20" iMac's Video Card

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by KJmoon117, Jun 22, 2007.

  1. KJmoon117 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I wasn't sure which forum to post this in but is the 20" iMac's ATI Radeon 1600 w/ 256MB a respectable video card for playing games on?

    Like World of Warcraft, Warcraft 3, Starcraft, or Vista Games such as Halo 2 if I decide to run Vista under boot camp?

    Just curious but what programs use video cards beside games?
     
  2. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #2
    For benchmarks go to http://barefeats.comand look for the current iMac's benchmarks.

    It is a good gaming system, all semi-old games should fly on it. Starcraft is definitely not a problem, because it's such an old game, W3 also is pretty old and besides, it has UB version. WoW shouldnt be a problem beause its not that resource-demanding and is semi-old.

    As for your second question, well, the OS itself uses graphics card for all UI rendering. Some pro apps use it like Motion and Aperture. Dont know about the others though...
     
  3. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #3
    Unless you are a serious gamer (i.e. play new games often at high resolutions), the 20" iMac is a good system for gaming, and will handle everything pretty well for the casual/semi-casual gamer.

    However, the 24" iMac with the GeForce 7600GT offers a big boost in performance, and the Mac Pro with the Radeon X1900XT (or Quadro FX4500) is obviously better still, capable of competing with many purpose-built gaming PCs. For a price.

    So the short answer is that the Mac Pro is best for gaming, the 24" iMac is a close second, but the 20"iMac is a good choice for most people. The games you mentioned should run well using Boot Camp, or OS X.
     
  4. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #4
    Uh, not quite. It's actually no good for gaming at all. If you buy a Mac Pro for gaming, you must be sick, because nobody is willing to spend THAT much for just a gaming rig. Its 2-3x more expensive, than most of the gaming PCs, so there's absolutely no point in getting MP for games.

    Well, that is unless you mean buy that words that MP shows most FPS among all other Macs, then its true. But the price for those FPS is insanely high. I think the best "gaming" Mac now is 24" iMac with GeForce 7600 - just look at benchmarks at barefeats...
     
  5. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #5
    I disagree to a certain extent - although maybe it's a question of symantics.

    If you want a Mac, and you want the best possible gaming performance, you must get a Mac Pro. The 24" iMac is a much better balance of price versus performance, but the Mac Pro is faster. It will also have a much longer useful life.

    I'm certainly not going to disagree that a purpose-built gaming PC is a better economic choice (especially in the mid-range, where Apple has no tower form factor), but I'm just talking about Macs here.

    If you intend to spend all your gaming time in Windows, buy a basic iMac or MacBook and spend the rest of your money on building a PC for gaming with a good upper-mid range GPU/CPU/HDD/RAM combo.

    Personally I would still go with the Mac Pro, for two reasons:

    1. I prefer to have one machine that does everything: multi-OS, gaming/productivity etc. in one box.

    2. Given enough cash, I would not concerned about getting the best deal. I know that the Mac Pro is a lot of money and PC gaming is in a much more developed state, making for cheaper and more specialized computers for gaming. But the Mac Pro is very competitive performance-wise (especially after the next update with newer GPUs), and I'm willing to pay the premium.

    I've gone the Mac + gaming PC route with my current (aging) setup (G4 tower plus a P4/Radeon X850 PRO box), and while it works great and is a little cheaper I'd just prefer to splash out, buy a loaded Mac Pro and have everything I want in one box. But that is simply my personal opinion - at this point I'm willing to "overpay" to get what I want.

    To get back to the original topic though, yes, I agree that the Mac that best competes against PC gaming boxes on all fronts is the 24" iMac. It has a solid GPU/CPU combo, a great display and while it isn't cheap it represents good value for what you get. The tradeoff is the form-factor: attractive, compact and well designed, but not upgradeable to the extent that a tower is (and also not amenable to overclocking, if you are into that sort of thing).

    So the most balanced Mac in the lineup for gaming is the 24" iMac - though, as I said before, the 20" will answer for most people.

    I'd still love to see a cheaper tower from Apple but I think they are committed to filling the midrange slot with the iMac form factor for the forseable future. It isn't too big of a deal so long as they update the hardware regularly.
     
  6. KJmoon117 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    So is the boost from X1600 to GeForce a big boost of performance or worth it in my situation if I'm going to be playing casual games (maybe run Vista games) and word processing? Since I will be in high school or should I just get a Macbook Pro?
     
  7. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

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    #7
    You probably don't want to wait but I'll throw this in anyway. The iMac may get an update soon (1 - 2 months time maybe less), and judging by the MacBook Pro updates a GeForce 8500GT/ 8600GT/ 8600 GTS (the desktop versions?) is easily possible. If that does happen, it would be leaps and bounds ahead of the X1600 in terms of game performance (we're talking a boost of well over 30% here, even beating the 7600 GT). If the next update includes a processor bump as well, the new iMacs would be in a league of their own.

    As for the X1600, it plays games satisfactorily, but I've heard reports of it struggling with Halo 2 on the higher settings.
     
  8. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #8
    A note about the MP "upgrading" part. What are you going to upgrade in the MacPro? New processors are incompatible with old motherboards and you have to buy too of them if you want the to work. Video card market has always been very shallow for Mac towers, so after you get X1900 when you buy a MP, you basically have no further choices. Well, maybe they WILL release an unprage card for it later, like they did with x1900 for dual-core G5, but it not guaranteed. Not to mention the price for new card, if it is released.

    So basically, it is cheaper to buy a new computer when the one you want to upgrade gets old.
     
  9. dingdongbubble macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 1, 2007
    #9
    Maybe Rip parts

    OK this might sound crazy but its just my suggestion.

    Build yourself a Windows box only for gaming and make it such that it is easy to upgrade in the future.

    Buy a Mac mini for your normal work, maybe iMac, and learn how to take out the RAM quickly.

    Now whenever you want to play games, rip out the RAM quickly and put it in the Win box for even more gaming performance.
     
  10. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #10
    Some good points, but not all CPUs are going to be incompatible with the mobo - Intel has such a large line of CPUs chances are you will find something off-the-shelf to upgrade your Mac Pro with in the future. Video cards aren't cheap, but are still a lot cheaper than buying a new machine and they make a big difference in games, bigger than any other component besides the CPU.

    You are correct that the Mac Pro offers too few video card choices - either an underpowered 7300GT or the X1900XT. However, when the next update shows up and new video cards become available, you should be able to get one for your Mac Pro. So there is an upgrade path there as well. And who knows? Perhaps Apple will take my advice and start letting a 3rd party make a line of cards for them (like BFG, XFX, etc), giving us more choice.

    Even taking all the limitations of the Mac Pro into account (server-based design and thus expensive, not as many upgrade options as PCs), it is still more upgradeable than the iMac and thus a better choice for someone who wants a Mac but wishes to play games at high resolutions and have some real upgrade potential.

    A quick comment on the whole "buy a PC for games, and a Mac for everything else" line of thinking -

    I have done this myself, and in many ways it works. However, my next setup will be (as I said before) Mac-only. The reason for this is that a lot of people (myself included) continue to see Apple's effort to bring serious gaming to the Mac as not yet enough - we need a midrange tower with lots of upgrade potential and timely releases of both midrange and upper-range video cards, as well as drivers on par with the PC world. But many people's reaction to this situation is to simply buy a PC and not play any games on the Mac.

    The problem with this is that by going PC for games we are telling Apple and software developers that we are not interested in gaming on the Mac, and developers wonder if we want boxes shaped like a transformer with LEDs lighting up all the wires and whatnot. Yes, there are major hurdles to be overcome before the PC gamer crowd takes OSX seriously as a gaming platform, but if we aren't buying Macs and playing games on them we are sending a message to Apple that will stymie further gaming development for the platform.

    Which is partially why my next machine will be a Mac Pro, and I will buy all my games for the Mac if a Mac verison exists. I want Apple to know that they need to improve their game library and hardware choice, but that they are moving in the right direction.

    As to your comment that simply buying a new iMac makes more sense than upgrading a Mac Pro, it depends. In the case of the original poster's 20" iMac, yes, I can see using it for a few years then selling it when the video card can't keep up anymore and getting a new 20" iMac. But that line of thinking starts to make less sense as you move into the 24" iMac, which costs more and will stay current longer due to its better components.

    At this point, an ideal "gamer Mac" would be a tower version of the 24" iMac using all desktop components - a powerful single-CPU machine with an upgradeable video card and no display to reduce the price or at least offset the move to desktop components...
     
  11. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816

    irishgrizzly

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    #11
    IMO gaming on a mac is just too much hassle. Buy a 360 for gaming – a much cheaper option. Buy a mac for what it does best – creating and working.
     
  12. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #12
    I want that to change though - so I will game on the Mac. Someday things will be different, and that day may come sooner than you think.
     
  13. KJmoon117 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Yeah I have an Xbox 360 and I game on that. But I just want to open up my future Mac into new possibilities. I also want to run Vista on the Mac just to take a look at Vista games.
     
  14. FullCollapse macrumors regular

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    #14
    i have a 20" with the 128 card, and here are the games i've tried on it:

    -Starcraft
    -Warcraft 3
    -World of Warcraft
    -Call of Duty 2

    all run very well. i have no idea how the card would do in bootcamp, as i don't do the windows thing. hope this helps!
     
  15. kevinlock macrumors newbie

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #15
    i didn't know :(

    i didn't know there was a 256 card for the new intel (core 2 duo) 20" iMacs..... i have the 128. i figure i would have a much better time with games if i had the 256.... i wish there was a way to upgrade my video card.
     
  16. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #16
    Bah, that extra 128 MB VRAM wont do anything significant to your gaming experience. If you turn ALL texture detains to maximum possible in the newest games, 256 MB version would show only 2-3 fps more than 128, so dont bother...
     
  17. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #17
    The GPU is far more important for 3D games than the VRAM, though more VRAM is always good as long as memory speed is the same. Some cards offer lots of VRAM, but the type of RAM used is slow, making the card slower than an identical card with half the amount of RAM of a faster type.

    You can get a Radeon 9600 with 256MB VRAM, and I guarantee that your 128MB X1600 card will smash it in all performance tests.
     
  18. Atheist_Peace macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Nice. My father is planning on getting the next low-end or maybe middle-end iMac. He's waiting for the update. What do you people think..? What do you expect it to be capable of? I'm not a hardcore gamer... well, I like games, and i'm even willing to put games on minimum settings, if they still can look decent.. Obviously, if they can look nicer, its better. I'm really looking forward on playing classic new- recent PC games, such as Oblivion, Far Cry, Halo 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, etc. What do you think I should I expect, considering the performance of the actual iMacs, and the possible improvements within the new ones?
     
  19. Haoshiro macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

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    #19
    I have the 20" iMac Core Duo 2GHz (not the Core 2 Duo), 2GB RAM, X1600 256MB.

    It actually does a great job in gaming.

    Mac OS X:
    • Aliens vs Predator 2: Runs great.
    • Halo: Seems to run fine, although I've yet to get my Universal version installed and working (poor lack of instructions on how to make this work)
    • Starcraft: What sytem won't run this game? Almost worthless to list. it :D
    • Unreal Tournament 2004: This game runs fantastic. All settings max (High/Highest), 1680x1050 - 100+ fps
    • Warcraft III: Perfect, max settings, 1680x1050, not sure the FPS but it's perfectly smooth even in huge battles.
    • World of Warcraft: It's been awhile, but I recall being able to max out the settings and play it fine. There have been several performance improvements once the Intel Macs were released.

    Windows XP:
    • Aliens vs Predator 2: Runs great.
    • Half-Life 2: Runs fine, max settings, full resolution. I don't remember the fps, pretty sure it's always above 60, though.
    • Halo: Seems to run fine.
    • Far Cry: I uninstalled this to make room for Quak 4, but iirc, it ran good (30-60 fps) with all settings maxed out at high resolution.
    • Quake 4: Medium/High Settings, 1280x720 - 40-50 fps (I chose this rather then dropping the settings and running in native resolution of 1680x1050).
    • Prince of Persia (SoT): This ran badly, I think it's a driver issue.
    • Starcraft: Same as OS X
    • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Perfect, it's the Quake 3 engine, why wouldn't it? :)
    • Unreal Tournament 2004: Same as in OS X
    • Warcraft III: Same as OS X
    • World of Warcraft: I haven't installed this in Windows, but have heard you get a slight increase in fps.

    Hope that helps give you an idea of how well it does! I certainly can't complain, it's quite capable.
     
  20. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #20
    yea my mbp is the same model in the fact that its core1duo. i get pretty much the same from what you have quoted.

    the heavier games also run really smoothly. cod1 and cod2 your looking at 50-70fps *xp* in the heavy parts. zooming in with the sniper it might drop to 30ish at 1440x900 res.

    if you can wait, the new imacs will be out... not much longer, awomse new gpu which will get amazing performance compared to the 1600... have patience :p
     
  21. Atheist_Peace macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Thanks a lot to everyone giving info! Very useful :)
    Yeah, my father is waiting for the new imacs. Right now we have the an iMac G5 1.6 ghz, geforce fx 5200 64mb vram, 768 mb ram. It's the one that came out in the fall 2004.. It wouldn't be bad, i've been playing some old-semi old games with it, but it has some issues.. I've never been able to play new games decently, with the computers i've had so far, so I hope i'll be able to do this with the new imac.
    Thanks again for the info :)
    I have one more question: a friend told me that some of the new games aren't compatible with XP cause it doesn't support direct X10 :confused:
    Is this a big problem? Does anyone know if microsoft is going to fix this anytime soon?
     
  22. IscariotJ macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Currently, there's only about 2 games that require DX10. Halo2, and ( I think ) Shadowrun. There are other games which have DX10-only effects, but will still work under XP.

    Bottom line, MS have said that they won't backport DX10 to XP. However, considering how long it took for DX9 games to become the norm, XP will do for games for a while longer.
     
  23. Atheist_Peace macrumors newbie

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    #23

    Thanks :) That's good news. Although I would have liked to play Halo 2.. but it's ok, there are plenty of games out there!
     
  24. IscariotJ macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    In that case, check this out.
     
  25. Atheist_Peace macrumors newbie

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    #25
    Well, problem solved then! Great! Thanks for the info
     

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