MacMini for gaming?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Pundle, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Pundle macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    So these new MacMinis have what sounds like a decent graphics card. I don't know much about graphics cards these days, so how does it being shared with main memory really affect the performance? It all makes me wonder if the MacMini would be any good at playing Windows games on a Boot Camp partition.

    I understand it won't be a gaming powerhouse, so won't be awesome for FPS games, but I really just want to be able to play an RTS game every now and then, the only genre of game not sufficiently catered for with a games console.

    I should mention that with the horrendously ill-conceived DRM restrictions most PC games have these days, I'm buying less and less new games, so I'm mostly interested in if it will be OK at playing games released in the last year or so.

    I currently play games on a 2006 iMac, so I suppose the real question is would it be any better than that?
    New MacMini: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
    My iMac: ATI Radeon X1600 with 256MB GDDR3 SDRAM
  2. Lava Lamp Freak macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2006
    The Mac Mini has the 9400m, which is the same video that is in the 13" MB and MBP. I had a MB 2.0 that I sold a month ago and I used to play WoW on it and it did fine on the 13" screen. So, it really depends on what size screen you have and how new the games are you want to play.
  3. Pundle thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    The game I currently play that my iMac struggles with the most is Dawn of War 2. If the iMac struggles with it I suppose the Mac Mini will too...

    I have a 20" widescreen sitting around that I could probably use, but ultimately I was thinking of getting a big TV to hook the Mac Mini into. Does size of screen really matter or is it the resolution?
  4. Lava Lamp Freak macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2006
    The resolution is what matters. Hooked to a TV you should be ok running at 1280x720. You'll just have to play around with game settings to find the most playable settings.
  5. CubeHacker macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Realistically, the 9400M is slower than the x1600 you currently have in your imac. If you want the iMac for gaming specifically, look away from the 9400M models.
  6. Pundle thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Thanks for the responses. I guess I'll stick with my iMac for now :)
  7. mosx macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2007
    If you look at benchmarks, in real world performance, the GeForce 9400M Comes out on top in some instances. If you look here: and here: you'll see that in some games at the higher settings, the 9400M outperforms the X1600 by a good margin, while some they're equal at high settings, and the X1600 usually has a good lead at the low settings.

    The 9400M also has two other advantages. One, if you play games in Windows, you'll be able to move on to Windows 7. ATI is no longer supporting the X1x00 series of GPUs in Windows 7. Nvidia is very good about long term support, and is still supporting the GeForce 6 series from early 2004. In fact, they just released a new driver a couple of weeks ago. So you'll have support well into the future.

    Plus the 9400M supports OpenCL and CUDA. So any apps that might take advantage of that will fly on the 9400M system.

    And honestly, the 9400M isn't a bad chip. It's nowhere near the same league as the GeForce GT 2x0 series and GeForce GTX series you find in the just over $1,000 Windows notebook PC market, or the ~$600 or so Windows desktop market. But it does play modern games. I play UT3, GRID, Grand Theft Auto 4, Call of Duty 4, and a couple of others on mine. You do have to lower the resolution and settings on those games, but they play good and it saved me from having to buy an Xbox360.
  8. Pundle thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Thanks mosx, that's good to know. My Apple Care on my iMac expires in December, so I'll probably look to a Mac Mini to replace it. I think I might upgrade my TV next year, so a new Mac Mini to go with it seems like a good idea :)
  9. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    i hate to break it you but the 9400m will not play DOW2 at acceptable fps. I have a 13in unibody macbook pro and i installed windows 7 on it and installed DOW2 and man its horrible. I have a gaming pc so i have no problem running it, but i just wanted to see how the 9400m would fair with a recent game. DOW2 has a lot of effects that just make the game crawl. I would say if you must have a mac go for one with a discreet videocard. My benchmarks were 25fps average, with everything on low, no shadows, and at the lowest resolution. It could have been because of my ram i really dont know. i plan to put 4gb in my laptop when i get some extra money. then try it out again but i doubt it will help.
  10. Matrixfan macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2008
    Build a gaming PC

    Please just build a gaming PC if you already have a Mac to work on!;) The only decent gaming Macs are the Mac Pro with a 4870/GTX285 and the new iMac with the 4850. And even these two systems are easily surpassed by a sub 1000$ gaming PC. Do not buy a secondary Mac for gaming!
  11. Pundle thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    I won't be buying it just for gaming. I'm thinking of getting a new Mac anyway, and I really want a Mac Mini to hook it up to the TV, and if it can play games at all that is a definite bonus.

    On the other hand my wife asked the question what I propose to do when I want to game and she wants to watch TV... so my plan may all not work anyway :p
  12. panzer06 macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2006
    Wow, a house with only one TV! :rolleyes:
  13. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Bel Air, MD
    thats rare :(
  14. Pundle thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Even if it wasn't the only TV in the house it would still be the one that the Mac Mini is connected to, which would be used for both watching TV and playing games.
  15. The Final Cut macrumors 6502

    Sep 5, 2009
    I would not go as far as to say "don't buy a secondary mac for gaming." But come on a mini? You would have just as much fun with a Gamecube. My 9400m MBP can not even max Doom 3. Infact it struggled with it on high-medium settings. I would say at the least get an imac with the 4670 or a 8800 GS refurb.
  16. UAofE macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2009
    I have no time for TV. I have 3TB of external drives filled with TV and movies I haven't watched yet.

Share This Page