Gaming on the 27" iMac with the 4850

MacApple21

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 12, 2009
93
0
Denmark
I was absolutely thrilled when I saw the specs for the 27" iMac, but when my Quad core enthusiasm settled, I began to think about the one mistake Apple have made with this otherwise amazing machine. They committed the one mistake that feared they would, they neglected the GPU :mad:
The 4850 is a fine card for something like the consumer 21,5" iMac, or the prior 24", but I seriously fear that the 4850 will come short when it comes to throwing around HD 3D content on that gorgeous 27" screen :(

I know you have little chance of answering this question, but do you think it would be possible for a person with technical skills to, swap the 4850 with a future 5850, if Apple should choose to implement in future iMacs. Will it be theoretically possible :confused:
I don't expect it will, but I hope for a miracle :eek:
 

Shivetya

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
1,543
223
First, who says you have to run it at full resolution? (not all games will support it anyway)

Second, doubtful you can do the replacement nor would want to risk it. Then again we must wait for someone to tear one down
 

n19htmare

macrumors member
Sep 4, 2009
45
0
First, who says you have to run it at full resolution? (not all games will support it anyway)

Second, doubtful you can do the replacement nor would want to risk it. Then again we must wait for someone to tear one down
Who wants to spend 2 GRAND on a computer to not run at it's native resolution?
 

Lava Lamp Freak

macrumors 65816
Jun 1, 2006
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Who wants to spend 2 GRAND on a computer to not run at it's native resolution?
Exactly! I can't believe someone would even suggest to run it scaled. This is the only problem I have with the new iMac. As much as I love OSX I won't buy a system that won't even run this year's games at max settings at native resolution, let alone upcoming stuff. Now I'm glad I built my new gaming PC last month. I was worried the iMac would end up having the 5850 and I'd feel bad I built a Windows box.
 

cloudstrife13

macrumors member
Aug 13, 2007
41
0
Well I know some of the 24" iMac's used the MXM removable graphic cards, but it needs to have a mac firmware on it.

So it's likely possible to swap. But the problem is getting your hands on the card.
 

frick

macrumors member
May 16, 2006
63
0
Keep in mind that this is probably not the desktop 4850, but the mobility 4850, which has lower performance than its desktop counterpart:

 

Huddy

macrumors member
Oct 9, 2009
57
27
Problem is what does :apple: throw in as a superior mobility option.

The ATI 4850 is only surpassed by the 4870 which being ATI's top line currently costs more and produces more heat for little performance improvement, so therefore does not seem an option for Apple.

The NVidia option is the Mobility 260M and 280M but as ATI manage to produce mobility graphic cards very similar in performance to their desktop variants the ATI options beat the rebranded,rebranded,rebranded 2yr old Nvidia cards.

Until ATI release the 5xxx series mobility cards sometime in Q1/Q2 then were stuck with pretty much the best option available.

I guess in typical :apple: fashion gaming is not really a concern....

Not to mention ATI's mobility drivers! :mad:
 

Mahoney

macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2008
7
0
Who wants to spend 2 GRAND on a computer to not run at it's native resolution?
Well, if you have a 2560x1440 native resolution it's not unreasonable not to run games at native resolution! I want the desktop estate for developing on (finally all views easy to see at the same time in Eclipse... but I digress), but I'm quite happy to recognise that any all-in-one is unlikely to have the power to run Crysis at that resolution.

Generally it's been an amazing update, well beyond my hopes (I never imagined I'd see more than 1920x1200 in an iMac, nor a 2.8Ghz quad core i7). And it absolutely blows away all competitor all-in-ones, particularly in the GPU department. But I agree with the OP that if you have to quibble it is a shame there isn't a 5850 in there (and an SSD OS/Apps drive option).

Mind you I have no idea how the thermal characteristics of the 5850 compare with the 4850 under load; has it ever been confirmed exactly what kind of 4850 it is in the iMacs? I know a lot of people have suggested it isn't (perhaps even can't be) a fully clocked desktop 4850, so perhaps ATI would need to make similar modifications to the 5850, which would take time? Or perhaps it's a mobile 4850, in which case I haven't even heard of a mobile 5850.

Ah well, I play games once in a blue moon anyway and I'm sure that it'll run Empire: Total War with the settings down a bit. It looks like a brilliant machine.
 

frick

macrumors member
May 16, 2006
63
0
I know a lot of people have suggested it isn't (perhaps even can't be) a fully clocked desktop 4850, so perhaps ATI would need to make similar modifications to the 5850, which would take time? Or perhaps it's a mobile 4850, in which case I haven't even heard of a mobile 5850.
The TDP of a desktop 4850 is higher than that of the Core i5/i7's in the new iMac's. There's virtually no way they were able to cram a hot GPU into that chassis in addition to a quad-core CPU. Moreover, Apple has a history of downclocking mobile video chips to reduce TDP, so it's quite possible that the new iMac's video performance will be below that of a stock 4850m.

The iMac is not a gaming machine, and never will be.
 

Mahoney

macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2008
7
0
The TDP of a desktop 4850 is higher than that of the Core i5/i7's in the new iMac's. There's virtually no way they were able to cram a hot GPU into that chassis in addition to a quad-core CPU. Moreover, Apple has a history of downclocking mobile video chips to reduce TDP, so it's quite possible that the new iMac's video performance will be below that of a stock 4850m.
Well, yes. That's what I meant when I said "a lot of people have suggested it isn't (perhaps even can't be) a fully clocked desktop 4850". However, a lot of people also said there was no way you could get a desktop i7 into an iMac, and it turns out they were wrong. I haven't yet seen an absolute confirmation of the chipset and clockspeed of the 4850 in the old 24" iMac, let alone in this new one, only deductions like yours which are unquestionably very plausible but not actually proof.

The iMac is not a gaming machine, and never will be.
Apple don't make a gaming machine. But there are plenty of people interested in playing the odd game on their iMac and hence keen that it should be as capable as is feasible given the form factor.
 

Outrigger

macrumors 68000
Dec 22, 2008
1,755
87
I was absolutely thrilled when I saw the specs for the 27" iMac, but when my Quad core enthusiasm settled, I began to think about the one mistake Apple have made with this otherwise amazing machine. They committed the one mistake that feared they would, they neglected the GPU :mad:
The 4850 is a fine card for something like the consumer 21,5" iMac, or the prior 24", but I seriously fear that the 4850 will come short when it comes to throwing around HD 3D content on that gorgeous 27" screen :(

I know you have little chance of answering this question, but do you think it would be possible for a person with technical skills to, swap the 4850 with a future 5850, if Apple should choose to implement in future iMacs. Will it be theoretically possible :confused:
I don't expect it will, but I hope for a miracle :eek:
you don't need any technical know how, just wait for apple to release a firmware upgrade and you'll upgrade your video card that way... :rolleyes:
 

Shivetya

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
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223
Who wants to spend 2 GRAND on a computer to not run at it's native resolution?
Because some games play like crap at absurd resolutions or don't even off that resolution. Hell that resolution is extreme in the desktop world.
 

Lava Lamp Freak

macrumors 65816
Jun 1, 2006
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Because some games play like crap at absurd resolutions or don't even off that resolution. Hell that resolution is extreme in the desktop world.
16:9 is beginning to be a common size in the market now, and all of the current games will support it.
 

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
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London, UK
In some ways Apple is now giving up on even trying with consumer graphics. Not even a single 4870 will be able to smoothly run all games at the native res of the 27" iMac. 5870s might just be able to but they cost a fortune and there's no way they could currently fit a desktop 5870 into an iMac's case, even a 27" iMac.

The 27" iMac is seriously good value for money when you consider that the 27" display is probably 'worth' about $1200 if it were sold separately by Apple. LED panels are still very expensive and third parties wouldn't be able to get them that much cheaper. As such, if you really want to game and still use Macs then the best possible solution right now in terms of bang per buck, screen size, screen res etc would be to buy a 27" iMac and also buy a separate PC with a 4870x2/5870 or soon 5870x2. Just make sure you buy a PC graphics card with a display port and then get a display port to mini display port adapter.
 

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
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The question is not on ratio, but the pixel count, the new one is 2560 x 1440, way beyond what any game realistically supports.
Nah, most games have supported 2560x1600, i.e. even higher than the 27" iMac, for a good while. Trust me, I've got two 4870s in Crossfire powering a 30" ACD. I haven't come across a game that hasn't natively supported this res in many a year. In the past some games only offered a choice of hard locked resolutions so for those the non-standard 2560x1440 resolution would not be recognised. However there were usually hacks to get around that.
 

Shivetya

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2008
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Nah, most games have supported 2560x1600, i.e. even higher than the 27" iMac, for a good while. Trust me, I've got two 4870s in Crossfire powering a 30" ACD. I haven't come across a game that hasn't natively supported this res in many a year. In the past some games only offered a choice of hard locked resolutions so for those the non-standard 2560x1440 resolution would not be recognised. However there were usually hacks to get around that.
Lets watch a 4850 do it...
 

otis123

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2006
555
0
Macs have never really been built for gaming, yea the new quad cores will eat up any game you throw at it, but the GPUs in the new iMacs aren't good for games.
 

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
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London, UK
Lets watch a 4850 do it...
To be honest, a 4850 won't be that much slower at 2560x1440 in most OS X apps than a single 4870 will do at 2560x1600, which is what OS X can only use in my system. Gaming in OS X is pretty bad anyway - even Cyder ports run much slower than they do in Windows, I've tested as much with games like Red Alert 3 and the Sims 3. If you want to game you're far better off rebooting into Windows. This is why buying a seperate machine for gaming would make more sense.

If you're serious about wanting to use OS X and also to be able to play the latest games at the 27" iMac's res then your best bet would be to get a separate machine as well as the iMac. You could either get a Quad Core Mac Pro with a 4870 512MB graphics card for $2699 (with a card that's been modified by Apple to stop the possibility of cross firing it with another 4870) + $899 for the closest (although still inferior) display to the 27" iMac (i.e. 24" ACD) spending $3598 or you could get a Core i5 iMac ($1999) + Dell XPS 8000 ($699) + 1GB 5870 ($389.99) costing $3087.99 total. The latter would be vastly superior in terms of gaming. You could even get two 1GB 5870s and still spend less than the Mac Pro route yet end up with pretty much the best gaming setup on the planet right now.
 

Bryan Bowler

macrumors 68040
Sep 27, 2008
3,737
3,386
Here we go again. <sigh>

Folks, if you want the most intensive and extreme graphic cards out there, then buy a Mac Pro -- that's what the Pro is for...

Bryan
 

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
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London, UK
Here we go again. <sigh>

Folks, if you want the most intensive and extreme graphic cards out there, then buy a Mac Pro -- that's what the Pro is for...

Bryan
Unfortunately that's exactly not what the Mac Pro is for. A 4870 512MB card is hardly the most "intensive and extreme" graphics card on the market. Its now a generation old and even then its got half the memory and is clocked slower than most of its PC equivalents. As I pointed out. If you want OS X and want the best graphics cards too then the best buy right now is an iMac + a PC with a top end graphics card or two in it.

Apple didn't have much choice in what graphics chips to put into the new iMacs. There simply hasn't been much advancement in mobile graphics chips over the last half a year or so. The next Mac Pros will probably have a 5870 as an option but they'll still be really expensive and who knows when they'll be out.
 

Techhie

macrumors 65816
Dec 7, 2008
1,160
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The hub of stupidity
Has anyone mentioned that tking into consideration Apple's past habits, the GPU is likely soldered to the Logic Board? Not only would it be 99% impossible to remove and swap without breaking components, but there are no better chips to put in its place because they are specially designed for the iMac socket.
 

richprice

macrumors member
Apr 27, 2008
43
0
I personally want to play World of Warcraft Cataclysm, Red Alert 3, Diablo 3 and Command and Conquer 4. I have a feeling this i7 will run these games very well.
 

Sambo110

macrumors 68000
Mar 12, 2007
1,684
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Australia
The 4870 is actually a very awesome card! Been watching the iMac with a 4870 play some games, it runs them flawlessly. My only concern is will a lower resolution produce slightly blurry graphics? If it does, it wouldn't be noticeable unless you compared the two resolutions.
 

supinternet

macrumors newbie
Oct 17, 2009
26
0
It's a mac..
how many games are there for it that are SO high quality that your mac wouldn't be able to run?
the resolution is literally almost too much.
it's HUGE
most games that are available for the mac aren't even gonna go that high up lol.

you'll be fine.