Are Apple Macs Good for Gaming?

Updated on June 3, 2020

Is MacBook a gaming laptop? Many suggest that Macs are not gaming laptops. A variety of Apple laptops actually can provide a good gaming experience.

Although Macbook is known for its performance and speed. The quick answer is yes (but not ideal). Read through our reasoning below.

Meanwhile, if gaming is your priority, check out our best Macbook pro alternative.

So how do I play games on my Mac?

Apple suppliers confirm that Macs have upgraded video graphics cards making them perfect for PC gaming. Older Macs may not be compatible without additional software. This software includes:

  • Boot Camp
  • Parallels
  • VMware
  • CrossOver
  • Cider

These programs greatly benefit users by making games released for other operating systems accessible to Mac users. In the following sections, we will discuss virtualization software programs and Macs that may require these 3D acceleration assistants.

Test Subjects for Gaming on a Mac OS

We attempted to locate several Mac titles and their PC counterparts for contrast. We evaluated each game in Windows, Mac OS X, and apps that promote virtual machine software. Our findings are not exhaustive, as there are fewer Mac games.

Four Apple computers specifically have been used to observe: the MacBook (the “smaller” notebook line), the MacBook Pro (high-end notebook line) and the iMac (high-end desktop computer).

There were only two required but convenient criteria 2 GB of RAM and the most recent version of Apple’s operating system.

For three reasons we did not use a Mac Pro desktop computer for these experiments.

The first reason is that, as the name indicates, Mac Pro is an expert computer.

Second, it is fitted with a very “fundamental” package: 1 GB of RAM and 256 MB of nVidia GeForce 7300GT graphics card.

The third reason is the price: if you correctly equip the Mac Pro to make it appropriate for games (2 GB of RAM and 512 MB of ATI Radeon X1900 video card), the computer will cost about 3,000 USD without a screen.

We selected a white MacBook notebook as the first trial device, fitted with a 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo processor (667 MHz bus) and an Intel GMA core graphics card.

The Intel graphics processor operates at 250 MHz, like most notebooks. 2 GB of storage functioned in dual channel mode (two 1 GB units each).

Working with Windows has been evaluated on Windows Vista Ultra Edition operating systems The tablet monitor with a diagonal of 13.3 “has a resolution of 1.280x 800.

This display will be used for all trials (we will reflect on this later). In the current MacBook designs, there is a GMA X3100 graphics module, but the output is not really good.

As a second screening device, we took a 15″ MacBook Pro notebook. Essentially, this is a fundamental model with a 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU (Santa Rosa 800 MHz bus). The 15.4 “screen has a resolution of 1,440x 900.


MacBook Pro uses nVidia video card: 128 MB GeForce 8600 M GT. Apple has changed the speed of the video card: it operates at 504 MHz (GPU) and 635 MHz (memory) in the MacBook Pro, although nVidia offers 600 MHz (GPU) and 700 MHz (memory) in the MacBook Pro.

This is a more costly variant, fitted with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo processor (800 MHz bus) and 2 GB RAM.

The system utilizes the graphics module ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT. As its name suggests, this video card was initially intended for laptops. Apple has adjusted the video module to 600 MHz/680 MHz (GPU / memory), although ATI offers 600-700 MHz for GPU and 700-750 MHz for memory.

The desktop variant operates at 800/1100 MHz frequency. The video card has 256 MB of video storage and we used the working system Windows Vista Ultra Edition.

Procedure of Testing Macs 

Different methods and emulation of Mac OS X have several benefits: the system is robust, games setup is easy (you just need to add the CD content to your hard disk), and games for Mac perform generally well. A tiny issue is that most titles are released a lot slower than PC.

Oddly enough, Mac OS X utilizes OpenGL to boost 3D imaging, the video card supports this API very well, and the overall output is good.

..Always pay careful attention to the sort of game you are buying! Performance depends greatly on these varying components…

Usually, you can discover four kinds of games for Mac OS X. Always pay careful attention to the sort of game you are buying! Performance depends greatly on these varying components.

The first and rarest form is games released and published simultaneously for Windows and Mac OS X. One of the first examples of this is Blizzard games which provided both Mac OS X and Windows editions in the same box.

The remaining three kinds are ported titles (i.e. passed from one platform to the next). These are generally third-party vendor games, older examples of this are Aspyr or MacSoft.

The first sort of porting is when the game utilizes OpenGL in its release for Windows. In this case, the porting process is usually quite simplistic and the performance is really good: OpenGL as a Mac OS X standard.

The second type of porting is when the original version uses Direct3D: you have to modify the engine partially because Mac OS X does not support Direct3D. Simply put, this implies that output may suffer.

And lastly, there is a solution that Electronic Arts has been using lately: the games are not effectively transferred, but an emulator is used, allowing you to play Direct3D-game in Mac OS X without any issues (as a rule, with Transgaming company’s software product “Cider”).

The output is often lower, but the porting method does not take much time, and gamers have the chance to get new releases fast almost concurrently with the Windows versions.

Mac CPUs have been using x86 architecture processors since January 2006, the same as Windows PCs. Apple used to use PowerPC (IBM or Motorola) computers.

Quite a challenging scenario Many earlier games only exist in the PowerPC version while some of the latest games only support Intel computer processors.

First, Mac PCs fitted with an Intel CPU processor can operate PowerPC programs (with a certain degree of efficiency loss, of course).

Second, Intel games operate only on PCs with Intel processors. Finally, games published between the end of 2005 and 2007 are mostly “Universal Binary” programs, i.e. they operate on both systems-PowerPC and Intel (sometimes a patch is needed).

Of course, there are other options to play new titles on a Mac besides using Mac OS X directly. Below are methods we regarded for experimentation.

Boot Camp

The second and most efficient alternative to building an enormous games library is to mount Windows on a Mac. Boot Camp enables all Mac computers to use Windows with the conversion to Intel x86 processors.

Apple’s “Boot Camp” program enables you to stack your hard disk into partitions and provides multiple drivers for different Mac components Boot Camp typically operates with Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista, even though other operating systems are already running on the desktop.

Note that Apple is restricted to the system’s 32-bit variant. You need to realize that “Boot Camp” is neither an emulator nor a virtualization service. A Windows operating system mounted on a Mac using “Boot Camp” acts precisely the same as on a standard PC.

Virtualization: “Parallels” and “VMware”

Virtualization is another effective option. The concept is simple: the program generates a virtual machine that enables you to use the Windows os (or any other OS, except of course Mac OS X) inside Mac OS X.

Two programs perform this task in the Mac OS X operating system: “Parallels” and “VMware Fusion.”

Both providers claim they can promote 3D development in a virtual computer, but in fact, this assistance is very partial (only certain working systems are allowed) and the features are very restricted.

In reality, Parallels appears to only support OpenGL and DirectX (up to version 8.1), and VMware Fusion offers only DirectX version 9.

Be cautious that this platform only operates with Windows XP SP2. Although these alternatives seem very appealing, please note that this is emulation, not virtualization (for the CPU).

This implies we get the typical faults intrinsic in this sort of alternative, as well as the loss of results.

Emulation: “CrossOver” and “Cider”

There are two more alternatives that enable you to play PC releases on a Mac. The first alternative is’ CrossOver.’

This program, developed on the grounds of Wine’s free analog source code (referred to Linux supporters), enables you to operate Windows apps straight on Mac OS X without requesting the existence of Windows.

“CrossOver” ensures the job of apps such as Microsoft Office, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, etc., but this software can also be used with other apps without a 100 percent guarantee.

Another alternative is to use the Cider program, which enables you to emulate a Windows implementation and provide an operating system for Mac OS X.

For instance, games like Command & Conquer III and Need for Speed Carbon use Cider. Although “Cider” is designed for game developers, you can use its version free of charge through GameTap.

It should be noted, however, that this option is somewhat obsolete and its consistency is generally less efficient.

To further experiment, we had to consult game developers for Mac OS X. As a consequence, our workshop got four titles: Sims 2 (classic), Star Wars: Empire at War (3D-strategy), Quake 4 (popular FPS-faced shooter) and World of Warcraft.

We also tried Windows-only games demos: Crysis, Call of Duty 4 and Unreal Tournament III. And lastly, to compare various virtualization alternatives, we received the old Quake III Arena game.

We offer some answers to the testing technique before testing


Resolution We chose to experiment with the existing screen resolution or the games 1,280x 800 for MacBook, 1,440x 900 for MacBook Pro and 1,920 x 1,200 for iMac.

The reason is easy: scaling the LCD display size does not operate well on a Mac. We can solve this in Windows by scaling (more effectively) with a video card.

This alternative does not operate on Mac OS X. So we chose to restrict ourselves to native resolution, although this is difficult on the iMac and MacBook (the former has an issue with too elevated resolution, and the latter has an issue with the video card).

Details we checked matches with information up to the highest point (given that the games are not really new The findings were small, and with a reduced amount of detail we continued the trials.

Options such as SMP assistance (various cores) were enabled (if such an alternative was accessible) and full-screen anti-aliasing was switched off.

Mac Pro

As we said at the beginning, Mac Pro computers are very costly and not too gaming-friendly. The basic graphics card is fragile-the GeForce 7300 GT, and there are only two strong graphics cards to choose from.

The first one can cost 1600 dollars and is a specialist video phone (from the GeForce 7 family)— Quadro FX4500.

The second, 250 USD-ATI Radeon X1900 XT. This is an old-generation video card: strong, but it lacks the features of contemporary PCs.

We can not suggest Mac Pro to gamers until automation happens, i.e. until a more contemporary video card is inserted.

As you can see, in principle, Mac PCs can be used for gameplay other than a MacBook computer (this was predictable from the very start).

The outcome is not going to be amazing, but quite acceptable. This is especially true of the 15 “MacBook Pro. Then it remains to decide which operating system to use: Mac OS X or Windows.

Mac OS X: Simplicity

The advantage of using Mac OS X for gaming is its simplicity. You simply copy the contents of the disk to the hard disk and play-there is simply no room to go. No need to restart the computer, change disks, etc.

Yeah, and no. If you’re not too demanding and starting Windows won’t be an issue for you, you can use iMac for games moment by moment.

But don’t depend on the iMac for the latest popular games because this is a more suitable computer for people who don’t play frequently.

  • Good execution;
  • Excellent display quality;
  • Strong processor.
  • The notebook video card is powerless;
  • Resolution is too big for a video card;
  • Absence of power implications when using recent games.

15′ MacBook Pro In the choice of Apple Model MacBook Pro is best suited for games. It is fitted with a nice graphics card and a monitor with adequate resolution.

However, the issue is the same as that of the Windows PC: a laptop is not as strong as a desktop phone. In reality, MacBook Pro enables you to start a game, but the latest apps are not suggested.


  • Really strong laptop performance;
  • Very strong display quality (matte);
  • Powerful processing.


  • The video board does not have enough power;
  • Mac OS X’s complete image memory of 128 MB;
  • Lack of power impacts the use of recently released games.

..” Is MacBook a gaming laptop?” The answer has been a resounding “maybe”, despite accommodations to provide a gaming experience…

To answer the question, “Is MacBook a gaming laptop?” The answer has been a resounding “maybe”, despite accommodations to provide a gaming experience.

Fortunately, this conclusion is only true when examining the performance of past Mac PCs. Considerable progress has been made in the form of improvements to modern day Macs.

Retina compatibility and optimization (Ideal Mac For Gaming Needs)

The display in the MacBook Pro 15 Retina is scaled by rule, so all display components are the same size as the 1440×900 pixel display.

The only distinction is that fonts, switches, symbols, and pictures appear more plainly After Retina.

This is a new display performance bar that has been raised, it is possible to compare it to the full HD matrix of contemporary Windows laptops.

True, there’s still a very important inhibitory variable. Apple highlights the fact that Mac PCs are becoming more available and affordable.

But this is only valid for fundamental settings. You will have to pay extra for fancier, equipment and a good amount. For example, MacBook Pro 15 Retina’s most inexpensive version will cost only $1228.20 – average, according to Apple product norms, and the highest feasible setup will cost $2,098.93. Not so cheap, right?

However, the setup should be handled with caution in.

If you intend to play games then it’s worth selecting a model with separate graphics; the built-in Intel Iris Pro adapter isn’t an optimal experience.

Putting in an SSD on 1 terabyte makes considerable sense, in this scenario. Although in other situations, a 512-gigabyte computer would be the greatest option.

In my view, getting the top processor is the best alternative, the distinction in efficiency will be visible in these isolated and very particular instances.

The fundamental Core i7 with a frequency of 2.3 GHz is good enough, but an upgrade will meet the requirements of Mac gamers for years to come.

Article by:
Ty Arthur
After more than a decade of searching for the perfect gaming rig, Ty knows a thing or two about picking the right hardware. He'd like to share that knowledge with all of you through his work at, whether you need a business machine, college laptop, or killer gaming computer.

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