Unreal Engine 5.1 was just released on November 15th and among new features was support for Apple M1 and M2 hardware. Unfortunately the support is in experimental form, as taken from the UE5.1 release notes:
Previous versions of Unreal Engine supported building projects for Apple’s ARM-64 architecture, but Unreal Editor itself was not natively built for it and depended on the Rosetta instruction translator when running on Apple Silicon devices. UE 5.1 rolls out an experimental version of native support for Apple Silicon in Unreal Editor, meaning that M1 devices and later should see improved performance when running the editor.
This support is not available in builds distributed through the Epic Games launcher. Instead, you need to build Unreal Engine from source on your Apple Silicon-based Mac with Xcode. Building UE with Xcode on Apple Silicon platforms will default to building the experimental native version, with the target device listed as My Mac. To build the Rosetta version you need to change the target device to My Mac (Rosetta).
Therefore we went ahead and built Unreal Engine 5.1 for the M1 and we compare the same project running on an 2021 M1 Ultra MacBook Pro with 24 GPU cores running on Intel (Rosetta) then again on the custom built Apple binaries. For completeness we also run the same level on an Windows powered laptop with a 12th gen Intel CPU and 3070TI GPU.
Some quick conclusions from running UE5.1 on Apple hardware:
- Speed is about 15% faster
- Lumen works but light baking does not
- Nanite is unstable on both Intel and M1/M2 hardware, but especially when built for Apple hardware
- No difference in battery life.
You can learn more about running Unreal Engine 5.1 on Apple M1/M2 hardware and MacOS in the video below. If you are interested in getting a M1 or M2 powered MacBook Pro for game development in general, check out our earlier video on the topic.