Are Mac Laptops Good for Gaming?
Windows is the platform of choice for gaming laptops due to the sheer variety of titles available to the OS. On the other hand, MacBooks are more associated with business and development with their streamlined system and performance focus. However, some wonder if a MacBook can also run games.
Unfortunately, if you’re expecting the answer to be a yes, you’ll be disappointed. MacBooks and other Apple laptops were not designed for optimal gameplay. Read on to find out why.
Why Not Macs?
Apple typically targets business professionals and college students who use their impressive device suite for work. While many college students enjoy playing video games, these handy laptops aren’t designed to run them. However, that doesn’t mean Macs can’t run games at all.
Here are some factors to consider while buying a gaming laptop and how Macs compare.
Gamers know that hardware is everything for gaming, so they always look at these parts:
Even a basic gaming laptop worth its salt will come with an Intel Core i5 CPU, and that’s already not the optimal choice for gaming. The i7 and i9 Intel Cores perform miles ahead for gaming, and you can get various models depending on your processing needs.
Apple doesn’t focus too much on providing customers with the strongest CPUs. You can find the MacBook Pro with i7 processors, which isn’t bad. Other MacBook Pros come with Apple’s M1 chip, which is quite a powerhouse for running tasks.
A CPU is terrific for sheer processing speed and system performance, but the GPU is the benchmark requirement for most games.
One of the strongest GPUs you can find on a MacBook is the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM. As for the weaker models, it’s usually something like the Intel Iris Plus, which is drastically inefficient for AAA titles.
What’s more, even those with Vega graphics, better than AMD’s Radeon Pro line, are still too weak for gaming. They’re not useless, but you can’t expect to run games at high graphical settings.
If you want a Mac just for these cards, you’ll be dolling out thousands of dollars for one. These specs are still worse than the NVIDIA GTX 1650 Super, which is marketed to budget gamers for around 10-20% of an upgraded MacBook Pro’s price tag.
If you spend the same amount of money on a gaming laptop, you’ll walk away with a monster of a machine that can outperform Macs when it comes to games.
Thus, the MacBook is vastly inferior to Windows laptops in the hardware department.
macOS can’t run Windows-based games natively, and that means your copy of Halo 5 for the PC won’t run on a Mac no matter how hard you try. The games must be released for macOS if you wish to install and play them.
Many AAA titles, which are among the most impressive and anticipated video games in the industry, are likely never getting a Mac release. Apple’s products lack the power to run them, and the game developers may not want to consider the requirements of porting these titles to Mac.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t play some popular games on your MacBook. You can still download Steam on your Mac. Some titles like Stardew Valley have been ported to Mac and run flawlessly.
When you download Steam and browse for games, you’ll see if the title is compatible with your Mac. The Apple logo will appear on the game’s product page, and you’ll be able to purchase it, download it, and play.
Nevertheless, some glaring problems remain. Most of these games aren’t graphically impressive. They won’t offer the same quality that you’ll see on a comparable Windows device (when you count the price and specs). You’ll likely be let down when comparing these two operating systems running the same game.
The M1 Chip
The M1 chip that Apple designed isn’t a terrible piece of hardware. It does offer an advantage many did not anticipate, which is playing iOS games on macOS.
If you’re a mobile iOS gamer who likes turning up the graphics settings, then you’re in for a treat. You can head to the App Store and download all your favorite mobile titles for a larger screen and significant performance improvement.
The popular game Among Us! can run on any M1-equipped MacBook, and the device even lets you replace touch gestures with other controls.
However, if the game developer hasn’t optimized the game for macOS, you might encounter some strange issues. Controls can be problematic or awkward, for example.
Hope in Apple Silicon
As Apple’s M1 chips and other Apple Silicon technologies improve, many impressive games are getting ported over to Mac. While it’s still too early to tell if many future titles are coming over, some gamers are surprised to see these titles come to Mac:
- Cyberpunk 2077
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
- Fallout 4
- GTA V
- Civilization VI
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Some of the games mentioned above are graphically demanding, but Apple is attempting to prove its Macs aren’t entirely useless for PC gaming.
With technology advancing every second, we can only wait and see if Apple will start attracting gamers to try gaming with MacBooks.
Stick With Windows for Games
We still advise gamers to stick to their powerful Windows gaming laptops for high-performance gaming. MacBooks still can’t compare to gaming rigs today, and they cost way too much to be worth purely for gaming performance.
However, you can still play some less-demanding titles on them. There aren’t many choices, but you might find some games to enjoy.
Did you have any luck with gaming on a Mac? Let us know in the comments.