Apple Silicon M1 outperforms older NVIDIA, AMD desktop GPUs in benchmarks

Apple's first-ever ARM-based Silicon, the M1, will be powering its next generation of Macs and MacBooks, some of which will be used for more than just casual computing tasks. Naturally, there are concerns about its performance versus tried and tested processors from the likes of Intel and AMD. Early CPU benchmarks already proved that the M1 can run circles around MacBooks running on recent Intel chips and now GPU benchmarks are proving Apple's claims of impressive graphics performance.

To be clear, these GFXBench 5.0 scores are from synthetic benchmarks meant to measure performance on mobile devices, not desktops or laptops. Additionally, the tests use Apple's own Metal API, not OpenGL, which could imply that Apple's own hardware could have a home-court advantage. Regardless of these caveats, though, it's still quite telling how far Apple has come and just at its first stab at such a new piece of technology.

Tom's Hardware spotted the Apple M1 benchmark and compared it with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti from 2016 and the AMD Radeon RX 560 from 2017. Admittedly, these are older GPUs but these are apparently the latest graphics cards to be tested using Apple's Metal API. Still, they are both desktop-grade GPUs that draw 75W of power and one would expect they'd still beat any ARM-based integrated graphics silicon even today.

Unfortunately for NVIDIA and AMD, that's just not the case, at least based on these scores. The Apple M1 consistently gave higher frame rates across GFXBench's suite of tests, despite having close to the same specs as these older GPUs in terms of TFLOPS (one trillion floating-point operations per second). That also despite the Apple M1 being an SoC rather than having a dedicated graphics chip.

It's definitely difficult to draw conclusions from these scores when there are still so many factors at play, like more modern GPUs, both integrated and discrete. That said, it should also be remembered that this is just Apple's first stab at its own silicon for desktops and laptops and at the lower end at that. One can only imagine how, given enough time, Apple could soon run head to head with more recent graphics hardware.