Graphics Cards in iMacs.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by BenFromPerth23, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. BenFromPerth23 macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2013
    Hey guys, I know bugger all about graphics cards. This is where you come in. :)

    I’m tossing up a few options for my next computer. I’m a photographer, and need a Mac. But without shelling out for a Mac Pro, the graphics cards in them seem sub par. I need it to be good for photoshop, video, and graphics intense programs, but it would be pretty awesome if I could run a decent game on it. So...

    1. Anyone got any experience playing PC games on a REAL Mac (using windows)? Was it *****?

    2. The new iMac (when maxed out) has a 4gb Nvidia Graphics card. ( Or without upgrading it has a 2gb version. Both are GDDR5. 

How will they go games wise?

    3. Weirdly, both of those chips are for mobile. Why are they in an iMac? And what’s the difference between the card above, and the desktop version:

    4. If I was buying a new MacBook Pro (Laptop), the top version appears to come with both Intel HD 4000, AND an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M card (1gb gddr5.)

    Why both? And is 1gb a big jump from my current laptop (intel graphics only).

    And for the Gamers out there...

    5. If you were building a decent gaming rig, how big would your graphics card be? Any other considerations?

    6. Anyone have any experience building a Hackintosh? (A PC, running Mac OSX, but able to boot Windows). How did it go? Did it run OSX well? Did it run windows and games well?

  2. 4look4rd, Oct 3, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013

    4look4rd macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2009
    Keep in mind that current iMacs run on laptop-grade graphics card, so they are much slower than their PC counterparts. If you want a gaming computer I strongly recommend you to buy a tower PC, this is where you will gain the most bang for your buck. Also other than Aperture, you can get all of your photography software for Windows.

    With that being said you are looking into expending about $1000-$1200 on a gaming rig that can run everything maxed out.

    A fried of mine bought a gaming PC about two years ago with an i7, a GTX 560, and 8GBs. It run every game on max settings, the price of the over all build (with liquid cooling and 23inch monitor). The cost was right around $1200.

    Now to your other questions.

    The intel HD4000 is an integrated graphics card, its a lot slower than the GT650M. The GT650 in and on itself is a decent graphics card at best, it will probably be enough to play most games on medium settings at a relatively decent resolution (720p maybe 1080p for less demanding games).

    This is the performance you can expect from a GT650:

    The graphics card is the most important component. Todays games do not demand that much ram, 8GBs of ram should be more than enough for the foreseeable future, and todays processors can easily keep up even with the most demanding games (get an i7 just to future proof though).

    I don't have experience with Hackintoshes, its just too much trouble just to run OSX. You can easily dual boot Windows to work/game and use a nice linux distribution for everyday computing (like Elementary OS Luna). This way you are gaining back much of OSX advantages without going through all of the troubles and possible legality problems of a hackintosh.
  3. SWTOR macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2013
    Birmingham, AL
    Get the 4gb card


    I currently game on my iMac in bootcamp using Windows 7. I bought the top-of-the-line 27" iMac i7 in 2009 when they were first released. I can definitely tell that my system is BARELY running modern games. For instance, I am playing FFXIV right now, and with my settings on Medium, I can notice my machine just can't handle it.
    That being said, the first 3 years, I was able to run WoW on very high settings and it was very enjoyable, granted WoW isn't near as demanding as the average game. The experience of gaming while in bootcamp is VERY similar to gaming on a regular PC though. Windows doesn't run sluggish, or anything like that.
    So, even though the iMac does have mobile graphics, whatever you choose to get, keep in mind, you can't ever upgrade it. So, I would say getting the top-of-the-line would be your best bet, if you can afford it. The 4gb card is significantly better than my card, and should run most games on high with no problem. Now, will it be able to in a few years? probably not.

    Good luck, and enjoy whatever you do end up purchasing!
  4. jlehman macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2013
    Sorry this is long.

    1. Playing games under BootCamp isn't terrible. With the right video drivers it should be comparable to a PC gaming. However, i would never recommend it for most games, they get dangerously hot. I know people will say they are within heat spec, but items around the CPU and GPU may not be. I've worked on many Macs at a repair center and currently as a Mac Admin for a college. Usually the GPU gets so hot it actually can move causing the "logic board needs replaced" problem. Also i've seen screens and displays get burnt and have cracks because the graphics and cpu get to warm. So maybe the CPU and GPU are in temp specs but i don't think the engineers give a crap about the components around them.

    2. 2GB GDDR5 vs 4GB GDDR5 probably won't affect gaming too much. I think there maybe special applications that could use that.

    3. iMacs have been using mobile graphics for a while because they have a smaller foot print and produce less heat requiring less cooling but still they get pretty dang hot.

    4. MacMini and Macbook Pro don't seem to have Haswell refresh yet. They should have Intel 5000 and nVidia 700 variants.

    5. I can tell you my graphic card Radeon 7870 is way bigger than would fit in any mac besides a Mac Pro.

    I'm kinda surprised that people haven't been swaying you to buy an Apple product yet. But i agree with everything people said above. Better to buy a nice gaming PC or learn to build one on your own than to sink $2000 into an iMac or MBP to find out in 2 years it can't really play much. I love Macs but they really are a tool. You have to use the right tool for the job and for the most part a PC with Win7 or 8 can do most real work better than a Mac can.

    I think you'll be fine which ever way you go (PC or Mac). Just know that Macs really aren't great for gaming over all, they are too dang thin and i'm sick of replacing logic boards and screens because people play games and leave them on all the time. Wait for a refresh for the MBP line though. End rant.
  5. BenFromPerth23 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2013
    Thanks so much for the advice guys. You all helped heaps. :)

    Not really a PC gamer (Got a Console for that). Was just curious how well a new iMac (or MBPro) would run them if I was bored one day. My main concern was the software I use for work (Photoshop, Premiere, After effects etc).

    I think an iMac should be fine. :) I'd love a MacPro, but it's a bit out of my price range. Hence the Hackintosh question. I've seen lots of websites explaining them, and it looks like it can be about a 60% saving off a Mac Pro equivalent - not to mention I can make a "better" Mac, than Apple can. :) Still, it's a bit beyond my skill set, and a lot of work. So I'll probably just stick with the iMac for now.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    graphics aren't really that important for photography...AE is different though. massive amounts of VRAM won't make much of a difference for photo editing unless you're doing a lot of edits on massive photostitches or something. CPU and memory are usually the limiting factors.

    I don't recommend a hackintosh for a business computer. support is on you, and they aren't reliable enough to depend on.
  7. Latt macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2013
    My iMac is the top of the line i7 2,93ghz from 2010 with the graphics card upgrade (5750M 1GB ).

    So answers to your questions is based on this:

    1. Anyone got any experience playing PC games on a REAL Mac (using windows)? Was it *****?
    No - It was awesome. There is a reason the Macbook Pro have won "Best windows laptop" year after year. It's cause Apple put together very nice systems that run extremely well together. Each component is tested to run great with the others - This is why a thoroughbred Mac is better than an Hackintosch. There is absolutely no difference running windows on a Mac than on a PC, the Mac is after all a PC inside. Performancewise, my iMac have held up nicely. I don't play a lot but I've still not found a single game my iMac haven't been able to handle. It might not be able to handle it at ultra-max-super settings, but enough to play then games with no hazzle. So if you demand 100 fps ultra-super-duper 1440p 16xAA gameplay - Don't go for a mac. If you're a casual PC gamer like I am, it's fine. I haven't had any issues with heat even after many-many hours of prolonged play, and even the machine did suffer damage from it, I would've found out well within the AppleCare period.

    2. The new iMac (when maxed out) has a 4gb Nvidia Graphics card. ( Or without upgrading it has a 2gb version. Both are GDDR5. 

How will they go games wise?
    Personally I'd upgrade the graphics card when buying any Mac since you wont be able to upgrade it later. The upgrade isn't that expensive and I consider it "ensurance" that the thing will last it's full 5 year life (which is what I consider the life span of a mac)

    3. Weirdly, both of those chips are for mobile. Why are they in an iMac? And what’s the difference between the card above, and the desktop version:
    As someone else answered, they're smaller and produce less heat. No, they're not as fast as their desktop counterpart.

    4. If I was buying a new MacBook Pro (Laptop), the top version appears to come with both Intel HD 4000, AND an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M card (1gb gddr5.)

    Why both? And is 1gb a big jump from my current laptop (intel graphics only).

    The 650M is a bit more powerhungry and produce more heat. So when you use the Macbook Pro for mundane desktop tasks, it's overkill to use the 650M and it uses the HD4000 instead. It's possible to force switch between which graphics card the machine is using I belive, otherwise it figurs it out itself and the switch is seamless as far as I know (Don't own one).

    I can't answer your gamer questions, but I can tell that the people I know who've made a hackintosch have ended up regretting it and spenting more on it than they expeced. All of them have since sold them and bought proper macs. That's not to say this is a defacto standard, just that this is what my experience with it is.
  8. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I currently have the 2GB 680M which was top of the tree until the recent upgrades were announced. It handles evrything I do well, but I'm not really a gamer. For that we have an MP 5.1 whichis shortly going to have a Graphics board upgrade..At present it has baby 5770 in it, but we are looking at a pre-flashed 4GB card. It's bootcamped so my Fiancee can play her Windows games on it...My Imac beats it to pieces at the moment, but that will change when the new card is installed.

    I'f it was my upgrade year, I'd go with that 4GB upgrade, and take the RAM up to 32GB...pretty much what I have now...3.4GHZ I7, 2GB GPU 32GB RAM 27". I use it mainly for music and photo edits..never misses a beat.

    The larger capacity SSD option is also nice...I went with a 3TB FD for the sake of capacity...Next time around I'm hoping for a larger SSD to eliminate the physical HDD completely.
  9. Latt macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2013
    I agree with the SSD upgrade. The ram I upgraded myself and it is easier than upgrading ram in a normal PC so I've decided to kick people who order extra ram from Apple :p

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