Is gaming popular on macs? How bad are these cards?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by thedon1, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. thedon1 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2010
    there seems to be a lot of threads about the performance of the graphics cards in these refreshed macs.

    I used to be a big pc gamer but since i got my 360 have played only one game on my pc. Graphics card is no longer a concern for me.

    I'm not trying to say pc gaming is dead or anything, things like wow and steam are doing really well.

    I'm asking about it's popularity on macs because people are complaining about cards being relatively underpowered but i assume they always were. If this is true, then there would have been not many mac gamers anyway. Is this a case of people abandoning their pc's and not coming over as opposed to abandoning their macs?
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    They are good enough to play nearly all modern games at native resolution with mid-highest settings at native resolution with 30+ fps. The mobility 4850 in my iMac is good enough to play starcraft2 at native resolution on all highest settings and gets 30fps.

    The people who complain about the cards being underpowered are the same people who show you desktop gpu benchmarks and comparisons, who are also the same people who probably go out and buy the latest 2-slot pci-express card every time it comes out. In other words they like maximizing their gaming performance, even if only a few games can benefit from that type of performance.

    Extreme gamers are a very small minority of overall computer users in the real world, but are a very loud majority of computer users on internet forums. ;)
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    No, the cards aren't all that great. Sure, they can play modern games, but, for example, the graphics card in the low end mac came out in Sep, of 2008. So sure it can play a new game on medium settings, but a year from now it'll be new games on low settings, and that's ridiculous for a $1000 machine.

    Not only that, but it means that the cards are unsupported that much faster. For example, I got my Macbook Pro in march of 2007. But the video card in it, the x1600, was released in early 2006. By the time Windows 7 came out, the computer was less than 3 years old, but the video card was already End of Life'd by ATI, and hence my computer doesn't have an official video card driver. So while my computer was less than 3 years old, on paper at least, it was already out-dated if I wanted to run Windows. Had Apple put a graphics card released in 2007 in my computer, I wouldn't have had this problem.

    So yes, while the graphics card may be sufficient for now, it is a problem in the longer run.
  4. bolen macrumors 6502


    Jul 22, 2008
    That's true, it's a bit strange that they're using old series of cards. At least they could have used new series but the ones with the same performance.

    But of course, they want everyone to buy a new computer every now and then. They are no charity, they are a profit driven company. Apple is also very well known for having good margins.
  5. MacInLaw macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2010
    Hardcore gamers are not going to be served well by Macs. If your life revolves around spending $500 to get an extra 10 FPS in Crysis, an iMac is not going to be the right machine for you. Macs can run the latest games, but are not really gaming rigs. For running the popular games - WOW, Starcraft 2, etc., the iMac is fine. But it's not a bleeding-edge gaming machine.

    You're in the same boat I'm in: if I want to play an FPS I use a console. I will play StarCraft 2 and Civ V on my iMac because those games don't work on consoles. Those games will run great on my iMac.

    Apple, quite frankly, is not trying to compete with custom-built gaming rigs. That's not their market and it will never be. The iMac makes a decent gaming rig for most games, but it's not designed for people who obsess about building their 3133+ r1g.

    If all you want to do is play Starcraft or Portal or WOW or Civ V, the iMac is perfectly capable. If you want to get 100FPS at ridiculous resolutions and full AA in some random FPS, you're better off building your own system.
  6. Zelnaga macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2010
    Which iMac do you own?
  7. dagomike macrumors 65816

    Jun 22, 2007
    Bah. Console gaming is where it's at. Everything else, the current iMacs should be able to do fine, especially at 512 MB-1 GB memory.

    I can understand people wanting more value for their money, but I don't think the specs are worth obsessing over.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Mos tof people posting here seem to have very limited idea about graphics programming. There is only so much power games need. Actually, GPU performance stopped its rapid development since some time now, with super-high-performance cards using some sort of SLI or Crossfire. On the other hand, since Crysis, games also stopped demanding higher and higher performance. I mean, I was able to run absolutely anything on an aged 8800gt, with decent quality, including some very recent games. Right now, most cards are fast enough to do some amazing things, and the graphics programming is moving towards advanced algorithms. The flexibility of graphics hardware is way more important now. New APIs, like the OpenGL 3+ and DX10+ have introduced new ways of doing things more effectively than it was possible earlier. Here, it is possible to do more advanced stuff with less processing power, and many companies have actually adopted DX11 to improve the performance of their games by using some of this efficiency. And I believe, this is the trend that will follow in next years.

    While the radeon 5xxx series in the iMac is not the fastest card around, it is one of the fastest cards in the notebook segment (which Apple has to use because of power/heat issues). And while it probably won't be able to run all graphics demanding games at full resolution and ultra high quality, there is no real reason it should be able to do that in the first place. At that resolution, you need no AA, and you actually don't need the 25xx resolution or 100+ fps as well for the games to be enjoyable. Even when you downscale the resolution to around 19xx, it still looks nice on the 27" monitor. I mean, PS3 is based on geforce 7600 and it is still doing great. If you really want a gaming rig that can push unnecessary fps numbers, get a PC with a Crossfire setup. iMac is not built for these things nor could it possibly do these things because of form factor limitations. Overall, the GPU of the iMac is ok to enjoy gaming and will be so in some years to come. Just don't expect it to run at ultra high quality.
  9. dwarnecke11 macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2009
    When you put it down on paper, the iMac is actually a good value. The display alone is $1000 retail (Dell or Apple), CPU is about $290, GPU is about $180, HD is about $90, SuperDrive, logic board, case, PSU, and don't forget the Magic Mouse and Wireless Keyboard. Top it off with peerless build quality and you have a great product.

    Gaming rigs don't need a high-end IPS display. The massive savings of going to a cheap TN panel would allow you to invest in a high-end GPU such as the desktop Radeon 5870.

    The iMac is better at gaming than some give it credit for. The Mobility Radeon 5850 is a respectable card.
  10. Zelnaga macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2010
    I just want to know how the 5670 fares. I need some benchmarks!!!:(
  11. MathijsDelva macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2008
  12. niuniu macrumors 68020


    Mar 29, 2009
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    Anyone who says these new cards are bad for gaming or hardcore gamers wouldn't use them is full of shoot
  13. peakchua macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    compared to other brands,the gpu and specs ARE WONDERFUL and for the quality and price of APPLE is good look at lenovo, asus,dell, gateway, hp THEY DONT COME CLOSE
  14. zaffle macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2009
    i don't know what it's worth, but with my radeon 4850 i can max out Unreal Tournament 3 at native resolution with no problem whatsoever.

    people saying you can't run games at native res on a 27" iMac are talking bs.
  15. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I don't think anyone on the board is saying that they're bad for gaming, but what hardcore gamer would choose a non-upgradable, 6 month old card, as their primary graphics card in their new, $2000, machine?

    Heck, my main computer is a PC I built specifically for music and gaming, and it's only got a 4550 in it. The 5850 is leaps and bounds better than it, but when I feel like upgrading to a 5000 or 6000 series card, I can, for a modest investment. In fact, if I wasn't saving up for a motorcycle, I could have already purchased a 5500ish fanless graphics card for around $150.

    The gamer who got the iMac is at Apple's mercy to release a new iMac with an upgraded graphics card (you know how Apple usually keeps the same graphics card for a revision or two?) and then needs to buy a whole new computer, not just a new graphics card.

    And that is what I'm saying is bad. not the card itself, but the card in a year or two, when it's a year or two + 6 -18 months out of date and there's nothing you can do about it.
  16. MacInLaw macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2010
    I have an early 2008 20", with the HD 2400. I have a new i7 on order, should arrive next week.

    Personally, all the stuff about the new iMac having a low-end card seems overblown to me. From what I've heard, Starcraft 2 taxes the CPU more than the GPU - and the CPUs in the iMac line are very powerful. Not to mention that the mobile 5850 is a decently fast card. Not top of the line, but very much a mainstream card.
  17. REM314 macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2009
    These cards are great for laptops.

    Behind a 27'' high quality screen...not so much.

    You'll get ok performance right now. In a year or two you'll be hard pressed to play games on medium quality. Depends on how long it takes you to buy a new iMac.
  18. ceshimm macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2010
    5850m is not bad at all. even at native res. plus u do not have to play games full screen all the time.for some heavy games, lower res in a window mode will be just great.
  19. palebluedot macrumors 6502a


    Jun 29, 2008
    The one thing you need to learn about talking about GPUs or gaming on MR is that everyone "knows whats best" :p

    I am a "hardcore" gamer who switched to Macs about 2 1/2 years ago. It was the toughest decesion I have ever made, and while I am happy I did, it is a constant frustration. Let's put aside the fact that I dislike console FPS gaming (I'm an old school PC gamer), which is a viable option for some if not most.

    So I am left with a choice... cheap and highly powerful PCs or over-priced Macs. I could just buy a PC and put it on my desk and use the Mac for everything else but for me that is impractical. Whatever computer is sitting in front of me (AKA a giant PC monitor and keyboard) will become my main computer because it is easier to use than turning to a laptop right next to the computer. So I need to go with a Mac because for day-to-day workflow stuff I think Macs/OS X are superior.

    That said, every time I buy a Mac I cringe because I am paying like 70% markup on 1 year old technology. I'd be happier if they dropped the price to a reasonable level and sold the old tech. I am not a "hardcore" gamer in the sense that I play Crysis and demand 10 FPS. But using a 1 year old card on a 2000 dollar 27" machine DOES matter because your human eye can see the difference between 25-30FPS and 60 FPS. Beyond 60 it doesn't matter and thats when the over-clocker people get crazy.

    So to my fellow Mac brethren, realize that there are some of us (a small minority I'm sure) who struggle with justifying the high "Apple Tax" in our heads every time we fork over some more money to the mighty Jobs.

    My personal hope is with the advent of Steam on OS X (probably the most profound thing to happen to "Mac gaming" since the Intel switch) Apple will realize that there is a market for non-iOS devices and non-underclocked/old-tech machines. Steve, please give us a mid-range Mac Pro option! :D
  20. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    The Radeon 2600 I have in my 20" iMac is actually perfectly fine. Every game runs on it with no problems..

    ..except GTA IV, which runs like a dog :D

    Hoping the Radeon 5670 can do a better job!
  21. Tarzanman macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    LOL. Dude, that game is like 3 years old. I could probably play it at full res on my smart phone

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