iMac Gaming: frame rate vs resolution

Discussion in 'iMac' started by desmond2046, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. desmond2046, Nov 29, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015

    desmond2046 macrumors regular

    desmond2046

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #1
    I used to play games on a PC with 23-inch 1080p display and it looks perfectly fine to me. However, when I started gaming on iMac 5K (with Windows 10), I realized how bad 1080p looks on this gorgeous display :( The aliasing is strong, the texts are blurry... When I set the resolution to 1440p, everything starts to look amazing again. I think it has something to do with the perfect 4 to 1 scaling.

    Unfortunately, the Tonga graphic card (R9 M395) comes with the iMac is not really a 1440p card. On paper, it is almost equivalent to R9 285. However, I constantly get lower fps than R9 285 in the benchmarks (maybe due to thermal throttling, maybe the outdated driver, not sure).

    I played GTA 5 and Witcher 3 on my iMac, the frame rates are roughly as follows:

    GTA 5 high settings
    1440p: 45fps
    1080p: >60fps

    Witcher 3 medium settings
    1440p: 35fps
    1080p: 55fps

    For GTA 5, I definitely prefer 1440p. But for Witcher 3, the 30ish fps becomes really annoying... I have to make a choice between the resolution and the frame rate. But it is a really hard choice!

    With the recent games becoming more and more taxing, I doubt the iMac can handle any AAA game well at 1440p from 2016. Good news is that at least Tonga is ~2x the power of the GCN units in XBOX One, which means it will hopefully handle the latest games at 1080p / 30fps for the next 5 years.

    So what would you compromise? The frame rate or the resolution?
     
  2. AnTaR3s macrumors regular

    AnTaR3s

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Location:
    Vienna
    #2
    Personally I do not care whether I play at 60fps/30fps, or 1080p/1440p. I find some games to be very well playable at 30fps, where others are not. So I usually go for whatever fps feels fine and then max out the resolution. Gaming beyond 1440p is nonsense anyway in my opinion, so I mostly stick with these two resolutions.

    On the other hand I would not count on your m395 (no X I presume, therefore 2GB VRAM) to be able to handle games well for the next 5 years. You will have to compromise on some details and go for medium/low specs at some point. ;)
     
  3. mosher macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    Location:
    Germany/Ukraine
    #3
    DOTA2
    1440p All maxed out 70fps
    4k all maxed out 30fps

    P.S.: waiting for Vulkan API, which should improve FPS drastically
     
  4. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    #4
    Which card do you have? I have the m395x and I can do 1440p gaming no problem. I can play many games at full 5k, granted it's games like civilization 5 and Homeworld but still, it's certainly capable of high resolutions.

    Anyways, 1440p is the gold standard for gaming, anything beyond that is hard to notice during most gaming. In something like a top down rts going beyond that is nice for fine detail on relatively static areas but once motion is involved, it's truly hard to notice anything beyond that. I'm pretty deep into the videography world and over there theres been a huge debate in going up to 4k video, most people can't actually see a difference. So when a client asks for a 4k video, the videographer will shoot in 1080 then just upscale it to 4k and clients can't tell. Personally I think that's dishonest but it just goes to show you that we've reached a point of diminishing returns with resolution alone.

    Framerates? That's another matter. I've never had a high end computer and did all my gaming on things like an xbox so 30fps is pretty acceptable to me. Honestly in some games 60fps is actually a turn off, it highlights the flaws and jerky animations. If it's a shooter or racing game, having 60fps is nice and makes it feel smoother, but in something like the Witcher or Fallout, I have no problem with 30-40fps. If it's dropping BELOW 30 then it's a problem.

    So to me, 1440p and then the highest settings I can get it to and average around 40fps and I'm happy. (which is something my imac can certainly do with Fallout 4 and Battlefront)
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #5
    Its in his original post

     
  6. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    #6
    Hmm, that seems odd he'd have such a performance difference.
    OH and witcher 3 is capped at 30fps on xbone and ps4. So you're still getting better gameplay than them. ;)
     
  7. desmond2046 thread starter macrumors regular

    desmond2046

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    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #7
    You can't talk about performance difference among different games. Civ5 is a completely different story. Did you try Witcher 3 or Fallout 4 on your iMac? Even desktop R9 380X cannot do 1440p at 60fps.
     
  8. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    #8
    Cant talk about performance difference among different games? That's silly. Of course they're all different but to say "the m295 not really a 1440p card" is nonsense. It totally is. There ARE gpus that physically can't go over a certain resolution, your gpu is completely capable of high res gaming, just depends on many other factors.

    It's very hard to talk about absolutes and black and white and "cannot do" in the world of gaming. I can play fallout 4 in 1440p and keep 60fps if I'm on "low" settings in fallout 4. So don't say it can't happen. It's a very complex web of textures and and polygons and lighting and physics that all work together to slow things down, you gotta just prioritize certain things to work within your "graphical budget." So if you want high quality textures and a high framerate, you'll need to drop down to 1080p on demanding games (fallout 4). If you want high framerates and high resolution, you'll need to sacrifice texures and effects. You can find youtube vids of guys running witcher 3 on normal settings and getting good framerates at 1440p on the m295x, wouldn't expect the m295 to be THAT much worse?
     
  9. UniDoubleU macrumors regular

    UniDoubleU

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2014
    Location:
    Thailand
    #9
    Well, there's always a trade off in playing cutting-edge game at high settings. I have the m295x and have been enjoying 1440p gaming since launch, granted the only new game I've been playing is GTA V and I can get 50-60 FPS on average. The trick is reading up on what can safely be turned on or off and what graphical effects they do, sometimes medium or high is enough and looks the same but smoother! Texture is a VRAM thing and newer games are using more than 2 GB. Usually shadows are a huge spec-hog, as with all forms of AA which are less useful at high resolution. I can say things have been much better with the latest Bootcamp driver though.

    Bethesda games are very fun but they're hugely unoptimised what with their archaic engine, expect things to be fixed up quite a bit with updates and mods (not to mention all the horrible bugs). As for the Witcher 3, it's probably just really demanding and you'll have to do your research and experiment.

    It's always resolution for me, I mainly play single player games and we've already got a kickass display.

    Here's the page I used, and some Reddit posts also.
    http://www.gamersnexus.net/game-bench/1909-gta-v-graphics-optimization-guide
     
  10. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    #10
    AFAIK the M395X is about 12% better than the M395.

    If gaming I'd always go for higher frame rates over higher res. A little blurriness may feel a tiny bit worse but getting killed because of a split-second frame drop would feel a lot worse ;)
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    I agree, frame rates are better then resolution for me. ITs not as fun if the game stutters or lags, especially during an intensive period.

    FWIW, I haven't played computer games in eons, but now that I own a nice desktop, I downloaded an older fallout game to see how that works and at medium quality setting, the playing was good. I haven't gotten to far into the game, but I played with it for about an hour last night.
     
  12. richwoodrocket macrumors 68020

    richwoodrocket

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2014
    Location:
    Hamburg, NY
    #12
    If I had to play on the iMac I'd definitely sacrifice resolution for framerate.
    I can't go back to playing at 30 fps. For me 1080p is perfectly fine.
    I'm starting to regret only getting a 4GB (technically 3.5GB) card. (GTX 970)
     
  13. jitgill macrumors member

    jitgill

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2015
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    #13
    I play WoW at 5K on "good" settings and avg between 27 and 36 fps in the wild and it is very playable with v-sync on. However while raiding I do have to step down the res quite a bit to 1080p. The eye candy at 5k is fantastic and has given me renewed interest in the game.

    We all want something different out of a game I guess. Some, like me, will sacrifice framerate over resolution. The iMac is not a gaming machine and was never meant to be, but for me, it works just fine for my humble needs.
     
  14. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    #14
    Agreed, plus macs in general are not ideal for gaming. But have you tried running WoW on bootcamp? You will likely see 20-30% better frame rates as windows makes better use of the GPU.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #15
    Agreed and I'm not a gamer but with that said, now that I have a desktop, it might be nice to try one, once in a while :)
     
  16. desmond2046 thread starter macrumors regular

    desmond2046

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #16
    That's true. I wish I had a separate gaming PC (not a console person:) !
     
  17. ileff macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    #17
    i got dirt 3 and it works nicely on the 395 1440p 60fps. ps4 controller over blutooth :)
     
  18. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    #18
    Witcher 3 update, I've had it for a while but haven't had a chance to really sit down and play till now so wanted to give some feedback.

    On 1440p and ultra settings with no mods, I was getting about 24 fps when in cities. That's the framerate movies are at but ugh it was hard to game on.

    Dropping it down to 1080p and same settings brought the framerate to 31fps, which is on par with console framerates and a higher resolution and amount of detail.

    1440p I can run 60fps if I have it on low settings. Takes away the immersion factor quite a bit in my opinion so I'd glady sacrifice a few fps to get richer detail.

    The way I've been playing is with all settings at ultra with shadows on low (honestly I see no difference) and water on mid detail and thats been getting me 48fps on 1080p, 38 no 1440p. I like to lean back in my chair so I set it to 1080 cuz from 4 feet away on a 27" screen the human eye can't see the difference so may as well get better framerate right?

    One BIG tip is turn off "hairworks." My god, that drops the framerates down to the mid teens, all it does it make hair a bit more flowy and silky and it's a huge performance drop. From my reading online it's cuz it's optimized for nvidia gpus. I'm not sure how that works but I can very much say it's true.
     
  19. Melodeath macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    #19
    What settings and FPS are you getting in Fallout 4?
     
  20. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #20
    I'm trying my hand at an older fallout game, in the hopes that A. My computer will show that it can play games decently, and B. I like the Fallout series.

    So far performance is good on my M390, but I also understand its an apples and oranges thing, i.e., Fallout 4 is a more demanding game.
     
  21. LeeTBTS macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    #21
    turn off AA and you'll be able to max out most games at 50-60 fps in 2.5k or 4k on a retina as long as you disable per pixel post processing, like anti-aliasing, motion blur etc.
     

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