Best gaming mac laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by yettimillan, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. yettimillan macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009

    I want to be able to play hi-spec games on a mac.

    I currently have a MacBook aluminium Intel Core 2 Duo 2Ghz, nvidia 9400m and 4GB Ram.

    A lot of hi-spec games run a little slow, for example Civilization 5 is a bit jumpy.

    I really want a good gaming laptop, I'm not one for sitting at a desk to it defiantly needs to be portable. I would love to get a new MacBook Air however the 13 inch has a lower processor speed than my current MacBook but the fact that it's and i5, does it make it faster? Will that and the upgraded graphics processor made a good difference to the gameplay. I would rather not get a MBP but if its what it takes to have a good gaming experience then I will.
  2. matbook101 macrumors 6502


    Feb 8, 2010
    In the secret land of Cupertino.
    I would go with an iPad if you're into portable light gaming. You could get an iPad for on the go gaming and a macbook pro/imac for gaming at home.
  3. yettimillan thread starter macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    The iPad games aren't anything compared to the game on a proper computer - they don't appeal to me at all.
  4. Scorecard macrumors member

    May 26, 2010
    You're going to need the 15" or 17" mbp anything other than that is not suitable for newer games. the 6750M is good gaming GPU. It will handle the majority of your needs. Won't allow you to play the newest and most intense games at the highest FPS. But will be suitable with mid to high details with native res. Anything else just won't do for your needs.
  5. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
  6. VeganHipster macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2011
    The high end 15 is the smallest form factor with best gaming capabilities. For portability, 17 is just way too big. Good for if you keep it mainly at your desk and carry it around once in a while, but 15 if you will carry it around a lot to say LAN parties etc.

    Stupid that Apple doesn't provide much BTO options for graphics except for the iMac and Mac Pro.
  7. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    Top end 15" with HiRes screen.
    I can´t believe you´re running Civ 5 on that C2D 2.0 without it freezing up completely. That game is a processor/memory/battery hog.
  8. VeganHipster macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2011
    I dis agree with the hi-res having better performance. I don't think it will really be a difference, if anything it would lower performance because the GPU would need to be pushing more pixels. If you can afford the HiRes, do it, because even if it does affect the GPU, it does so very little.
  9. vaderhater245 macrumors 6502

    Mar 4, 2008
    Flagstaff, AZ
  10. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    new joisey
  11. mountains macrumors regular

    Aug 26, 2011
    Alienware M17x/M14x and on the lower end, Toshiba Qosmio X775 are also options.

    Razer Blade looks ridiculously cool, but it's a bit more than I'd be willing to pay for a laptop (at $2800) and isn't shipping yet. That said, it's also the most appealing gaming laptop I've ever seen in my life (unlike, say, the rather hidious Qosmio X775).

    Macbook Airs and 13" Macbook Pros can't play games. Period. You might be able to run some 3 year old game on it, on medium settings, but neither of them are gaming computers. Comparing the Intel HD 3000 integrated GPU to something like the AMD Radeon HD 6970m just isn't fair.

    Macbook Pros can do some gaming, but discrete GPUs don't even come standard (really, Apple?) and there are honestly better gaming laptops out there at the price. If you absolutely hate Windows OS, I could almost see opting for a Macbook Pro, but frankly I'd rather just run Ubuntu or Arch Linux on the laptop most of the time and leave OS X to another computer. Hell, you could get a Qosmio X775 (a 17" laptop, admittedly) and a baseline Macbook Air for about the same price as a 15" Macbook Pro.
  12. yettimillan thread starter macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    After playing for a while say 2-3 hours it does begin to lag significantly and each turn takes a long time to process. Loading the game from a saved game files can take around 2 minutes.

    If I were to get the lower end MBA with the 1.7 dual core i5 processor will it become slightly faster or would it still be just as lagging....basically is the 1.7 i5 faster than the C2D 2.0?
  13. CubeHacker macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    You're looking at the wrong thing. Yes the i5 is faster than your C2D. But whats most important in gaming is the video card, not the processor. And the MBA still has an integrated video card just like your 13" MBP. Your only true option if you want to game well are the high end 15" MBP which has a powerful dedicated video card.

    If you get a MBA for gaming you will be very disappointed.
  14. jmpnop macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2010
    MBA would be the worst choice for gaming. It can't take that heat and hardware is nowhere sufficient. The top end model of 15" is quite good, 17" isn't required. I'd also recommend upgrading the screen to a higher resolution one.
  15. yettimillan thread starter macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    Looks like I'm gonna have to shell out for a MBP then.

    Thanks people
  16. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    It's not about the better performance. You can lower the video resolution for any game you want in its settings. However you can never get higher resolution if you don't have it to start with. Plus it's only $90 more for the higher res screen - IMHO it seems like quite the deal for 30% more pixels.
  17. Buildbright macrumors 6502a

    Aug 25, 2011
    The new 13" MacBook air would eat your old laptop. I play games on mine and it is not like a desktop but still fun. For the haters People are playing crysis 2 on the MacBook air on YouTube and getting accetable performance.

    But I do not recommend laptop gaming to anyone. It is an expensive habit and you are fight designers who build games for desktops that run multiple graphics cards a lot of the time. If you must though the pc route usually is the cheapest and you have the most options.

    Just my two cents.
  18. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
  19. VeganHipster macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2011
    The only reason people ever bring up the Crysis games is to show how well the GPU can handle it and see how powerful the GPU is. I can run Crysis 2 on my 4 year old desktop too; on low with everything turned down, same as the people with Macbook Airs. Doesn't necessarily mean it is that impressive.

    You will get better performance if you upgrade the ram on the MBA or 13" MBP, however, like it has been stated, they are not that good for gaming. High end 15" will be your best bet.

    Would have been cool if Apple put the 6630m in the 13" MBP from the Mac Mini.
  20. yettimillan thread starter macrumors regular

    May 28, 2009
    Just about to try out the demo of Civ 5 on my friends 2011 low end 15 MBP, i'm going to put it onto the highest game settings to see how it fares.
  21. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    No. Get an Xbox 360 for gaming. Honestly.

    That being said, if gaming really is that important, then you're better off with a high-end Windows machine than with ANY Mac. OS X and Macs were not designed for playing games, end of story.
  22. Buildbright macrumors 6502a

    Aug 25, 2011
    Anyone Interested in a thunderbolt external graphics card solution? You would be able to use desktop graphics cards. Like the ViDock but there would be support and a price you can afford. My question is would you rather have something that looked sexy or was really cheap but functional.
  23. VeganHipster macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2011
    Macs can play games fine, they have top notch hardware, don't know why people are telling you otherwise.

    I want to buy an iMac, but I also want to play games. I posted thread, and people are just saying buy a PC (which as far as I know, Macs and PCs are the same thing, they should be saying build a Windows PC), but that is ludicrous. Maybe for some reason, I like the 27" IPS screen that is matched by no other company? Maybe I like the OS and don't want to bother with a Hackintosh? Maybe I want to play games on high settings, but don't play enough to bother with building a gaming rig? Maybe I need certain applications only on OS X? So just because I want to buy a Mac and play games means I have to spend $800+ for a PC Gaming rig along with the Mac of my choice? Stupid.

    Not only that, why would I want to turn my iMac off and then turn on my gaming computer if I only want to play a game for 30 minutes? I have to use different peripherals for that PC, different speakers, etc. It would not be so bad if I could use the monitor from the new iMac with the gaming rig, but that feature is taken out with the 2011 model.

    The Macbook Pro 15" and 17" play games fine, the iMacs play games fine. Even the high-end Mac Mini with the dedicated GPU plays games pretty good! PC gamers also get access to Steam and games not available for the 360 or PS3 like most Blizzard games.

    In the end, it depends on what games you play. If most of the games you play are on the console, just get a console. I play more games exclusive to the PC, so it makes sense just to get a high-end Mac.
  24. boworr macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2011
    Buy what you can afford..

    Yep - the Macs make great game machines, and there's been some good advice above (and bad), but if you want a Mac and only a Mac, then there are some things to think about.

    Hi-res screen - why not get this if you can afford it? All games run at lower resolutions, so you can drop that to increase framerates - but last time I checked you can't increase the resolution of a screen you have to something it doesn't support. So get the highest res you can. As for size, you will struggle to enjoy anything but casual gaming on a 13" screen, so go for 15" if you want to use it as a real laptop, i.e. carry it around for work/school etc as it's a good compromise between size and weight. If it'll mainly sit on your desk at home, then go for 17" of screen gorgeousness.

    Memory - makes a big difference and I'd go for 8GB (get your own, not direct from Apple - I bought 8GB from Amazon for £50!) and things will fly a lot faster.

    Disks - in laptops, there is a sacrifice to be made between speed and battery life, so almost any macbook will come with a slower, 5400 rpm disk to conserve power, or a SDD. If you can afford a BIG SSD, then get this - the performance difference is huge (in loading games etc), but they do cost a lot of money. An alternative is to buy the smallest cheapest one and then replace it with a decent sized 7200RPM disk to get that extra load time boost, but your battery life will suffer.

    Processor - Honestly, as long as it's an i5 or i7 this doesn't matter for gaming, all the intensive stuff happens on the graphics card. I also don't see much of a reason for getting quad-core over dual-core for gaming. If you're running things in the background at the same time as playing a game, then sure, go for it, but this shouldn't be a consideration for a gaming machine (rendering HD video, sure, just not gaming).

    Graphics card - choose the most powerful one you can afford, it's as simple as that as this is at the heart of where games performance comes from. One thing to note, is that your laptop will run HOT, and so the fan will be very active at all times, and I think the MBP fans are pretty noisy.

    Audio - don't worry about in built speakers, they are all pretty poor in laptops no matter what they try and convince you. I'd just buy a decent headset or plug in some external speakers.

    I'm not too familiar with the iMac range, but most of the above will apply to that too.

    Good luck.

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