27" iMac - game visual quality at lower than native res?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Teggy, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. Teggy macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2006
    I am eying the 27" iMac, looking to buy when they refresh the line. I will primarily use the machine for Garage Band and other "Mac-centric" applications, but I do want to play the occasional PC-only game (Star Wars: The Old Republic, for example).

    My concern is that the native resolution of the 27" is so high that it's already stressing the video card before you try adding on anything like AA. I've found in the past that running games at a resolution lower than native can result in a "muddy" image. How is the image on the 27" when running games at 1080 instead of the native resolution? Would I be better off going with the 21"?
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    The high end iMac with the 5750 card is your best performing iMac graphics wise-- regardless of resolution. Yes, just like every other LCD display it will look blurry in anything that isn't native resolution. The games look considerably better at native resolution without AA than they do at lower resolution with AA.

    However, if you plan on playing back say a good 6 or more feet, the lower resolution isn't as much an impact. I personally like keeping 2 feet away though, so I can't stand anything that isn't native.
  3. Trivial rock macrumors regular

    Trivial rock

    Oct 9, 2008
    I play Tomb Raider Anniversary Mac edition with settings (inc AA) maxed out at native resolution no problem. Bear in mind mine is the 1st gen quad 27" iMac with the ATI 4850 with 512mb.

    I also play Oblivion in BC Windows 7, settings maxed out with 4xAA I have tried it at native res and at 1920 x 1080 and found the both to be really quite similar (almost no discernable difference) sat at 2 feet.

    I would be confident in playing many games at native res with decent settings, but 1920x1080 still looks good to me, didnt find it fuzzy at all.... :)
  4. flipster macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    This is exactly why Im waiting for the refresh.

    Although that new ati card is 1gb, it's limited bandwidth doesn't support that massive resolution of 2560x1440 good at all.

    I game a lot so im waiting for an iMac with a graphics card that you could call "good". I dont care if its mobility.
  5. Trivial rock macrumors regular

    Trivial rock

    Oct 9, 2008
    If your in the position to wait then we're probably close enough to a refresh that waiting is worth while. Depending on the specifics of the refresh I will likely upgrade mine this time around.

    Although I must say if you game alot in windows then a custom built gaming rig will give you better value for money, of course the choice is yours, this is simply a suggestion.
  6. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I have to say, dude; I'm with Trivial rock on this one.

    Yes, I can tell the difference between 1440p and 1080p. But, with all due respect, I must disagree - it isn't "blurry" in the slightest. It's not as sharp (but then, we'd be expecting that, wouldn't we...? It's a lower resolution), but there is no 'blur', or smudge, or smear, or anything else problematic that I can detect when I'm gaming. Ever. Ever-ever. On any game that I play. And I'm fussy about these sorts of things.

    Excuse me for overstating the point. No insult intended. But this whole, '1080p on the 27" iMac looks crap'-business is a vicious rumour that almost talked me out of buying one. I'm glad that I tested 1080p in the Apple Store before buying, so that I could see for myself.

    I'd recommend that anyone uncertain about this do the same. Go to the Apple Store, and ask to see the machine working in 1080p. It'll take a sec for your eyes to adjust, but after that, I predict that almost everybody won't have a problem with it.
  7. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    Most displays look pretty good if you go 1/2 both the vertical and horizontal resolution (i.e. 1280 x 720). This makes each single pixel into a 4-pixel square array. Is that high enough resolution for your games?

    I often run my 30" ACD at 1920 x 1200 and I think it looks great.
  8. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    We're just gonna have to agree to disagree. Everybody has their own personal visual preferences, so it's really ultimately up to them to decide. Going from native to something that isn't native on an LCD is night and day for me though. I play Starcraft 2, Fallout New Vegas and some Dirt2 every now and then on the iMac's screen, and anything under 1440p DOES look like garbage--especially the the HUD, numbers and letters in the game. I much rather take native with no AA over something that isn't native just for the sake of running AA on a game.
  9. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Sure. I think it's clear that we look at this thing differently.

    But, honestly, I never thought I'd see the day when I met somebody who was even more miserable about picture quality than I am! In the past, I was forever getting into fights on the Doom9 forum with people who insisted that 'the human eye' couldn't detect the difference between 720p and 1080p on a 32" screen - I replied that I must have Martian eyes, then; because the difference to me was as abrupt as a frying pan to the back of the head.

    I play New Vegas, also, and at 1080p. And I think it looks fine. "Garbage"...? I dunno, man. I think that's an overstatement. But hey - we're agreeing to disagree, so that's that.
  10. TMRaven, Feb 15, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2011

    TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    I'm so miserable about picture quality that I used to make my old G5 iMac encode videos in high profile x264 for youtube instead of doing a basic low profile x264 encode, making it work for 20 hours on end instead of a couple hours for just a 5 minute vid.

    I do the same now with my new iMac when it comes to using tempgauss MC on 1080i material instead of a good enough deinterlacer like yadif.

    Btw if you havn't already downloaded the ATI dll alternative file for new vegas then I suggest doing so. It keeps framerate high when around multiple NPCs, and it allows transparency multisampling, which smooths out transparent objects:

    Without it: http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c104/twisted_metal_2/FalloutNV2010-11-1815-03-19-15.jpg

    With it: http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c104/twisted_metal_2/FalloutNV2010-11-1815-23-30-88.jpg

    Notice the trees in the background and the watertower.

    And yeah I can easily detect a difference between 1080i and 720p on my 40 inch hdtv when sitting about 9 feet away. Just the other day I tuned into abc to watch the lakers game and I was wondering why it was blurry looking compared to the cbs games I was watching earlier. I pressed the info button on my remote and it turns out I was right about it being 720p.
  11. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Thanks for the heads-up. Where do I get that .DLL, and where do I put it?

    I'm a PQ Nazi when it comes to my media. I point-blank refuse to transcode. Which is why my film and television collection stands at about 12TB, whereas a friend's collection (with a similar number of files) fits easily onto a 3TB drive.

    No compromise.
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I have played lots of games on my 27" iMac, an incomplete list: Anno (latest one), Civ V, Word of Warcraft, Eve online, Fallout 3 Las Vegas, Dragon Age Origins, GTA IV, SW: The force unleashed, Rift beta. All were perfectly playable on the native resolution on high quality settings. I also think that SWTOR will run fine as well — online games usually optimize for performance. Of course, running Crysis 2 on highest settings would be tough :)

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