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Apple’s M2 outperforms AMD’s Ryzen 7 in gaming, but not much else

Apple’s latest M2 system on a chip has been around for a month now, and in that time, it has undergone several benchmark tests against the competition. The latest tests from HardwareUnboxed surprised everyone when the M2 outperformed the Ryzen 7 6800U GPU in gaming,but was lackluster in CPU benchmarks.

The Apple M2 was put up against the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U featuring the RDNA 2 iGPU in a gaming test using Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This is a graphics-intensive game and Apple’s previous-gen M1 chip was only able to handle it on low settings. The M2 was a different story.

Apple M2 features overview.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The M2 outperformed the Ryzen 7 6800U by up to 10% on the highest settings. The M2 averaged 28 frames per second (fps) at 1200p while AMD’s Ryzen 7 maxed out at 25 fps.

The story remained the same across medium and low settings, with the M2 reaching 33 fps on medium to the Ryzen 7 hitting 30 fps. Apple’s M2 chip did all this while using 48% less power than the Ryzen 7.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the new M2 represented a new era of gaming for MacBooks. At WWDC 2022, he explained Apple was courting AAA developers with the new Metal 3 framework so they could to take advantage of the M2. Games like No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village are expected to land on Mac this year.

Gamers and game developers have historically ignored Apple machines, and Windows PC machines have dominated the gaming market for decades. The M2 proves Apple is ready for gaming.

But gaming is the only area where the M2 chip shines. In all other CPU benchmarks, the M2 was outclassed by both Intel’s Alder Lake and Ryzen’s 6000-series chips. For example, the 12th Gen Intel i7 and i9 outperformed the M2 in Cinebench multi-threaded tests. The Ryzen 7 6800U also performed better and even sipped less power than the M2.

Handbrake tests showed similar results, with both Intel and AMD beating Apple in multi-threaded tests. The M2 performed better than the Ryzen 7  in single-core tests, but Intel’s Alder Lake chips were the fastest.

Apple claims the M2 has a 25% increase in processing power over the M1, with an 18% increase in multi-core performance. These tests, however, question Apple’s claims.

Part of the problem may be due to Apple still using the same 5nm processor as the M1 chip. It was expected the M2 would be a new 3nm chip, but supply issues and lockdowns in China have disrupted production.

The M2 still delivers excellent gaming performance, despite being somewhat slower in processing. The question remains whether or not it is worth upgrading from the M1.

Nathan Drescher
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
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