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#435083 Best Mac Computers for Gaming 2015

Posted Sneaky Snake on 07 July 2015 - 01:02 PM

Best Mac Computer for Gaming 2015
This article will focus on providing readers with the best Mac (both desktop and laptop) for gaming at various price points. The contents of the article are as follows:
  • Gaming on a Mac? Is This a Joke? - I will discuss why the Mac is a valid gaming platform and give links to some places you can find Mac games.
  • Understanding Computer Components in Relation to Gaming - I will explain the 3 main components (CPU, graphics card and RAM) and how they relate to gaming.
  • Best Mac Laptop for Gaming - I will go through the best pricepoints for Mac laptops in relation to gaming performance.
  • Best Mac Desktop for Gaming - I will go through the best pricepoints for Mac desktops in relation to gaming performance.
Read on to learn more!

Gaming on a Mac? Is This a Joke?
No. Mac's are very capable of running a lot of great gaming titles these days, and Mac gaming has never been better then it is right now. There have never been so many current, big name titles on the Mac, then there is today. That being said... the Mac is not a platform that Apple has designed necessarily for gaming, and as such you'll have to pay a lot more for a decently powerful Mac that you would have to if you bought a dedicated gaming PC running Windows. Also, there are many big-name titles that still haven't made it over to the Mac.

Mac gaming is a small but growing community that is started to gain serious traction in the computer gaming world. Here are a few places to find games for your Mac: Understanding Computer Components in Relation to Gaming

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): The Most Important Factor
The primary factor of any gaming computer is the strength of the video card. No amount of RAM or CPU power can compensate for a weak video card (also known as a GPU - graphics processing unit). This means that a fast i7 chip will struggle with games if it is not paired with at least a semi-capable GPU. Mac's come equipped with GPU's from three different vendors:
  • Intel Graphics: Not to be confused with Intel CPU's, Intel has a wide range of integrated GPU's that come coupled with their CPU's. Intel's processing units are power efficient and capable of light gaming but they fall far behind in performance compared to a discrete GPU from Nvidia or AMD. Intel's integrated graphics are featured in all Mac computers, with the exception of the Mac Pro.
  • Nvidia Graphics: Nvidia is the largest GPU manufacturer on the planet with GPU's ranging from tiny Android devices all the way up to massive workstation computing units. Nvidia currently has GPUs in the mid range iMac models in the form of the 750M and 755M.
  • AMD Graphics: AMD manufacturers a wide range of products, including GPU's, and are the second largest GPU manufacturer in the world. Apple has selected AMD as the current provider of high-end graphics options for the Mac. The iMac 5K, 15" Retina Macbook Pro and Mac Pro all utilize AMD graphics as the best configurable graphics option.
When comparing Intel, Nvidia and AMD graphics it should be a general rule of thumb that AMD and Nvidia will always be superior to Intel in terms or graphics (and therefore gaming) performance. Currently Apple does not offer any high end options from Nvidia, and as such AMD graphics are the most powerful option available to Mac computers.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): Important Up to a Certain Level
The CPU is responsible for processing a wide range of different computer functions, including many parts of a game such as the AI, physics, game logic and more. It is important the a CPU achieves a base level of performance in order to not bottleneck the GPU when it comes to a game's total performance. To keep things simple I am going to say that any i5 or i7 CPU that is faster then 2.5 GHz is "good enough" for gaming on a Mac. Faster speeds will benefit, but once the CPU is at the 2.5 GHz or faster level, it is better to spend money on a faster GPU instead of a faster CPU.

RAM: Just Make Sure You Have Enough
RAM (Random Access Memory) is where your computer loads the game files for quick access when you are playing a game. 8 GB is the recommended amount of RAM for most modern games. Many games are even playable on 4 GB's of RAM. Your computer requires a certain amount of RAM in order to load the game files into, and once it has enough it does not (and cannot) use anymore. 16 GB of RAM will give you zero performance benefit over 8 GB in 99% of gaming situations.

Cost Has Nothing to Do With Power
A common misconception with a lot of computer buyers is that more expensive equals better performance. Spending more money can be more powerful, but it's extremely important that you look at the components that make up a computer and decide whether or not it makes sense for you. For example, the new Macbook that Apple released (the super-thin one) costs around $1500 and is TERRIBLE at gaming, and that's okay. It is not a gaming machine and should not be used as one. The $700 Mac Mini (see below) destroys it in terms of power.

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Best Mac Gaming Laptop for the Budget (Macbook, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro)
This section will focus on providing the best budget points for getting a Mac laptop for gaming. If gaming is your primary focus I don't recommend spending in between these price points, as there is no real gaming performance gain in between them.

Best Laptop for $1300: 13" Retina Macbook Pro with 2.7 GHz i5 CPU and Intel Iris Graphics 6100: Apple Store Link
This Mac is really the minimum of what it takes to run modern games at somewhat acceptable settings. The Intel Iris 6100 graphics are considerably faster then the previous generation Iris graphics (found in the Mac Mini).

Expect to play modern games at low-medium settings at 1080p resolution.

Best Laptop for $2500: 15" Retina Macbook Pro with 2.5 GHz i7 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 M370X: Apple Store Link
This is the only Mac laptop with a dedicated GPU. It will perform much faster then the Intel Iris Graphics 6100 and is the most powerful Mac laptop you can buy. When compared with desktop Mac computers (see below) this will perform roughly identical to the $1800 iMac.

Expect to play modern games at medium-high settings at 1080p resolution.

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Best Mac Gaming Desktop for the Budget (Mac Mini, iMac, iMac 5K, Mac Pro)
This section will focus on providing the best budget points for getting a Mac desktop for gaming. If gaming is your primary focus I don't recommend spending in between these price points, as there is no real gaming performance gain in between them.

Best Desktop for $700: Mac Mini with 2.6 GHz i5 CPU and Intel Iris Graphics: Apple Store Link
This is the cheapest price point that has a capable CPU and somewhat capable graphics. The 2.6 GHz CPU coupled with the the Intel Iris graphics will offer a playable performance from most modern games (the most demanding titles will struggle to run, even at low settings). Note: you will have to purchase a monitor, keyboard and mouse in order to use the Mac Mini

Expect to play games at low settings at 1080p resolution.

Best Desktop for $1500: iMac with 2.9 GHz i5 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M: Apple Store Link
This is the first Mac desktop that contains a dedicated graphics card and will perform much faster then both the Mac Mini and the 13" Macbook Pro.

Expect to play games at medium-high settings at 1080p resolution.

Best Desktop for $2000: iMac 5K with 3.3 GHz i5 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 M290: Apple Store Link
This iMac will perform considerably faster then the $1500 version and surpass the 15" Retina Macbook Pro in performance. The M290 will be able to power nearly all modern games with decent graphics settings.

Expect to play games at high settings at 1080p resolution.

Best Desktop for $2550: iMac 5K with 3.5 GHz i5 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 M295X: Apple Store Link
This iMac is the most powerful gaming iMac having roughly 15% more graphics power then the $2000 iMac. Paying extra for the faster CPU is not recommended as it will be of no benefit in virtually all games. Note:the M295X graphics card must be specifically selected during the configuration process.

Expect to play games at high-ultra settings at 1080p resolution.

Best Desktop for $3000+: None (Honorable Mention: Mac Pro with 3.3 GHz Xeon CPU and Dual AMD FirePro D700)
The step up from the iMac line is the Mac Pro. The problem with the Mac Pro for gaming is that it is meant as a productivity machine and not a gaming machine. The CPU and GPU in the Mac Pro are certainly powerful, but they are both extremely expensive parts that aren't really designed for gaming. The $4000 Mac Pro with 3.3 GHz Xeon CPU and D700 graphics (fastest available) is only slightly faster then the top end iMac in gaming, while costing $1500 more and not coming with a beautiful 27" display.

If the Mac user is running bootcamp the dual GPU's can be combined to nearly double graphics performance, but if the user is willing to utilize Windows for gaming, then why spend $4000 on a Mac Pro? Get a gaming PC for $1000 instead that will have equal gaming performance.

The Mac Pro is a similar to a powerful Clydesdale horse, while a gaming computer is like a race horse. Both types of horses are fast/powerful in their own way, but they have completely different strengths and uses.

Leave a comment below with any questions or thoughts you might have!

#438500 'Twas the Night after Christmas

Posted Frost on 26 December 2015 - 04:00 AM

'Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the site
Not a poster was typing, not even a Snake
the Battle Cat was stuffed by the misses with hair
In hopes that his hairballs would soon bring gasps for air
The posters were nestled snug in their chairs
While dreams of Mac Games danced ‘neath their hairs
And DaveyJJ with his maple leaf and Frost with his star,
Wished each other Merry Birthmas, knowing more fun was not far
When on Frost's keyboard there arose such a clatter
After he sprung from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the Moderator's Window he flew like a flash
clicked Warn and Flag Spammer and a Russian's hopes were soon dashed
The monitor on his half-rested face did glow,
Brightened the sneer over another spammer laid low.
When, what to his startled eyes should appear
But an army of WoW Gold sellers, who DDoSed him and cheered.
What hairball flew by that was so fuzzy and fat
They knew in a moment it must be the Battle Cat.
More rapid than Frigidman and Tuncer he came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called the Moderators by name:
Now! Whaleman, now! Brixton, now! Tesseract and Eric,
“On! Davey, on! Frost, on! macdude and Janich!”
To the top of the page! To the top left bar!
Now ban away! Ban away! Ban away all!
As dead sprites before the RAM buffer vanish
The copper of the army’s fat pipes did tarnish
So back ‘cross the ocean the spammers flew
Each conspicuously named for a country– even the Vatican too.
And then in a twinkling, Tuncer appeared with a spark
To open the Mac Game Store with sales before dark!
As the earliest posters began to arise
Cheap Mac Games tempted them and danced ‘fore their eyes!
With Aspyr, and Feral, and Virtual Programming too
Soon hard drives were filling with gaming so true!
He laughed as he sold them in spite of Steam
But his servers were taxed and lo they did scream.
With a wink of an eye and a twist of his head
Frigidman let Tuncer know there was nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Then kicked IPB with a neat little smirk.
And laying a finger on his enter key
He deployed a quick fix for all to see.
With the servers humming and forum safe
the Battle Cat swallowed the hairballs he had used to strafe.
He sprung to his cat tree, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle!
But I heard Frost exclaim, ere he turned out his lights –
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

#439854 Answer questions for the Feral newsletter!

Posted EllieFeral on 21 March 2016 - 04:17 AM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on 18 March 2016 - 08:50 AM, said:

At the risk of being eternally reviled in your March newsletter... I have never played a Total War game!  I'm just not a fan of resource management and strategy games.

*Featured quote*

#436081 What games are people playing these days!?

Posted Thain Esh Kelch on 26 August 2015 - 08:40 AM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on 25 August 2015 - 01:54 PM, said:

Dude, you call yourself a father?  You call yourself a role model to your child???  You should be playing Marathon with her in your lap.  It's never too soon to introduce children to the venerable classics.  I want her first words to be "Frog blast the vent core!"  Now go, you know what to do.
I know, I know. But I also have to teach her to focus on her back log, and I was playing The Witcher when she was born! It is quite evident from this forum, that back logs wasn't a problem when our parents were raising us, so we never learned about it. But now that I finished that game, I can teach her how to game properly!

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#434240 Apple does more damage to Macs than anything

Posted DirtyHarry50 on 15 May 2015 - 05:25 PM

I am annoyed that Apple refuses to make a tricked out desktop gaming rig with a cool case that has flaming apples on the sides and a special version of OS X where NOTHING is flat. I'd like this system to be a small tower but big enough to accommodate a full sized GPU card. The system should feature easy access for upgrades and repairs. The system specs should feature top end components selected with gaming in mind. It should come with 3 years of AppleCare standard. I would prefer it to be priced just slightly over the Mac Mini line. Apple has more money than they know what to do with. It is time that they gave back to the community, the neglected gaming community in particular.

I am a reasonable man. I only want what is fair.

#438889 MacGameStore iOS App rejected (approved!)

Posted Frigidman™ on 22 January 2016 - 03:53 PM

It got approved!

After a lot of back n forth and elevations and stuff ;)

#438811 MacGameStore iOS App rejected (approved!)

Posted Frigidman™ on 16 January 2016 - 11:20 AM

Apple called and said we were rejected because of “Apps utilizing a system other than the In-App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an App will be rejected.”

We then asked "Then how does Steam and Amazon get away with it…"

She said “It wouldn’t be approiate to discuss other apps.”

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#436059 Ubislop bails on another game

Posted Frigidman™ on 25 August 2015 - 07:02 AM


The Settlers 7 will apparently just stop working this coming october. So nice of them to have such a horrible DRM system that they can just give up on a game and reject it from all who bought and enjoy playing it still.

Yet another reason why I absolutely hate Ubipopsnizzle.

#432210 The MacGameStore Holiday Sale has begun!

Posted Frigidman™ on 19 December 2014 - 10:58 AM


The Holiday Sale includes hundreds of popular (and unpopular?) games on sale! All manner of stuff to get for your beloved, hated, or friend or otherwise.

Every day there will be flash sales, so be sure to keep an eye on that section. Something you are waiting for could drop like a rock in price!

Also, a bundle of games will be showcased on the home. New bundles are planned throughout the two weeks of sales.

#431761 Shutting Down Inside Mac Games

Posted Frost on 22 November 2014 - 03:37 PM

As a small business owner myself...

I say, if there's sufficient cash for it, go for #3. If not, kill the IMG site and kill the MGS forums and merge the IMG forum with the MGS.

An active, friendly community forum for a dead news site and a dead forum for an active retail store site, all run by the same entity, makes extremely little sense both from a business and a workload perspective. I would like to see IMG survive, but if worse comes to worst, taking the active site and pairing it with the active forum seems the best option.

EDIT: And if you DO do that... for the love of all that is holy, don't just tell everyone here to move. This place's long history of discussion and problems solved makes it a cornucopia for searches. That's a big asset.

#428877 Steam Summer Sale '14

Posted macdude22 on 19 June 2014 - 02:02 PM

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#440099 Plan of Attack

Posted the Battle Cat on 11 April 2016 - 06:22 PM

View PostMr Pink, on 11 April 2016 - 12:59 PM, said:

By the way, what's happening with Mac Game Files?
It's looking kind of dead for a few years now.

Think of IMG as if it were Red Dwarf.  Frigidman is Lister, I'm The Cat, and moderators Janichsan, Frost, and MacDude22 are Rimmer, Kryten and Dispensing Machine respectively.  Alone and stranded 3 million years into deep space (except for all the redshirts who show up on the ship each week for some preposterous reason or another) the intrepid descendants of the original crew of the mining ship IMG have evolved and live on to this day.  Join us in our zany adventures as we bumble through the galaxy.

#439982 tBC IRL

Posted macdude22 on 01 April 2016 - 08:34 AM

Finally companies are targeting this hungry market.

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#435081 What are you currently listening to

Posted Frigidman™ on 07 July 2015 - 09:29 AM

I'm currently listening too a bunch of yappers on IMG forums.

#427155 Got Hit Again

Posted Frost on 05 April 2014 - 06:14 AM

I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took a taxi to the knee.

#414503 Black Ops

Posted Frost on 16 October 2012 - 04:35 PM

View PostAspyr-Blair, on 16 October 2012 - 01:34 PM, said:

That is not the driver that 650m users are waiting for.
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#385998 Oh Wow!

Posted the Battle Cat on 09 March 2010 - 11:38 AM

View PostFrigidman, on 07 March 2010 - 10:14 AM, said:

Whenever I click it, it keeps telling me I have reached my limit for votes today. Yet, I have never voted a thread ever before lol. I guess there is a bug somewhere, or setting I have set too strict haha.
OK, I've fixed this.  Members, Admins, IMG Writers, Developers, and IMG Pro members should be able to vote on the topics.  Let me know if you are in one of these groups and cannot a vote a post up or down.  That said, I not sure what use this feature will have, but here it is.  Each person gets 5 votes up and 5 votes down per 24 hour period.  Let me know if you think that is too much or too little.  I think the votes should be limited or it will be abused.

#440416 The Secret History of Mac Gaming

Posted mossy_11 on 28 April 2016 - 08:54 AM

Book author here. Hit me up if you have any questions, requests, demands, tips, or whatever.

View PostCougar, on 26 April 2016 - 10:12 PM, said:

Damn, I thought you got access to a real shed. Oh well, still backed.
Would it help if I took photos of the little shed in my backyard?

#439614 100 Best Mac games list that you can filter by genre, price and Mac required

Posted ukimalefu on 05 March 2016 - 12:44 PM

Why isn't Marathon at the top of every category? and top overall. Ever. I didn't see it. If it is there, it should be at the top.

I mean... nice list. Thanks for still believing in Mac gaming.

Ok, bye, I'm going back into stasis. Wake me up when we reach Alpha Centauri.

#439519 OS X Graphics API's: OpenGL vs Metal vs Vulkan

Posted marksatt on 26 February 2016 - 04:12 PM

View PostMichalM.Mac, on 18 February 2016 - 02:06 AM, said:

Hmm so we might get first Metal game after next OS X release which could include some missing features devs want.

btw there are extremely interesting posts by Unreal engine dev in this thread http://forums.macrum....1825150/page-7

That'd be me. I've not logged in to IMG in years; I rarely have since I was writing reviews for Tuncer back in the dim & distant past before I worked for Feral. I'm now responsible for Mac graphics development in UE4 @ Epic - so I should know what's going on with Mac Metal support in UE4...

View PostSneaky Snake, on 11 January 2016 - 11:00 AM, said:

The following studios/developers are confirmed to be supporting Metal:
  • Unreal Engine - Already support Metal on iOS; OS X support is unknown at this time

Since myself and other fine folks from Epic, AMD, Apple & Nvidia slogged our collective guts out for weeks to get Mac Metal support in UE4 up & running well enough to power the live Mac Fortnite demo shown in the WWDC '15 Keynote I'd like to politely ask for this to be edited!

As we (Epic) said at WWDC '15 Mac Metal support would be in Fortnite on Mac and then in the main UE4 version as soon as possible. Due to the huge amount of work involved and various timing snafus (where Epic & Apple deadlines most certainly did not coincide) Fortnite's closed Alpha Mac build finally added Metal support as an option in late January. Main-line support for Mac Metal will be added in UE4 4.11 and is available as a preview release *right now*!

This has been a hugely intense effort since WWDC so I'm looking forward to the day UE4 4.11 finally ships (Soon! I hope!) which will make Metal the *default* graphics API for Mac running on OS X El Capitan or later. Turns out that implementing support for a new graphics API in UE4 is a non-trivial exercise and doing so while the API and driver support is also being rapidly improved is definitely... exciting and more than a little stressful.

View Postmacdude22, on 24 February 2016 - 09:33 AM, said:

Benchmarks are fine I still want a game to run against. You know, stuff like will metal make Ark go from a slideshow to playable on a Mac. That sort of thing. :teehee:

For those of you in Fortnite's closed alpha (https://www.fortnite.com) may I suggest the handy 'Use Metal' option in the Video settings & a quick restart of the game... you might like it. For everyone else - the final 4.11 release will be more interesting. Like any new piece of code Metal support in 4.11 won't be perfect but I believe that Metal is *generally* better than OpenGL and will definitely improve over time in ways that OpenGL simply could not.