Apple’s M1 Ultra GPU Isn’t Faster Than NVIDIA RTX 3090 at Full Tilt: Report

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 31 Mar 2022

M1 Ultra chip Overview

Earlier this month, Apple pulled the wraps off the M1 Ultra chip at its Peek performance event. The company compared the chip’s GPU performance to NVIDIA’s most capable GPU at the time, the RTX 3090. However, reports suggest Apple’s scientific-looking graphs and comparison data could be somewhat misleading.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how the comparisons could potentially mislead customers, here’s everything to know about the M1 Ultra. Apple’s new chip is used to power the Mac Studio desktop computer aimed at commercial establishments and professionals. The M1 Ultra is actually a combination of two M1 Max chips that work in unison.

Apple compared the M1 Ultra’s graphics performance to the NVIDIA RTX 3090 GPU at the launch event. It compared the performance using the graph below, accompanied by a quote with very carefully chosen words.

M1 Ultra GPU

“For the most graphics-intensive needs, like 3D rendering and complex image processing, M1 Ultra has a 64-core GPU — 8x the size of M1 — delivering faster performance than even the highest-end PC GPU available while using 200 fewer watts of power.”

From the graph, it is evident that the M1 Ultra is significantly more efficient than the RTX 3090. However, Macworld reports Apple’s “faster performance” claim is incorrect. It says Apple’s graph only shows the performance plot for the RTX 3090 until where it is convenient. In reality, the curve stretches farther. This means Apple did not compare the peak performance of the RTX 3090 to the M1 Ultra GPU.

“The M1 Ultra has a max power consumption of 215W versus the RTX 3090’s 350 watts. In the chart, Apple cuts the RTX 3090 off at about 320 watts, which severely limits its potential.”

So, in reality, the graph should look like this:

M1 Ultra GPU vs RTX 3090 actual performance graph

Credit: MKBHD

Moreover, the RTX 3090 has been superseded by the RTX 3090 Ti. The new card is an absolute behemoth, drawing 450W of power at a sustained peak load. The power draw is nearly twice as much as the M1 Ultra draws. If the RTX 3090 beats the M1 Ultra in sheer performance, the new card will only widen that gap with its higher power draw. The price of the new RTX 3090 Ti is also comparable to the Mac Studio. That said, none of NVIDIA’s offerings come close to matching the M1 Ultra’s power efficiency.

In summary, if you’re a professional looking to buy or upgrade to a new workstation rig, you should prefer the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra if you want a great mix of performance and efficiency with Apple’s classic industrial design and technology. However, if you want a computer with the sheer horsepower to crunch numbers fast, you should configure the machine with the RTX 3090 Ti.

[Via Macworld]