The M1 MacBook Pro is widely regarded by many as the best laptop in the world. Featuring Apple’s Silicon technology, the company upgraded its M1 chips with two new iterations: the M1 Pro and the M1 Max.
The M1 Max, as described by Apple, is a hybrid model that uses two M1 Pro chips connected through a bridge, offering four times the power of the standard Apple M1.
With this much power, surely the M1 Max is the new standard in the world of laptop gaming? Let’s find out.
What Makes the M1 Max So Powerful?
Apple’s updated SoC (System on a Chip) is incredibly powerful. Here’s a brief rundown of what it packs:
- 32 graphics cores.
- 4,096 ALUs, that offer up to 10.4 Teraflops of performance.
- 512-bit memory bus width.
- 400 GB/s memory bandwidth.
- 1296 MHz core speed.
Long-term Apple fans already know that the company isn’t big into gaming. Instead, the company focuses more on content creation and creativity. The graphics card on the M1 Max doesn’t have its own dedicated graphics memory.
However, it uses the integrated DDR5 memory instead. While Apple Arcade continues to add new games, the company is still far behind other platforms like Steam. If you take a look at upcoming macOS releases, you’d be hard-pressed to find big names.
Gaming on an M1 Max MacBook Pro
Gaming on an M1 Max MacBook Pro may seem like a good idea, but the integrated graphics card, while fairly decent, is simply not supported by the operating system as compared to other alternatives like Windows.
While the M1 Max is capable of running games like Fortnite at medium settings, Apple doesn’t really make it a point to market that. And, you won’t hear many game developers, or players, talking about AAA titles on macOS.
There are some noteworthy names available on the macOS, such as Disco Elysium or Hades, which is one of the best games to play on a Mac. But, you won’t find blockbuster titles like The Witcher or Red Dead Redemption on macOS.
Given the price at which the M1 Max retails, there are much better alternatives available. In fact, some of the best gaming ultrabooks cost much less and give you a much bigger library of games.
The M1 Max Has Limited Native Support
One of the reasons why video games don’t perform well on macOS is simply due to the lack of native support. In most cases, you’ll be reduced to using software for hardware virtualization like Parallels.
The problem is that in many situations, you just won’t get a smooth gaming experience. Some games might not load, and even if they do, may not run properly. It’s a far cry from the simplicity of Windows, which offers custom options to gamers and allows developers to release targeted video drivers before the release of a big title.
Games that offer native macOS support obviously run quite well on the M1 Max MacBook Pro. However, don’t expect the machine to push the envelope of what’s possible on a laptop for gaming.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is natively available, runs just fine on medium settings. The loading screens are nominal, and the graphics hold up quite well. It was also marketed extensively for macOS, since it doesn’t require any emulator or virtualization to run.
But, for a machine that costs upwards of $6,000 when it’s fully decked out, you’d expect the game to run flawlessly. Obviously, that’s not the case. There are some texture breaks, including jitters in the scenery. When there’s lots of action on the screen, the frame rate also suddenly dips.
The M1 Max MacBook Pro Supports DualSense and Xbox Controllers
What’s really surprising is the fact that you can connect your DualSense or your Xbox controller to your M1 Max MacBook Pro (or any other MacBook running Big Sur 11.3).
Both controllers work seamlessly using via USB or Bluetooth. The DualSense controller is ideal for MFI-supported games from the App Store, including those that you download from Apple Arcade.
The Xbox controller also works great for any games that support an external controller. Of course, there are ways to play older Windows and DOS games on macOS, but that’s obviously not ideal for hardcore gamers, especially given the price you pay.
The MacBook Pro Just Isn’t Suitable for Gaming
The simple answer is that despite all the power that the M1 Max MacBook Pro offers, it’s just not cut out for gaming. Unless Apple decides to change things around, don’t expect gaming to be a hot topic for MacBooks anytime soon.
The company firmly focuses on creative professionals, and even Adobe apps now offer native support for M1 chips. Given the price, there are simply better options available out there for your gaming needs than the M1 Max MacBook Pro.