The M1 Ultra is Still Beat by the RTX 3090

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

I wrote the day after the event that we should hold off on saying the M1 Ultra has more GPU performance than NVIDIA's top-of-the-line graphics card, and that's proven to be the most sober of hot takes. Mac Studio reviews are out today, and they confirm that the M1 Ultra inside is a beast of a chip, but it also shows how the charts Apple showed in the chip's unveiling were…incomplete. As The Verge reports:

But that’s because Apple’s chart is, for lack of a better term, cropped. The company only shows the head to head for the areas where the M1 Ultra and the RTX 3090 are competitive against each other, and it’s true: in those circumstances, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the M1 Ultra than you would on an RTX 3090. But what the chart doesn’t show is that while the M1 Ultra’s line more or less stops there, the RTX 3090 has a lot more power that it can draw on

So yeah, at lower power levels, the M1 Ultra smokes the 3090. That's absolutely true, and it's an incredible accomplishment Apple's team should be super proud of, but as The Verge states, the 3090 line is cropped and can do much more. Yes, that's going to mean more power draw, but I think this is important because Apple's chart (as evidenced by much of the conversation online this past week) really makes it look like the M1 Ultra has the same performance ceiling when that is not the case.

Again, the 3090 will use more power to get you that performance, but I really think it's important to get on the same page when we talk about this stuff, and Apple's charts were excellent marketing, but they seem to fall into the "technically true, but a bit misleading" category.