Analysis report says Apple's official chart "M1 Ultra chip beats Nvidia RTX 3090" is misleading

When Apple compared the GPU performance of the M1 Ultra chip to the RTX 3090, Nvidia's most powerful graphics card at the time, according to Macworld, the company's charts and quotes, while certainly technically true, but quite misleading.

Apple gave people the impression that the M1 Ultra outperformed the Nvidia RTX 3090, but that's not the case and now that Nvidia has launched the RTX 3090 Ti, it's going to be even worse. 

Apple unveiled its most powerful Apple Silicon chip to date, the M1 Ultra, in March. This chip combines two M1 Max chips into one and can be used in the new Mac Studio. The M1 Ultra's specs are really impressive, and Apple illustrates this with a graph (above) that compares the M1 Ultra's GPU performance to the Nvidia RTX 3090, the most powerful PC GPU at the time. Apple describes the chart in a very carefully worded sentence:

"For the most intensive graphics needs, such as 3D rendering and complex image processing, the M1 Ultra has a 64-core GPU — 8 times that of the M1 — delivering faster performance than even the highest-end PC GPUs available, while consuming 200 watts less power.”

M1 Ultra GPU vs Nvidia RTX 3090

Both the graph and the quote seem to show two things. First, the M1 Ultra is more power-efficient than Nvidia's graphics cards. This part is absolutely correct. Second, the M1 Ultra is more powerful than the Nvidia RTX 3090. That's not the case in this part, Macworld says -- and Nvidia's latest graphics card version will put the M1 Ultra further down the road.

Apple does this misleading comparison by cutting off the graph just before Nvidia GPU cards are nearing their maximum performance.

"The M1 Ultra maxes out at 215 watts, while the RTX 3090 draws 350 watts. In the graph, Apple 'cuts' the RTX 3090 power at around 320 watts, which severely limits its potential."

As The Verge explained in its review of Mac Studio, let the chart run to 350 watts and Nvidia wins. And, Nvidia isn't resting on its laurels.

"Now there's the RTX 3090 Ti, which costs as much as the M1 Studio and promises to beat the M1 Ultra even harder. Most notably, it consumes an incredible 450 watts of power, twice as much as the M1 Ultra. More. They eclipse the RTX 3090 and beat the M1 Ultra by all means. Comparisons to the RTX 3090 Ti will be wildly one-sided. I don't know if any graphics card can really compete with Nvidia's latest behemoth, but it is Certainly not something made by Apple."

So if users need both powerful GPU performance and power efficiency, Apple Silicon is excellent. Likewise, Apple Silicon is a good choice if users want a lot of performance at a relatively affordable price. But if raw power is a priority, Nvidia is still king -- and looks set to continue to dominate for the foreseeable future.

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