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Mac Upgrade path for a gamer?


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#41 AussieMacGamer

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 09:42 AM

I'm interested that nobody's really bought up Thunderbolt 3. Price aside, I think it's a pretty viable possibility for upgradability (For Macs and PC's).

Actually my dream computer right now is a Thunderbolt 3 Retina iMac. As critical as I am of the platform and the products of late, the iMac is still an incredible computer, and reasonable value to a point. The form factor is great, it's uncontested in terms of industrial design and the OS is still my preferred daily driver.

I'm currently using a 2nd gen retina iMac. The screen is incredible, everything else is as good as it always was (not the keyboard, it's god awful), but the graphics chipsets provided are overpriced and underwhelming.

Thunderbolt 3 has potential to alleviate this through the way of an external PCIe chassis.

I look to a T3 iMac as a way to sidestep the overpriced GPU's provided, instead put the money into running a discrete GPU externally and hoping to be able to play something like The Witcher 3 at 5k one day.

This video review goes into the bottleneck issues a little bit. The most obvious problem with this kind of setup is the price. Keeping in mind that this is a whole new market for PC's as well as Macs, I feel like we can look forward to cheaper T3 PCI Chassis in the near future. Til then a Thunderbolt 3 iMac with the baseline GPU will probably do.

Honestly I think this is my future Mac. The last problem (the dealbreaker) and something I have no idea about is wether or not it would be possible to use an eGPU to power the internal display on a Thunderbolt 3 iMac. I think this is going to be dependent on wether or not the iMac supports DP 1.3, which judging by the new Macbook Pro's... it wont. If the screen(s) is built in the same way, i'm not sure if it will be possible to setup.




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#42 macdude22

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 09:45 AM

My understanding is currently, under macOS, you cannot use a TB3 eGPU to feed the internal display. Have to output to an external display. If that hurdle is overcome I think that becomes a lot more viable.
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#43 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 09:46 AM

View PostFrost, on 13 December 2016 - 08:41 PM, said:

And this is one reason why I'm done buying Macs that have mobile Radeon in them. Granted the 8600M GTs in the early 2008 MBPs popsnizzle the bed too, but ever since the Radeon 9000 had the dying VRAM issue on the Titanium PowerBooks (and mine ended up being one of those too), it seems like every other Radeon mobile chip in a Mac is a ticking time bomb. Granted it may be Apple's fault and not AMD's, such as the 5K iMacs running their GPUs 40 degrees hotter than they should be under high load, but jeez.

I think it's Apple's fault primarily. They have had loads of graphics issues with both AMD and Nvidia over the years. They keep stuffing GPU's in tiny places and then over heating them.

I've built around 10-15 computers for myself, the majority of which had Radeon cards, and probably built a further 20-30 gaming rigs for friends/family over the years with Radeon cards and I have not had any issues with cards dying or drivers. Granted a full desktop card is in a much healthier environment than a mobile card.
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#44 AussieMacGamer

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 05:36 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 14 December 2016 - 09:45 AM, said:

My understanding is currently, under macOS, you cannot use a TB3 eGPU to feed the internal display. Have to output to an external display. If that hurdle is overcome I think that becomes a lot more viable.

Not true, many computers allow the use of the internal display, the iMac is a different story  because of how it's display is achieved. I'm also completely disinterested on what potential this has for gaming in OS X, i'd be booting straight into windows :P

View PostSneaky Snake, on 14 December 2016 - 09:46 AM, said:

I've built around 10-15 computers for myself, the majority of which had Radeon cards, and probably built a further 20-30 gaming rigs for friends/family over the years with Radeon cards and I have not had any issues with cards dying or drivers. Granted a full desktop card is in a much healthier environment than a mobile card.

Purely anecdotal but that wonderful MBP in my description finally died when the GPU gave way. Achilles heel.

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#45 Frost

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 08:51 PM

View Postnick68k, on 13 December 2016 - 09:35 PM, said:

The best Mac I ever owned was a Sawtooth G4. I upgraded the hell out of that thing. And not coincidentally, it was the machine I had the longest use out of (seven years, if you're interested).

Oh hell yeah, that G4 was the popsnizzle. I had the 733 MHz Digital Audio which I bought in 2002 and kept upgrading it till it was a FrankenMac of all the various upgrades available over the years. When it finally got forcibly retired from hurricane lightning damage and replaced with my Quad G5 (still in service! Albeit much less so over the past year and a half as the last remaining pro apps have dropped PowerPC support), the 733 MHz G4 7455 had become dual 1.8 GHz 7447s (with a 1.42 GHz 7457 in between), the GeForce 2 MX 32MB had become a GeForce 4 Titanium 4600 128MB, the onboard audio had been replaced with an M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card, the RAM got boosted to 1.5GB, I had added a Sonnet SATA card, and added a 120GB PATA and 250GB SATA drive to it. Also replaced the DVR-103 SuperDrive with the shorter DVR-104 so that the CPU upgrade would fit.

Ended up bringing it back to life about a year after I got the insurance check for it (which bought the G5), doing my first complete teardown of a Mac to find all the lightning-damaged parts and replace them. Got it back up and running and it still functions, although it is now stored in its original shipping box in my stock room and not actually in use. Can't bring myself to sell such a classic though.

My PowerMac G5 is officially my longest serving machine though. Got it lightly used from a photo studio in 2008 and it's about to enter its 9th year of service and 12th year of life. The only thing that saddens me about it is the LCS is slowly losing efficiency, so it's not silent like it used to be. Coolant probably needs changing and pumps replacing, but I have no idea how to do any of that on Apple's proprietary cooling system. If it's still going at a decade I will probably retire it altogether to the Hall of Frost's Best Macs alongside my SuperMac S900 and the Digital Audio G4.
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#46 nick68k

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 10:38 PM

I don't remember what my G4 ended up with, other than it had 768 Mb RAM. And an AGP Radeon 9600 Pro (or it may have been an X300 part at some stage). One of the GPUs failed, so I was playing vanilla WoW with an original antique Radeon Mac edition card for a while. It worked, more or less.

A lot of money went to Sonnet for CPU upgrades, I think the last being a dual 7447A.

Anyway, like you, I kept the machine. It's carefully packed away in a box over the ocean somewhere.

(FWIW, the hackiest upgrade I used was a G3 card in the L2 cache slot of my 604e StarMax clone. Nasty.)
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#47 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:56 AM

View PostAussieMacGamer, on 14 December 2016 - 09:42 AM, said:

I'm interested that nobody's really bought up Thunderbolt 3. Price aside, I think it's a pretty viable possibility for upgradability (For Macs and PC's).
Not really for a Mac. Unless you want to buy a trash can for gaming. The Mac Mini CPU is currently awful, so the only option is a 3 year old machine which is WAY too expensive.

Or go Windows, meh.
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#48 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 07:11 AM

View Postnick68k, on 13 December 2016 - 09:35 PM, said:

The future of the desktop seems to be iMacs all the way down.

My take on the future of desktop Macs:
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#49 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 07:22 AM

View Postmacdude22, on 14 December 2016 - 07:44 AM, said:

I have milked close to 8 years out of my 2008 Mac Pro, with an upgrade here and an upgrade there. I am planning on replacing it with a mini whenever they get updated so this will have had close to a full decade in full service.

The 2008 Mac Pro was great (I had one), but CPU options are very limited. So I switched to a 2009 model, much better in this regard.

#50 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 09:54 AM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 15 December 2016 - 12:56 AM, said:

Not really for a Mac. Unless you want to buy a trash can for gaming. The Mac Mini CPU is currently awful, so the only option is a 3 year old machine which is WAY too expensive.

Or go Windows, meh.

The Mac Pro and Mini don't have TB3. Only the new MBP's do. TB3 is definitely a must for not bottlenecking powerful GPU's (even then - a bottleneck is still present. TB3 runs at 40Gb/s, whereas PCIe 3.0 x16 runs at 30GB/s (240Gb/s).

The thunderbolt 3 route will very likely be extremely viable (in bootcamp) in the near future. The new MBP's have enough CPU power to run nearly every game at decent settings. My dual core i3-6100 had no problem running games like Overwatch, Metro, Witcher 3 and 50ish fps at 1440p with a mix of medium/high/ultra settings (depending on the game). The dual core CPU in the new MBP's turbo's to nearly the same speed as the i3-6100 and since the chip doesn't have to do any graphics processing, I expect that temps should remain ok.

Hopefully on the mac side we get thunderbolt 3 external GPU support in the near future. I would expect that there are a lot of brilliant minds working on this, since it will be such a natural fit on the Mac (where graphics power is severely lacking).
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#51 AussieMacGamer

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 09:21 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 15 December 2016 - 09:54 AM, said:

Hopefully on the mac side we get thunderbolt 3 external GPU support in the near future. I would expect that there are a lot of brilliant minds working on this, since it will be such a natural fit on the Mac (where graphics power is severely lacking).

As far as mac gaming goes I feel like the advent of x86 kind of killed off good porting. I've been playing rocket league and half of the high end settings don't do anything ( i feel like they actually weren't even ported), and the game drops almost a half a second of frames every time it has to render the car exploding animation :bleedingeyes: :bleedingeyes: :bleedingeyes: It's just too easy for a company to throw the thing through a virtualiser and be done with it. Too much of a good thing I 'spose.

Either way i'm eagerly awaiting what happens with the new iMac, and the proliferation of T3 and how that bodes for PCIe-T3 switch pricing.

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