How to Optimize Your Mac for Gaming

Updated on May 10, 2023

Do you own a Mac but have a knack for gaming? If you have been discouraged in the past from gaming on your Mac and thought of it as a lost cause, we have good news. With a bit of Mac optimization, you can transform your device into a gaming powerhouse. Hence, this article focuses on enhancing and adjusting your Mac for gaming. 

However, that necessitates a deeper understanding of the hardware and necessary updates. This guide will help you learn how to optimize settings, clear space, and utilize game boosters. For those genuinely dedicated, we will also briefly dive into the world of external GPUs and cooling pads. 

Understanding Mac Hardware for Gaming

Understanding Mac hardware is critical to optimizing your device for your gaming endeavors. Macs have a reputation for being reliable and high-performing, but it is essential to know how they operate. Before diving into the hardware, it is crucial to understand other factors that affect its performance. For example, since games demand high memory usage, learning how to free up RAM on Mac from Setapp is essential. Using an optimization app that removes malware allows you to lower RAM usage. You should also uninstall unnecessary apps to provide enough memory and space for your gaming setup.  

So, let us take a closer look at the critical hardware components of a Mac. The essential elements include a processor (CPU), memory (RAM), graphics card (GPU), storage (hard drive or solid-state drive), and display. But what is most important when it comes to gaming? The CPU and GPU play significant roles. CPU is responsible for computing tasks. The GPU is responsible for rendering the graphics of your games. Since high-quality games demand these aspects, you need a powerful CPU and GPU to access a unique gaming experience. 

Aside from hardware components, consider hardware specifications. An excellent option for gaming includes a quad-core processor, at least 8GB of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card with at least 2GB of VRAM. However, you must still know how to free up RAM space to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Choosing the Right Games for Mac

Finding compatible games is essential if you want a great gaming experience. There are various factors you should consider, including:

  • Compatibility: Only some of the games you enjoy are compatible with Macs. Hence, checking system requirements before purchasing or downloading a new game is essential. You can usually find this information on the game’s official website. Do not only refer to the minimum requirements but also check the recommended requirements for optimal performance.
  • Type of game you enjoy: Of course, you won’t be running any potential video game on the market. Instead, consider the kind of games you relish playing. Remember that MacBooks are known for strategy, simulation, and indie games. However, there is still a wide selection of popular genres. 
  • Consider the age of your Mac: If you have older Apple devices, then some games might not run efficiently. Consider learning how to clear RAM to optimize your gaming experience. However, if that does not work, consider opting for another game.

Popular Mac-compatible games and genres

You can find various options from popular game distribution platforms when finding games compatible with your Mac. Some of them include Steam, GOG, and the Mac App Store. However, resort to the Mac Game Store for the most compatible options for a Mac gaming computer. But which games and genres are ideal for your Mac? The list below provides a general idea:

  1. Strategy games: Strategy games excel on Macs. Some popular options include Civilization, Age of Empires, and StarCraft. 
  2. Indie games: Indie games are often developed with lower-end hardware in consideration, which makes them perfect for Macs with lower specs. Some great options include Stardew Valley, Hollow Knight, and Celeste.
  3. Adventure games: Adventure games also usually demand lower system requirements. Consider games such as Strange, Firewatch, and Oxenfree.
  4. RPG games: RPGs have always been a popular option for fun and multi-option games. Some possibilities include Divinity, Pillars of Eternity, and World of Warcraft.
  5. Sports games: Sports games are not as typical on Macs as on other devices. Yet, some options, such as FIFA, NBA, and Football Manager, can still be downloaded and installed. 
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Updating Mac Operating System (macOS) and Drivers

Updating your system and driver is essential to optimize Mac devices for an ideal gaming experience. Game developers often optimize their games to operate efficiently on the latest operating system. Moreover, the most recent updates include bug fixes and security updates that can protect your device from any vulnerabilities. 

How to update your Mac operating system and drivers

Updating your Mac operating system involves simple steps. These are:

1.       Click on the Apple menu and go to “System Preferences.”

2.       Click on the “Software Update” option.

3.       You will find an “Update Now” option if your device has an update available.

4.       Follow any prompts to download and install the newest version.

As for updating your drivers, you can also refer to “Software Update” or download the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website. However, download the correct drivers for your MacBook model and operating system version.

How to Optimize Mac for Gaming

If you want to learn how to make Mac run faster, there are several steps to ensure your system is optimized. Explore the top five tips below for an optimal gaming experience.

1. Close unnecessary apps and processes

Closing tabs and unnecessary processes is vital to free up system resources when running any game. This improves gaming performance, reduces lag, and makes more Mac memory available. Use the “Force Quit” feature or the Activity Monitor app to close all apps and processes.

2. Adjust graphics settings for optimal performance

For games to run smoothly at optimal performance, it is essential to adjust graphics settings. This involves changing resolution, texture quality, and various other settings. To access graphics settings, refer to the settings from the individual game or “Displays” under “System Preferences.”

3. Clean up your hard drive

Having a cluttered hard drive will inevitably slow down your Mac. A slow device leads to sluggish games. To free up some space and improve gaming performance, empty trash, use a RAM check, and utilize a disk cleanup tool. 

4. Optimize battery settings for extended gameplay

If you want an excellent gaming experience, you must extend your gameplay time by optimizing your battery settings. You can consider adjusting brightness, disabling Bluetooth, and using battery-saving modes. 

5. Use game boosters and other tools

Some game boosters can improve the gaming process. Some examples of game boosters include Razer Cortex and Game Fire. You can also use CleanMyMac X to optimize the system and consistently check application memory RAM. 

Additional Considerations for Optimizing Mac for Gaming

Other considerations exist for those who want to take their gaming experience on MacBooks to an advanced level. First, consider finding the best Mac for gaming from Macworld’s list. Then, consider the additional accessories below to invest in to boost your experience. 

Cooling pads and fans for Mac

Cooling pads and fans are external devices that allow for the heat to dissipate. You can power them through USB ports or power adapters. There are various designs and sizes, and your choice will largely depend on your budget and the intensity of your gaming sessions. Hence, consider the noise level, adjustability of the fan speeds, and cooling performance. Using these two tools can prevent overheating during intense gaming periods. This will reduce potential damage to hardware and extend the Mac’s lifespan. 

Upgrade your RAM

Consider checking the RAM for Macintosh and changing it to the one your current device has. Since RAM is one of the most critical components that affect Mac’s performance, your gaming might be hindered due to the resource-intensive applications running. The amount of RAM needed depends on the games. However, switching your RAM might be a good solution if your device is lagging or has low frame rates.

External GPUs

An external GPU (eGPU) is a graphics processing unit. It is housed in an external enclosure and can be connected to your Mac through a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. This external GPU can vastly improve your graphics performance, allowing you to run more demanding games with advanced graphics settings. However, these tend to be expensive and incompatible with all MacBooks. 

Final Thoughts

So, are Macs good for gaming? It all depends on whether you optimize your device for your gaming experiences. This includes understanding hardware, updating your macOS, and optimizing your settings. Whether you are a hardcore gamer or a casual one, you can optimize your gaming experience on your Mac with a little effort. You can take your gaming experience to the next level by utilizing the optimization tips above.

Article by:
Kenny Trinh
While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur. His writing has been featured in national publications such as Forbes, RD, Yahoo Finance, HackerNoon among others.

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