Call for opinions: high-end 27" iMac with gaming in mind

Discussion in 'iMac' started by exi, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. exi macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    Have read some of the gaming threads here as well as the one about the Radeon Pro 580 card (and the debate).

    Thinking of getting the top-end 27" model just revised, plus the CPU upgrade to the i7 chip and 1 TB SSD. Would personally install 32 GB RAM to save an easy few hundred bucks.

    Cost of the above would be about $3,400.

    I currently use only a MBP at home. Never minded Windows but have not had a primary Windows machine for years. A big perk of getting a desktop to have would be to be able to use a mouse/keyboard for occasional games yet again as I did years ago -- we're talking Counter-Strike and Q3A era when I used to also build my own gaming PCs when the Radeon 9800 Pro was a stud. Time flies.

    Would be playing Battlefield 1, Grand Theft Auto 5, Metal Gear Solid, Doom, other recent titles.

    The way I see it, I have two options:

    1: Either build a new Windows 10 PC or pay a bit of a premium for a top-shelf rig from one of the high-end companies for the quality and aesthetics;

    2: Get this iMac, Boot Camp for a Windows 10 install, and be able to game on the iMac within capabilities of the Radeon Pro 580 while having a new Mac desktop to use at home. Unsure what kind of frame rates on the above titles I could get at 5K native or what kind of image quality degradation/change I'd see at 1440p being scaled 50%.

    The rest of what I do is not particularly demanding (no significant photo/video editing) nor requires OS-specific software.

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I would probably build a windows gaming rig and save yourself quite a bit of money. Even if you select top shelf components as you put it. I believe the cost savings will still be significant.
  3. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    I think you got to go with a Windows build. As tempting it is to get a speced out iMac and bootcamp it you end up with a all-in-one that you can fry an egg on when that thing is being pushed. iMac's are tempting because they look so good and the resale on them as amazing but it may not make sense in your case.

    You could even spec out an Alienware computer that would run rings around the iMac for much less let alone building one yourself or paying for a different company. Ultimately you'll have to wait a couple weeks at least to get a full round up of reviews but I would bank on getting a Windows box.
  4. exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    I think you hit on one issue for me -- I like the iMac in both idea and design, and to stay macOS-ish. Amazing screen, decent hardware, one unit, aesthetics, so forth. That said, not if I can melt the machine while trying to eek out 60 FPS on medium settings at crap resolution. Alienware, Falcon Northwest, the rest -- would have to look.
  5. CWallace, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

    CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    In terms of raw Terraflops, it's about on par with a 1070 (6.2TF vs. 6.5TF). Mac Open CL games will suffer because Apple's implementation is ancient. Metal games should be quite good. Windows games via Boot Camp will benefit from Direct X and third-parties offer more recent versions of the AMD Crimson Windows driver than what Apple does in Boot Camp which will help a bit with some games.

    That being said, if you mostly or exclusively play Windows games, you're better off buying a Windows Gaming PC IMO.
  6. omenatarhuri macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2010
    9800 pro was a beast of a card in its day! Good times.
  7. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    Exactly. You need to weigh very carefully what you are going to want this computer to do and how you are going to use it. If you're living in some small NYC type of apartment and you want to have a very aesthetic look to your place and you do some gaming and some photo editing iMac can be pretty amazing choice. If you have a separate room and you have a lot of space and just want to game you can't touch a PC. I mean for the price of the iMac you could get some Widows box built for you with a 12GB NVIDIA card and run 4k gaming at high frame rates and low temps. There is just no way a iMac could come close.

    Personally part of the reason I have the iMac is because I have a small place and I love the form factor plus OSX is nice.
  8. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    I expect you mean the G4/G5 days...?
    I stil have a MDD Dual G4 (FW 800) with the aftermarket ATi Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB (!!) in it.

    Even better.... I also own a B&W G3 400 MHz with a gorgeous 3DFx Voodoo 5 5500 PCI Mac edition (64 MB!!!!) ... still love that card as 3DFx was the pioneer....
  9. Trahearne macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2014
    It is pretty shaky to call them on par even if you just meant raw compute power, because the gap of performance in real applications is way larger.
  10. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Depends on the application. If it's something optimized for AMD (like Apple's Pro applications), then it's going to be better on the 580. If it's something optimized for nvidia/CUDA (like Adobe applications), than it will be better on the 1070.
  11. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    So in other words 1070 will be better :oops:
  12. Ransz macrumors member

    May 7, 2013
    you can also get an imac with the lowest GPU inside, and in a few more monthss buy an external GPU and plug it stright to the imac with a gtx 1080 inside.,..
  13. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Not really.
    Usually macOS drivers for AMD are better than nVidia.
  14. Trahearne macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2014
    I'd hope to see these being backed by real benchmarks instead of a blanket statement, and there is also a divisive factor of being compute heavy or being graphics heavy. 1070 in general is better than RX 480 maybe not in mining cryptocurrency, but for anything 3D in both Windows and Linux substantially. "Optimised" drivers cannot make much a different if the hardware is stronger. Let's not forget one of OP's requirement is Bootcamp for gaming.
  15. exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    Appreciate the input, all.

    I've tinkered on Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Velocity Micro's sites. At this point, I'd be okay paying a bit of a premium and not having to source, order, and build my own rig like I used to.

    I've also watched some YouTube videos of people running games like BF1 on previous-gen iMacs reasonably well and have read a spattering of posts over on the macgaming Reddit.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I'd appreciate having a machine that comes with that beautiful of a screen, minimalist form-factor (I have space for a big machine but appreciate the design anyway), ability to use macOS as I do, and Boot Camp for Windows games when necessary at the expense of losing out on some higher-end performance I'd get if I were to pony up for a dedicated machine with a couple 1080 Ti cards in SLI... not to mention the prospect of external GPUs officially coming with High Sierra later this year. So I'm thinking iMac with reservations as are mentioned above.

    Now, it's a matter of buying now versus swinging for the iMac Pro in December and whether that kind of money would be worth it or overkill for the wrong reasons since I don't do a lot of photo/video/rendering work. I suspect the latter.
  16. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    I stood for the same decision, and I opted for the 27" i7 now (with 32 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD) for these reasons:

    1. I want it now, not wait AT LEAST half a year.
    2. Price: A fast i7 (4.2 GHz) is for gaming probably just as fast, maybe even faster than the Xeon. The grfx card is the only "grey area", but a Radeon Pro 580 with 8 GB VRAM is surely fast enough. If you want the iMac Pro with even better grfx for gaming, I'm afraid this Mac (along with 32 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD) will be even more expensive than $ 5000.
  17. Alx9876 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2008
    No one has mentioned monitor refresh rate. BF1 is playable on any monitor, Will shine greatly on a gaming monitor that pushes 100+ refresh rate. 144 being ideal. iMac's are beautiful computers. I understand this. But the reality is that they are stuck at 60 hz. Not so great for FPS games. GTA5 will often succumb to screen tearing on iMac displays.

    I tried to stay on the iMac and nothing else. But eventually I caved in. I removed Windows from Boot Camp and just built a gaming rig for myself. It's working for me. I am happy. Now I do not have to stay up all night for days at a time stressing out over this topic. Many people do.

    Get the iMac you want. Get it in i7. If it doesn't work out in 6 months, Start piecing together your gaming PC.

    Start by building your dream iMac on Apple's site. Then recreate it here:

    This will show you what you need to know.
  18. Truefan31 macrumors 68040


    Aug 25, 2012
    Yeah if you're dead set on the iMac and want to game just do that.....
  19. bepto macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2017
    I just sold an MSI Vortex with SLI GTX 980's, prior to that I built a water-cooled PC with a GTX 1080 - both were cracking for gaming but trouble is I game very infrequently even though I do enjoy being able to.

    Problem for me is I don't like using Windows on a day to day basis and don't like the aesthetics of PC + monitor on the desk. I was/am using a Mac Mini along side these PC's and to be honest its a bit of a pain switching from one to another plus it just looks too much on the desk. Even the Vortex which is quite small just took up too much room for me & just looks wrong.

    So my solution is to get the new iMac with 580 - I have watched iMac gaming videos on youtube where people are using 390 395 & 395x based iMacs from 2015 and they seem to cope good enough for me so I assume the 580 will perform even better. My only question will be is the Magic mouse 2 & magic KB (non numeric) ok for casual gaming.
  20. PJivan macrumors 6502


    Aug 19, 2015
    I've read you quoting this everywhere...

    First of Radeon Pro 580 has 5.5 Tf, 6.2 is for the RX desktop version that has slightly higher frequencies for both GPU and RAM

    Second Open CL is not used in games, is not a graphic API, you are referring to OpenGL but non of the last games run on OpenGL anymore, Dirt rally, F1 2016, Warhammer Total War, blizzard titles, Dawn of war 3, Deus Ex, everything is switching to Metal, and so far the results are great, often performing better than directx 11, this should even improve with high sierra let's not forget that Metal 1 has been finalised with 12.4 not long ago.

    To reply to the OP, no reason to be afraid of "fry" anything, you can't physically fry it even if you want as all modern GPU/CPU will throttle or shut down instead, but it's also NO gaming machine...

    1440p looks ok on 5k monitor but the GPU, while it's great for 1080p it's only decent for 1440p TODAY (talk about future proofing), so if you are buying an iMac for primarily gaming it's not going to be a smart investment....BUT if you, like me, own a console (or planning to buy one) and you will play on MAC only pc exclusives (which are basically strategy games) then it's a wonderful machine to own and a joy to use.
  21. exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    I do own a console -- PS4 Pro -- but miss the mouse/keyboard. I was a competitive player back in the day, and I've never been able to recreate the control and level of play on an XBox 360 when that was the "thing" nor on the PS4 Pro now which actually is fairly frustrating. As much as I'd love to have a custom powerhouse rig with a couple of 1080s and all that, seems like the iMac +/- eGPU with High Sierra later may be the best compromise.
  22. mpConroe macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2017
    Arbroath (UK) / Wroclaw (PL)
    I'm going to buy the newest 27'' iMac with new AMD Radeon 580 card for video editing (premiere and fcp in the future) and gaming (on bootcamp). I hope it will be enough for my needs. I will be using Windows only for gaming, everything except gaming, like Photoshop, Premiere, xCode, Office - I will do on macOS. I love using my MacBook Pro and can't wait for the new iMac!

    If the iMac will be not enough for gaming (I don't need 4K, full hd will be enough) - I will consider buying PC gaming machine.
    Now I have MBP and sometimes I play CS:GO on macOS and it's is NOT a good gaming experience. Windows is much better for gaming than macOS.
  23. klatox macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2015
    I currently game @ 1440p on an iMac (M395X/i5/bootcamp) and I normally don't even consider running anything at 5K. Running at half the resolution looks just fine and the performance is fine. I also don't run any games on macOS because the performance hit is too great in some titles. I play most titles on High/Ultra in Windows 10, but then again I don't play anything too demanding like Witcher 3 on Ultra settings. I'm really curious to see what the Radeon Pro 580 can do.

    Anyway, if you must play everything maxed out then an iMac probably isn't the way to go. But if you're ok with dialing settings down a little in some titles AND you need/want macOS and that SICK display, then...
  24. dborod macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    Pretty sure you'll need to use an external monitor with the eGPU.
  25. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2010
    The keyboard will work fine but trust me and throw that mouse in the bin and use a real mouse (a mouse is subjective but you can't go wrong with a Logitech or similar brand). I personally chose the Magic Trackpad instead and keep that on the left and use a Logitech g403 wireless mouse on right

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