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How powerful is the M1 Max’s GPU? Estimates say possibly more than a PS5

Apple announced several new products at its Apple Unleashed event on Monday, the most impressive of which was the M1 Max that’s coming to MacBook Pro 2021 models. This revision to the M1 chip bumps up the core count across the CPU and GPU, with the latter scaling up to 32 cores. And a new performance estimate suggests that those cores could be more powerful than the PlayStation 5.

Notebookcheck performed an analysis of the M1 Max’s GPU cores to estimate the performance. Using the M1 as a baseline, the outlet was able to extrapolate that the 32-core M1 Max could produce about 10.4 teraflops of GPU power. That’s based off of the 8-core M1 chip, which produces about 2.6 teraflops of GPU power.

Die shot of the M1 Max chip.

For context, the PS5 sports about 10.3 teraflops, while the Xbox Series X is capable of around 12.2 teraflops. That’s impressive, but before continuing, it’s important to point out the flaw with teraflops. Flops, or floating point operations per second, simply measure how many floating point calculations the GPU can perform each second. That doesn’t always translate into real-world performance.

The PS5 and Xbox Series X are a great example of that. The Xbox has a measurable advantage of paper, but in reality, both consoles perform about the same. Even if the M1 Max is capable of matching a PS5 when it comes to teraflops, that doesn’t mean the new MacBook Pro will be a great gaming laptop.

Previous performance estimates placed the 32-core M1 Max on the level of a mobile RTX 3070 graphics card. Based on the teraflops estimate, it should be closer to the mobile RTX 3060 (around 10.9 teraflops of power).

Although none of these estimates give us a concrete view of how the M1 Max will perform, they all provide hints. And those hints point to a powerful chip. Leaked benchmarks line up with that, too. A Geekbench result from Monday showed the M1 Max more than doubling the performance of the M1 MacBook Pro.

It’s always important to view prerelease estimates and benchmarks with skepticism, though. Computer hardware rarely scales in a linear way, and there’s a lot more to the experience of using a product than the performance it can offer. Even if the M1 Max is as performant as these estimates suggest, it could quickly be derailed by a poor thermal design and low battery life.

We recommend waiting for third-party benchmarks and testing. Still, the M1 Max looks like the most powerful chip ever inside an Apple device, pushing integrated graphics to places they’ve never been before. It’s just a shame that most of the best Mac games can’t take advantage of that extra power.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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