A Mac for gaming

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Teste, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Teste macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2011
    A while ago I made a topic asking about how useful it would be to use a Macintosh for gaming, as opposed to keeping to a PC. The consensus on the topic was that it would be better to stick to a PC, so I left the realm of Apple alone.

    However, I'm not in the USA, so I only really have two options when buying a personalized computer: Dell or Apple (HP, Sony, Toshiba and all other big brands only sell pre-made computers here, and they are not made for gaming; the individual parts are also either extremely expensive or of dubious quality). I would like to avoid buying a computer from Dell for now (long story), so it's possible that I'm going to have to settle for an Apple anyway.

    I would like advice on which Mac would be better for me. I would like a desktop computer that can run Windows games (so I'll need to use BootCamp or something similar) at maximum specs; not extremely demanding games like Crysis, but rather less demanding but still new games like Mass Effect 3 and Assassin's Creed 3.

    I'm not sure if an iMac would be enough, or if it would be better to move to a Mac Pro; I have heard that Mac Pros will be updated some time soon so it may be worth waiting until the new model is released, but I don't know how reliable that information is (or how long time I would have to wait; one year would be fine, but two to three years is a bit longer than what I would be willing to wait). I'm also not sure on what processor I should aim for.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    Mac Pros are overkill for games, and very expensive. They're workstations, not personal computers. They are due for an update, so definitely by the end of the year at the latest. If you were to get one, get the lowest CPU + the best GPU you can.

    iMacs are better than they used to be for games, but the larger resolution the 27" will be a hindrance for running games at max settings, especially in the future. ME3 and AC3 would likely be fine, but don't expect something like The Witcher 2 to run amazingly.

    My advice would be to build a gaming PC yourself for ~$800 which will smoke the iMac, and use the rest to buy a Mac Mini or low-end MBP. Best of both worlds.
  3. Blondie :) macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

    May 12, 2010
    Prescott, AZ
    Mac Pro is definitely overkill. It will have way more power than you need and you'll just end up feeling like you wasted a lot of money. What I would suggest is getting a maxed out iMac. It should have what you need in order to play some pretty decent games in bootcamp and everything else you need. Building your own pc would definitely be better...but you said not living in the US makes it hard to do that. So yeah haha.

    [edit]: I just looked up the Imac specs. You can have a hell of a machine for 2 grand. Versus the more expensive mac pro. I would definitely go with the 3.1Ghz processor and go from there. Here is the link: http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html Cheers!
  4. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    imac is probably your best bet, however a high-end 15'' or a 17'' can play games well too. you'll probably get a lot of "don't buy a mac for gaming" responses, and while i agree that you shouldn't by a mac for gaming, you can certainly game on one with great results. use bootcamp, don't try to game through virtualization.

    just curious...does dell access mean you have access to alienware products? if so, they are priced similar to macs and they are insane in terms of gaming.
  5. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I can understand why not Dell. Take a look at Gamer Xtreme 1000/. Lots of options to choose from, but you kinda need to know what you're looking at. Also, look at the other models they offer.

    On the Apple side, iMac 27" with the bumped up VRAM actually is decent for gaming.
  6. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    you could look at iBUYPOWER too. you can build a good, affordable rig there.

    AMD Athlon™ II X4 640 Quad-Core CPU, 4 GB [2 GB X2] DDR3-1600 Memory Module, NVIDIA GeForce GT 520 - 1GB, 500 GB HARD DRIVE 16M Cache 7200 RPM 6.0Gb/s with a keyboard, mouse, a 3-year warranty & Lifetime Technical Support for $489.00.

    pretty good if you ask me.
  7. Matthew9559 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I know you said you are against Dell but I would take a serious look at the Alienware machines offered through Dell. They are high quality machines.

    If you have to go with an Apple machine, go for a high end 21" iMac imo. Mac Pro is way too much money.
  8. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    If you are willing to settle for older games for the foreseeable future, then an iMac might suffice. But unfortunately, only a Mac Pro has the GPU options for the higher end games that are coming out at the end of this year (BF3, ME3). And a Mac Pro isn't really worth the cost if its for gaming only.
  9. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    it's just too unjustifiable to purchase a mac for gaming, i.e. buy it and play only mac supported games, or even buy it and devote your hdd to bootcamp and play games on it that way. however, if you are going to use a good amount of your hdd for media and would prefer osx, and then you also want to game, then a dual-booted mac is obviously what you would want to go with.

    however if your sole purpose is to game, do not buy a mac. if money is not an issue, go alienware and if it is then customize a machine according to your budget and have it shipped to you.
  10. Teste thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2011
    Thanks everyone for the many fast replies. I'm still pondering the subject... I could go for an Alienware (they are also sold here), but I have had some big problems with Dell in the past (this computer is a Dell, and it has given me more support-related headaches than all my previous computers together). A Macintosh would be very easy to acquire, Apple has a strong presence here, but I'm aware it would not be as efficient as buying a gaming PC. Unfortunately, iBUYPOWER and CyberPower only ship to the USA, so they are not options for me.

    Heh, stuff is insanely more expensive here. The computer I'm currently using, for example, is a Dell XPS 730 with an Intel Core 2 Extreme X9650 under 3GHz, 8 GB of RAM, and two NVIDIA GeForce GTS 240s as graphic cards; it's nothing spetacular and it isn't something expensive in the USA, but I bought it a couple years ago for the equivalent of more or less 7.500,00 US dolars.

    I'm really in doubt between giving Dell one more chance and buying an Alienware, or buying a Mac (apparently a maxed iMac, based on the answers above).
  11. libertyranger10 macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2011
    The 27 iMac with the 6970 would be great for gaming. There are several videos on YouTube of various games on the new iMacs. The 6970m is equivalent to a GTX 460, which is no slouch. Check out the review of the new iMacs at anandtech.com. I can't wait to get one myself. Oh and if you can, get the ssd option. I build pc's on the side and always recommend it to my clients who want a performance machine. It's the single best upgrade one could get.

    Lastly, there is VERY LITTLE difference between the i5 and i7 processors. Check out the bench section of the anandtech.com site. In gaming performance, you would not benefit for an i7. Anandtechs bench will show this. Save the money from that upgrade and put it in a SSD.
  12. drac macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2004
    Going against the grade.

    If you want a mac for gaming and you have the cash then a mac pro is the only way I would go. Bottom of the range CPU, top GPU, and aftermarket RAM, 12gb is plenty. With many games this combo will be 50% more FPS than the top imac especially in Win7.

    You can have completely separate HD with windows 7 64bit on it and a proper graphics card, not a mobile one. As new graphics cards become available you can upgrade. The 6970 will probably be out for the pro soon. It also means you can choose your monitor and sound system to your needs.

    I use a 24" cinema display & logitech sound system in my study. Then if my family go away I drag it into the lounge and plug it into my 60" plasma and full surround sound system. In either case its a winner.

    If you could find one you could look at a 2009 machine which would be much cheaper and give you the ability to upgrade yourself. This is what I did, I found an ex lease quad 2.67ghz locally and upgraded it.

    Lastly as another non US-er, you could use a freight forwarding company like 'myus.com' to get stuff to you.
  13. bungiefan89 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2011
    As the proud owner of a 2011 27" iMac with the upgraded processor and GPU, I can say without a doubt that this is a very powerful gaming machine.

    StarCraft 2 - High settings gives me an average of 80 frames per second on the highest resolution, and the game is gorgeous.

    Assassin's Creed 2 - Completely maxed settings with only an occasional hiccup here and there, runs very smoothly

    Left 4 Dead 2 - Max settings delivers a very constant 59-60 frames per second, even at max resolution

    Half-Life 2 - Max settings delivers average of 170 frames per second (old but fun game, lol)

    But you don't HAVE to get the super high-end iMac. A lower end one will probably give you great performance. But yeah, a Mac Pro would probably be overkill.
  14. Razzerman macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2007
    Go for the Pro


    I would suggest the Mac Pro. Mainly because it represents better long term value than the iMac, and it will meet your gaming needs for a few years more than the iMac. Don't think of it as overkill, think of it as longevity. And yes, if you can wait for the expected update, do so.


  15. MacHamster68, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

    MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    sure you can play games on a iMac why not ,
    some even play crysis warhead on netbooks
    so anything is possible if you are determined enough

    better spend the money on a Alienware area 51 ALX
    intel® Core™ i7-990x (3.46GHz, 12MB, 6.4GT/sec)
    6GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1866Mhz
    Dual 2GB AMD Radeon™ HD 6950 CrossfireX™
    1Tb ssd
    and 2 nice dell 30" monitors
    might be a bit more expensive then a iMac , but
    that should give you enough oompf to enjoy gaming without having to wait for the next frame to turn up on display and without having to worry about settings , just slide everything to max

    you did say money is no object or :D
  16. libertyranger10 macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2011
    As I stated above, the 6970m is roughly the equivilent of the GTX 460. The GTX 460 is a better graphics card than the Mac Pro's 5770. Sure the Mac Pros have Xeon processors, but they wont matter much for gaming since most games do not utilize more than 2 cores (most use 1). Thus, the new iMacs processors and GPU are much better than the current Mac Pro lineup.

    To see a the differences between the GTX 460 and Radeon 5770, see anandtech.com benchmarks.

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