple's M1 chips can deliver raw performance comparable to the discrete graphics cards we typically find in Windows laptops.
Nvidia has been trying to appeal to many of Apple's professional and innovative customers for studio laptops, but Apple has not only managed to fix the mistakes it made with the MacBook port selection and keyboard but has also ramped up the M1 chip to meet performance expectations for 14-16 "laptops. The results are exciting for creative professionals, and it's easy to see why.
Over the past five years, Windows laptops have become increasingly attractive to Mac users, and Apple's new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips have changed the equation, especially in the GPU space. They look like early warnings about AMD and Nvidia competing. Apple seems confident that it can deliver the same performance as top discrete graphics cards while consuming less power. It's part of Apple's ambitious plan to fully transition its Mac lineup to Apple Silicon by the end of 2022, and it's just a glimpse into the company's most powerful Mac: the towering Mac Pro.
Last week, Apple proudly compared its new M1 Max chip to two high-end Windows laptops, claiming that the M1 Max can reduce power consumption by 100W and provide the same relative performance at close to or higher than Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 mobile chip. While the M1 Max maybe Apple's largest chip ever, it still integrates graphics into a system on a chip (SoC) architecture compared to the dedicated and stand-alone RTX 3080 card.

Despite some caveats, this isn't empty talk: Early reviews seem to back up some of Apple's claims. Anandtech found that the M1 Pro and M1 Max performed well on productivity-focused loads, with GFXBench tests even coming close to the RTX 3080 laptop with the Intel core i9-11980hk flagship laptop processor. These are the types of loads you'd expect the M1 Max to run well, especially given that Apple is refining its chips for production tasks.
YouTuber Dave2D found that the M1 Max was slightly slower than a comparable RTX 3080 system for Adobe Premiere Pro tasks, and the performance of the M1 Max depended on the work involved. In tests with Dave2D, Adobe Premiere Pro took 10 minutes and 17 seconds to render, compared with 4 minutes and 16 seconds using Apple's Final Cut Pro software.
Where the M1 Max and M1 Pro fail is in gaming. The M1 Max is similar in performance to the RTX 3060 system in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While the mid-range game might be impressive for an SoC, it's disappointing compared to what Apple says, as the RTX 3060 is a significant drop from the RTX 3070, let alone the RTX 3080. Anandtech's tests also showed that the flagship M1 Max performed at less than half the performance of the RTX 3080 laptop in Borderlands 3. We're still reviewing Apple's latest MacBook Pro, but we also found that the M1 Max is pretty much the same as the RTX 3060 gaming laptop.
Given that most cross-platform macOS games are still x86, and that macOS was never really a gaming platform, it's not surprising to see the M1 Max struggle here. So another way to think about it is that Apple already matched the RTX 3060 without game developers optimizing their M1 chips. It's an impressive start for Apple, though there's no sign yet that the Mac will attract optimized games in the future.
It's also impressive when you factor in power consumption and heat clearance. We've already seen the difference the fan makes to the MacBook Pro compared to the MacBook Air without the fan. Now we see what it can do with a 140W power adapter and a larger 14 – or 16-inch chassis for cooling. What could Apple do with an iMac or Mac Pro if it had the time and space to build a bigger, better GPU with fewer heat and power constraints?
"It's clear that Apple's continued experience with GPUs is paying off in the development of their A-series chips and M1 series soCs," Anandtech's Andrei Frumusanu wrote. In short, the new M1 soc proves that Apple can build large and powerful GPUs for their high-end machines.AMD and NVIDIA don't need to apply."
According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, bigger chips are already on the way, with Apple designing two variants for its next desktop computer, the Mac Pro, with "twice as many CPUs and four times as many GPU cores as the M1 Max."This will result in up to 40 CPU cores and up to 128 GPU cores on very high-end Mac Pro models, which will be a real test of Apple's ability to extend its M1 strengths.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments