iMac 27 inch and gaming

palebluedot

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 29, 2008
715
77
I was waiting to buy a new Macbook Pro but as soon as they were released today I said "meh" and decided maybe I should buy a brand new iMac and keep my Early 08 MBP. I want to get a new Mac in preparation for the upcoming launch of Steam on OS X and just because mine is long in the tooth for Windows gaming.

Anyways... I just had a thought and was wondering if any owners could clear it up. The resolution on the 27 i7 Quad Core seems ENORMOUS for a middle-grade ATI GPU. Are you able to game on high settings for semi-modern games like L4D2, TF2, etc. at the 27"'s native resolution? What are your thoughts on it as a gaming machine. It seems like the 27" will obsolete itself quicker than a i5/i7 21 inch (if one ever comes out) due to the screen resolution size.
 

TMRaven

macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
2,099
1
The extra resolution doesn't effect games as much as people say. From my experiences with games like SC2 beta, dirt2 and modern warfare, going from the native 2560x1440 resolution to 1920x1080 resolution only nets you around 8-10 fps on average.
The real kicker is anti-aliasing, because enough of it will usually max out the amount of available bandwidth the gpu has.

Speaking of bandwidth-- the mobility 4850 in the iMac is no where near a "middle-grade gpu." I mean sure you could say it is middle-grade to the desktop counterparts, but we're making an argument here that there will never be a desktop grade discrete gpu in a form-factor such as the iMac. The mobility 4850 is designated as a "high-end notebook" mobile gpu and is one of the few mobile gpus that sports a 256 bit bus. Even most of the newer ati mobility 5k series are lesser performing than mobility 4850, with smaller buses. Only mobility 4870 and 5870 are superior as far as mobile ati cards.


As far as actual performance? I get:

30 fps out of dirt2 with max resolution and graphics settings; 4xaa
50 fps out of starcraft2 beta with max resolution and max graphics settings, save shaders to high (current shaders in sc2 seem to be bugged out-- at least for ati cards)
60 fps out of modern warfare1 with max resolution and max graphics settings; 4xaa
 

Lifequest

macrumors regular
Feb 9, 2010
107
0
Yes I was under the impression that the iMacs sport the ATI 4850 desktop, not "mobility". Can someone confirm?

Regardless, the 4850 Mobility (1069 RANK 40) and 4850 (1334 RANK 22).
We're getting - if i'm correct - a rank 22 Video Card.
Yeah...rip off. But I'm happy. Not an intense gamer.

Friend just built a custom PC for $2k, it rips my $3k (australia) iMac in any benchmarks.

Oh sorry, GPU benchmarks here, ALSO, many new GPUs not added to the list, so the 4850 is actually lower ranked...
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu_list.php
 

BulletToothTony

macrumors 6502
Jan 5, 2009
400
16
just so u know after messing around with cod4 i wasn't able to run the Native Resolution on my 27" C2D 3.06 imac but when i lowered the resolution to 1920x1080 i was able to MAX all settings.

the i5 n i7 have a better video card i believe.. but at least now u know a trick. and to be perfectly honest i could NOT tell the difference between native and 1080p

either way cod4 ran smooth and i'm sure l4d or scs will do as well
 

Rodus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2008
679
0
Midlands, UK
The 4850 in the iMac is definitely a mobility model, if you use ATI's drivers catalyst drivers then it even identifies as such, running with a core speed of 500 Mhz and VRAM speed of 850 Mhz, however you can happily overclock it to desktop GPU speeds and beyond. I'm running at 670 Mhz/970 Mhz and with SMC fan control it doesn't get over 65 c.

the i5 n i7 have a better video card i believ
yup, 4850 in the ix models, 4670 in the Core 2.
 

Kinoko

macrumors newbie
Apr 14, 2010
1
0
what about the CPU?

I'm also thinking about buying an 27" iMac, my first mac ever. I want the better GPU, because I plan on doing some occasional gaming that requires it, but I'm still torn between the i5 and i7. I fail to find any conclusive answers to if the i7 would provide me with something more than the i5, especially in terms of gaming, would I even notice the difference?

The difference between i7 and i5 for me is 170€ (230$, 150£). I don't need newish games to blow me away, I just want them to work smoothly after paying 2000€ for a computer :p. (..the 170€ would buy me a nice wii that I've been planing to buy for ages..)

tl;dr: i5 or i7, gaming. does it make a difference?
 

NATO

macrumors 68000
Feb 14, 2005
1,693
27
Northern Ireland
I don't think it makes much difference between the i5 and i7 apart from the raw MHz difference between the two (and even then it's a small difference). Games aren't very multi-threaded so you'd be hard pushed to find a game that would use 4 cores, never mind the 8 (4 + 4virtual) cores in the i7.
 

TMRaven

macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
2,099
1
There was an article I read somewhere that compared gaming performance of i5 to i7 in a multitude of modern titles.

Almost all of the games had same FPS, except for a couple here and there that got 2-3 more fps from i7.

You'd sooner get more FPS out of 1333mhz ram than an upgrade to i7 I'm afraid.
 

palebluedot

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 29, 2008
715
77
It is a shame that the 21" does not have an i5 :( that would be great.

Thanks for the responses so far folks! As to the questions why an iMac... Well I am part of that small subset of hardcore games who are also hard core Mac OS X users and it's more cumbersome to have 3 computers on my desk. I'd rather consolidate to a Mac laptop and Mac desktop.

My main fear, as I said, is that the 27" res is huge for such a middle grade card (according to what you could get on a desktop rig with a 27" monitor and spec the settings).

:p
 

TMRaven

macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
2,099
1
The mobility 4850 has the bandwidth of most modern day desktop gpus, it's only lacking in raw core speed-- which can be overclocked at any time if necessary.

Your performance will definitely not suffer!
 

Rodus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2008
679
0
Midlands, UK
Well I am part of that small subset of hardcore games who are also hard core Mac OS X users and it's more cumbersome to have 3 computers on my desk. I'd rather consolidate to a Mac laptop and Mac desktop. :p
I'm in exactly the same boat as you, the 27" i5 is a great gaming machine. The Stalker Games, Metro 2033, Crysis et al all run very nicely.
 

ChronoIMG

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2003
196
0
San Francisco, CA
I'm in exactly the same boat as you, the 27" i5 is a great gaming machine. The Stalker Games, Metro 2033, Crysis et al all run very nicely.
Can you tell me about the noise levels when running a GPU intensive game? I'm interested in buying the 27" iMac instead of the new MBP's refresh but I'm concerned about noise. My current MBP (Late 2007) sounds like a helicopter when playing anything that uses the GPU at all. It's so loud in fact that I've tried moving it under my desk but it's still annoyingly loud.

Thanks.
 

Rodus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2008
679
0
Midlands, UK
OS X side is very quiet, CoD 4 maxed out and running for ages hardly gets the fan up at all (although that may change if we have a hot summer). Under Windows I have SMC fan control running all the time 'cos the GPU is overclocked and it is a little noisy, so I turn up my surround sound :) problem solved. I'd rather have a little fan noise and a cool graphics card then a toaster. The sound is nothing like the new Fermi cards however.

If you are a gamer then the Radeon 4850 blows the Nvidia 330m out the water, no comparison.
 

ChronoIMG

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2003
196
0
San Francisco, CA
If you are a gamer then the Radeon 4850 blows the Nvidia 330m out the water, no comparison.
Yeah and that just makes me sad :(

My MBP gets both fans up to 6000rpm when running any game making it just really loud and annoying. Sure I can turn on music and what not to drown it out but sometimes I'd prefer not too.

It's looking more and more like I'm getting an iMac and keeping my MBP as a spare machine for travelling, etc.
 

Fraaaa

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,081
0
London, UK
I wanted to buy a new MBA but probably I'll buy an high-end iMac and stick with my ol' MacBook.

I ought to play Diablo III!
 

alanwong

macrumors member
Apr 13, 2010
33
0
Sydney
Installed Oblivion under XP on my 27" i5 iMac yesterday.

At full resolution it looks beautiful but thought that it chugged a bit compared to my old AMD with a 8800GT running at 1680 x 1050...
 

TMRaven

macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
2,099
1
You should be able to get 60fps out of oblivion easily. Install fraps and find out your fps!
 

alanwong

macrumors member
Apr 13, 2010
33
0
Sydney
Install fraps and find out your fps!
But won't the FPS be dependent on what you're doing (and hence looking at) in the game at that time? I.e. if in a room the FPS would be higher than outdoors?

What I'd need (to be scientific about it) is a script I could run for Oblivion... ;)
 

MCFinn

macrumors newbie
Oct 29, 2009
11
0
I'm in the same boat with you. I wanted to get the 27" iMac ages ago, but had to fight the urge because of the reported problems and "disappointing" choice of GPU.

Then I waited for this latest batch of MBPs that was supposed to be replacing my aging MBP (SR, 2.4C2D, 15", 8600GT), but once again, I'm not too happy with their choice of a GPU. *sigh*

I hope Apple upgrades their 27" iMacs with HD5850 goodness soon!