Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Air runs The Witcher 3 using CrossOver

Despite the benchmarks showing how Apple's first-ever Silicon beat 2016 desktop graphics cards, some might still unconvinced about the late 2020 Macs' ability to play games. After all, even the Intel-based Macs had compatibility issues with games that were designed with Windows PCs in mind. It's still too early to make a judgment call, of course, but if CodeWeaver's experience running "emulated" PC games is any indicator, it could be a mind-blowing experience just as well.

CodeWeavers is the company behind CrossOver, a piece of software built on the open source WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator) project that aims to run Windows programs on Linux. CodeWeavers has taken that original objective and made CrossOver run on macOS, Android, and even ChromeOS. Naturally, the company was only too excited to have a go with the new ARM-based MacBooks.

On its company blog, CodeWeavers narrates how they just bought the lowest end MacBook Air (Late 2020) model they could quickly find. In context, this model only has 7 out of the max 8 GPU cores and is thermally throttled. In other words, it's not the sharpest M1 knife in the drawer.

Despite that, CrossOver was able to run Windows programs like Quicken, Team Fortress 2, and even The Witcher 3, though the games naturally exhibited some performance drops here and there. You have to consider, however, that these are 32-bit Windows programs built for Intel processors "translated" to 64-bit CrossOver that's running via Rosetta 2 x86 emulation on a relatively low-power ARM CPU.

This doesn't mean, however, that most Windows software will now run on Apple M1 Macs as they are still subject to CrossOver's compatibility list. It is still, however, a rather impressive feat, especially for Apple's first attempt.