Apple’s M1 Ultra chip turns out not to be faster than RTX 3090

Apple's M1 Ultra chip turns out not to be faster than RTX 3090

With the expiry of the review embargo on the new Mac Studio, Apple appears to have made too ambitious promises. According to independent tests, the M1 Ultra chip is not faster than the RTX 3090 GPU, while Apple initially claimed the opposite.

Apple had claimed during the official unveiling of the M1 Ultra that the chip would be faster and more efficient than “the heaviest discrete GPU of today”, with which the tech giant was referring to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090. Websites like The Verge, among others, put that sum to the test, with somewhat painful results for Apple. In terms of efficiency, it’s probably good, but the M1 Ultra certainly doesn’t clock the world’s fastest scores.

In Geekbench 5, the new Mac Studio (with M1 Ultra chipset) was measured against a Core i9-10900 system with RTX 3090 and 64 GB of RAM. On the Metal API, the Mac Studio achieved its best score of 102,156; the competing PC system clocks in at more than double Apple’s best chipset at 215,034 points.

While the Mac Studio is hardly an option for PC gamers, the M1 Ultra was also tested in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. There, Apple’s chip at 4k resolution narrows to 60 frames per second, where the RTX 3090 clocks almost 30 frames more than the M1 Ultra, at similar settings. 

The Verge added to the gaming test that the image output from the Mac Studio also seemed to stutter slightly, regardless of the resolution set. 

The M1 Ultra is well on its way to clocking better graphics performance, but according to The Verge benchmarks, a Mac Studio “isn’t the best option in GPU-heavy computing.” However, the M1 Ultra would consume much less power and generate heat than heavy video cards from the competition, but no relevant tests were run for this.

Apple’s new Mac Studio system (including M1 Ultra) has a suggested retail price of EUR 4,629 in the Benelux and will officially go on sale from today. Two years after launch, a video card like the RTX 3090 is still asking for more than the suggested retail price, but every now and then a  falling price sets in. Select variants of Nvidia’s top GPU are available here and there for under 2,000 euros.