Baldur’s Gate 3 on macOS Sonoma Game Mode: Mac Studio M2 Max Performance Benchmarks

Baldur’s Gate 3 Patch 3 finally brings the full release of the game to Mac, and macOS Sonoma just came out with a new feature called Game Mode. How well does the game run on the base model Mac Studio with the M2 Max chip, and can we reach 120 fps for a smooth gaming experience? Let’s find out!

Test Setup

First, the test setup. I’ll be using the base model Mac Studio: M2 Max chip with 12 CPU cores, 30 GPU cores, 32 GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. The macOS version is the latest Sonoma 14.0, and I’ve got the machine connected to an LG C1 48-inch OLED TV as my monitor. This means we can run up to 120Hz over the HDMI 2.1 connection.

Here are the settings I’ll vary for this test. The biggest factor should be resolution, so I’ll be looking at the common resolutions of 1080p, 1440p, and 2160p (also known as 4K UHD). I’ll also try each of the 4 presets for visual quality in Baldur’s Gate 3, which are Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. For each of these presets, I’ll also turn AMD FSR to Off, Ultra Quality, Quality, Balanced, and Performance. And finally, I’ll turn Game Mode on or off and see what difference it makes, if any.

Now to have the same workload in the game for all tests, I’ll just use this starting area of the game, which seems to have some visual effects in the air. Let’s see some numbers.

1080p Benchmarks

Starting at 1080p with FSR off, we can see FPS ranges from 73 on Low settings to 51 on Ultra. It’s playable at this frame rate, and if you don’t have more than a 60 Hz 1080p display, this might be sufficient.

However, we can turn on FSR to get much better results. We can see that FSR on Ultra bumps up frame rates by 18-26 fps, and faster FSR settings increase by 10-12 with each step. On Low, a Balanced FSR setting is sufficient to max out at over 120 fps, while medium settings require Performance FSR.

The difference between High and Ultra settings is just 1-2 frames per second, and this is something we’ll see throughout this test at all resolutions.

At 1080p, Baldur’s Gate 3 is very playable, and turning on FSR can help boost frame rates beyond 60 Hz at all quality presets.

1440p Benchmarks

Moving on to 1440p with FSR off, we can see that fps ranges from 49 on the Low preset to 35 on Ultra. Already, this resolution is starting to get into frame rates that are bit low to be considered a smooth experience.

Enabling FSR, however, gives a much needed boost. None of the FSR and visual preset combinations are able to reach 120 fps, but surpassing 60 is possible with Balanced FSR on the Ultra preset. These results on Ultra are about 20 fps lower than at 1080p resolution, while the Low preset is about 30 fps lower than at 1080p.

In summary, playing at 1440p can definitely benefit from enabling FSR to at least the Quality setting, if not faster.

4K UHD Benchmarks

Finally at 4K UHD with FSR off, framerates are in what I would consider not really playable territory, ranging from 25 on Low preset to just 18 on Ultra.

Turning on FSR helps quite a bit, as reaching 60 fps is possible with Performance FSR on the Low preset, and even on Ultra, it is still fairly playable in the mid 40’s.

Clearly, we can see the M2 Max Mac Studio struggles to play Baldur’s Gate 3 at 4K resolution. If you plan to do this, using a fast setting for FSR is a must in my opinion.

Game Mode

So what about Game Mode? Well, all of the numbers we just covered were with Game Mode turned on. I also turned off Game mode and ran the same tests again. The results were basically exactly the same, with a few measurements that differed by 1 fps here and there, but that is likely just natural variation or possibly rounding errors in the testing.

In other words, Game Mode really has no effect whatsoever, which isn’t surprising. That’s because Game Mode prioritizes the game’s usage of the CPU and GPU, lowering usage for background tasks. It also doubles the Bluetooth sampling rate for input devices like mice and audio, but that shouldn’t be reflected in fps scores. Since I wasn’t running anything else during my tests, Game Mode naturally had no significant effect.

So that’s how Baldur’s Gate 3 runs on a base M2 Max Mac Studio.

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