Testing 30 games on M1 Macbook Air

Video-version of this test: Part 1 / Part 2

This story is about trying out different games on new M1 MacBook. My machine is M1 MacBook Air with 8 GPU-cores and 16 Gigs of RAM. And I didn’t use different tweaks or emulation like Cross-Over. So here it is clean gaming experience.

  • XCOM 2 — at native resolution and very low graphic settings you can achieve only 15–20 fps. Also I found a big trouble with fonts — even at native resolution it looks terrible. On lower resolution framerate doesn’t increase. It’s unplayable on Apple Silicon.
Even with this graphic quality game works bad
  • Disco Elysium — At medium quality and native’s Mac resolution game works between 30 and 60 fps at all time. This isn’t critical for this type of games, when you pay almost all of your attention at text. A lot of really fun text.
  • Crusader Kings 3 — You can play it at native resolution on low settings very well. It shows 20 to 30 fps and this is OK for this game. Main problem with this game is high battery consumption. 1 hour of playing can kill around 50% of your battery, so play it when you plugged in.
  • Cities: Skyline — At native resolution and on low graphics settings you can get stable 30fps. And you can’t increase it up to 60 fps, game doesn’t allow you to do this. I think, it’s ok for this game.
  • CS:GO — It was a big surprise that CS:GO works not well. Game uses really old OpenGL architecture and it doesn’t optimised for Apple Silicon. Every launching was pain in the butt. First of all, you need to set specific properties for game startup, because you couldn’t go further the first cinematic video. You only can play using resolution 1280x800 in window mode and on very low settings you can have stable 60fps. But first few minutes of every new match game has annoying micro freezes. Even main menu works at 30–40 fps. As for me, this is unplayable result. You need stable framerate at all time in this competitive games.
CS:GO gives you awful experience of competitive gaming on M1-chip
  • FrostPunk — Developers recently added MacOS support, but requirements don’t include information about M1-machines. Game works, but not okay. In average on minimum graphic quality both in simple and busy scenes framerate is around 15–20 at all time. If you decrease resolution, it won’t help.
  • Inside — Game works strange. You have stable 60fps, but you can’t set appropriate resolution. Game thinks, that native resolution is 1440x900. So you have a blurry image at all time.
  • Civilization VI — It has same problem as Inside. I think, this is because games can’t understand specifications of the system, like what GPU or display your system has. This is why you have this low maximum resolution. By the way, game works good. Even on Ultra settings it shows in average 30 fps at 1440x900. I don’t worry about graphics settings, I just want to play at native Mac resolution. Or at least close to this value. Really good performance but it has this critical resolution issue.
You can see that game can’t recognise GPU of the Mac
  • Hades — Works fine, but game shows strange resolution choice. It’s like a problem with Inside and Civilization VI. Even with small resolution you can play.
  • Ryre — Works fine at native resolution. Sometimes has a little micro-freezes, but it doesn’t critical.
  • Besiege — Works okay. Game has a lot of different graphic options and you can get a stable 60 fps. One annoying thing is unplayable with touchpad at all, and game hasn’t support controller.
  • Oxygen Not Included — Works perfect at native resolution. One thing that you need to do is adjust UI scale — it’s too small at first launching.
  • Borderlands 2 — Works nice at native resolution. With low settings you can achieve around 40–50 fps at all time. This game released in 2012, but still it’s really good for coop playing.
Game looks old when you’re looking into details
  • Broforce — Works perfect. Don’t forget to turn on vsync. Without it game image will kill your eyes.
  • Rise to Ruins — Game works nice, but it has a problem with an interface. Well, It’s look like from previous century, so adjust scale for your screen.
  • Starbound — Works perfect at native resolution. Also adjust scale of UI for comfortable play.
  • Bioshock Remastered — Really good performance. At native resolution with medium graphic settings you can get around 40–60 fps. But game works wierd with my Dualshock — I can’t explain this, just look at video. No matter, using a cable or wireless connection. Result is the same. You can’t play with controller with this issue. But you can use your mouse and have fun. I think, second part of this series works the same, because Remastered versions were released in one day.
  • Rust — It has very long loading. Main menu loads for 2–3 minutes, game session loads around 7 minutes. It’s too long for everyone. Talking about game performance, you can achieve 30–60 fps at low setting and resolution 1650x1050. And I was really surprised about this performance. But I don’t know what to do with this loading time — it’s unacceptable.
You can play Rust pretty comfortable, but without cool graphic effects
  • The Banner Saga 2 — Works fine. Don’t have graphic and resolution settings at all.
  • Skul: The Hero Slayer — Works perfect. It had a little freezes, when I played two weeks ago. I think, with new bug fix developers solved this problem. And my DualShock doesn’t work when game has Full Controller support.
  • Human: Fall Flat — Works fine. I found one main issue — DualShock doesn’t work with bluetooth connection. When connecting DualShock via cable game doesn’t work properly — it doesn’t respond on your actions.
  • Hollow Knight — Works perfect but has DualShock issue like in Human: Fall Flat.
  • Into the Breach — Just perfect. Cool game for little breaks with unique game-design. Highly recommended for you, this is masterpiece.
  • Dead Cells — Game doesn’t have graphics settings at all, works perfect with controller support.
  • Diablo 3 — Really smooth gameplay. Big surprise for me is loading time of location — it takes a moment to load. Native Resolution with medium-high graphics settings give you stable 60fps. Doesn’t work with your controller at all. Even at Windows PC.
Diablo III
  • The Pedestrian — Works great at 60fps and maximum graphic quality. Have a problem with my DualsSock, it should be controller support but it doesn’t work with this game.
  • RimWorld — Stable 60fps at native mac resolution. Works perfect at high game speed. I found only one glitch but it’s not critical.
  • HearthStone — You know. Even a bad potato could launch this game.
  • GRIS — Perfect performance. That’s all.
  • Celeste — version of Epic Games Store doesn’t work. It just crashed, when launching. I found a solution for Steam-version of the game, but it doesn’t fit for Epic-version. Keep this in mind.

By the way, Epic Games Store works like a piece of garbage on M1. Maybe on whole MacOS itself. A lot of games have MacOS support in Steam, but you can’t launch it via Epic Games. For Example: Darkest Dungeon, For The King, The Escapists, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator. Don’t use Epic Games at all, if you want to play on your Mac. Maybe, only for Fortnite.

Typical situation when you want to play games in Epic Games Store

What do you think about this performance? I know that my test isn’t scientific at all, but I just want to know can I play specific game or not.

Thanks for reading, play good games!

Russian YouTuber, interested in tech, videography and investment