iMac 21.5" or 27" for Gaming?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by KadMac, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. KadMac macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    I was wondering if some of you could help me out when it comes to gaming. I am thinking I will buy a new refurbished iMac with the 5670 video card, however, I am split on what size I should get.

    Obviously, with the 21.5", I get the 1920 x 1080 resolution which would put less of a load on the video card which would equal more FPS per second. Despite this, I really want the bigger screen - the 27" because...well, the screen is just amazing.

    The resolution on the 27" would be much higher and put more stress on the 5670 graphics. They both come with the 3.2 Ghz i3 processor. Do any of you have these models and how is its performance when it comes to games like Starcraft 2 or WoW? Can you play everything mostly maxed out?

    Here is the 21.5 inch model I am considering:

    And the 27":
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Yes, it is - and that's all that really matters, isn't it?

    You can run games at 1920x1080 on the 27", and have that big, glorious screen available for other programs you run. Go for it. :cool:
  3. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    True, but won't the game look bad/blurry if its not playing at native resolution in full screen?
  4. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Not at all!

    My 24" iMac has a native 1920x1200 resolution, when I played Crysis at 1280x800 it looked fantastic. Cranking it up to native resolution was a bit choppy for my liking.

    Caveat: If you're running something like Word, or something very text-based, at a non-native resolution - then yes, it will look blurry. Graphical stuff, not so much.
  5. harveypooka macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2004
    If you're running at a substantially lower resolution than your native resolution it will look pretty awful.

    I'd check benchmarks for the games you want to play and see what you think is an acceptable balance between resolution, effects and frame rate.

    For games I'd go for the 21.5".
  6. SiliBear macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2007
    I have the 27inch and play WoW on native resolution (2500x1440) and have no issues whatsoever. Despite the heavier load and higher pixel count than the 24inch iMac it replaced, the video card is improved...and so is the overall performance.

    I also have SC2 (haven't played it too much though) on high settings. After playing the game initially on a friend's 21 inch monitor on a PC (on crappy settings aparently), the contrast in video quality moving to the iMac was stunning.

    Enjoy the real estate. Bigger really is better when you can play these on native.
  7. harveypooka macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2004
    Can you give us some numbers - frame rates and resolutions?
  8. Cboss macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2008
    I play WoW on the current 21.5" iMac with the ATI 5670, 1920x1080 resolution. I have everything on ultra and I only drop below 30 fps in Stormwind. If you have view distance on ultra things can get a little choppy when spinning quickly, but when you lower it to high everything is smooth.
  9. Ace134blue macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2009
    Dont buy a mac for gaming. If you want a 27in screen, then get it and a GPU with a minidisplay port.
  10. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    Yeah, I have thought about that but its hard to pass up a powerful machine with IPS and incredible resolution.

    Thanks for all the replies. You all have given some good feedback and thoughts to consider. I haven't entirely ruled out a PC either.
  11. ranviper macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2010
    Adirondacks, NY
    It's all a matter of taste really. If you like to build pc's and/or add lots of flashy lights, then go with a pc. If you love mac os (like most mac users) and wanna add lights with keyboards, and, well, lights, go for a mac. Maybe you dont like any flashy lights, Im just assuming cause' you wanna game.

    But bottom line I would say unless your a pro gamer, it's really fine either way. Both are perfectly capable, and in regards to the screen. The 27" shouldn't really hiccup playing anything, so you should be fine if you go that route. It's like having a home theater system. lol.
  12. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    Gotcha. And yeah, I am actually not a fan of the flashy lights. All those PC cases that have the lights look horrid to me. I like simple aluminum design. The 27" is definitely tempting. Might go that route.
  13. brucem91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2009
    I have the 27", and I LOVE it. I can play SC2 at 1600x900 resolution no problem. I tried using a 21.5" in the store, and it felt weird to me. If you can get the 27", I would fully recommend it though. I wouldn't really recommend the magic mouse for gaming. I don't game often, so I use it just fine.
  14. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    Only get the 27 inch if you're going to get it with mobility 5850. It is true the games look like garbage on the screen when they're not native. If you sit back 6-9 feet you won't be able to tell much a difference, but the whole point of such a massive resolution is experiencing it in its entirety right in front of your face.

    I'd highly recommend 27 inch with mobility 5850, if you can muster some more coin.
  15. MercenaryTX macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2009
    My iMac is the 27" with ATI 4850 and I have to play most games in 1920x1200 resolution. That's better graphics card than the one you want to get. The 21" seems the better fit. I would have gotten that if there was the option for better graphics in the smaller screen.

    Good luck to you.
  16. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    The 5670 is a better graphics card than the 4850, I believe. Yeah, the 21" is sounding like the better experience since I would have better luck playing in native resolution.
  17. Rodus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2008
    Midlands, UK
    ^^no, the 4850 is much faster, I do most of my gaming at 1080 on a 27" and it looks great.
  18. Messy macrumors 6502

    Sep 5, 2010
    Me and a few friends have a rule, well we have lots of them but theres one called "VTR Rules".

    I won't go into what it means in depth, but essentially its "Never get the model below if you can get the better one".

    Get the 21" and you'll regret it, sitting there knowing you could have had that sexy 27" screen. If you have the ability (funds) to get the better model, do it.
  19. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009

    The 4850 is better than the 5670? Then why are the 5670 iMac models more expensive in the Apple store?
  20. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    With ATi cards you need to look at the last three digits. 850 is higher than 670, ergo the 850 is faster. The 3/4/5/6 designation tells you what era of card it is, with the newer models being cooler/less power hungry and a bit faster than their direct equivalent in the previous generation.

    This means that a 4850 is far better than a 5670, despite the 5670 being newer.

    The current iMacs are listed in order of their GPU power - the 4670 is down the bottom due to its 256MB of RAM, and a slight architectural disadvantage from the 5670.

    The best card is the 27" iMac with the 5750 1GB (which is basically a downclocked 5850). This model used to have a 4850 in the previous generation iMacs. This is why people with the older 27" iMacs still have a faster card than the new mid-range iMacs.
  21. KadMac thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    Thank you for that explanation. That helps alot.
  22. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    Go for the best you can afford. I'm currently gaming on a 20" monitor and its perfect for the distance it is from me (about 2'), but I'm also looking into buying a new iMac soon.

    Ignore those comments about playing in native resolution. Yes, it will look better. Will it look bad at lower resolutions? Will it balls. Even low res fast games trick the eye into smoothing the image out, however at anything less than native resolution I'd switch on AA.

    (I've been playing TF2 on my iMac since the beta. 1280*800 on a 1680*1050 display = with 4xAA it looks sublime. I can run it at the full res on my gaming rig beside the iMac, but I'd take the quieter iMac over that for most games)

    Those lovely, "powerful" HD consoles look nice on your HDTV? Most Xbox and PS3 games run in 720p, whilst popular titles like GTAIV and COD barely run above PAL SD resolutions!
  23. Ace134blue macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2009
    If you want the 27in monitor, than get one. But build a PC with a proper gaming video card. These 5670s and 5750s are pathetic. If you want a real GPU, get a GTX 580 which is 10x faster than a 5750 and will easily do the full 2560x1440 resolution with zero lag.
  24. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    The iMacs are fine gaming systems - they will play all the games you throw at it just fine.

    However, if you want to be on the bleeding edge and enable all the bells and whistles (FSAA, and all that stuff) or want to play the most graphically-intensive games at maximum settings, then yes, your only option is to get a PC - there are no realistic options in Apple's lineup for that kind of gaming (yes, the Mac Pro can, in theory, do that, but the price is astronomical compared to what you can get with a gaming PC).

    Personally, I play computer games a lot, but I tend to play older games (BioShock and prior generally), and my 2008 20" iMac does just fine, and the current iMacs are *much* better, both in terms of CPU and GPU.
  25. pionata macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2005
    I got the 27" iMac with the 4850 and it runs everything almost maxed out (depending on antialias settings).

    Amazing computer for those gamers that are not to obsessed about statistics.

    I would never even consider getting a PC unless gaming is the only thing you care about.

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