OS Neutral 27" iMac gaming: fast or pretty?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by kitsunestudios, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. kitsunestudios macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    I've been doing research on the 780M and 880M, since I plan on buying a new iMac whenever Apple refreshes the line this year. One thing I noticed is that a number of newer games start struggling at 1440 Ultra settings, even in windows.

    So I'm curious, when you have to choose between best graphics and playable frame rates, what's the first thing you usually kill? MSAA? Resolution? Shadows?

    Do you prefer your games to be as graphically beautiful as possible while keeping at playable frame rates, or do you drop everything to minimum and aim for as many fps as possible?
  2. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    Not an iMac user, but I guess my opinions would be the same if I had one.

    If it's an action game I'd try to get FPS close to 60, and never below 30!
    I never drop resolution. Post processing effects, shadows and AA goes first. Then texture quality.
  3. madeirabhoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2012
    depends on the game, but normally i like to play it a wee bit on high settings to see it in all of its finery, then drop it down to **** settings to see how much faster it is, then find a nice middle ground.

    for me, a higher resolution and therefore game view, is more important than the niceties of water reflections and stuff.
  4. MichalM.Mac macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2006
    I play on 2011 iMac with 6970M.

    In latest ports I settle with 1920x1080 medium-high.
    680M and 780M is big leap ahead in terms of perormace.
    You should not have any problem with current games (especially under Windows).

    Don't expect 2560x1440, ultra with 8x AA though. For that kind of settings you would need PC gaming rig.

    My adice. Don't buy iMac for gaming. But when you are buying Mac for work/life and its iMac. If money is not the issue go for best possible GPU.
  5. Bodie CI5 macrumors regular

    Bodie CI5

    Apr 22, 2014
    I've been reading a slew of these sorts of suggestions lately - today, even, I've read this a number of times (from Mac-friendly threads etc)

    I'm in the same boat as Kitsunestudios. I've been looking at purchasing an iMac in a few months and especially to continue playing the Blizzard trifecta (WoW, SC2, D3 - did I mention WoW?). But, now, I'm not so sure I want to shell out a few thousand dollars on something that will give me an inferior experience.

    Damn, I've REALLY been wanting to get out of the Windows stranglehold in terms of my home computing experience.
  6. TechGod macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2014
    New Zealand
    Iris can handle leauge of legends around 60-70 fps with medium to medium high settings.
  7. kitsunestudios thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    No, of course not. It's primary purpose is going to be an animation workstation: Flash, After Effects, Photoshop, and blender. In my experience, Apple systems more than pay for the premium in time saving from troubleshooting, workflow and crash recovery.

    But as long as I have a powerful 3d system, I might as well play games on it, especially, when all it takes is another $120 for Windows 8 and boot camp. :) I'm not a super picky gamer: I have the 21" version of the 2011 system right now, and it still plays Starcraft, Diablo 3, SimCity, Skyrim, and GW2, WoW and WildStar acceptably*.

    *acceptably to me.
  8. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    Those Blizzard games will run perfectly on a modern iMac. Go with the best GPU option you can afford and you will be golden. As a point of reference, on my mid 2011 27" iMac with a Radeon 6970m GPU, i5 3.1 CPU and 12 gigs of RAM runs WoW on ultra in native 1440p resolution at high frame rates. In fact, I've been meaning to turn on v-sync since I occasionally notice a little tearing when flying due to the fps being so high. A newer Mac obviously will be capable of the same not to mention good performance on newer more demanding games.

    Don't pay any attention to the naysayers who compare an iMac to a top spec PC gaming rig which on the PC side most gamers do not own either. Want to know what PC gamers really play games on? Check the Steam hardware survey results in the free Steam client if you don't have it installed already. It's an eye-opener.

    My iMac is older than what you'd be shopping for and I am still very happy with gaming on it. I've been playing games since the PC-XT and enjoy them very much. I don't feel I lost out going Mac. I gained a lot all around. No regrets here at all as somebody who probably does more gaming than anything else.

    By the way, with all of the Blizzard titles, over 1,000 titles on Steam and more on the Mac App Store too, you really don't even need a Windows license or bootcamp unless there is a specific Windows game that justifies the expense and bothering to reboot to play it. A lot of AAA games make their way to Mac now also. Feral Interactive and Aspyr do great ports of recent games like Tomb Raider or Civilization V, Call of Duty Games, Hitman, Total War series of strategy games, etc.
  9. Bodie CI5 macrumors regular

    Bodie CI5

    Apr 22, 2014
    Thanks TechGod and DirtyHarry.

    I haven't replied as I feel bad in case it's seen that I'm hijacking Kitsunestudio's thread. It's just that I feel I'm in the same position.

    Dirtyharry, I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to writing your lengthy reply. You've made headway into my possible purchase of an iMac, but I am still hesitant. For example, I've been reading that since the iMac uses mobile tech (e.g. gpu being of the 'M' variety), that running games over a lengthy period, as I do, especially in WoW, reduces the longevity of the parts.

    I'd rather not play in lower settings if this indeed the case. For example, my current machine (i7-3770k @ 4.2ghz, 16gb ram) absolutely slices through WoW and I know that there is no problem - and even if there is, then a new gpu can be bought. Being that the initial outlay of an iMac is more expensive, when I read posts such as those I read above, and elsewhere, it's easy to be scared off any purchase.

    I've really come to love Apple products via my MBA purchase a couple of months ago and still do want to expand on it by getting an iMac. But I've become a little wary.

    Thanks though, again. :)

    And Kitsune, my apologies.
  10. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816


    Dec 15, 2012
    I can't agree more, and if you want the classics from the late 80's and 90's, there's GOG that are currently have a massive summer sale.

    Love D&D? Get all the D&D games for $21, and many more. The Steam sale is coming as well.

    Up until 1.5 years ago I was Windows PC only, I built all my own systems. Until I got a MacBookPro, and realised I could easily play all my favourite games without issue, and others through Wine if I really wanted to, such as Path of Exile.

    Since then I moved entirely to OSX, and I never felt like I missed out on anything. In the very rare occasion I use bootcamp, and that literally a last resort, and only really happens when dealing with very early game builds that only have a windows client yet.

    Unless you literally have to max every setting in a game, you'll never have an issue. Hell the tiny Zotac box can compete and beat the PS4 on similar graphics performance by and extra 10%.

    An iMac with a good graphics card won't have any issues. Also as Harry said, very few people have top end gaming Windows machines, steam survey does not lie.
    It's a vocal minority you see always going for top end systems. People that love multi monitor setups, 4K and more that have 2-4 Flagship cards.
    Everyone have their perks, and liking, and if you have the cash and it's a hobby, sure, go for it.

    Otherwise if you like OSX for work, and normal usage, you can still very easily play well over a thousand games. One also needs to remember that the included in the iMac's price is a 1440p IPS panel that alone will cost you 800 from Apple, or 400-650 from others, along with bluetooth, wifi and other little extras.

    As it stands a Mac has more games constantly released than all next-gen consoles combined. Only issue is so called "AAA" games, although Feral and Aspyr are hard at work getting us those. :)

    There's also a little link in my signature where you can see 4-5 new games released on the mac weekly. Everything from Indies, to the big boys. :)
  11. kitsunestudios thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    Hey, no worries. :)


    Off-topic, I just caught Microsoft being evil. I was in Windows when I read your post (playing WildStar), and tried to do a search for "ZBOX 760" in Firefox. I forgot it was set to Bing, which only returned "Xbox 360" results. Google gave the correct search results.
  12. Cooee! macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2014
    27" iMac gaming: fast or pretty?

    I say it's pretty fast for gaming. My only problem is those games not available on OS X.
  13. David085 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 9, 2009
    Get a PC MACS are not meant for a gaming machine is just to look pretty so you will buy it.
  14. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2010
    Shepherdsturd, WV

    Well duh. When there's like 10 games out for both the Xbox One and PS4, then that's not a hard feat to accomplish. And one day, the Wii U will get around to having a game for it.

    But in all seriousness, quantity does not equal quality, just look at the debacle of the Wii. It had a ton of titles released for it, but unless you were looking for childrens games that had about 30 minutes play time to them, then the number of titles worth playing was relatively small and even then, the Titles that it did get that the other two systems had were usually rated worse in graphics and playability.

    For the money, you can get a PC that's more powerful for gaming and for workstation uses. You won't get the bells and whistles of an iMac unless you spend the extra, like Bluetooth, or any of the other little touches. You will easily be able to get a blu-ray drive, something that is harder to accomplish with Apple. Plus more. Damn people at work are bugging me to fix computers...
  15. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816


    Dec 15, 2012
  16. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2010
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    It's not that you can get a dedicated PC system for gaming cheaper, it's that you can get a more powerful PC system over all for cheaper. There is no real upkeep if you practice safe computing. In fact, I had a scare last week where my Mac Mini wasn't working after a power outage due to a storm and my Wintel box was. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have been able to get my music from the server for a DJ gig I have last Saturday.

    I've just never been a fan of the iMac. It has it's strengths, but none of those play to me. I've nevr been a huge AOI desktop computer fan though.
  17. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    The argument of the much cheaper / much more powerful is not entirely true. At January I've made a gaming PC for a friend and no matter what components I'd choose, I couldn't stay below the ~1800 euros margin (mind, this is euros, not dollars).

    And this PC had no thunderbolt, slower IDE SSDs (not even close to iMac's), and a monitor that looks really pathetic compared to an iMac's screen. And a much higher power consumption. It had much better GPU, though.
  18. kitsunestudios thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    Ok, NOW I'm considering the thread hijacked.

    The TOPIC is about which graphics setting you are most likely to dial back to play 1440p games. It doesn't matter if you're using an iMac or a PC with a midrange graphics card. You can take your Mac Vs. Windows BS into the 5000 other threads.
  19. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816


    Dec 15, 2012
    First thing for me is always AA, I'd take no AA over FXAA, if I can't get good FPS with MSAA. Followed by SSAO, and Motion blurNext is shadow, and lighting/bloom.

    AF, and Textures are what I always want as good as possible. It all greatly depends on the fame as well however. Although in Fast paced games I rather bother with lots of AA as you don't have time to stand still and stair at the scenery.
  20. kitsunestudios thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    Yeah, I've never had a processor that did FSAA well, so that's always the first thing turned off on mine, too.
  21. kelub macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    I play games on a 27" 2011 iMac. Been an avid gamer since youth, but I'm more interested in photography and videography than I am gaming now; plus I just enjoy the Apple ecosystem. I always hate it when every question about Mac gaming has the obligatory "don't game on a Mac" post. How about you don't post "don't game on a Mac" when people are asking Mac gaming questions, K? Thanks.

    Anyway, I've not had ANY quality issues playing Far Cry 3, Skyrim, etc. I usually start with shadows - simple over detailed. AA goes as well, because at high resolutions aliasing is minimized anyway. I will say that bumping down to 1080p (1920x1080) does often provide me with increased performance without really affecting quality IMO - even on a 27" monitor, 1080p looks very nice.

    Prior to buying the 27" I had a 21.5" 2011 iMac that I gamed on (same games). I bought the 27" used and passed the 21.5" to my daughter, who also plays games on hers. As far as the concern over using up the parts... I just don't see that being an issue. The system dissipates its heat nicely, better than the MBP I had before those did (a 2010), which would get really hot to touch in the keyboard area after a couple hours of gaming. Even then, I don't think it got hotter than acceptable limits for the components.

    As much as I'd like to not use Windows, I tried keeping gaming in OSX as much as I could and still found I had to boot camp over to play a few games, so it felt too split. I'd have to keep up with what games were on what OS. When comparing performance, I did find that Windows was just a bit better. Not by much, but a little. It's simply a fault of the existence of DirectX, I believe, not necessarily because Windows is superior to OSX or anything like that. Games are optimized to play in the OS that reaches the most consumers. I know that specifically, Starcraft II was able to get medium-high settings on the 21.5" in Windows, while I had to use low-medium settings in OSX. It was noticeable.

    So I just conceded to putting all of my games on my Windows partition, and that's ALL Windows is used for, and doing everything else in OSX. I think it's great to support OSX-ported games etc., but right now the reality is that Windows typically gives anywhere between a 5%-20% performance increase, and that can be huge when you're working within the margins of acceptability anyway with the hardware we're using.

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