M1 Max chip could deliver even greater graphics than PlayStation 5

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 5
Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 5.
Photo: Marvel

MacBook Pro’s mind-blowing M1 Max chip could deliver even greater graphics than Sony’s newest PlayStation 5 console, according to early estimates. It has even more raw GPU power, at least on paper, with up to 32 graphics cores.

Apple already promised that it would offer “similar performance” to a “high-performance discrete GPU” in competing laptops. But whether Mac users actually get similar gaming experiences is another matter.

M1 Max faster than PlayStation 5?

It’s difficult to establish exactly how powerful Apple’s new M1 Max chip is until the 2021 MacBook Pro starts shipping and users can actually put it through its paces. But based on what Apple has told us so far, it looks to be a beast.

Despite requiring significantly less power at peak performance than a Windows laptop with a discrete graphics card, the new MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip can deliver similar (in some cases even better) graphics performance.

Notebookcheck used the information Apple provided during its “Unleashed” event to estimate the graphical prowess of each M1 variant in teraflops. A teraflop refers to one trillion floating-point operations per second.

For instance, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X boasts 12 teraflops of GPU power, which means it can process 12 trillion floating-point operations per second. Here’s what Notebookcheck came up with for the M1 series:

  • ‌M1‌ 8-core = 2.6 TF
  • ‌M1‌ Pro 14-core = 4.5 TF
  • ‌M1‌ Pro 16-core = 5.2 TF
  • ‌M1‌ Max 24-core = 7.8 TF
  • ‌M1‌ Max 32-core = 10.4 TF

M1 versus the latest consoles

You’ll notice none of the M1 flavors is as powerful as the custom chipset inside the Xbox Series X, according to these estimates. However, the PlayStation 5’s chipset is a little less powerful, delivering just 10.28 teraflops.

If these figures are accurate, then, Apple’s most powerful M1 Max chipset with a 32-core GPU should be able to outperform the PS5 in graphics. The M1 Max also offers faster read speeds of 7.4 Gbps, versus the PS5’s 5.5 Gbps.

This could be a huge leap forward for gaming on the Mac — and it’s certainly exciting news for those who hope to one day use an Apple machine as a gaming rig. But we’re still a long way off from that, and not because of the hardware.

The state of gaming on Mac

You may have noticed that Apple made little mention of gaming during yesterday’s keynote, instead choosing to focus on the performance gains in apps like Final Cut, DaVinci Resolve Studio, and Photoshop.

That’s because game developers still aren’t supporting the Mac with the latest games — despite the introduction of the M1 chip — so Apple cannot compare gaming performance between the Mac and Windows PCs (or consoles).

That’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. People aren’t buying Macs to play games because the latest games aren’t available on macOS, and developers aren’t bringing their games to macOS because people don’t buy Macs to play games. It’s a cycle that’s difficult to break.

It would probably take big payouts from Apple to change that, and that seems highly unlikely. Nevertheless, it’s still outstanding that Apple has managed to design its own computer chipsets that continue to embarrass rival chip-makers.