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Apple's M2 Beats AMD's Ryzen 7 6800U in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

M2
M2 (Image credit: Apple)

Thanks to a review by Hardware Unboxed, (opens in new tab) we have a quick look at the gaming performance of Apple's new M2 chip. The YouTube channel took an M2 Macbook and tested it against a Ryzen 7 6800U in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The M2 outperformed the AMD despite the Ryzen 7 6800U packing one of AMD's fastest gaming iGPUs to date, the Radeon 680M.

The M2 is Apple's successor to the groundbreaking M1 chip it released nearly two years ago. However, it is not a generational leap over the M1 but a refresh over the M1 with moderate performance improvements. Apple says users can expect an 18% performance improvement over the M1, thanks to a newer core architecture, slightly faster CPU clocks, and the move to LPDDR5 memory with up to 100 GBps of bandwidth.

But the only exception to the M2's mediocre performance is in the GPU. The GPU, on the contrary, has received a very respectable uplift over the M1, with a 35% performance improvement. Admittedly, it isn't the whopping 67% improvement like we hoped it would be from rumors, but it is better than 18% nonetheless. To do this, Apple has added two more cores to the GPU, giving the M2 iGPU 3.6 TFLOPs of computing performance.

Undoubtedly the addition of two GPU cores along with faster LPDDR5 RAM feeding the graphics engine is how the M2 beat the Ryzen 7 6800U in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

(Image credit: YouTube - Hardware Unboxed)

In Hardware Unboxed's gaming results, the M2 beat the Ryzen 7 6800U by 2 to 3 FPS on the Medium, High, and Highest (BTAO) graphical presets at a resolution of 1920 x 1200. With a 30 FPS average between the two chips, the "small" 2-3 FPS difference equals the M2 gaining a 7.6% to 10% performance boost over the Ryzen 7 6800U.

It is a massive upgrade over the original M1's Shadow of the Tomb Raider results of 32 FPS at 1920 x 1080 on the low graphical preset (according to LinusTechTips (opens in new tab)). It also outperforms the Ryzen 7 6800U, which has the Radeon 680M, constituting 12 RDNA 2 CUs and a maximum boost frequency of 2.2 GHz on the 6800U model.

The M2's gaming results are overall even more impressive considering it is not designed for gaming and is targeted toward content creation and productivity apps. Unfortunately, macOS is also not intended for gaming, so there is a chance a lot of performance is being left on the table due to unoptimized code within the graphics API.

The M2 also sips far less power than almost every single mobile APU on the market today, including AMD's new Ryzen 6000 (Rembrandt) mobile APUs, which were heavily advertised as ultra-efficient CPUs for notebooks.

But, 30 FPS isn't exactly ideal and most PC games on the market today are not compatible with macOS, which makes the M2 a terrible choice for PC gaming anyways. It's fantastic that Apple's M2 chip can game by integrated graphics standards, but you'd be far better served with a Ryzen 7 6800U equipped notebook if you actually want to play games. Or you could always use a cloud gaming service like GeForce Now if you really want to game on a Macbook.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • JamesJones44
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider is running under Rosetta 2, it's definitely not optimized for ARM/Apple Silicon. It is optimized for macOS however since it uses Metal, but it's getting a fair dig in performance anyway since it's x86/x64 compiled.
    Reply
  • gruffi
    The M2 doesn't sip far less power. As HU shows AMD's Rembrandt is very comparable most of the time with similar power efficiency. Sometimes worse, but sometimes also better. Which is quite impressive for Ryzen 6000, considering it uses a worse manufacturing process and an almost two year old core architecture. 1-3 more fps also isn't something I would call beating. It's practically a tie. Again, at similar power consumption. Which makes AMD's Rembrandt even more impressive, considering it has ~35% less transistors to achieve that performance. And unlike the M2 you can run almost any game on Ryzen 6000.
    Reply
  • JamesJones44
    gruffi said:
    The M2 doesn't sip far less power. As HU shows AMD's Rembrandt is very comparable most of the time with similar power efficiency. Sometimes worse, but sometimes also better. Which is quite impressive for Ryzen 6000, considering it uses a worse manufacturing process and an almost two year old core architecture. 1-3 more fps also isn't something I would call beating. It's practically a tie. Again, at similar power consumption. Which makes AMD's Rembrandt even more impressive, considering it has ~35% less transistors to achieve that performance. And unlike the M2 you can run almost any game on Ryzen 6000.

    The issue is you're comparing an emulated game vs a natively executed game. It's not really only 1 to 3 frames better, compile the game for ARM and run it under emulation on the 6800 and see what you get.

    P.S. yes, yes, I know Rosetta 2 is translation, but you still get a significant drop in performance vs none translated applications none the less
    Reply
  • svan71
    Does it beat any Intel processors ?
    Reply
  • mantis2001
    JamesJones44 said:
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider is running under Rosetta 2, it's definitely not optimized for ARM/Apple Silicon. It is optimized for macOS however since it uses Metal, but it's getting a fair dig in performance anyway since it's x86/x64 compiled.

    yes we all know that arm is running translation x86 code, but the reason is arm is not previously treated as PC game platform. also apple hw is very expensive, too. before arm could take over 1/3 market share, this will still happen again and again.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    mantis2001 said:
    yes we all know that arm is running translation x86 code, but the reason is arm is not previously treated as PC game platform. also apple hw is very expensive, too. before arm could take over 1/3 market share, this will still happen again and again.
    Yep, it's a fair comparison. And considering how few developers were willing to port games to Macs even when they were on X86, adding an additional porting complexity layer by moving to ARM means that the number of ports of big games to the platform is only likely to drop further. So, I wouldn't expect many demanding games to be running natively on the M2 chip anytime soon, meaning the emulated performance will likely be as good as it gets for at least the near-future. Maybe ports of mobile games could fare better, but those generally won't be pushing the hardware's limits as much.
    Reply
  • gruffi
    JamesJones44 said:
    The issue is you're comparing an emulated game vs a natively executed game.
    That's irrelevant if the test was GPU bound. GPUs don't care about x86 or ARM. They have their own ISA. Which has to be translated by drivers anyway. No matter if it's AMD or Apple silicon.

    And no, even the CPU machine code is not really "emulated". Rosetta 2 supports JIT translation and AOT compilation. So, in fact the code has to be converted only once at runtime or before. Then it runs natively as well. You won't see much difference to a natively compiled executable. If the whole game was just emulated then no way the M2 could achieve such a performance. Look at projects like DOSBox. That are real emulators as they interpret and translate every instruction one by one at runtime. For old DOS applications it doesn't matter at all. Because modern processors are fast enough. But on modern and high demanding apps you would face a heavy performance penalty.
    Reply
  • SunMaster
    The 6800U isn't marketed as a "gaming" CPU, it's a U-series <25w design for everyday use (even though it has the rdna2 igpu).

    Not that I in any way question the performance, but the notion that Apple's "non-gaming CPU" beats "AMDs gaming CPU" seems odd.

    Reply
  • cknobman
    svan71 said:
    Does it beat any Intel processors ?

    Lets be honest. Intel SUCKS.
    Yeah they managed to take the performance crown but at the cost of energy.

    Unless you are buying something that will stay plugged in INTEL should be avoided.
    Reply
  • Jiminez Krankenshire
    JamesJones44 said:
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider is running under Rosetta 2, it's definitely not optimized for ARM/Apple Silicon. It is optimized for macOS however since it uses Metal, but it's getting a fair dig in performance anyway since it's x86/x64 compiled.

    I played through both Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the beginning of the year, on a Ryzen 5 3600 with GTX 1070. The Xbox Game Bar lets you monitor resource usage while you're playing, and neither of those two games ever got much above 20% CPU usage, with typical usage somewhere between 10 and 20% during gameplay. They're definitely not CPU intensive games, and I wouldn't expect a native version to perform any better.
    Reply