Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021, 15:09 Mac: Hardware

M1 Max vs. Mac Pro's AMD W6900X

Apple's first M1 is already well known for its impressive graphical performance as a mobile chip. Despite very little heat dissipation, the M1 can hold its own against middle-tier graphics cards – and in the case of the passively cooled MacBook Air, that's quite a noteworthy accomplishment. However, when it comes to the M1 Pro, or even the M1 Max, the M1's image and perceived potential has changed massively. The new variations are still an efficient mobile chip; however, the new M1s can compete with the desktop graphics card league. We even just released a report on the M1 Max vs. a high-end Alienware notebook equipped with one of the most powerful GPUs on the market, the RTX3080 – and the M1 Max came out ahead on average. It's not just the M1 Max's performance scores that are impressive, but also the extremely conservative energy usage in combination with the top-tier performance.

M1 Max vs. AMD W6900X
Another benchmark test comparison has now popped up comparing the M1 Max with the Mac Pro's AMD W6900X, the most expensive configuration of the Mac Pro – a device in the five-digit price range. The five-digit price range upgrade to the Mac Pro is required for it to even keep up with the GPU performance of an infinitely less expensive notebook equipped with an M1 Max. Just the graphics card in the Mac Pro needs up to 350 watts, and that's not counting the energy demands placed on the entire cooling system.



In an Affinity test tool benchmark, the M1 Max achieved a "Raster Score" of 32.891 points, compared to the Mac Pro with AMD W6900X's 32.580 points. Amazingly, the considerably less expensive MacBook Pro with M1 Max outperforms the infinitely more expensive Mac Pro. According to Andy Somerfield, even the "Vector Score" is the best that has ever been measured on a Mac.

The End Of The Classic Graphics Card?
One question raised by a chief developer is whether or not we've arrived at the end of the traditional dedicated graphics card. Whereas it was the case in the past that chipset graphics solutions only offered mediocre performance, that's begun to change with the M1. Thanks to Apple's "Unified Memory" architecture, the M1 Max, with its integrated graphics unit, can achieve performance scores that even Pro graphics cards have difficulty reaching. What will be even more exciting will be what a Mac Pro with Apple Silicon will accomplish. Such a device is expected by the end of 2022, and implementing a traditional dedicated GPU is starting to seem unlikely. To summarize in simple terms, traditional graphics cards might barely even be able to keep up with the next generation of premium-tier M1 chips, and the architecture of more conventional computers also holds traditional graphics cards back.

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