M1 MacBook Air vs. a High End Gaming PC: Who Wins?

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 1 min read

Ok, so this is a bit of a cheeky headline, but Dolphin released a new version of their GameCube emulation software with support for Apple Silicon, and people are speaking highly of it. As someone with a large GameCube collection myself, I wanted to see how well the MacBook Air with an M1 chip held up against a pretty darn good gaming PC (specs in the video).

Obviously the MacBook didn't stand a chance, but then again the PC is much bigger, has a bunch of noisy fans, and uses a ton more power to operate, but I wanted to do it to see just how close the M1 processor could get.

This was a stress-test, so I had both devices output at 4K, which pushed them about as far as is at all reasonable. In short, the PC held 60fps most of the time and with plenty of room to spare (CPU/GPU usage hovered around 25-40%), while the MacBook Air was constantly maxed out and rarely hit the target frame rate.

Side note: the PC had a few stutters here and there, but the CPU/GPU load never spiked, so I'm not sure what the bottleneck is there.

Anyway, this was mostly meant to be a fun way to see how far I can push my stupidly-thin, fanless MacBook Air. The fact it's as close as it is is pretty remarkable.