Is the current Mini good for light gaming?

thatguyytho

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 26, 2014
3
0
Tamaulipas, Mexico
I want to buy a mini so I could play basic games like Minecraft, WoT, and light Steam games. I seen in other reviews that it can't handle good games, however, I plan to upgrade the memory and use an external 1 TB hard drive. Since my budget is limited, I can't buy a iMac or MacBook, suggestions?
 

COrocket

macrumors 6502
Dec 9, 2012
483
1
I've played Kerbal Space Program which is available from steam moderately well. You can probably find a PC with better specs for the price, otherwise it looks like the mini is your only option. Check out the reviews of the HD4000 integrated graphics, as that is what will limit you. It is also worth noting that there is always the possibility that Apple may release something new at WWDC in 6 days, which may give you a better option.
 

thatguyytho

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 26, 2014
3
0
Tamaulipas, Mexico
I've played Kerbal Space Program which is available from steam moderately well. You can probably find a PC with better specs for the price, otherwise it looks like the mini is your only option. Check out the reviews of the HD4000 integrated graphics, as that is what will limit you. It is also worth noting that there is always the possibility that Apple may release something new at WWDC in 6 days, which may give you a better option.
Yeah, but it's probable that the price tag will go up, $600 is what I can spend, at most
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
1,549
3
Maybe you can grab a refurb/second hand 2011 with Radeon for say 400$. That leaves some cash for an SSD and RAM. That is still the fastest mini when it comes to games.
Don't expect too much of the keynote next week regarding the mini. You still should wait to see what happens.
At best we get an intermediate Mini update with HD4600 graphics. The real update will happen by the end of the year earliest as a Mini really needs the new 14nm Intel architecture due this autumn to gain some significant power.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,772
2,043
Yeah, but it's probable that the price tag will go up, $600 is what I can spend, at most
If they release one around WWDC and the price goes up due to continuing to track the current macbook pros, refurbished units and remaining stock will be cheaper. If you're budget conscious it works out in your favor either way. They aren't that great for gaming though.
 

OS-SEX

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2012
84
53
The current mini is a great computer for most tasks but it's terrible for gaming. I thought as a "light gamer" I'd be ok with a mini but even older 3D games like World of Warcraft and StarCraft II are nearly unplayable. I finally had to face facts and sell mine. I replaced it with a 2009 Mac Pro with Radeon 5770 and now I'm a happy gamer again.
 

iMacFarlane

macrumors 65816
Apr 5, 2012
1,123
23
Adrift in a sea of possibilities
Unless the OP is tied to OS X for some reason, with a $600 budget, build yourself a budget gaming PC that will outperform the current mini by a factor of 10 at the same price. Just look up some benchmarks of some of these newer $150 GPUs. Hundreds of frames per second in modern games on crap PCs are possible with them. Really makes one wonder why Apple isn't addressing this segment in their entire line, but preferring and shaping it's entire line to integrated solutions.
 

Mcdevidr

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2013
607
145
Well I agree for gaming a windows box is cheaper to throw together. I got tired of small form factor they are neat but I need to plug all my crap in and by that time it's a mess. I built a windows tower,minimal white, with i7 3790 and the gtx 750ti for pretty cheap these parts plus case and psu were around 500.

On to the question though. I don't play too many games but when I had the mini stock i5 version I was able to play civ V largest map. While it was slow towards the end of game it ran fine. Europa universalis iv ran with a lot of settings turned down. I also ran xcom on the i7 model which played fine. Civ V and europa universalis iv seemed a bit snappier on the i7 2.3 I owned for a few months.
 

tillsbury

macrumors 65816
Dec 24, 2007
1,416
345
Fine for *very* light gaming. Minecraft, Sim City 4, for example, run fine. Anything with 3d graphics and lighting is a dog. Wait till after the weekend...
 

Mattjeff

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2008
261
3
I second waiting for WWDC and the possibility of a spec bump.

As far as light gaming if you give some title names I might have played them. I consider myself a light to moderate gamer and I actually Love this Mini for it! Don't get me wrong, it's not going to play Battle field 4 well (if at all) but I have played a variety of games from the new Tomb Raider to Kerbel Space Program to Company of heroes (which plays very well).

Its all in how you play around with what you've got too. I put a SSD in mine and didn't upgrade the RAM with apple, I did it after I bought it. My whole system Mini W/ SSD, 16GB RAM, Mouse/Keyboard/speakers and 2 Dell monitors was sub $1000. I would be willing to offer suggestions there too.

Best of Luck!
 

RoastingPig

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
1,606
65
SoCal
Ive been able to play 2k14 on 1080p max ..fifa 14 on 1600x900 on medium...south park stick of truth plays at 2560x1440 on max..bioshock infinite can barley squeeze out 1280x720 on the lowest settings..black flag dosent play.. Bio shock 1 plays on 1080p on low..all games mentioned i was not able to run any anti aliasing
 

opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,680
602
Slovenia, EU
So, if you play mostly older games (aka, the most titles you can buy on GOG.com - but take care there are some quite demanding games in the past too), than, yes, the Mac mini with Intel HD4000 is OK.

However if you really want to try/play newer games, well, than I would recommend the same as the others suggested already. Build yourself a PC box.

But you don't need big, heavy ATX etc. PC boxes ... no, you can build yourself an ITX PC box, with a real ATX power supply ...

In a case like this:

Coolermaster Elite 130
http://www.coolermaster.com/case/mini-itx-elite-series/elite130/

or one of these:
http://www.coolermaster.com/product/Lines/mini-itx-elite-series.html

Anyway, there are many other manufacturers out there who have great looking and very interesting ITX PC cases for advanced users/gamers ... look at Lian Li, CoolerMaster and others.

A quite powerfull little thing you can make for yourself, young Padawan.
 

ZolakJHS

macrumors member
Apr 15, 2008
56
11
Wake Forest, NC
I game on the 2011 Mac Mini with the dedicated graphics card.. that may be a better option for you as someone else mentioned. Its able to handle WoW at 1080P, and I can also play games like Civ 5 on it with no problems. I don't play any FPS type games though.
 

Mattjeff

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2008
261
3
You're still able to play Civ V on the current generation. I have the mac version from steam and play it at 1080. I know it's better than low but I can't remeber what the settings are at, some my be high.
 

Algus

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2014
222
84
Arizona
I use a base model 2012 Mac Mini (2.5 ghz i5, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD). Some thoughts:

The HD4000 is capable. I am able to run many games at 1080p and around 20-30 FPS. I run most visual settings on the minimum to achieve this. You can play games on this machine but they may not look pretty. This can particularly impact games that use any kind of ambient lighting (its simply nonexistent for me).

Running games on OS X generally works better than running games via BootCamp. That's not a real shocker to me as Apple doesn't really try to optimize any of their hardware in BootCamp.

The Mini runs hot after long Windows gaming sessions. To the point where I am pretty sure my computer is throttling the CPU but I've never bothered to install any diagnostic tools and measure it. I can see the performance difference in my games though.

Games I play regularly: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Source Engine games (Mostly Left 4 Dead), Borderlands 2. The HD4000 isn't supported by the Source Engine and produces strange visual artifacts around fires and explosions. This is the only major issue I've come across. The games remain playable (and don't crash!) but they definitely don't look right.

The HD4000 is allocated VRAM based upon the total system RAM installed so boosting your RAM is a quick way to improve performance. You'd also ideally want the i7 over the i5 as the price difference isn't that big for the performance boost you get.

So are games playable? Yes. Do they look great? Not so much.

I can't in good conscious recommend the current Mini at all though. The hardware is very old and for heavily performance-dependent tasks like gaming, you can get much more for your money by going with a custom-built PC. Even if all you plan to do is run OS X for basic office work and media consumption, you're better off hunting down a used/refurbished Mac at this point. The Ivy Bridge architecture in the Mac Mini is simply to old to justify its cost.
 

Schnort

macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2013
171
16
Running games on OS X generally works better than running games via BootCamp. That's not a real shocker to me as Apple doesn't really try to optimize any of their hardware in BootCamp.
I find that....counter intuitive.

Bootcamp is just there to get you to windows, and maybe enable the hardware on the PCI bus. After that, it's windows drivers. Go update with the latest intel drivers.
 

sprezz

macrumors regular
May 28, 2014
108
60
Zurich, Switzerland
perhaps wait until you get the IRIS Pro in the new release later this year. currently, even some older steam games will run slowly at best, at least that's my experience.
 

ZombiePete

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2008
2,249
972
San Antonio, TX
perhaps wait until you get the IRIS Pro in the new release later this year.
What you're actually advising is to wait to see if unsubstantiated rumors of hardware upgrades that no one can confirm and that Apple has not hinted at all might come to fruition later this year.
 

bhonder

macrumors member
Feb 24, 2010
37
5
Italy
Let's go into specific. My question, for owner of actual mac mini is: does it work for playing day of defeat source?

Is the only game I play. The computer I used passed away few days ago and, if the computer guy does not do a miracle, I will have to buy another one.

iMac is out of budget because my wife has to change the car, so mac mini or nothing.
 

ZombiePete

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2008
2,249
972
San Antonio, TX
Let's go into specific. My question, for owner of actual mac mini is: does it work for playing day of defeat source?
Don't have any personal experience playing it, but a cursory look at Google (HD4000 + Day of Defeat Source) seems to indicate that people are playing it on systems with the integrated HD4000 without any major complaints. I've played Counter-Strike: Source on laptops with HD4000 chips and it played fine, so if DoD:S isn't much more taxing than that you should be fine. I can play WoW on my Mac Mini on medium settings without any issues.
 
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