M1 Ultra Mac Studio Gaming Review: Can It Game?

At this year’s March event, Apple announced the new Mac Studio, which targets professional creatives and graphics designers. The new Studio is fueled by the M1 Ultra chip, the most powerful Apple’s silicon CPU on the market, promising a huge performance boost when it comes to editing photos and videos.

Apple claims that its new CPU can outperform Nvidia RTX 3090 at a certain power level. To justify the company’s claim, we put the two in a comparison using Geekbench 5 graphics tests, and unsurprisingly, the Apple’s latest chip failed to match the Nvidia’s highest-tier GPU. 

However, you may be wondering if the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can run games. Well, you are not the only one asking that question. In the section below, we are going to play a bunch of games to see if the M1 Ultra chip is good for gaming. 

First, Specs (Used in this test)

During our gaming tests, we went for the M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio with 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, 32-core Neutral Engine, 128GB of unified memory and 2TB of SSD storage. The total cost is $6,199 in the US.  Of course, you can configure the machine with up to 8TB SSD, which will cost you an extra $1,800. 

How to Run Games on macOS

To run Windows games on macOS, you are going to need CrossOver 21, a great software that allows Windows applications and games to run natively on macOS and Linux. The coolest thing about CrossOver is that it now fully supports Macs with Apple’s Silicon chip. 

You first need to install CrossOver 21 on your Mac machine before running some Windows games. However, there are still a lot of games that are optimized for macOS and we also included them in this test. 

Grand Theft Auto 5

This is one of the most-played games on Steam and serves as a perfect test for the M1 Ultra chip. Let’s see how it performed.

At a resolution of 1920 x 1080, with FXAA, MSAA, and Vsync turned off, the game ran at 76 FPS. However, the GPU usage stayed at only 43% even though we have Vsync disabled. This means the GPU was not running at its maximum power. 

With Vsync now turned on, the FPS was down to 40 or even 33 during some scenes with intense explosions or driving. The GPU usage was at 25%. There’s a good chance that GTA 5 is not optimized for the M1 Ultra chip in this test.

World of WarCraft

World of WarCraft is highly optimized for Apple’s silicon chip and the results were pretty impressive. We maxed out the presets, with all settings turned to High and a resolution of 3413 x 1920. 

The game ran perfectly smooth at around 180 fps, with occasional drops at 165 fps. This is a much-improved performance when compared to the MacBook Pro with M1 Max chip.

EVE Online

This is a beautiful game that’s optimized for macOS. During our test, the game ran at a 4K resolution with UI scaled up to 200% and everything turned to High and enabled. The maximum fps was around 60, with rare drops to 59.

At 5K resolution, the fps still stayed at 60 most of the time, which is impressive. In Windows mode, we got around 85 fps at 100% GPU usage. 

In short, EVE online is an amazing example of a game being optimized for Apple’s silicon chip. This means that you can run the game natively on your machine, eliminating the need to install CrossOver 21. 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

This game is legendary, but this is our first try on a Mac machine. During our test, the game ran through Rosetta on our Mac. 

At 1080p, with everything set to Medium and Windows mode enabled, the GPU usage reached 87% and fps was stably at 230, which is incredible. When we switched over to the Full Screen mode, the fps was at over 130 fps most of the time, with occasional dips into 78. 

Dota 2

In Dota 2, we have the graphics settings set to 2K with everything switched to High, the game ran smoothly at 150 fps. You definitely can hook up a 144 Hz -enabled monitor for the best experience. 

When comparing with the M1 MacBook Pro, the performance was not so different, with both machines hitting over 110 fps during our test. At 5K resolution, the fps counter hit around 70 during some combat scenes. 

Path of Exile

This is one of the intense-graphics games, but the M1 Ultra can handle pretty well. With everything switched to High and Dynamic Resolution turned off, we got a solid 60 fps with rare dips into 59, but you wouldn’t notice that. 


Minecraft is a graphics-demanding game and the M1 Ultra chip pretty struggled to run it properly. In our test, we set both the Render Distance and the Simulation Distance to 32 Chunks with Vsync enabled, the game did not run smoothly as expected, at around 25 fps. At 21 Chunks, the game felt much smoother, at around 58 fps, which is playable. 

Call of Duty Black Ops 3

Treyard’s FPS shooter is an amazing game that supports macOS on the market, thus allowing you to run it natively. During our test, we set the resolution at 1080p with all presets set to High or Extra, the game was perfectly playable at around 70 fps. 

Shadows of the Tomb Raider

Shadows of the Tomb Raider is the next installment in the Tomb Raider franchise. The game now fully supports macOS, promising a performance boost. 

In our test, we went for a resolution of 1920 x 1080p and highest presets. The game ran stably at over 100 fps the entire time, with occasional drops to 80 during intense scenes. 

Did My Mac Studio Overheat?

No, during our test, we barely heard the fan, which is impressive. Everything is very cool, at 50 degrees Celsius. 

The Bottom Line

There are some compromises when running games on the Mac Studio. The problem may not be with the hardware, but it’s because of macOS that has not been specifically designed for gaming in the beginning. 

However, you still can use your Mac to play some optimized games that take advantage of the M1 Ultra chip. 

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