How well does Minecraft 1.19 run on an M2 Mac? It is worth using Optifine?
I love to play Minecraft on a Mac. Yes, I’m one of those people and I’ve tested Minecraft and the way it behaves on Macs quite a lot over the years and that’s what I’m going to do today with a combination of the M1s and the M2s to see how they perform and how things have changed since the 1.19 update now that we have native ARM support for Apple silicon in Minecraft.
I’ve done a lot of testing over the years that has helped me learn that Minecraft is mostly a CPU-bound game, but depending on the graphic settings you decide to apply the GPU comes into effect a fair amount. Comparing an M1 to an M2 mac on paper - the GPU is what’s changed the most. I have three Macs to test with today; I have an M1 MacBook Pro (a standard M1, no Pro/Max), I have an M1 Max maxed out Max studio, and I also have an M2 MacBook Air.
We are going to compare specifically how different worlds perform. I always like to test in a fresh new empty world and then a very populated server like my own SMP; NeueCraft, as these two often give the biggest variance in performance. I’m going to test all three of these machines that are the same resolution of 2560x1600, as if you’re not running shaders then I’ve found in the past resolution plays a minimal role in affecting performance.
I’m going to be testing all of this in the native Minecraft launcher both with completely vanilla Minecraft as it comes out of the box with all the settings turned to maximum, with render and simulation distance both at 12 chunks. I’ll also be testing with OptiFine because in my experience OptiFine makes one of the biggest differences in performance that you can get in Minecraft.
We’ll spin up a brand new world from scratch we’ll start there and let’s see how all three of these machines do in that scenario then we’ll log back onto NeueCraft and see how it performs on the server.
Vanilla Minecraft tests #
Tests in vanilla Minecraft in a brand-new world gave some interesting results:
- M1, 8-core GPU - 70fps
- M1 Max, 32-core GPU - 120fps
- M2, 8-core GPU - 110fps
Interestingly the M2 performed 23% better than the M1, getting very close performance numbers to the M1 Max, which was surprising. It shows how little vanilla Minecraft uses the GPU and is a mostly CPU-bound game.
When playing on a heavily populated server, FPS fell across the board, but by different amounts:
- M1, 8-core GPU - 50fps
- M1 Max, 32-core GPU - 105fps
- M2, 8-core GPU - 70fps Both the M1 and M2 dropped FPS by 30%, while the M1 Max only dropped 6%.
Interestingly, these numbers are all twice as good as my previous tests (before 1.19). Since Mojang optimised Minecraft for ARM and Apple silicon, the default performance has doubled, which is astounding.
Testing with Optifine #
When we install Optifine (which in my experience has the biggest performance boost of all optimisation mods on Mac), things really get interesting.
In a new world, the results are as follows:
- M1, 8-core GPU - 100fps
- M1 Max, 32-core GPU - 250fps
- M2, 8-core GPU - 115fps
On a heavily populated server, there was no difference between a single-player world and the server when using Optifine.
The M1’s score improved by 42%, the M2 only increase by 4.5%, but the M1 Max sees a 108% improvement - more than twice the performance.
This tells me that the changes made from the M1 to the M2 were fairly minimal, and Optifine can only do so much to improve the numbers here. It is curious that the M1 gets a much larger boost than the M2 though.
What this does reveal is how GPU-reliant Optifine is, and how well it is able to utilise the additional cores at its disposal.
In summary #
If you are playing Minecraft 1.19 on an M1, or an M1 Pro/Max/Ultra, it’s going to be very worth while running Optifine. If you have the M2 the benefits are there, but fairly minimal.
If you want to find out more about NeueCraft, then I have a whole video series documenting everything I’ve done in that world, and we are continuing to build on that server, over a year in. We’d love to have you check out what I and my fellow server mates are doing over there.