When Apple first released the M1 chip back in late 2020, it absolutely revolutionised mainstream computing, signaling a shift away from x86 processors to ARM-based ones. The performance the M1 offered was not seen in an ARM-powered device before this, which is understandably why many are excited to see what Apple can do in the upcoming rumoured Apple M1X and Apple M2 silicon due later this year and next year respectively.
Well one talking point making the rounds recently is the GPU performance we can expect from these upcoming Apple silicon, specifically the Apple M2. While the Apple M1X that we’re expecting to show up later this year is more of an improved version of the original M1 architecture, the M2 chip tipped to launch next year is a completely new processor, with an allegedly similar architecture to the upcoming Apple A15 Bionic.
Here’s where the tin foil hats start appearing. According to the YouTuber iCaveDave, the Apple M2’s integrated graphics will be as powerful as the NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti. Now the GTX 1080 Ti may be from 2017, but it’s still a beast of a graphics card, with similar performance to something like the RTX 2070 Super or sometimes even close to the RTX 2080 Super depending on the game. So how could an integrated GPU meant to go in a power-efficient chip be capable of such performance? Short answer: it’s probably not.
See, iCaveDave appears to have come to that conclusion by taking the leaked Apple A15 Bionic GPU benchmarks from earlier this week and extrapolated the performance increase from the A14 Bionic to the leaked A15 Bionic chip’s scores. He then applied the performance difference from there to the Apple M1’s GPU benchmark scores in Geekbench Metal, and thus came to the conclusion that the Apple M2 GPU is capable of 30,085 points. The NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti meanwhile scored 30,597 points in the same benchmark.
The problem with that though is that NVIDIA graphics cards don’t actually support the Apple-developed Metal graphics API. Ever since MacOS Mojave, there hasn’t been new drivers for NVIDIA GPUs. Besides, the way iCaveDave got to that conclusion is also problematic, as there’s no way to tell just exactly how much of an improvement the M2 GPU will be without actually any benchmark numbers. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that an integrated GPU in a power sipping processor will be able to match the performance of a dedicated graphics cards that take up to 250W to run.
That being said, I’d love to be proven wrong when the Apple M2 actually appears, because that means that gamers will actually have another option to play games on. Right now, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip inside is only capable of games on low settings, so any huge performance increase would be a boon for the dozens of gamers daily driving Apple products. But with the M2 slated to appear in the 2022 MacBook Air, we’ll likely need to wait till then to find out.