gaming on Intel Macs

Foxer

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Original poster
Feb 22, 2003
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So, I'm thinking of jumping to a new Intel iMac. Any ideas on whether games will run faster or slower (than on a comparable iMac G5)? Better graphics and processor vs. emulation (or whatever it is) through Rosetta.
 

Soulstorm

macrumors 68000
Feb 1, 2005
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Rosetta will be for OS 9 games only

With universal binaries, games will run natively on both OS X intel and OS X PPC.

And so far it seems that intel macs have kicked PPC's ass in gaming performance.
 

rickvanr

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Apr 10, 2002
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Soulstorm said:
Rosetta will be for OS 9 games only

With universal binaries, games will run natively on both OS X intel and OS X PPC.

And so far it seems that intel macs have kicked PPC's ass in gaming performance.
Rosetta will not run OS 9 programs at all, period. Not happening. Classic is the way of the dodo. You're wrong.

Many of the newest games built for Mac, are not coded in universal binary, so they will have to go through rosetta and you may see a hit in performance.

Mac games will not become magically faster because of Intel chips, this is a myth. Mac games are generally slower because they don't take advantage of DirectX and they are usually sloppily ported for the mac.
 

Foxer

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Original poster
Feb 22, 2003
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Soulstorm said:
Rosetta will be for OS 9 games only

With universal binaries, games will run natively on both OS X intel and OS X PPC.
No. I mean the existing games - I know future games will be universal binaries.
 

FocusAndEarnIt

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May 29, 2005
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At first, games will suck for the Intel Macs. Because since macs aren't the extreme highest priority for game developers, it may take a bit for universal binaries. Although, WoW is supposedly supposed to have universal binaries extremely soon.

Running, for example, Halo will be a night mare in Rosetta. I'd hold off buying an Intel.
 

r1ch4rd

macrumors 6502a
Aug 5, 2005
980
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rickvanr said:
Mac games will not become magically faster because of Intel chips, this is a myth. Mac games are generally slower because they don't take advantage of DirectX and they are usually sloppily ported for the mac.
But they DO take advantage of OpenGL which is about the same speed.
 

rickvanr

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Apr 10, 2002
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richardjames said:
But they DO take advantage of OpenGL which is about the same speed.
You're right, and you're wrong. If the game is coded to take advantage of OpenGL it will run well, for example the port of Quake 3 compared to the PC version. On the other hand most PC games which are later ported are built around DirectX, so during the port they are brought into OpenGL. It's this conversion that kills game performance, for example Halo's port.

Although, Intel macs may run current games just as fast through Rosetta with the increased power under the hood. Just don't expect a boost.
 

CubeHacker

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Apr 22, 2003
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Games that are pre-universal binary probably won't run all that hot (although there is one person who claims to have run Halo on their intel iMac and it ran surprisingly well). Anything released from this point on *should* be universal binary and thus should run well.

However, the truly exciting part is the possibility of being able to run Wine or something similar under OSX - which would theoretically allow us to run native Windows games under OSX with next to no speed hit - and without needing to install windows. No more having to wait for sloppy ports that are 9 months late.
 

ashden

macrumors newbie
Jan 16, 2006
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Ashville, OH
World of Warcraft

This is not my personal experience but someone posted where they ran pre universal binary World of Warcraft on the new 17" Intel Mac and it ran very smoothly just some minor extra lag versus their previous G5 iMac. So all games made for OS X will run just some processor intensive ones will be a little slow like Doom 3 until the universal binary versions are available.
 

Soulstorm

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Feb 1, 2005
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macrumors said:
This is what Rosetta is for. Rosetta leverages technology from Transitive Corporation, a company that has developed a way of translating machine instructions from one chipset to another with little to no performance loss.

For older apps that don't provide a universal binary to run on the new chips, Rosetta will translate the binary instructions and run the app. Newer Intel chips are likely to be much faster (3.2+ Ghz) and make up for potential drops in performance for these apps.

And, of course, today's Macs will continue to run new software thanks to universal binaries. Nobody is missing out, developers won't be abandoning PowerPC anytime soon.
Yeah, Now I know rosetta is not intended for OS 9 apps, sorry. but you said:

rickvanr said:
Rosetta will not run OS 9 programs at all, period. Not happening. Classic is the way of the dodo. You're wrong.

Many of the newest games built for Mac, are not coded in universal binary, so they will have to go through rosetta and you may see a hit in performance.

Mac games will not become magically faster because of Intel chips, this is a myth. Mac games are generally slower because they don't take advantage of DirectX and they are usually sloppily ported for the mac.
Tha't not entirely true. Whatever programming book if you read will tell you that OpenGL is a better graphics API than Direct3D, and that is because it has the same capabilities, and can achieve the same functions in less code lines. (OpenGL Superbible-3rd Edition, but that's not my only source). It's not the API, forget it. Need I remind you about how good the port of UT2004 was in terms of performance? In PC's it asks for 1ghz processor minimum. In mac, it asks for 800MHz computer G4, and it runs perfectly on powerboks and with acceptable performance in my iMac G4 (nVidia geForce 4 MX).

It is the porting done to the mac. We agree to that point.

And the processor does matter in many ways, but most of the fault is OS X's way of handling things. In OS X, for every function you must specify exactly how this is going to be done. In windows, there are many functions that let you "get away with it" and that can save you a lot of cycles. Also, this is the thing with x86 architecture. Just look at the explanations given by Glenda Adams about why Doom 3 is slower on Macs than PC's.
 

Antares

macrumors 68000
DOACleric said:
...the truly exciting part is the possibility of being able to run Wine or something similar under OSX - which would theoretically allow us to run native Windows games under OSX with next to no speed hit - and without needing to install windows. No more having to wait for sloppy ports that are 9 months late.
Wouldn't that mean the death of native Mac gaming, then? Why would a developer want to spend the resorces to port to the Mac OS if we could easily run the Windows version of games?
 

DrNeroCF

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2004
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Any of you guys read the article about playing WoW on the new iMac? It flies, at least compared to the old iMac... and most PowerMacs... :rolleyes:
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
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DrNeroCF said:
Any of you guys read the article about playing WoW on the new iMac? It flies, at least compared to the old iMac... and most PowerMacs... :rolleyes:
WoW was demo'd on a new iMac at Macworld, and the crucial thing was that is was running an x86 native version of the game (probably actually an early version of the upcoming universal binary).

In the short term the Intel switch creates more questions than answers, but in the long term it will improve gaming on the Mac - more titles will be ported and there will be less lag between PC and Mac releases - maybe even simultaneous releases.

The DirectX vs. OpenGL question still remains the biggest stumbling block though, and won't go away anytime soon. Personally I prefer OpenGL because it is an open standard, but OpenGL will only gain more acceptance as more and more people begin using Macs and Linux/Unix for games. Microsoft will never voluntarily adopt OpenGL over their own proprietary standard as long as it is competitive.

In the short term we'll probably see mixed results - Rosetta will run some games well, some poorly. Universal binaries (and eventually x86-only binaries) are what we really want though - "gaming" and "emulation" traditionally don't play nice together.
 

applekid

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Jul 3, 2003
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Since nobody's reading my "Official®" thread about iMac Core Duo's in the Buying Tips section, here's what my testing has found out today:

- Halo *might* need a Universal Binary. The game loads and plays (and plays quite well). The frame rate does not drop so drastically. I had Advanced Pixel Shaders on and... damn... the game looked beautiful. Forget Doom 3 and Half Life 2! Playing the demo, I already knew Silent Cartographer would be a intense map, but the iMac went through it quite well. The initial cutscene is choppy, once you get off the Pelican it's a little jerky, but once you get into the fight, you're probably just sub-30 FPS all the way. There's jumps here and there, but remember, I had everything on its highest setting with 4x AA! I was happy with the performance, although a little tweaking does help. There's a noticeable performance boost when you do Pixel Shaders + Vertex or just Vertex Shaders.
- Rainbow Six: Raven Shield *might* need a Universal Binary. The game loads and plays. The FPS counter claims it was a steady 20 FPS all the way, but it seems pretty smooth to me. Never played it on anything, but my iMac G4 with its puny GeForce4MX. But, it was playable, I was having fun, and killing terrorists. Sounds good to me.
- Age of Empires II... supposedly CPU-intensive, but it ran great. No problems. Smooth as any other Mac.
- Age of Mythology... The X1600 makes this so smooth. I thought it was smooth on my iMac G4, but the X1600 makes it even smoother.
- WarCraft 3 Demo... See Age of Mythology.
- Call of Duty Demo... Does funny things while loading. Cursor comes to a crawl on load. Eats all of the CPU power. In-game, speed achieved is nearly-full speed. I just think the X1600 is underperforming.
- UT2K4... The big let down. Loading takes a bit. Tried Onslaught: 5-8 FPS according to the counter, but I think it's closer to 20 FPS because my iMac G4 was getting around that for Onslaught and it looked much worse. Ryan Gordon is committed to releasing a Universal Binaries to all of the UT-based engine games. So no worries for now.
- C&C:Generals... Okay, it ran. No glitches. But, I thought the game was faster than what I was seeing. It looked faster than it was on my iMac G4, but that's about it. How about I'll say it's inconclusive.

In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised by game performance. I really wasn't expecting to play Halo on this thing. So far, CPU-intensive tasks have shown some problems, like emulators. Emulators *need* Universal Binaries. Besides mupen64 (Universal Binary), they're all about half-speed. Also, things like loading splash screens, intro videos, etc. takes a little longer on these machines. Not so much, but it's noticeable. Games are mostly GPU-intensive, so I think they are able to slide-by.

Being a child of the 68K to PPC transition, I think once Intel chips become double the speed of my iMac, all of this emulation stuff won't matter. Things will be seamless for those apps that never get Intel-ready.

Specs: 17-inch iMac, 1.83 GHz Core Duo, 512 MB of RAM, and Radeon X1600 with 128 MB of VRAM
 

Lincoln 6 Echo

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Nov 29, 2005
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Basically, if you're passionate about the latest and greatest in gaming... you'll get a PC or a console (360, PS3, Revolution). Otherwise, you'll never been on the fore-front of gaming with a Mac.

When I got my Mac for work, I figured wow there must be a tonne of games for such a super-computer since it's soo powerful and all... but sadly I was mistaken, gaming and productivity and two majorly different industries when it comes to products available for the Mac.
 

shanmui1

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Nov 12, 2005
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Hongkong, China
In terms of benchmarks, the x1600 mobility in the iMacs looks to be roughly in the x1300s low range category of gaming cards. At least, it's a huge improvement over x600.

I personally will wait another revision on the iMac.
 

CubeHacker

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Apr 22, 2003
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Antares said:
Wouldn't that mean the death of native Mac gaming, then? Why would a developer want to spend the resorces to port to the Mac OS if we could easily run the Windows version of games?
Yep, pretty much. Unfortunatly there isn't really much that can be done about it. Why would anyone want to pay 2x the price for a sloppy port that is a year late when its been on Windows forever? Wine will allow them to do that, and i'm pretty sure that most people here will opt to simply buy the windows version and use Wine instead of waiting for a port.

Of course, PPC users will still have to buy an official port. But seeing as how Apple is really pressing hard to switch to Intel quickly, I don't expect to see much PPC game releases within a year.
 

GFLPraxis

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Mar 17, 2004
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Antares said:
Wouldn't that mean the death of native Mac gaming, then? Why would a developer want to spend the resorces to port to the Mac OS if we could easily run the Windows version of games?
In all likelyhood- it wouldn't be easy or free. You'd have to buy additional software like Cedega.

I just remember this one story of a guy who bought a product claiming to be Mac compatible, and when he called they told him that it's compatible with Macs using VirtualPC. Hope we don't get that.
 

Eric5h5

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Dec 9, 2004
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rickvanr said:
You're right, and you're wrong. If the game is coded to take advantage of OpenGL it will run well, for example the port of Quake 3 compared to the PC version. On the other hand most PC games which are later ported are built around DirectX, so during the port they are brought into OpenGL. It's this conversion that kills game performance, for example Halo's port.
Nice theory, but the truth is the opposite. Doom3 is significantly slower on a Mac compared to a PC with similar specs, but Halo is on par. It's an excellent port (and you can even use FSAA with Mac Halo, but not with the PC version). Any number of benchmarks prove this; just search a bit and you'll see. (Halo might have gotten a bad rap because of high video card demands, but it needs a decent video card on the PC every bit as much...however, most Macs have had low-end and non-upgradable graphics cards.) The OpenGL/DirectX porting problem isn't as big of a factor as you'd think, and there are other factors that actually matter more.

--Eric
 

Ultimate-Omen

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Sep 5, 2005
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Eric5h5 said:
The OpenGL/DirectX porting problem isn't as big of a factor as you'd think, and there are other factors that actually matter more.
:eek: :( :confused:
huh wha???...ok, OpenGL (the API on which most newer mac games run.) is the lifeblood of the mac gaming scene (as little as it is, there is a mac gaming scene ;) ). If the platform of the port itself isn't a big factor then what is?
 

shanmui1

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Nov 12, 2005
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Hongkong, China
applekid said:
- UT2K4... The big let down. Loading takes a bit. Tried Onslaught: 5-8 FPS according to the counter, but I think it's closer to 20 FPS because my iMac G4 was getting around that for Onslaught and it looked much worse. Ryan Gordon is committed to releasing a Universal Binaries to all of the UT-based engine games. So no worries for now.
It will be nice to play 2004 with a Mac and not be physically limited by ~20 fps when online. Will that be a patch to existing PPC install of UT2004 or something else?
 

greatdevourer

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Aug 5, 2005
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Soulstorm said:
In OS X, for every function you must specify exactly how this is going to be done. In windows, there are many functions that let you "get away with it" and that can save you a lot of cycles
However, that very same "advantage" is mostly why Windows is so goddamn awful when it comes to security

To program with, I prefer OpenGL. It's more efficient and it's always growing (different card manufacturers can release their own prototypes and definitions, whereas in DirectX, you have to wait for M$ to release the next version before you can use the latest gizmo on the cards)
 

applekid

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Jul 3, 2003
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shanmui1 said:
In terms of benchmarks, the x1600 mobility in the iMacs looks to be roughly in the x1300s low range category of gaming cards. At least, it's a huge improvement over x600.

I personally will wait another revision on the iMac.
Where does it say it's a Mobility card?

My system profiler says it's the desktop X1600.

shanmui1 said:
It will be nice to play 2004 with a Mac and not be physically limited by ~20 fps when online. Will that be a patch to existing PPC install of UT2004 or something else?
Ryan Gordon, the one man that ports basically every UT game from the PC to the Mac and Linux says he will be releasing a Universal Binary for it. Until that comes out, UT2K4 is unplayable on Intel Macs.
 

Diatribe

macrumors 601
Jan 8, 2004
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Back in the motherland
applekid said:
Where does it say it's a Mobility card?

My system profiler says it's the desktop X1600.



Ryan Gordon, the one man that ports basically every UT game from the PC to the Mac and Linux says he will be releasing a Universal Binary for it. Until that comes out, UT2K4 is unplayable on Intel Macs.
Thanks for the tests.

Ryan Gordon also expected to have a Universal Binary out the day an Intel Mac ships.... so while I think he'll do it it may not be until later.