OS Neutral Mac Pro or retina iMac for gaming?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by Eightarmedpet, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. Eightarmedpet macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #1
    Hi all, I'm after a wee bit of advice/knowledge, hopefully someone here can help out...

    I'm planning on upgrading my set up to either a Mac Pro or retina iMac, both are more than capable for the work I need to do in them.

    When I am not working I like to do a bit of gaming, currently only dayz, does anyone have any experience of the Mac Pro or the retina iMac for gaming? Real life experiences, not bench marks or previous reviews.

    I know I can get a cheaper pc that will run games better but that's not an option.

    Any insights/advice appreciated.
     
  2. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    #2
    I actually think a non retina iMac might be the best choice. Number two a 295 iMac retina. Number 3 a d700 Mac Pro.

    What I do is have a 2010 iMac which can be used in target display mode, and then a gaming PC with a displayport out on a GTX 970 graphics card.

    I am 110% satisfied with that setup.
     
  3. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

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    #3
    I would not recommend a Mac Pro for gaming given issues with driver support pertaining to gaming. It is a work machine, not a home computer per se and gaming is not a priority when it comes to driver updates for that system with its AMD GPU hardware. Since you say you don't "need" this for anything else, I see no reason to get it. That leaves the other option by default.
     
  4. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #4
    Thanks guys, still looking for real world experiences...
     
  5. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #5
    Check Barefeats.com and see if the machines live up to your expectations.
     
  6. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

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    #6
    I know you were and I should have clarified my comment to let you know that the driver issues I mentioned are based on real world experience noted by someone from Aspyr who as you likely know is a major player in porting games to OS X. Blair from Aspyr made some comments about problems with the Mac Pro for gaming and driver support as pertains to gaming not being a priority for Apple/AMD on that system given the market it is aimed at. That's what my comment was based on. If you want to find that thread, it's here somewhere and not very old. I'm sorry I can't recall the thread title off the top of my head.

    ----------

    Nice guy that I am, I went looking for an example and I think this was the thread I was thinking of. Scroll down to post #25 to see what Blair had to say about driver support for gaming on the Mac Pro:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1840616

    That's real world info. A user having an issue and a developer explaining why.

    I can only tell you that for me personally, that would be all I'd need to know to go with the Retina iMac instead where you will have better driver support from Nvidia from the start. You may already be aware of this but that is exceedingly important for gaming.
     
  7. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #7
    Thanks for replying again and hunting out the other thread!

    The retina imac doesn't use nvida cards though, so the same issues may apply?

    And I'm not sure if an anomely on one game can be used to judge a computers performance for all, I've seen videos of games being run at 4k on Mac Pros.

    The hunt for first hand experience continues.
     
  8. Mattww macrumors 6502

    Mattww

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    #8
    Gaming wise the best option would actually be a single socket 2009/2010 Mac Pro with the processor upgraded to a 3.46GHz 6-Core and then at the moment an Nvidia GTX 980.

    Also stick an SSD in there for a nice all round boost as well.

    Gaming wise you are probably best sticking to a 1440p display although 4K is possible and 5K with some issues (see barefeats.com) but not many games properly support 5K as yet.

    This will be a lot cheaper than either a Retina iMac or a new Mac Pro but those machines have advantages with the cutting edge display and performance with specialised video and rendering applications, not to mention the option of warranties.
     
  9. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #9
    Thanks Matt, that is an option I considered but swapping out the processor scares me, or rather the idea of doing it.

    Maybe I should find a retina imac and see how it looks at lower res, I'm not expecting to game at 4k, 1440 would be fine.

    When not gaming is be using the creative suite for screen and print based work, so quite fancy something new.
     
  10. Mattww macrumors 6502

    Mattww

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    #10
    The processor upgrade on the single socket models is actually very easy (it's the 2009 dual CPU models that are more difficult) but I can understand changing parts is certainly not for everyone.

    For 1440p gaming then the retina iMac is actually fine for most games if you upgrade to the 4GB R295X option - in OS X it performs about the same as the new Mac Pro with the best video cards (D700) as crossfire is unavailable (the Mac Pro would do much better if you wanted to run games in Windows where both GPUs can be used).
    This is about the same performance as the old Mac Pro models when upgraded to a Radeon 7950. It's just that there are more powerful single GPU options possible (in terms of gaming) with the older model (e.g. GTX680, R280X, GTX 970 an 980).

    There are just a few titles that are more demanding so you would have to lower some detail settings to keep the resolution up and as time goes on expect to do that more often.

    For the non-gaming tasks you mentioned you would be happy with any of these machines with a decent amount of RAM and an SSD.
     
  11. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #11
    Great info, thanks again, I would do a fair bit of gong in windows actually so crossfire will come in to play.
     
  12. steve23094 macrumors 68000

    steve23094

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    #12
    I know Apple makes great products (everybody here owns at least one), but are you sure you want one? It sounds like your main purpose is gaming and for the money you are intending to spend you could get a kick butt design and build your own or prebuilt PC. Certainly your budget is up in the top range of manufacturers and specs and some of them are pretty darn good.
     
  13. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #13
    Thanks for the reply, and I totally see where you are coming from, in a way I wish I could be happy with a custom PC rig but...
    To clarify, 80-90% of its use would be for work done using the creative suite, 10-20% use would be gaming. Having two separate machines is crazy talk to me, personally I find it a really clumsy solution, I know most would disagree but it's not for me.
    I know very little about benchmarks and find in general, I'm currently using a retina macbook with an ACD and I find its performance a tiny bit lacking when it comes to games.
     
  14. antonis macrumors 68000

    antonis

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    Jun 10, 2011
    #14
    There is definitely a huge price gap between those two machines, which means that it is very difficult to justify a Mac Pro purchase just for games.

    Having said that, though, Mac Pro is the best you can have for this purpose. Especially if equipped with D700s, it is a beast that can run anything you throw at it. In Windows, the D700s work in crossfire, of course, so the distance in performance between this and any other - official - Mac model increases even more.

    Drivers is not an issue as you can equally use the official ones coming from Apple updates (and you'll be perfectly fine with those), or the ones from AMD. Even the latest Omega drivers can be installed with a small tweak.

    Personally, having owned an iMac in the past (which I replaced with a Mac Pro last year), I'm more nervous with the idea of having a computer and its screen bind together, since any problems with the former are inherited to the latter and vise versa.

    There's definitely a gap in Apple's computer line for a desktop computer that users being asking for years but, if I can still afford it by that time, my current Mac Pro will be replaced with another Mac Pro in the future.
     
  15. soulsyphon macrumors regular

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    May 3, 2014
    #15
    imac 5k > retina macbookpro

    fact.

    why?

    video card.
     
  16. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #16
    It would be the base macpro I would purchase so d3000s.

    Care to share how your macpro actually performs when gaming? High settings? Ultra?
     
  17. Mattww macrumors 6502

    Mattww

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    #17
    The D300s (and to a degree D500) are less ideal for gaming so you are only likely to be really happy gaming in Windows when crossfire is supported - anything in OS X or where crossfire isn't supported will mean dropping the quality settings and resolution.
     
  18. soulsyphon macrumors regular

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    #18
    mac pro video cards aren't for gaming... they are for developing.

    the imac 5k video card is way better for gaming.
     
  19. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #19

    Do you have both machines and gave you tested the exact same game on both?

    If not how do you know?

    I have heard people claiming the opposite, hence asking for actual first hand experiences.
     
  20. koyoot macrumors 601

    koyoot

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    #20
    Barefeats benchmarks show that Gaming benches on iMac 5K M295X and MP D700 provide 99% the same results despite that D700 have more Memory and more bandwith on it.
     
  21. antonis macrumors 68000

    antonis

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    #21
    If we are talking about windows gaming (e.g. some AAA titles that don't get released for OS X) crossfire mode in MP can make the huge difference, no other Mac model comes near it.

    On OS X, things are more weird as the crossfire is not supported (seriously, apple...). Still, I'd choose MP over an iMac any day, as the all-in-one doesn't cut it for me anymore.
     
  22. shaunp macrumors 65816

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    Nov 5, 2010
    #22
    I've got a nMP 6-core with D700's and a PC, core i7 GTX 780. For Skyrim the PC is much faster than the Mac even with two cards configured in Crossfire. The Mac stutters and pauses to a point that an old Xbox 360 is a better gaming experience. I've also run Bioshock Infinity and again the Mac is slower running the game in OS X than the PC was.

    If I didn't prefer a Mac for my VM lab and my daily 'stuff' then I wouldn't have the nMP at all. A Windows PC is infinitely better for gaming.

    ----------

    And that's still crap compared to a decent card on a PC. I wouldn't dream of trying to game at 5K on a mobile GPU.
     
  23. UniDoubleU macrumors regular

    UniDoubleU

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    #23
    I wouldn't dream of gaming at 5K with anything less than PC Gamer's Large Pixel Collider anyhow in this day and age. Probably at least 3-5 years to go until high-end gaming PCs can get to that territory.

    Doesn't mean that I have to game at 5K though, 1440p is really doable and 4K is OK for some games.
     
  24. Eightarmedpet thread starter macrumors regular

    Eightarmedpet

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    #24
    Do people even read threads before commenting?

    This has descended into the usual useless drivel in any other thread where games and macs are mentioned.

    Maybe they should all just be merged, every thread.
     
  25. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000

    Nunyabinez

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    #25
    Here is my experience from gaming on the iMac with Retina. I don't have a Mac Pro so can't tell you about that.

    I have the upgraded CPU and Video Card and put in my own RAM. I made a small Boot Camp partition and have an external SSD in a USB 3 case that I keep my games on. You can't get more than 4K out of Windows, so 5K gaming doesn't really exist. However, at 4K you won't get 60fps out of any serious games. I run both my desktop and my games at 1440 and they look terrific.

    My previous rig was a custom PC with a GTX 760 card. The iMac is faster than that but not hugely different, maybe 10% or 15%. As far as a gaming machine it is quite capable. At home I have Unigine Heaven benchmark if you want that. But usually I run games at very high and a few at ultra settings. Usually I just fiddle with settings until I get right around 60fps.

    I have had no issues with it other than I worry a little about the strain I put on the video card. The fan definitely kicks in when gaming. Never had an issue, but I wonder if I am shortening the life.

    If you have any specific questions from someone who is a serious gamer using an iMac, hit me back, either here or in a PM. From my perspective the iMac with Retina is the most awesome computer in the world and for any current games a more than adequate game rig, even at serious settings.
     

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