Something to look forward to: Apple announced a series of new Mac products during its recent WWDC 2023 conference. These included a 15-inch MacBook Air, the latest version of macOS, and the newest iteration of Apple's silicon, the M2 Ultra. The chip is now making it into reviewers' hands, and the results are impressive.
Apple claimed the M2 Ultra could double the performance of its previous flagship, the M2 Max. It achieves this feat by combining two M2 Max chips using its "ultra-fusion architecture." The M2 Ultra boasts 20 and 30 percent performance improvements in CPU and GPU-based tasks, respectively.
While Apple's claims were intriguing, there was skepticism due to the underwhelming increase in performance between the previous generation's M1 Max and M1 Ultra. Thankfully, Mac Studios featuring the new M2 Ultra are now reaching reviewers, including Luke Miani, who benchmarked the computer to put Apple's numbers to the test (video on top).
Apple wasn't just blowing smoke. In Cinebench, the M2 Ultra beats the M2 Max's performance by 95 percent.
The GFXBench results were somewhat odd. In one test, the numbers nearly doubled again on the new chip. However, the M2 Max only held an 18 percent lead over its predecessor in another benchmark.
This oddity within Miani's testing appears to be a simple outlier, as every other GPU-bound test shows the expected near doubling of performance from the M2 Max to the M2 Ultra.
Miani also tested the silicon's performance with Rise of the Tomb Raider. However, the M2 Ultra's results were lackluster, only managing a 12 percent jump in average frame rate. Miani believes this could be due to CPU bottlenecking and not allowing the chip to utilize all 76 GPU cores.
Lastly, both rendering and exporting within Final Cut Pro were tested. When rendering a heavily edited 15-minute 4K video, the M2 Ultra finished a second shy of 4 minutes, nearly an entire minute faster than its predecessor. While an impressive gain, it's not the same doubling we've seen in other tests. However, the M2 Ultra proved much better at exporting. The M2 Max exported the video in 12 minutes and 30 seconds, while the M2 Ultra turned in a flat 8-minute result.
Overall, the M2 Ultra appears to live up to Apple's promises and hype. Despite minor setbacks in specific scenarios, the chip doubled the performance of the M2 Max in numerous additional benchmarks. This is likely the final iteration of the M2 family of Apple silicon, as Apple is already in the testing phase for the M3, which we might see in new products before the end of the year.