Gaming: Windows Version (Bootcamp) or Native Lion?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ethics101, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. ethics101 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2011
    #1
    I know the MBA isn't meant for gaming, but I know I was told it can do some casual low end stuff. My question is, which versions should I buy and how well will they run?

    1. Civilization V
    2. Portal 2
    3. Skyrim - I know its Windows only, but will I be able to run this at atleast 30FPS?
    4. StarCraft II

    Thanks Guys!
     
  2. forum user macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    #2
  3. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #3
    Thanks for that link. I've tried playing Civ 5 on my MBA. I've not experienced instability but it certainly heats up and the game runs at such a poor frame rate that it's practically unplayable as soon as you reveal a bit of the the map.
     
  4. ND40oz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #4
    I've been playing Civ5 on my 2011 13" Air, didn't grab it from the app store, I installed Steam and downloaded from my account. It'll lock occasionally, it's almost like steam locks up and you're stuck in game with no way to exit other then hard power down. I run full screen, full resolution with the settings on low. It'll start to chugg on larger maps, so I try to stick to smaller one when playing on the Air. I have autosave set to every 2 turns in case it does lock, but exiting every 30 turns or so seems to fix it.

    Haven't tried portal or counterstrike yet, I'll have to install them and see how they run.
     
  5. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #5
    My Experience

    I've got a 2011 MBA with i7, 4GB, 256GB - Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate in boot camp.

    Intel JUST released updated graphics drivers in October/November - Make sure to download those as they will make a difference in performance on the mobile i7/i5 chips (their notes).

    1. Skyrim - I have my graphics settings as:

    Native resolution/full screen - No AA, No Anistropic filtering, No FXAA, Textures "high", Radial Blur "low", Shadows "low", Decal Quality "high", Water reflects: Land, trees, sky.

    I have installed quite a few high res mods and the mod that recompiles the main .dll to take advantage of SSE instructions (improves the frame rate by 2-4 FPS in certain situations specifically on my system).

    The shadows, from what I've read, are CPU drawn and poor regardless of settings. - there are a few mods attempting to correct this. I think it's a bug because my roommate has a very nice quad core i7 with an Nvidia GTX 560 graphics card and his shadows are set to "ultra" and still look like poop. I just reduced them to low and deal.

    My frame rate runs from 16-25 FPS - and it's playable and looks nice - I'm level 45 BTW.

    I like the nicer textures but you can dial them down and get higher fps.

    Civ 5 - I play the Windows version because it's native and not using a Wineskin wraper (lazy developers use this instead of creating a native version) It's slow but playable on my system - Noticeable when you are waiting for the computer to calculate the next round. The graphics look good and run pretty smoothly otherwise (battle scenes). I've never had it lock up or crash on me.

    I have not played Portal 2 or Starcraft - Skyrim pretty much sucks all your free time (you've been warned) :)

    Let me know if you have any questions.
     
  6. shelhed217 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    #6
    @sundragon
    Do you have issues with the MBA freezing after extended gaming sessions? I am having this issue with SWTOR where after about 1.5 hours it is guaranteed to freeze. I've played skyrim but just maybe an hour or two so I didn't notice the issue. I have not updated the graphics drivers, I didn't know they were out so I'll give that a shot. thanks
     
  7. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #7
    Haven't tried SWTOR so I couldn't help you with that. I haven't had it lock up after hours of playing Skyrim - It would crash, but recent patches have corrected that.

    I also have a flat laptop platform that allows the rubber feet to keep the laptop raised. I also don't have anything near the left hand section of the keyboard, near the screen, where the exhaust vents.

    Try the new intel drivers and read their release notes - they specifically mention the i7/i5 that's in the MBA by model number.

    Cheers! :D
     
  8. shelhed217 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    #8
    I updated video drivers and no more swtor crashes :)
     
  9. Bob Coxner macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    #9
  10. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #10
    Portal 2 is steam only. For this game, one price gets you both Mac and PC version.
     
  11. asere22 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Miami, Fl
    #11
    I'd love to play swtor and have a 2011 13" air, how did you guys installed windows?
     
  12. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #12
    Bootcamp 100%

    Portal 2 actually plays decently on Mac....skyrim thru VM is unplayable, but if you know how to tweak it, it runs great on win7 on MBA. Older games don't really matter. Even Oblivian plays smoothly on VM. But if you want to play anything within the past couple years you need to go bootcamp. I have my 128GB MBA split 50/50 mac/win7 and I still have 25GB left on the mac side and 15GB left on the win side.

    ----------

    Yes the driver update is ESSENTIAL! Rage played as a slideshow before the drivers now it screams!

    My skyrim settings are
    1280x720
    High tex
    Medium everything else
    reflection on everything
    AA off
    AF off
    I'm using TESVAL and frame limiter set to 30...and it runs really really well!
     
  13. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #13
    Glad that's working! :)
     
  14. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #14
    Bootcamp - It's better to run Windows natively.

    Applications>Utilities>Bootcamp Assistant. Just make sure to have a valid copy of windows ready either on DVD (if you have the external optical drive) or on USB. You can google the best way to do it.
     
  15. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #15
    Bootcamp or Lion is not your limiting factor on the MBA. It's the underpowered hardware.
     
  16. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #16
    agreed, but Bootcamp beats a VM every day... If you are running software that is resource hungry, you should run it natively.

    Skyrim and Civ 5 fall under the resource hungry side of things - the fact that I'm lvl 47 in Skyrim with HD Mods on my MBA means it's doable :)
     
  17. darkheroz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Location:
    Bulgaria
    #17
    I play Civ V in low settings normally on my MBA 2011 11'' 4gb
     
  18. kamuix macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Location:
    california
    #18
    portal 2 ran fine on medium settings while starcraft II ran with low settings, no shadows, and no 3d portraits. i have a mba 13 inch base 2010. the fans do run, so i have a laptop cooler under and a fan blowing at it to help cool it down :D . i did start to artifact with left 4 dead 2.
     

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