Mac Pro for gaming only

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by zaranoff, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. zaranoff macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    I know that there are better options to choose from than a Mac Pro for gaming purposes only. But my question to you all is what kind of Mac Pro configuration will I be needing for serious gaming?

    I wont be editing or doing any kind of demanding work on it, simply gaming. Will I need the 4, 6 or 12 core? How much RAM? What graphics card?

    Money is not an issue, just looking for a configuration that fits my needs and that I can take full advantage of.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    Massive massive waste of money, I know you said its not an issue, but a Mac Pro purely for gaming is an idiotic idea, I'm unsure why you would limit yourself like this.
  3. zaranoff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012

    The thing is that I want a mac desktop but not the iMac, so it's between Mac Pro or a Mac mini.

    Is the Mac Pro solely for working? As I said before, I'm not doing any editing, photography, sound etc.
  4. thehimay, Nov 10, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012

    thehimay macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2009
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Do you want a Mac desktop for a 'Mac desktop,' or do you want a Mac desktop for Mac OS X?

    The *only* reason one should even really consider a Mac for a solely gaming machine is on the requirement for Mac OS X alone (IMHO), and even with that, it's a (rather) weak one.

    OpenGL support is far more up-to-date on the Windows and Linux side anyways. With that in mind, you'll already be taking performance hits playing cross-platform games within Mac OS X.

    Yes, a Mac Pro can be a nice gaming machine. But honestly, unless you're using it like a work-horse (as it's designed to be) on Mac-dependent software, I cannot fathom why someone would be willing to pay >$3k for a gaming machine that could be built in a Win/*nix environment for less than half that.

    I truly do believe this is a fool's errand you're chasing. If you absolutely had to choose based on a 'need' for Mac OS X, I would steer you first to an iMac, and secondly to a Mac Mini. But even those are with hesitation. After owning my Mac Pro for the past 4 years, and even attempting to bring it up to speed with a GTX470, I would still opt to build my own Win7 gaming box should I finally find the time and/or games to sit down and play on a semi-regular basis before considering a Mac system to do it.

    EDIT: In order to answer your original question (so I don't feel as if I am utterly soapboxing here), unless someone can correct me otherwise (been a while since I've built a machine in the multi-core era), if you're building a 'serious' gaming rig: a quadcore (HT) processor at the highest clock you can attain, at least 8GB of RAM (16 is likely ideal), and obviously the best (non-workstation) graphics card you can attain, with an adequately-sized SSD to host the OS and game installations. But these are pretty standard for any gaming system build, IIRC.
  5. ender78 macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2005
    Are you looking at gaming in Windows or OS X. There are FAR more games available for the PC than OS X. Buying a Mac Pro to game in Windows is a serious waste of money. You'll get far more performance from a custom gaming rig.
  6. borostef macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2012
    Zagreb, Croatia
    My opinion is: If you want gaming, and gaming alone... Don't buy a Mac. Even if, as you say, the money is not an issue, you will be limited, not only by hardware and software as posters before me already mentioned...
    It is just not a good idea...
  7. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    You could build a more powerful windows machine, AND buy a Mac Mini for the cost of the Mac Pro.
  8. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    London, UK
    As its a free country and no one has given an unbiased answer, buy this:

    1 x six core 3.33ghz Mac Pro - buy from apple store leave everything else as base and get AppleCare
    1 x 512gb SSD (get a crucial or ocz)
    1 x sata 3 card (high point card - search the forums)
    1 x USB 3 card (search the forums)
    Additional memory from crucial (at least another 12gb)
    1 x 3TB hard drive
    1 x Nvidia GTX 570 or 680 (macvidcards - check forum and eBay - leave 5770 in for boot screen)
    1 x external bluray drive
    1 x 27inch apple or dell IPS display

    It may be expensive but you will have a cool looking rig that can handle most things

  9. zaranoff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    Thank you all for excellent answers, I really appreciate it.

    I just have to rethink what I'm actually going to buy.

    Just a couple of more questions, since I lack experience and knowledge about computer hardware maybe you can enlighten me.

    When I take a look at the MBP and iMac the first thing I notice is the drastic drop in price compared to the MP. Since the specs are not incredibly different atleast for the MP base model, what exacly is the difference?

    Sorry if I'm asking idiotic questions, and I'm prepared to get ridiculed.

    Why is the MP so much more expensive? It's a bit sad because of all apple computers, the MP is the most configurable.
  10. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I will join the wagon: very bad idea and waste of money. If you want the best of both worlds I'd suggest getting cheap Mac mini for your OS X needs, then Windows PC for gaming. You can get a thing called KVM switch so you can use both computers with the same display and keyboard+mouse.

    If you feel adventurous, you can go with hackintosh, this way it won't be as much expensive and you can have both systems in one computer with best possible hardware (=gaming GPUs).

    Why would anyone get a Mac for gaming anyway? I mean I game a little on my Mac Pro but it's mostly stuff like Portal 2, Minecraft and Wine wrappers of old PC games.

    You can have really good system for not much money with regular PC parts. Quad core i5 processor with high clock speed handles everything (i7 is useless basicly for gaming) and one of those GTX 650/670 Ti cards with lots of VRAM can handle the games pretty good.
  11. Skip Paris macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2010
    Answers are always better than opinion's. Hat's off to you Zarf. Now he has something to shoot for.
  12. El Awesome macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    Just build yourself a hackintosh!
    For the price of a well-euqipped MP you can get a i7 3960k that you can OC to 4.8 Ghz, 32GB+ RAM, a three-way SLI with GTX 680s, a RAID0 with four SSDs and you have some money left to get yourself some good 120Hz monitors.

    And all of that is "mac-compatible" in a hackintosh.
  13. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    At the current time, Mac Pro is not a good value. It is still very powerful but it's components are bit outdated, especially CPU and SATA bus.
    The processor that is used in Mac Pro is called Xeon and these are work-station class processors that are designed for heavy usage. It has very good cooling so the computer can run for long periods of time, the processor has specific architecture that is beneficial in Pro apps for video editing, photography, 3D modelling and others.

    It's just a different kind of computer, it can be used for gaming but it's not what it was made for. You can have twice as powerful system for half your money, with much bigger selection of titles in PC world.
    Mac Pro is reliable computer made for heavy work, for people who earn money when working on it - basicly.

    There are many more reasons why it is this expensive - product differentation and demographics of its users but Im sure others will tell you more. If you look at workstation class computers in PC world, they cost the same or even more.
  14. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    I'd buy a base 4 core..put a real graphics card or two in it and call it a day..
    if it's was chis I'd build and i7 Hackintosh
  15. thunderclap macrumors 6502a

    Nov 8, 2003
    I wouldn't use a Mac at all for serious gaming. Onboard GPUs are nowhere near as good as standalone cards (iMacs, MacBooks, etc.) and the Mac Pro GPU compatible cards are a couple years old. If you want a serious gaming rig get a PC.
  16. donw35 macrumors regular


    Jul 3, 2010
    Los Angeles
    What games do you want/plan to play, would be a good idea do some research on game performance and video cards first, in any gaming rig the video card is a very key component. Another advantage of a PC over a Mac Pro is the ability to upgrade to the latest video cards when the come out.
  17. zaranoff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    Oh, I thought that basically everything could be upgraded on the MP since it was so configurable. What is possible to upgrade on the MP after the initial purchase?

    Anyway, I'll probaly buy a PC after reading all your opinions and thoughts. Maybe buy a sexy MBA for my studies, it should be more than sufficient for that.

    Thank you all for your answers, I now know much more about the MP and what it was built for.
  18. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    The problem with the current Mac Pros is that they are long overdue a refresh (don't get us started - really!).

    As such, in the Apple Store you are limited to old tech such as SATA-II and the 5770 and 5870 graphics cards.

    Sure you can put appropriate third-party RAM, SSDs and even a SATA-III PCI card in there but you are having to spend money after your initial purchase to do so. Adding an alternative GPU has very recently become more convenient (see the sticky thread at the top) with the GTX 670 being the gaming flavour of the month right now.

    If you can wait, you could get yourself a 2013 Mac Pro (when they are released, of course - at the moment they are unconfirmed spec) but you would get MUCH more use out of your money with a custom PC.

    Of course, a refurb 2010 hex-core with 12Gb Ram and the 5870 is not a slouch for the majority of games. You would need a Win7-64 license if you wanted to use BootCamp and play Windows games. It would show its age for the faster-paced shooter/racing games that relied in fancy GPUs to enjoy but that is where you could drop in a GTX670.

    It all depends on what sort of games you like and who is paying the bill. If you have money burning a hole in your wallet, a 2010 hex core with a 5770 and nice monitor would be appropriate if you dropped in a GTX670 2Gb card to replace the 5770.
  19. El Awesome macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    He's actually right...
  20. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I was in your boat, and like others have said, it is a serious waste of money, especially given that the highest end video card in the current Mac Pro will soon be three generations behind in terms of Radeon cards.

    But I once had an Early 2006 20" iMac (Core Duo, not Core 2) and it became time for me to consider my options for upgrade. Ultimately, I realized that in terms of longevity and performance and value, any Apple desktop is a **** value. The iMac can't be upgraded easily, and even so, you're only changing out the hard drive, RAM, and MAYBE the video card (on a 27"/24"). The Mac Pro you can change out nearly everything (save for the backplane/logic board), but you're still very limited on graphics options unless you try your hand at using PC video cards in your Mac Pro (which a lot of people do, but is less guaranteed to be reliable or supported [certainly Apple won't support your non-Mac card]). So for gaming, it really is a stupid buy.

    However, I, like you, love the Mac platform, so what I did was I built myself a gaming PC rig with muscle comparable to the iMac that was out at the time (and for under $1000) and I bought a MacBook Pro. For the most part, unless your needs for OS X stuff really necessitate a Mac Pro, a MacBook Pro will meet your needs just fine. And you can use the PC tower for gaming as well as upgrade it to your hearts content. And honestly, you, at that point, really have the best of both platforms by far.
  21. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    To be fair, I quarantine all my games over on the Win7 Bootcamp partition anyway as many Mac games tend to be Windows ones inside wrappers.

    Having a dedicated games machine is a good idea. At the moment it is economical, easy to upgrade from a wide choice of components and will normally deliver the best performance in any given game.
  22. clnilsen macrumors newbie


    Jan 18, 2011
    Ok, I'm going to take a different view here, since I just did this and am very happy with the results.

    I bought a Mac Pro 4,1 off eBay, dropped in a MacVidCard 480 gtx and a Samsung 830 ssd which I very happily use for playing World of Warcraft. Total price in this project is around 1200, and I am very happy with the results.

    I agree that buying a new Mac Pro doesn't make a lot of sense, but going this route I think makes quite a bit of sense if you want a Mac.
  23. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Read the thread earlier and opened it again to suggest this same approach. Makes the most sense financially if you want OS X.

    It sucks there is no ideal solution, but unless you only play a few games you always have to compromise as you want Windows for gaming anyway.
  24. theRAMman macrumors regular

    May 6, 2012
    The Moon.
    The high end mac mini is quite good apart from the graphics card and is relitively cheap for a mac also.
  25. Pval macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2008
    Try to get a recent Mac Pro off an auction cheap ( you could buy new from Apple, but for a decent gaming rig, you'd have to replace just about everything )
    - Upgrade CPU to a 3.3GHz or 3.46GHz Xeon 6-core, which use 1333MHz bus speed, 4 core uses 1066MHz and 12-core is usually not utilised optimally by games, 6 often suffices, the GPU is more important.
    - Upgrade RAM to DDR3, 6GB or 12GB, use 3 slots, as the CPU uses 3 ram channels, using 4 memory modules slot 3&4 would share a channel.
    - Upgrade to SSD attached via a PCIE card, not the internal SATA ports.
    - Upgrade to a Nvidia 600-series card, 670 seems safe without needing to upgrade your power supply, check the threads here and on

    A hackintosh would be cheaper and there are numerous reasons not to use a Mac Pro for a gaming rig, but they are all semi-objective. Most of our decisions however are taken subjectively, otherwise Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Bugatti, etc wouldn't exist. ;)

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