Quick 4k m1 Mac mini vs 2012+eGPU benchmarks

I’m in the niche situation of having an older device with an external GPU, and playing at 4k. I was hoping the m1 mini could replace my setup but in terms of WoW performance, there was a significant reduction.

Don’t get me wrong - the m1 is a terrific machine. However, if you have an eGPU and your needs are GPU-centric, the new m1 mini isn’t quite there.

I cannot perform additional testing.


I benched both devices by standing in the same identical position with the same viewpoint; I parked my character and never moved her, then used the default on-load camera angle in the Alliance Draenor garrison facing southward toward the fountain on Dec 23rd. This is a relatively heavy lift with multiple trees, buildings, Halloween and Christmas decor, and various effects going on.

Screenshot of benched POV

I did not bench population centres because those constantly vary and are therefore bad for reproducibility. Those locations are designed also to scale well with player load.

Numbers were eyeballed after letting the system sit until FPS stabilized. There was fluctuation with most values; entered are the most common values, which did also tend to be central.


2012 Mac mini m1 Mac mini
  • OSX 10.15.7
  • 16GB RAM
  • 500GB SSD
  • 2.3GHz quad
  • AMD Radeon RX 580 eGPU [1]
  • macOS 11.1
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • USB-C to DP adapter supporting 4k @ 60Hz
    This should not affect unsynced framerate.

WoW configuration

  • Full UI reset - deleted cache, wtf, interface pre-bench
  • VSync OFF
  • All other configurations left to default
  • UI turned off
  • WoW was copied directly from the old machine to new. I did verify the WoW binary was running natively.

Shared configuration

  • 4k display - LG 27MU67
  • Launcher closed but running
  • All other software unloaded

The Numbers

Graphics Quality Framerate
2012 mini
m1 mini
10 16.4 9.8
8 28.8 14.5
6 [2] 33.4 16.4
4 70 41.1
2 96 60.0 [3]

Everyone likes charts, so here’s a chart.
Note: The m1 60 FPS datapoint should be taken with salt. Please see footnote [3].


[1] Yes, this is a totally unsupported configuration. The 2012 mini features TB1 and is not officially compatible with external GPUs.

[2] Oddly, at this setting, enabling the UI would increase FPS to low 17s on the m1. I didn’t really pay attention on the 2012 device.

[3] Seemed to be hard-limited at 60.0; I re-verified VSync was off, and ensured there were no FPS caps but FPS would not budge.