iMac Pro iMac Pro for Gaming

Discussion in 'iMac' started by seasurfer, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. seasurfer macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 12, 2007
    #1
    I have an iMac 5K 2014 (aka the first iMac 5K), playing World of Warcraft and Diablo III on it is painful. It is choppy, laggy and a lot of screen tearing.

    So I bought a gaming PC with 7700K and a 1080TI. Now, I can play WOW at max setting without any problem.

    But, I am starting to miss my Mac OS and iMac minimalist look on my desk. The gaming PC may be powerful, but I really hate all the wirings.

    Can anyone here share your gaming experience in an iMac Pro, both Vega 56 and 64? I may want to return my gaming PC and just spend more and get an iMac Pro.
     
  2. Mac32, Feb 15, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018

    Mac32 Suspended

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    #2
    Well, at this point it's hard to say really. Apple dropped the ball on the Bootcamp drivers big time, which affects the gaming experience. Here are the issues:

    Sound driver:
    Muffled/bad sound quality on the internal speakers.
    Static noise develops over time (about and hour), so you need to switch over to the headphone output for a little while. However, the headphone output has a latency bug, making it useless for gaming and video.

    Graphics driver:
    Apple is using some kind of generic Bootcamp driver with terrible performance in games. Bootcampdrivers,com has released a couple of iMac Pro GPU drivers, but they use a Radeon RX 580 driver to work, and the performance isn't all there yet (hopefully) - although a big upgrade from Apple's crappy drivers. I notice certain games have disappointing performance (STALKER Lost Alpha for instance), while others are fairly good - but will hopefully get better with a proper driver. Unfortunately Apple took nearly two years releasing their last Bootcamp drivers, so when Apple fixes these issues - who knows?

    There are some good news though. Matt (behind bootcampdrivers.com) is supposed to release a full driver this weekend (hopefully), and maybe this will perform better. Right now, afaik you can't undervolt or overclock, or use newer software feature like enhanced vsync..

    Another issue is that there is no working fan control software available at the moment, although it's being worked on. Playing modern games put a lot of strain on the machine, and will run very hot. I don't feel comfortable gaming without the ability to make custom fan profiles, and overclocking is out of the question. The guy behind Macs Fan Control is trying to update his software for the iMac Pro. Here's the link, if you want to help out:
    https://github.com/crystalidea/macs-fan-control/issues/11

    I felt much the same way as you. I like to game a bit, but prefer the Mac experience. I also wanted something more minimalistic and tidy (limited space etc.), without the cables and big cabinet. Though, I do some work in audio and video that makes the purchase kinda valid. However, if Apple releases a 6-core iMac with Vega 56 using updated cooling system before the summer, I basically blew a lot of money away - as that config would be more than enough for my uses. Basically, I just got tired of waiting. Apple's update cycle is not too predictable either, so the new iMac could get released in June, or maybe later (the latest 6-core CPU 8700k would probably need a better cooling solution/design update). There's not a lot of news about a new iMac model atm, so impossible to say when really.

    Bottom line, the iMac Pro is fairly rough around the edges at this point, but could get significantly better soon - if the graphics drivers and fan control software get improved - both crucial for gaming on the iMac Pro. Again, very disappointed by Apple who released buggy and unfinished Bootcamp drivers with the iMac Pro. Also remember the Vega Pro 64 is downclocked, and is closer to the Nvidia 1070 than 1080. Overclocking could fix that, but I don't know how this chip would respond in terms of thermals. My older Nvidia 680MX could be overclocked fairly aggressively, without any issues. The Vegas are known to run hot. Afaik from 1080 to 1080ti is about 25-30% improvement, and another 20-25% (?) from Vega Pro 64 to 1080. That makes the 1080ti a lot better, if gaming is your main interest. Also 2080 is around the corner...
     
  3. michelb76 macrumors member

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    Mar 8, 2016
    #3
    You may have the perfect machine for a hackintosh. Why not check www.tonymacx86.com for your hardware and see if all components are supported, and then just buy an extra drive to boot OSX from. I have bought a beefy set of pc components and a 4K display and built myself a super-quiet beast of a hackintosh for a lot less money. Not comparable to an iMac Pro ofc, but that thing is built for video, not gaming. A lot of the CPU cores will sit idle while the GPU does the work.

    I do my work on OSX, and reboot into Windows within a few seconds to play windows-only games. Works great, only have to be careful with OS updates. It's not for everyone, and this was my first PC build I have ever done in my 20 years of computing. The case is ugly as most are, but I went for quiet, and I dropped it under my desk. If you don't mind tinkering a bit from time to time, it's great.
     
  4. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 12, 2007
    #4
    I see. Thanks for the detail explanation. So basically, the hardware may be fine, but there is no software to support it.

    Therefore, it may be the same poor gaming experience as in the iMac 5K 2014 version. I suspect it is still not possible to run 10/10 Ultra settings in WOW.

    Do you have the Vega 56 version?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 16, 2018 ---

    My machine is a Corsair One. Is it possible to run Hackintosh?

    But even if I run Mac OS. I still can't do away with all the wirings. The best I can do at this time is to get my keyboard and mouse wireless. Asides from that the other wires are not possible to do away.

    It is not just that I miss Mac OS. It is those wirings that bother me. I like my desk to look really minimalist.
     
  5. Mac32, Feb 16, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018

    Mac32 Suspended

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    #5
    I have the Vega Pro 64. I think Vega Pro 56 vs 64 is not a big difference, because of the downclock and thermal limitations. But when you go big, go for broke...lol. :) I wondered if the higher stacked HBM2 ram for the 16gb version would heat up quicker (HBM throttles when it gets too hot), but there's little information about these things online. I actually bought the Vega 56 version first, but got cold feet - in dx12 there seems to be a solid ca. 15-18% difference between the desktop versions.

    I would like to test undervolting+overclocking, which could in theory bring a major performance improvement (it certainly did for my late 2012 iMac). But, then you need to control the fans (ie. Macs Fan Control must work). I've only tested overclock functionality with MSI Afterburner, but so far nothing works there. Again, the updated unofficial GPU driver this weekend could hopefully change this.

    I would wait and see a week or so, the gaming experience could see considerable improvement by then. The sound issues don't negate gaming, but it's a distraction for sure. I guess you could use a thunderbolt or USB sound card though, haven't gotten around to testing that yet.

    Having said all this, I don't regret the purchase...yet. It's a beautiful machine, and the updated fan system is a big deal. Updated microphone, camera and speakers is also a nice bonus. Hardly any other consumer/prosumer PC system can compete with the 5k iMac display, and the overall experience is great (esp. if Apple could get of their a**es and fix Bootcamp). After having fiddled around in Windows 10 the last few days, I'm more convinced than ever to stay with OSX. It's a much more streamlined and intuitive user experience, for me at least.

    PS: To ensure highest possible CPU core clock when gaming, and reduce temperature, one can permanently save CPU affinity settings for individual programs/games with Project Lasso. Disabling cores 1,3,5,7,9 etc. will effectively stop hyperthreading if I'm not mistaken. Haven't carefully benchmarked fps and temps yet.
     
  6. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    Hong Kong
    #6
    Going from Corsair One back to iMac Pro (for gaming) is a downgrade. And the Corsair One isn't that bad, one power cable, one monitor cable, that's it (wireless mouse and keyboard). The only extra cable (if compare to iMac Pro) is just the monitor cable. I don't think it's that bad.

    If there are lots of cable because you have external storage etc, that will be the same with the iMac Pro.

    Anyway, it's possible to install macOS on Corsair One by using Clover.

    https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/corsair-one.217991/
     
  7. Mac32, Feb 16, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018

    Mac32 Suspended

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    #7
    If the Corsair One w/1080 TI could work as a Hackintosh, then that would be an excellent solution. You'd get plenty of performance for everything. The latest Elite version with the liquid-cooled 8700K probably won't work though, because of the CPU.

    The upside for the iMac Pro is a more flexible, stable and predictable OSX experience (there are always issues popping up with these Hackintosh solutions afaik), and a good resale value.

    Seasurfer, if you try out the Hackintosh route, please inform us of your findings.
     
  8. shaunp macrumors 68000

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    Nov 5, 2010
    #8
    Around 18 months ago I had a nMP, 6-core with D700's. This at the time had the fastest GPU's on any new Mac. However it was never what I would call fast, and performance in Bootcamp was easily beaten by an old PC with fairly recent GPU (i7 3770K + GTX 980Ti). The simple fact is Macs will always be beaten by much cheaper PC's and consoles as a gaming platform and probably always will be.

    If you really must have Mac OS as your computing platform for your every day 'stuff' then stick with the iMac, it's more than good enough for that, sell the PC and just get a console. Save yourself all the hassle of swapping between platforms and keeping two OS's running. It's also cheaper and less prone to been broken by an update than a Hackintosh is either.

    Or do what I did and just ditch the Mac. ;)
     
  9. dimensional macrumors member

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    Jul 28, 2009
    #9
    I have an iMac Pro Vega 64. The bootcamp drivers suck BUT last week bootcampdrivers.com released drivers that work like a charm.

    I've been playing Overwatch at maximum settings at 2560x1440 without ever dropping below 60 FPS. (All the iMac screens, iMac Pro included, can only do 60 FPS -- so if you want 120Hz+ screens this might be a reason to not get an iMac Pro ... not really sure how big of a deal it is though.)
     
  10. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    California
    #10
    My man, I got you. I've played both WoW and D3 on macOS on my iMac Pro. For WoW, the settings I found most comfortable are to set the resolution to 2560x1440, crank the Anti-Aliasing to max, and set the setting level to 8. The fans turn on after 15 minutes or so of play, and you'll almost never drop below 40 FPS even in horrible graphical situations like Tarren Mill vs South Shore.

    D3 can be set to max settings at 2560 x 1440.

    I'm using a Vega 64, and the gaming experience is fine. Bootcamp drivers may suck, but you don't need Windows to play WoW / D3. (Thankfully)
     
  11. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 12, 2007
    #11
    You are mostly right, it is really not that bad. I got the Corsair One Pro 7700K 16GB 1080TI recently, it is the most beautifully designed PC on the market in my opinion, by PC standard it is pretty minimalist, hence I bought it.

    I ended up going back to wired mouse by using Deathadder Elite, I am not sure which is the best wireless mouse for WOW. I got the Corsair K63 wireless keyboard, thinking that it will free me of wire. I ended wiring it to charge it because the battery wouldn't last for more than 2 days if you turn on the light, also the K63 does not know how to automatically shut down to save battery like the way Apple Wireless Keyboard, quite disappointing. Then there is a also the speaker, I got the Nommo Chroma which has wires and I don't like it.

    If someone can recommend me a great wireless mouse, keyboard and speaker, it will be great.
     
  12. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    #12
    Have you tried the Razer Naga wireless versions? I think for WoW you're going to have a much better experience using an MMO mouse, and Razer Naga is macOS compatible. I personally use the new Razer Naga Trinity, which is wired but modular. I also recognize that there is some irony in the fact that my mouse is more modular than my workstation, but it is a pretty awesome mouse.
     
  13. CLS727 macrumors regular

    CLS727

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    Feb 5, 2018
    #13
    It's infuriating that in 2018... Apple machines are so far behind Windows in dev support for new AAA games.

    I would love to play more games... but I'm not going to buy a windows tower JUST for that.... easier to just get an XBOX... but that still leaves out a lot.... like Star Citizen.
     
  14. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 12, 2007
    #14
    Thank you for replying. You are the man I am looking to seek advice. This is really good to know.

    Can you play WOW at 5K resolution? and at what setting is doable? When I play on 2560x1440 with my iMac 5K 2014, I just couldn't stand the pixelated texts, the quality does not look good to me. Even at 2560x1440, the iMac 5K 2014 has too much screen tearing.

    Diablo III for whatever reason is completely unplayable on the iMac 5K 2014 under Mac OS 10.13.3 at this moment, I could play in Bootcamp under 2560x1440 resolution just fine, but the iMac will get heat up very fast and the computer easily shut down on its own.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 16, 2018 ---
    I haven't tried that yet, I recently got back into WOW and gaming. Since you recommend it, I am going to look it up right now.
     
  15. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    #15
    Yes, you can play WoW at 5K resolution. However you'd have to turn the setting level down to around 6 or so to get decent frame rates in most real heavy situations. Vertical Sync also completely removes tearing on my iMac Pro. I toyed with the idea of 5k gaming, but when you set the Anti-Aliasing to max while running at 2560x1440, it is really hard to tell the difference between that and 5k, but your GPU will thank you for it.

    I'm kinda surprised you have issues with D3. I've always found WoW to be much more intense on my system (might just be the content I do). But really you should have a decent time on D3 with the iMP. I haven't bothered boot camping my system yet, but I probably will in the upcoming weeks to do some CFD tests for some rocket scientists I work with.

    Regardless, if you ever see a post that says "the iMP sucks for gaming" - its probably talking about the bootcamp drivers. The macOS side of things runs awesomely.

    Some other things that help are to run the game in "Full Screen" as opposed to "Full Screen Windowed" - this reduces the load on your GPU and you will get better performance for it.
     
  16. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    At 2560x1440, with Vega 64, how is your experience if you run it at 10/10 all max setting?

    I am going to try it on my iMac 5K 2014 right now with your recommendation and see what happens.
     
  17. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #17
    I totally agree the Corsair One Pro is the best small form factor PC. I really want to buy one, but not available in my city. That's why I end up just buy a 1080Ti and plug that into my Mac Pro.

    In that case, the extra wire is because of your extra demand, not really because Corsair One vs iMac.

    e.g. If you happy with the display / TV speaker, then you can eliminate one wire. Or there are plenty of good quality BT speaker can "fix" it.

    Keyboard and mouse is pretty much the same. There should be lots of good wireless mouse / keyboard choice out there. I always game with my XB controller (even on my Mac), so, I don't know which one is good, may be other members here can give you better advice on this matter.
     
  18. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    #18
    Its playable, and probably fine in situations like Arena, but when you get into larger raids or battlegrounds it can get a little choppy. It also makes my fans spin up much louder for what feels like very marginal gains over the 8 setting level.
     
  19. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Took your advice, tested it on my iMac 5K 2014, it looks better than before. I didn't know vertical sync, it looks like vertical solved the screen tearing issues I faced. You are right, at max AA setting on WOW, the computer looks almost like 5K even when it is only under 2560x1440. All these is done under an iMac 5k of 3 year old.

    So I may assume the Vega 64, which is max top of the line Mac product now could do better?
     
  20. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    #20
    Yes. The Vega 64 is loaded up with HMB2 memory too, so it handles situations where there are tons of particle effects on the screen better. I've found that the server will crash or disconnect me before I reach unplayable frame rates in WoW.

    10/10 would recommend the iMac Pro again. But be careful, this is one expensive machine if you're not taking advantage of the Xeon processor or the large RAM volume in some other application.
     
  21. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I regretted getting the Nommo Chroma, the speaker itself is good but I don't like the wires. Well, I didn't want it originally, those guys in Micro Center recommended it and I bought. Their recommendation is not wrong, the speaker is really top notch, just those wires....

    There is another problem. My eyes are so used to 5K resolution that anything else looks pixelated to me now. With the Corsair One, I got the Alienware 34 inch curved 3440x1440p to pair with it. As far as I know, this Alienware monitor is considered by many to be the best on the market at the moment, hence I got it. But in my opinion, the iMac with its 5K resolution, still look much sharper...even though it can never achieve the 100 FPS I am getting in WOW now.
     
  22. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

    SecuritySteve

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    #22
    I too recently switched from a 34" ultra wide. I kinda miss the extra real estate, but the sharpness of the screen during normal work is a nice bonus. I wish that the refresh rate of these monitors was 70-75 Hz instead of 60, it would make a world of difference for someone like me who can feel the difference between the two. Really you're trading off refresh rate for resolution sharpness, which some may like one more than the other. As far as the iMac Pro's speakers go, they sound a little too bass heavy to me, but that's very subjective.
     
  23. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23

    Yeah...this is my real dilemma on the top of those wires.

    Corsair One + Alienware 34 vs iMac Pro Vega 64 for gaming (playing WOW mainly).

    High refresh rate at 120Hz but lower resolution vs 5K crispy resolution with 60Hz.....which is better?
     
  24. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Its a totally subjective answer, and varies from person to person. I'm getting used to 60 Hz pretty fast though, so thats something to consider.
     
  25. seasurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25

    So I took your recommended settings on my iMac 5K 2014 with max anti-aliasing and noticed a huge difference when it is 2560X1440. Graphics clearly are smoother.

    I took the same max anti-aliasing setting to my Corsair One with Alienware 34 set at 120Hz, I didn't noticed any difference at all, but FPS drop from 110-120 to 70s when I turn on anti-aliasing, why is that so? In essence, I am not able to notice any difference between turning on AA and turning off AA?
     

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