Gaming on the base retina iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ninja2000, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

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    Dec 16, 2010
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I am looking to get a base retina iMac for a mixture of work and play, I a hoping someone has one and may be able to help me decide if this is the right thing to do.

    1. How noisy is the base iMac retina whilst gaming? I have really been put off by the noise of the upgraded 295x. Noise is really important to me, and I would rather have lower performance than noise.

    2. How is gaming at lower than native res? I would imagine I would run games at 1080p as this is a 2012 graphics card. I do the same with my retina macbook pro and games look great on that at 1690x1050 but the 750m is really starting to show its age.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. ninja2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Thanks for that, I hadn't spotted the last thread.

    Trouble is with all of these, most people seem to be using the 295x and then complaining of noise and temps. I am specifically hoping to find information on the 290 as I am hoping it will have a lower thermal output and therefore lower temps/noise
     
  3. Nosferax macrumors regular

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    #4
    ...And lower performance which isn't something you want when it comes to gaming...
     
  4. ninja2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    In all honesty, I do not mind. I mostly play RTS games so the 290x will cut it at 1080p. I don't need to game at 4k with AA/AF ultra settings. If I did I would just buy a gaming rig. The 750m almost cuts it for me, but I want something with a bit more grunt when I am sat in my office
     
  5. mgb1120 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Comparing the 290x vs the 295x is it a substantial difference? I ordered a 512 ssd upgraded i7, 290x, using it for home use, music, and photoshop will it perform well?
     
  6. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #7
    I tried a lot of games with M290X and they work great at 1080p and 1440p.

    The only game I had trouble running was the ultra demanding Assassin's Creed Unity which hovered around 25-30fps at medium settings.

    The rest of the games work great, and a lot of these are next-gen titles!

    Dragon Age Inquisition runs around 50-60fps in 1440p at high setting! Runs and looks beautiful.

    Shadows of Mordor is very playable at 1080p with high settings. Didn't check the fps, but it's high and without lag.

    Tomb Raider works at around 60fps in 1440p at high settings, and works in 50fps with the beautiful TressFX on Lara's hair.

    CoD Advanced Warfare runs at 50-60fps in 1440p at high settings. It is beautiful in this resolution and runs without any lag or stutter.

    Wildstar runs at maximum setting in 1440p really smooth. You can even play at 3K. So does Guild Wars 2 (and any modern MMO, for that matter).

    Diablo 3 runs at 50fps in 1440p with craked up settings.

    Crysis 3 runs at 40-50fps at high setting in 1080p.


    As you can see, even the base model runs modern games just fine at 1080p and 1440p. At 1440p the image is fairly sharp (in fact, I think it looks good at 1080p) as well. Sure, the 2013 27" iMac will run just as well and 1440p games will look even better at native 1440p - but not much sharper, tbh - you'll mind only if you're OCD about it. I can only imagine how well the M295X is doing.

    So, think of it this way:

    iMac 5K is a productivity machine with a beautiful screen. The fact that it games well is a plus. If you want that beautiful screen for productivity, and play some games from time to time, it is great, the best iMac, etc.

    If you want a gaming iMac and nothing more, the 2013 model is just as fine and is cheaper. But if it is "for gaming only" - than just buy a PC with a GeForce GTX 970, an Xbox One controller and hook it up to a TV. It will run the games better, there won't be any heat issues, etc.

    As for 290 vs 295.... Well, the 295 is a fine option and I completely understand the people who bought it. For me - 290 does the job great, and for those demanding games, the price difference + a little bit extra got me a brand new Playstation 4. So, if gaming is your thing - why not save some money and get a console? The M290X will run PC exclusives like StarCraft 2, Overwatch or MMORPGs just great. And for those most demanding titles, you have a console (and even those are playable with M290X). And no thermal issues or loud noises with the 290.

    These are just my thoughts - and it doesn't mean this choice is good for everyone.

    ----------

    Yes. Quite well - no worries. Please note, though, that Yosemite UI does lag in Mission Control and in Preview of really large images. The rest works just great, and while M295X owners report that they have less lag in Mission Control, even they have some lag. Thoughts are divided if this is a software issue or just lack of GPU horsepower.

    Mission Control will lag with 290 with lots of windows open. If this bothers you, 295 is a better choice. But that's it - everything else is fast and smooth, so home use, music and photoshop - it will work really really well.
     
  7. ninja2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 16, 2010
    #8
    Thank you aevan, that was exactly the sort of information I was looking for. I was hoping 1080p would still look good as 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 look great on my mbpr.

    Can you please comment on fan noise? does it get loud whilst playing? do you happen to know the rpm it sits at whilst gaming?
    I had a 2012 iMac with 680mx (wish I had never sold it) and the fan hardly ever ramped up even when heavy gaming
     
  8. aevan, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015

    aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #9


    It comes down to personal opinion, but I think games look really well in 1080p. In 1440p they look even better, almost like they run in native resolution on non-retina screens.

    As for the fan noise - the fan does come up while playing. I didn't check the rpm, but I can tell you that I can't hear it during gameplay as the game audio completely covers it up. However, when I exit the game, I can hear the fans spinning. It's not terribly loud and I don't think they spin at maximum, but based on what you described, I'd say they are ramped up more often than on the 680MX. The fan slows down very quickly after you stop playing though, and I don't consider the noise unpleasant, but there were people on this forum that made a big deal about the noise (mostly speaking about the M295X, though). I don't get it, personally - the fans ramp up more often on my MacBook Pro and seem louder. Fans were also louder on my 2011 iMac - so I'm very pleased with the Retina iMac. But coming from a 2012 iMac (and I hear that model is considered to be one of the more quiet ones) you may have a different experience. Hope this helps.
     
  9. Jotun macrumors newbie

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    Jun 25, 2009
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    The Netherlands
    #10
    Wow considering I am about to buy an iMac in 3 days (offer here in Europe with 6% discount and free 3-year warranty, 300 EUR advantage if anyone is interested), this thread is a Godsend.

    Just logged in to say thank you to the posters. I also intend to play some Blizzard games (Stacraft 2, Heroes of the Storm) in 1440p and was just about to shell out an extra 250 EUR for the M295x, but now I see it's not needed.

    Your point about saving for a PS4 is actually brilliant.

    One question: are the framerates you mention under OSX or Windows ?
    I assume Windows coz I haven't heard of some of those games under OSX.

    I would prefer not to install Windows, is gaming so much better over there though ?

    Thanks !
     
  10. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #11
    StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm run great 1440p at high settings. I am a huge Blizz fan, so I have all their games and play them in OS X. You will have no problems running them and M295X is definitely overkill for all Blizzard games.

    I tried all Blizzard games in OS X and I played Tomb Raider and Witcher 2 in OS X as well and didn't notice any difference (switched to Windows only so I can use my Xbox 360 controller, although there are unofficial drivers for OS X as well). It is possible Windows gives a few frames more, but not something you'd notice.


    The rest of the games were in bootcamp, yeah. Btw, I was hesitant to install Windows too, but the process is really painless and easy. Apple did all the work, you just follow the instructions and that's it. When Windows installs you run the Bootcamp software from the Windows side and it installs all the drivers and everything works - in fact, it was the most painless installation of Windows I ever did. And you can remove Windows partition easily as well (just make sure to do it with the Boot Camp Assistant as well, not by manually reformatting).
     
  11. Alesc macrumors 6502

    Alesc

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    France
    #12
    You can also install Windows on an external drive.
    That's what I've done, and I'm really happy with it. I love playing FPS, there's more choice on Windows, and games who exist on Mac OS are often more expensive and buggy... I've tried Max Payne 3 on OS X, it is slower and bugged (make the os crash when I quit for example). Bioshock 1 & 2 performances were fine on OS X, but some bugs too.
     
  12. Jotun macrumors newbie

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    The Netherlands
    #13
    Huge Blizz fan here as well since Diablo 1 times and actually even before that, Lost Vikings I guess was the first :)

    Thank you for sharing your experience, that is so valuable : I was asking myself all along : is the M295x too much ? Couldn't find an answer and then I read 4Gb is necessary for 1440p gaming so there you have it...

    I kinda lost touch with tech developments, still own a 2008 MBPro (works great !) and a PS3.A new riMac is a super huge thing for me and the most powerful computer I've ever owned. It was just unclear whether the processor or the video card are worth the upgrade, only one does, or none do.

    About Bootcamp: I have it on my 7-year old Macbook pro, but those were ancient times I installed it, and I don't remember a thing. And gaming on a 256MB video card is crappy in both OSX and Windows, so I can see no difference haha.

    I don't have an external HDD, actually I have a reaaally old one, probably better just to go with the SSD option on the iMac and have it installed on a partition, but it's a nice idea though !

    Still wondering whether the i7 is worth the upgrade instead, but probably not, this is a family computer for me, nobody will be pushing this for video editing or anything.

    Much more relaxed about what config to purchase now :cool:
     
  13. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #14
    As everyone here seems to think that nothing but thunderbolt SSDs in RAID 0 are worth the effort for anything but Safari, I'll try to give you my, more moderate, opinions.

    Look, all the upgrades are great, but there are some diminishing returns.

    The CPU

    The i5 in iMac 5K is the fastest i5 currently and it's really fast and powerful. The i7 upgrade is, of course, faster - but not something you'll notice in gaming or Photoshop, for example. Heavy multithreaded work like 3D rendering will give noticeable gains (not that the i5 is bad at those things, but i7 is better). Take benchmarks with a pinch of salt because the differences between numbers are not always noticeable in real life scenarios. So, it really depends on things you use your computer for. I am an illustrator, I spend most of my time in Photoshop, Zbrush and Sketchbook and the CPU flies. Sure, the i7 would probably run Zbrush faster, but not by a whole much.

    The GPU

    Though the GPUs are used for productivity apps more and more, in all honesty it mostly comes down to games. You're not going to notice any difference between the M290X and M295X in Photoshop, for example. There are some applications that appreciate more VRAM, such as Mari (again - it works well with either). But, as I said, it's mostly about games. And get the M295X if you want to play next gen games in higher resolutions or with higher settings.
    There is an issue of interface lag though and I'd be unfair if I didn't mention it. Mission Control lags with several Windows open with the M290X. It really lags, so much, in fact, that some people believe it's a bug, not lack of horsepower. It is strange that these specific things run so slow while others run really fast, but that's how things are. It doesn't affect productivity, it just doesn't look nice :) I would say that's a minor issue, but I can understand that some people have problems with that (although there is some lag even with M295X supposedly).

    The Drive

    Opinions on this vary - some say that only pure SSD is the way to go. The iMac 5K comes with a 1Tb Fusion Drive standard - and with it the computer is fast and smooth and a pleasure to work with. OS X boots really fast, applications start fast and even the HDD part is very quiet. If you do want to go pure SSD, you can get the 256Gb option for the same price, but then you have to get external drives. This is a good option, so choose according to your preference. There are some advantages to having an external drive and Thunderbolt and USB3 are fast enough to make the experience fine. But the Fusion Drive is a good option as well and don't be scared to go down that road as well.


    Hope this helps a bit :)
     
  14. ninja2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Thanks again mate, you have helped me make my decision and I have ordered the base iMac retina. Should be here tomorrow, I am really looking forward to it.
     
  15. Jotun macrumors newbie

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    #16
    And I'm getting mine next Tuesday ! Will go base model as well. Look fw to sharing our impressions.

    @aevan : it doesn't help just a bit, your advice is actually (at least for me) the enlightment -so to speak- that I'd been looking for months and had to accept I'd never find it. Thanks man !
     
  16. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #17

    Really glad I could help! I love talking about this stuff and feel free to ask me anything you think I may answer.

    Alas - disclaimer! While I consider myself a sane and rational person - I have to emphasise these opinions are my own, and I could be subjective (people tend to be biased towards their purchases).

    There are certain things I'm fairly certain of: gaming in 1080p and 1440p is really good on the base model (but if you're coming from a maxed out 2013 iMac, don't expect gaming to be better on the 5K), and so is productivity and general feel. The screen is amazing, and the Fusion Drive "feels" like a true SSD 90% of the time, and certainly for things that matter to you most (Apple is really doing a good job there).

    The bad part is that the Mission Control and Preview animations for large images do feel bad and I can accept the argument that when you pay $2499 for a computer, you expect everything to be smooth. But that's how things are and for me that's not enough a reason not to get the iMac 5K. In fact, I think the base iMac is a great value for the money, if you appreciate the most beautiful screen I have ever seen. Anywhere. Funny thing is - it's not even just the resolution, it's the viewing angles, colors, closeness, contrasts - that seem better than even the previous generation (and are a huge step from anything else, really).

    Share your experiences and I really hope both of you like your new iMac. For me, it's the most beautiful and breathtaking computer I owned, even compared to my MacBook Retina 15" which is amazing and I really love and enjoy.
     
  17. Jotun macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Now...how am I supposed to wait patiently until salary day on Monday ? :D

    I'll happily come back to give my impressions and will ask away whenever the case. I guess I see you in a week ! (will still be checking the thread in the background).
     
  18. ninja2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Mine is being prepared for despatch as we speak. Once it is here and I have had chance to give it a run through I will also update with my thoughts.
    I have a kilowatt meter so will add power consumption, noise and performance to compare with aevan
     
  19. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #20
    Great! Eager to hear both your impressions :)
     
  20. mgb1120 macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Went with i7, 512 ssd, 290x arrives Friday from Fremont California, my dad has the base r iMac loves it so far
     
  21. Melodeath macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 9, 2009
    #22
    Hi aevan, I appreciate all your advice. I definitely need to get the i7 upgrade (I'm an audio engineer and the CPU is essentially the most important part of the computer for my job), and was planning on getting the 295 just in case I want to play some games. But now I see that the 290 is probably adequate,e specially for someone like me who is not a gamer, but might eventually get a game or two.

    However, is it true that native 1440p looks better? Forgive this noobie question
     
  22. Alesc macrumors 6502

    Alesc

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    #23
    Why "almost" and not "exactly"?
     
  23. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #24
    1440p is the native resolution of the non-retina 27" iMac. For the Retina iMac it is 2880p, so 1440p is half of that and there is some slight blurriness since you're not running at native resolution, as is always the case with LCD screens. So, while a 2880p resolution on a 5K iMac will, of course, look better than 1440p on a non-retina one, when they are both at 1440p, the non-retina one will have a sharper image. Still, 1440p does look well on 5K because it is exactly 2x smaller.
     
  24. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #25
    It is true, 1440p will look slightly better on a native 1440p screen (non-retina 27" iMacs) than on a 5K screen running a lower 1440p. It's how LCDs work - native resolution is always the best looking. However, it does not look bad at all on the 5K screen and you will be able to notice the difference only while looking at the screens side by side. I really doubt you will have any issues with it. In fact, since Retina iMac has higher contrasts than the non-retina ones, the overall picture quality may even be better.

    And if this bothers you, just think about this: most Xbox One games run at 720p on 1080p TV screens and no one is complaining that the picture looks bad. Same here.
     

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