A few days ago, Apple unveiled its M1 Ultra SOC and claimed that its 64-core GPU was faster than NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card. Now with the first reviews out, it looks like that claim has been debunked as NVIDIA’s offering simply destroys the M1 Ultra’s GPU in both gaming and compute benchmarks.
NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3090 Graphics Card Annihilates Apple M1 Ultra’s ‘Revolutionary’ 64-Core GPU
According to Apple, the Apple M1 Ultra GPU comes with a 64-core unit that offers 8192 execution units for up to 21 TFLOPs of single-precision horsepower, 660 GTexels/s, and 330 GPixels/s. The media engine on the Apple M1 Ultra is composed of the latest Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes & ProRes with 2 video decode engines, 4 videos encode engines and 4 ProRes encode and decode engines. The GPU is getting access to 128 GB of unified memory.
M1 Ultra SOC GPU Performance (vs. NVIDIA/AMD GPUs):
Apple claimed in its benchmark slides that the M1 Ultra GPU would offer similar performance to NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card while sipping in 200W less power. But that was just a claim as real benchmarks published by The Verge in their Mac Studio (Ultra) review show a totally different picture.
In terms of gaming, the Shadow of The Tomb Raider was used for comparison at 1080p, 1440p, and 2160p resolutions. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Ti shows up to 32% better performance at the 4K resolution and sits at the top. In addition to that, the reviewer noticed noticeable micro stutter at all three resolutions so it looks like for gaming, the GeForce and Radeon GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD are still going to be the top choice.
But what about Compute? The Mac Studio is designed for content creators and workstation uses, as such, the Apple M1 Ultra GPU should be pretty decent in those specific benchmarks. Well, with Geekbench 5 OpenCL benchmark, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 scores 215,034 points while the Apple M1 Ultra SOC only manages 83,121 points. That’s a 2.6x gain for the GeForce graphics card on the desktop PC. Even if we used an Apple optimized API such as Metal, the RTX 3090 still ends up 2.1x faster.
Another interesting thing to note here is that while M1 Ultra is essentially twice the configuration of M1 Max, the performance doesn’t scale that well across the compute and gaming benchmarks in the tests. The M1 Ultra offers around 25-30% better performance than the Max chip.
This should tell you how much confidence you should put in Apple’s own numbers for their SOCs. It looks like the official benchmarks were performed under select-workloads that favor the M1 Ultra GPU and not with real-world applications. For comparison, the GeForce RTX 3090 currently can be bought for around $2000 US while the Mac Studio with the full 64-core configuration and 128 GB memory costs $5800 US so that should give you a price/perf comparison.