Apple and gaming don’t really go hand-in-hand, but you probably knew as much. The only relatively acceptable way to game on a Mac was to install Windows through Boot Camp but that was neither a user-friendly solution nor a particularly effective one. That, however, might change in a very interesting way once Apple releases its M1X SoC — an “all-in-one” ARM-based chip with an integrated GPU that’s rumored to be about as powerful as an NVIDIA RTX 3070. And now, that wasn’t a typo.
The most interesting thing, however, isn’t the sheer power of it all, but rather its estimated power consumption.
Leave it to Apple to create such a mind-blowing SoC, one that could undoubtedly leave NVIDIA and AMD in the dust. Now, we won’t delve too deep into their M1 chip — the one that has taken the world by storm ever since it was first announced last November — but a quick primer is in order. We’re talking about a surprisingly potent SoC with an integrated GPU that’s about as powerful as an NVIDIA GTX 1650.
Now, on the one hand, that’s more than enough graphics horsepower for a bit of light gaming on the side. On the other, most games aren’t optimized for macOS, which means you either have to emulate them through Rosetta 2 or limit yourself to optimized-only titles. The former isn’t all that great of an option as you’ll lose 20-30% in performance, whereas the latter isn’t particularly feasible either as the number of supported games is in the double digits.
Hardly anything worth writing home about.
If, however, Apple were to create a potent enough SoC — and their oft-rumored M1X definitely fits the bill — then you’d not only have enough horsepower to chew through most triple A titles with ease but it stands to reason that a good number of developers would also board the ARM hype train. Such a hypothesis might sound ludicrous, but we’ve seen it happen already. WoW: Shadowlands is not only M1-compatible, but it runs like a dream, too!
So what’s stopping others from following in Blizzard’s footsteps?
Apple M1X GPU — Let’s Talk Numbers
Let’s bring things back to the M1X and its integrated GPU. According to a slew of recent leaks and rumors, Apple will release two variants of the M1X: one with 16 GPU cores and one with 32. Popular tech YouTuber Dave2D already crunched the numbers and, needless to say, they’re astounding.
These M1X estimates are based on Apple’s pioneering M1 and, well, they’re a sight for sore eyes. These result are basically unheard of — they boggle the mind, and yet we know for a fact that they’re plausible and, in fact, within reach. An M1X with a 16-core GPU (an SoC that’ll presumably be housed within the upcoming 14″ Macbook Pro) should be on par with AMD’s Radeon Pro 5500M — a dedicated graphics card that is more than sufficient for 1080p gaming.
The 32-core variant, however, will supposedly bring RTX 3070 levels of performance for less than half the power draw. Let that sink in. These high-efficiency, 5nm SoCs are the future, and Apple knows it, too. Whether they’ll usher in a new era — one in which gaming on a Mac makes sense — still remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there.
Now, even if these estimates are off the mark, they’re still based on sound reasoning. Apple’s M1X will have a beastly integrated GPU — of that you can be certain, and it’ll draw a lot less power than anything else on the market which means that, in turn, it’ll require a more modest cooling solution. More performance with less heat and fan noise? Yes, please!
Apple’s WWDC conference is scheduled to begin tomorrow night, so we’ll have a lot more to talk about then!