Is the M1 Max MacBook Pro good for gaming?

The MacBook Pro M1 is widely considered by many to be the best laptop in the world. Powered by Apple’s Silicon technology, the company has upgraded its M1 chips with two new iterations: the M1 Pro and M1 Max.

The M1 Max, as described by Apple, is a hybrid model that uses two M1 Pro chips connected via a bridge, delivering four times the power of the standard Apple M1.

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With so much power, surely the M1 Max is the new standard in the world of laptop gaming? Let’s find out.

What makes the M1 Max so powerful?

Apple’s updated SoC (System on a Chip) is incredibly powerful. Here is a brief overview of what it contains:

  • 32 graphics cores.
  • 4,096 ALUs, which deliver up to 10.4 teraflops of performance.
  • 512-bit memory bus width.
  • 400 GB/s memory bandwidth.
  • Base speed of 1296 MHz.

Long-term Apple fans already know that the company isn’t big on games. Instead, the company focuses more on content creation and creativity. The M1 Max’s graphics card does not have its own dedicated graphics memory.


However, it uses the onboard DDR5 memory instead. While Apple Arcade continues to add new games, the company is still far behind other platforms like Steam. If you take a look at upcoming macOS releases, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any big names.

Gaming on a MacBook Pro M1 Max

Gaming on a MacBook Pro M1 Max might sound like a good idea, but the integrated graphics card, while decent enough, is simply not supported by the operating system compared to other alternatives like Windows.

Although the M1 Max is capable of running games like Fortnite on medium settings, Apple doesn’t really make a point of marketing that. And you won’t hear many game developers or gamers talking about AAA titles on macOS.

There are some notable names available on macOS such as Disco Elysium or Hades which is one of the best games to play on a Mac. But you won’t find blockbuster titles like The Witcher or Red Dead Redemption on macOS.


Considering the price the M1 Max sells for, there are much better alternatives available. In fact, some of the best gaming ultrabooks cost a lot less and give you a much bigger library of games.

The M1 Max has limited native support

One of the reasons video games don’t run well on macOS is simply due to the lack of native support. In most cases, you’ll be reduced to using hardware virtualization software like Parallels.

The problem is that in many situations you just won’t get a smooth gaming experience. Some games may not load, and even if they do, may not work properly. It’s a far cry from the simplicity of Windows, which gives gamers custom options and allows developers to release targeted video drivers before a big title is released.

Games that offer native macOS support obviously run quite well on the MacBook Pro M1 Max. However, don’t expect the machine to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a gaming laptop.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is available natively, works great on medium settings. The loading screens are nominal and the graphics hold up quite well. It was also widely marketed for macOS, as it doesn’t require any emulators or virtualizations to run.

But, for a machine that costs over $6,000 when fully kitted out, you’d expect the game to run flawlessly. Obviously, this is not the case. There are some texture breaks, including tremors in the landscape. When there is a lot of action on the screen, the frame rate also suddenly drops.

The M1 Max MacBook Pro supports DualSense and Xbox controllers

What’s really surprising is that you can connect your DualSense or Xbox controller to your MacBook Pro M1 Max (or any other MacBook running Big Sur 11.3).

Both controllers work seamlessly via USB or Bluetooth. The DualSense controller is ideal for MFI-supported games on the App Store, including those you download from Apple Arcade.

The Xbox controller also works great for any games that support an external controller. Sure, there are ways to play older Windows and DOS games on macOS, but that’s obviously not ideal for hardcore gamers, especially considering the price you’re paying.

The MacBook Pro just isn’t good for gaming

The simple answer is that for all the power offered by the M1 Max MacBook Pro, it just isn’t made for gaming. Unless Apple decides to change things up, don’t expect gaming to be a hot topic for MacBooks anytime soon.

The company is firmly focused on creative professionals, and even Adobe apps now offer native support for M1 chips. Considering the price, there are simply better options available for your gaming needs than the M1 Max MacBook Pro.


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Steven L. Nielsen