Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

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  • Reply 21 of 28
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,135member
    ...it seems complicated...

    How does the max benefit metal geekbench scores from even the iMac Pro from 2017...?
    While that may be a big leap for mobile does that qualify for desktop?

    CPU seems to range from 50~400% (major) bump, so as Verge seems to suggest is such app specific given emulation and a steep price ?

    Nvidia 3060 specs seem to impress at under $500 yet no Apple support ?

    Why the drop of Nvidia support, nor any upgrade capability for a FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR computer...?

    (well I could speculate why : )

    It is of course still early days...
    edited March 2022
  • Reply 22 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,397member
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
    The Metal backend and Apple Silicon compatibility for Blender *just* came out and it's documented that it still has a ways to go with optimization. I don't think this is a fair test. 
    That Metal backend was developed solely by Apple so it is very much a fair test.
    Again, it's documented that they're still working on it and further optimizations are coming. Straight from Apple's dev in the Blender forums:

    "Optimisation is going to be an ongoing effort, rather than a task we tackle just the once, and I’m hoping the team can see some improvements land in every release. We have big ambitions."

    [...]

    Basically this work is hot off the Press!

    We’ve a lot of work in Cycles and Metal still to do, including Intel GPU enablement, stability/bug-fixes, kernel optimisation, unified memory optimisations, out of core support expansion, algorithmic optimisations etc. While we want to work on all of these areas, logistically we need to focus our available engineering hours into a workable subset, based on what we feel we can make the most meaningful impact with."


    williamlondonjony0argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 23 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,397member
    ...it seems complicated...

    How does the max benefit metal geekbench scores from even the iMac Pro from 2017...?
    While that may be a big leap for mobile does that qualify for desktop?

    CPU seems to range from 50~400% (major) bump, so as Verge seems to suggest is such app specific given emulation and a steep price ?

    Nvidia 3060 specs seem to impress at under $500 yet no Apple support ?

    Why the drop of Nvidia support, nor any upgrade capability for a FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR computer...?

    (well I could speculate why : )

    It is of course still early days...
    How many more years are we going to continue to hear the bleating about lack of Nvidia support in macOS? It's been years already, give it a rest. It's not coming back.
    mikeybabeswilliamlondonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 24 of 28

    Again, it's documented that they're still working on it and further optimizations are coming. Straight from Apple's dev in the Blender forums:

    "Optimisation is going to be an ongoing effort, rather than a task we tackle just the once, and I’m hoping the team can see some improvements land in every release. We have big ambitions."

    [...]

    Basically this work is hot off the Press!

    We’ve a lot of work in Cycles and Metal still to do, including Intel GPU enablement, stability/bug-fixes, kernel optimisation, unified memory optimisations, out of core support expansion, algorithmic optimisations etc. While we want to work on all of these areas, logistically we need to focus our available engineering hours into a workable subset, based on what we feel we can make the most meaningful impact with."


    Again,

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    If you seriously think Apple is going to magically close the performance gap chasm with optimisations then you're kidding yourself. You buy a Mac Studio today and you get the disappointing benchmarked performance with Cycles X, that's a fact. Even if some optimisation of code were to bring a doubling of performance (which it won't) the Ultra will still barely beat  6900 XT(2133) and 6800 XT (2254) and way off anything but nVidia's low end GPUs which are approaching end of life.



    fastasleep said:
    ...it seems complicated...

    How does the max benefit metal geekbench scores from even the iMac Pro from 2017...?
    While that may be a big leap for mobile does that qualify for desktop?

    CPU seems to range from 50~400% (major) bump, so as Verge seems to suggest is such app specific given emulation and a steep price ?

    Nvidia 3060 specs seem to impress at under $500 yet no Apple support ?

    Why the drop of Nvidia support, nor any upgrade capability for a FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR computer...?

    (well I could speculate why : )

    It is of course still early days...
    How many more years are we going to continue to hear the bleating about lack of Nvidia support in macOS? It's been years already, give it a rest. It's not coming back.
    The answer to this question is very simple, you'll keep hearing about nVidia support because users aren't stupid and can see the performance disparity and right now there is a gulf between Apple and nVidia.

    CPU performance in Blender is also interesting,

    AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-Core Processor461.74
    AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core Processor384.53
    Apple M1 Ultra379.69

    According to Geekbench you'd be fooled into thinking that the M1 was core for core better than everything around.

    When Applications can lean on the fixed function hardware on the M1 SOC like codec support and ML then the M1 is a world beater, no question. When an application is unable to take advantage of these functions you're left with what amounts to underwhelming performance at a premium price which the Blender benchmarks expose. Cinebench also shows this same disparity in claims vs real world performance.

    Anyone with late Intel based Macs really have little to no reason to upgrade unless they have an application or task that can make benefit of the M1 specific architecture like video editing. Other than that their Intel/AMD Macs are at least as good if not better than the M1 in raw horsepower.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 25 of 28
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,135member
    why are you doubling down on blender benchmarks when it has been shown quite clearly in a number of spots, with quotes from the developers, that it is a very early work in progress, a miracle it works at all on M1s?

    let's revisit blender benchmarks in a few months’ time.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 28
    entropys said:
    why are you doubling down on blender benchmarks when it has been shown quite clearly in a number of spots, with quotes from the developers, that it is a very early work in progress, a miracle it works at all on M1s?

    let's revisit blender benchmarks in a few months’ time.  

    Blender and other benchmarks reflect the performance of M1 as of right now exactly as they do other hardware. Only in Mac land do we see this neuroticism where it's impossible to accept the state of play as it is and kick the 'real performance' can down the road to an unspecified date and unspecified performance level which best suits your argument. You really could not make this nonsense up. You buy an M1 Mac now and this is the performance you get. What is so difficult to understand?

    It's not a miracle the Blender and other 3D rendering software works on M1 at all, Apple has done a huge amount of work ensuring that Redshift, Octane and Cycles runs on M1. Apple had to update the Metal spec to get Redshift running on Metal so they learned a lot during this process which directly benefitted Cycles and any other renderer or compute heavy application. BTW, Blender has been running natively on M1 CPUs pretty much from day one when the first M1 Macs were released.

    Shall we revisit the Blender Benchmarks when AMD and nVidia release their next-gen GPUs which are specced to double performance over their current ones? Be careful waiting for Mac software developers to unleash mythical levels of M1 performance as that might coincide with the release of new hardware which makes the gulf in performance even more stark even for a fully maxed out Mac Pro coming later this year.

    As a Mac Pro buyer myself I don't want a maxed out $10K to $15K computer with GPUs as powerful as a mid range nVidia GPU, when I can buy a PC workstation for $5k-$7k with a 4090 or 7900 at the end of the year that are likely to be 2-3 times faster. It's time to get a bit more realistic where Apple's GPU performance is sitting right now.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 27 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,397member
    How many more years are we going to continue to hear the bleating about lack of Nvidia support in macOS? It's been years already, give it a rest. It's not coming back.
    The answer to this question is very simple, you'll keep hearing about nVidia support because users aren't stupid and can see the performance disparity and right now there is a gulf between Apple and nVidia.

    CPU performance in Blender is also interesting,

    AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-Core Processor461.74
    AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core Processor384.53
    Apple M1 Ultra379.69

    According to Geekbench you'd be fooled into thinking that the M1 was core for core better than everything around.

    When Applications can lean on the fixed function hardware on the M1 SOC like codec support and ML then the M1 is a world beater, no question. When an application is unable to take advantage of these functions you're left with what amounts to underwhelming performance at a premium price which the Blender benchmarks expose. Cinebench also shows this same disparity in claims vs real world performance.

    Anyone with late Intel based Macs really have little to no reason to upgrade unless they have an application or task that can make benefit of the M1 specific architecture like video editing. Other than that their Intel/AMD Macs are at least as good if not better than the M1 in raw horsepower.
    This particular user harkens back to the glory days of Steve Jobs when everything was ostensibly perfect, all the time. In this particular case, it's very clear that Nvidia support isn't coming back, and compounded by the fact that AMD support is likely gone as well in favor of Apple's own GPUs. Whether that changes with the Mac Pro, we'll see, but I'm not counting on it. So there's little reason to dig back even further than dropping 3rd party GPUs altogether to the glory days of Nvidia-on-the-Mac Yesteryear™.

    I don't know anything about potential improvements in CPU performance in Blender, or if those are baked in. I understand your other points, and appreciate your perspective as someone who works in this general area. My point was simply that the very new first release of the Metal Cycles renderer may not be representative of a final product as indicated by the dev. I didn't say I expect it to eventually outclass the 3090 based on current results, in fact I very much don't. I haven't had time yet to dig into Redshift comparisons as that's a more mature product and presumably has had more time for optimizations etc, but I also don't know if there are further OS-level or third party-level optimizations for the Ultra in particular as we've seen in some cases even with first party software, the expected improvements between the Max and Ultra aren't there yet. But I'm under no illusions that any of these chips should be outpacing the 3090, despite Apple's graph — and am still unsure what metric they were using, but I was fairly certain it wasn't in realtime rendering or raytracing.  

    I'm more of an After Effects person and am rapidly seeing advances in plugins and even AE itself still getting further Apple Silicon compatibility much less optimization. I jumped on the M1 Max this past fall knowing full well much of the software is still getting moved over to the new architecture and expect this to accelerate further as the year progresses, and am optimistic. Getting back into C4D more soon this year. Hoping to see UE5 native. Etc. It's a great time to be a Mac user in these areas as we can see some great strides by Apple in the GPU department, in their first round of Mac chips. Very much looking forward to seeing how this develops with time. 

    I'm a Mac user for life (since drawing on B&W 9" screens) and am not buying a PC, nor am I going to pretend my quiet, cool MacBook Pro should be outperforming a windtunnel PC sucking up hundreds more watts of power. It's certainly a hell of a lot faster than my 2018 i9/Vega 20 MBP, and that's very pleasing as I ramp up my needs.
    edited March 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 28
    @fastasleep ;

    Yes I do hark back to the days of Steve Jobs' Apple, IMHO the very best Macs were built under that version of Apple. The Classic Mac Pro cheese-grater of which I own two, one of the first and one of the last, are the pinnacle of desktop computer designs. The very public falling out of nVidia and Apple hurt one group of people, that was the professionals who'd come to rely upon Apple Macs and nVidia GPUs for their business, people like me. Actually, they were the glory days of Mac ownership, when nVidia GPUs were compatible with the Mac.

    I'm glad to see Apple supporting Blender because in recent times Blender has become a very popular, highly respected, incredibly powerful tool and the new version of Cycles is a game changing renderer not because it's free but because the performance is as good as anything around. Performance of Cycles is a moving target, there was an update this week which added performance and I can remember in recent times nVidia and AMD have added patches which improve performance on their own hardware so Apple is not alone in being able to add optimisations as a matter of course. Nothing is fixed so the argument that people are using to suggest that we wait to judge Apple's true performance is a false argument. Benchmarks are a snapshot in time and right now the M1 performance is what it is.

    Well a high core count Mac Studio will suit AE nicely after Adobe finally multi-threaded AE. Unfortunately there's very little creative software that can lean on 20 or even 40 CPU cores (Mac Pro?) unless rendering, Apple's own AE competitor Motion which was better in every single way to AE leaned heavily on the GPU rather than the CPU. I wish Apple had loved Motion as much as I did and had kept developing it at pace but instead it languishes in a 'what might've been' state. With a bit more drive they could've owned the layer based compositing space and consigned AE to the history books. So much software leans heavily on the GPU these days it makes the M1 architecture choices look odd for the desktop, I want 10 or 20 CPU cores max but with 2x or 4x the GPU performance which would be a better fit for the software I use like Houdini, Blender, Resolve and Fusion. I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this.

    I thought I was a Mac user for life but unfortunately the Mac Pro strategy from 2013 onwards was a joke which forced me onto the PC which was a second class experience but moving to Linux has given me most of the Mac experience back. The Apple Silicon architecture is amazing for phones, tablets and laptops which are second to none but I'm not convinced it is right for what I need in a workstation. I remain open minded until Apple unveils the new Mac Pro, can they pull one out of the bag? If they don't I'll continue with buying PCs and Macs, no doubt when I replace my trusty iMacs it will be with a Mac mini or Studio. I can't see me ever not having a Mac.
    fastasleep
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