OS X Retina iMac gaming experiences megathread

ErikGrim

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jun 20, 2003
4,230
2,777
Brisbane, Australia
Now that people are starting to receive their retina iMacs (mine arriving next week). Let’s post our gaming experiences, benchmarks, issues and mad resolution pushing experiments.

Especially interested in seeing how older games that are able to use full resolution perform. I.e. from Bare Feats:

FYI, Diablo III was able to run at 5120x2880 which cut the average framerate in half (31 FPS).
 

Solomani

macrumors 68040
Sep 25, 2012
3,705
6,193
Alberto, Canado
Now that people are starting to receive their retina iMacs (mine arriving next week). Let’s post our gaming experiences, benchmarks, issues and mad resolution pushing experiments.

Especially interested in seeing how older games that are able to use full resolution perform. I.e. from Bare Feats:
I doubt that many companies will make much effort to start optimizing their Mac games/ports to be retina-optimized unless retina display becomes standard on the entire Mac line. I'm aware that Feral/Aspyr has retina-optimized a very few Mac games already, but that's about it.

The (high-end) 27" Retina-iMacs, and the rMBPs together are only a small fraction of the entire Mac product line. Catering to such a small segment of gamers…. probably not worth their coding time.

Let's all hope that Apple releases retina iMacs in the 21" models within the next year, as well as making retina a standard feature on future MacBooks that are released. That's the only driving force that will get these game companies to retinize their future Mac games.
 

ErikGrim

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jun 20, 2003
4,230
2,777
Brisbane, Australia
I doubt that many companies will make much effort to start optimizing their Mac games/ports to be retina-optimized unless retina display becomes standard on the entire Mac line. I'm aware that Feral/Aspyr has retina-optimized a very few Mac games already, but that's about it.
As long as the engine supports scaling, you are able to set any arbitrary resolution for most games (hence the mad resolution experimentation quip). Sure the UI will not be optimised in those cases (and be ¼th the size), but I suspect for most classes of games that won't matter.

And Aspyr has retina optimised pretty much their entire lineup already. For me, I spend most my gaming in Civilization V and look forward to seeing that in native res.
 

edddeduck

macrumors 68020
Mar 26, 2004
2,059
13
I'm aware that Feral/Aspyr has retina-optimized a very few Mac games already, but that's about it.
Almost all Feral titles (and all Feral developed games since Retina Macs shipped) will run at Retina however in many cases the graphics cards are not powerful enough to play at that resolution with a decent frame rate.

As for the 5K screens especially with the 2GB card you just don't have the VRAM to deal with 3D at native for most new games. The 4GB card is has more potential but even then you will need to disable most if not all extra graphics options at that resolution to get a stable speed.

The 5K iMacs haven't arrived yet at Feral HQ so I have not played the games on the final hardware but on the PC many of our games need a 3 card SLI solution to play smoothly at 5K on medium to high settings so I doubt you will be able to play any modern game on high settings at 5K.
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
1,769
182
Almost all Feral titles (and all Feral developed games since Retina Macs shipped) will run at Retina however in many cases the graphics cards are not powerful enough to play at that resolution with a decent frame rate.

As for the 5K screens especially with the 2GB card you just don't have the VRAM to deal with 3D at native for most new games. The 4GB card is has more potential but even then you will need to disable most if not all extra graphics options at that resolution to get a stable speed.

The 5K iMacs haven't arrived yet at Feral HQ so I have not played the games on the final hardware but on the PC many of our games need a 3 card SLI solution to play smoothly at 5K on medium to high settings so I doubt you will be able to play any modern game on high settings at 5K.
This is pretty much what I was expecting for first generation. The screen is lovely but the GPU hardware to drive it effectively (for gaming) in an iMac doesn't even exist yet and I would suspect it is going to be a number of years before high settings 5k gaming has any chance of becoming a norm.

It's too early to buy into retina if gaming is the reason but I am glad the evolution has begun. Hopefully when it is time to replace my 2013 iMac the hardware will exist for good performance in gaming on a retina iMac. I am thinking of the 27" model when I say these things. Having owned two of them now, I wouldn't want to go back to a smaller screen.
 

ErikGrim

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jun 20, 2003
4,230
2,777
Brisbane, Australia
Almost all Feral titles (and all Feral developed games since Retina Macs shipped) will run at Retina however in many cases the graphics cards are not powerful enough to play at that resolution with a decent frame rate.

As for the 5K screens especially with the 2GB card you just don't have the VRAM to deal with 3D at native for most new games. The 4GB card is has more potential but even then you will need to disable most if not all extra graphics options at that resolution to get a stable speed.
This made me glad that I made the choice to upgrade to the 4GB card. To hear that VRAM is the bottleneck mostly is encouraging. At higher resolution, extra graphic effects (especially anti-aliasing) becomes secondary to just pushing the polygons to that many pixels.
 

Mydrivec

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2012
50
0
RI
Open question

I'm replacing my late 2007 24" Imac (256mb vcard) with the new 5K Imac. It is on order now. I upgraded the processor and the vcard.

I'm a geek but I've never particularly become adapt at trying to understand much beyond framerate and lag.
Thoughts on where I'll find the best gaming experience?

Typically any game I can run on my existing mac runs better using windows in bootcamp. Will this still hold true?
 

edddeduck

macrumors 68020
Mar 26, 2004
2,059
13
This made me glad that I made the choice to upgrade to the 4GB card. To hear that VRAM is the bottleneck mostly is encouraging. At higher resolution, extra graphic effects (especially anti-aliasing) becomes secondary to just pushing the polygons to that many pixels.
It's not just the VRAM the BTO card is a LOT more powerful :) You made the right call.
 

saturnotaku

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2013
1,924
51
Apple should have delayed the launch of these machines to outfit them with a standard GeForce GTX 970M and optional 980M.
 

ErikGrim

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jun 20, 2003
4,230
2,777
Brisbane, Australia
ArsTechnica is taking Alien Isolation and BootCamp through the paces:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/10/the-retina-imac-and-its-5k-display-as-a-gaming-machine/


Games at 2560x1440 (or "1440p," if you prefer) look and run great, even with AA and AF enabled. The fact that the GPU is scaling the image up to fit to the underlying 5K pixel grid really doesn’t appear, at least to my eye, to yield any of the blurriness that you get when using non-native resolutions on lower-DPI LCDs. One game and some first impressions does not equal a total assessment, but at least at first blush, buying a Retina iMac isn't going to mean you have to log out of Steam and never come back again.


----------

Apple should have delayed the launch of these machines to outfit them with a standard GeForce GTX 970M and optional 980M.
Apple's priorities lie in OpenCL performance, not with gaming. I believe ATI beats NVIDIA in this respect.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
Wow. After reading that, I'm beginning to think the retina iMac might actually be one of the best computers Apple has ever produced. It's all upsides, without any real negatives or downsides to it. It's capable of doing everything solidly well.

Yeah, as a pure gaming machine, the price vs. performance ratio is complete overkill. But as a high end jack of all trades machine with a, frankly, shockingly exceptional screen, it's worth every penny of its asking price.
 

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
Apple's priorities lie in OpenCL performance, not with gaming. I believe ATI beats NVIDIA in this respect.
That use to be the case, as it stands now NVIDIA's Maxwell GPU's have inched out ahead.

The GTX 980 beats the R9 290X in OpenCL, along with all FirePros.
It seems NVIDIA have finally gotten better support for it, although since AMD's new cards aren't out until early next year we don't know how well the new series will do. Although I'm confident AMD will get ahead in OpenCL again. :)

Even so, I'm extremely impressed by how well the m295X is doing in all tests, especially at such a high resolution as well.
 

edddeduck

macrumors 68020
Mar 26, 2004
2,059
13
That use to be the case, as it stands now NVIDIA's Maxwell GPU's have inched out ahead.

The GTX 980 beats the R9 290X in OpenCL, along with all FirePros.
It seems NVIDIA have finally gotten better support for it, although since AMD's new cards aren't out until early next year we don't know how well the new series will do. Although I'm confident AMD will get ahead in OpenCL again. :)

Even so, I'm extremely impressed by how well the m295X is doing in all tests, especially at such a high resolution as well.
I know many of you know this but for those that don't I'd express a word of caution Windows benchmarks are not necessarily the same as Mac benchmarks as driver quality makes a big difference.
 

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
I know many of you know this but for those that don't I'd express a word of caution Windows benchmarks are not necessarily the same as Mac benchmarks as driver quality makes a big difference.
I was looking at OS X tests ;).
Luxmark in Windows vs OS X difference is also small the largest difference I've noted being 100 points.

Here's the GTX 980 in OS X vs My D700, and GTX 780. NVIDIA 980 in OS X 10.10 with latest Webdrivers





The Advantage of the Mac Pro however is dual D700's which nets me 3531 in Luxmark 2.1 compared to a single GTX 980's 2618.
 
Last edited:

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
That's actually very impressive for a mobile gpu.

I'm still impressed by Diablo 3, I do wonder what Blizzard could do if they moved to OpenGL 4 for their future games.
They still haven't even adopted 3.2 yet.

The majority of games are playing with a resolution under 5K, and that's just awesome.
 

ilyasdesign37

macrumors regular
Apr 25, 2014
102
1
if only The GTX 980 was on an iMac 27 gaming would great via bootcamp and mac
The GTX 775 and 780M is still great!

Middle earth shadow of Mordor is minding blowing graphics:eek:
 

quickcalibre

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2013
191
32
London
Does retina iMac go slower if you use the same resolution as a old iMac screen?

I'm uncertain what the cpu and gpu graphic draining causes are.
 

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
Does retina iMac go slower if you use the same resolution as a old iMac screen?

I'm uncertain what the cpu and gpu graphic draining causes are.
Lowering the resolution to 2560x1440 increases performance and FPS. It has less to render, so why would it make it go slower? :confused:
 

saturnotaku

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2013
1,924
51
The Advantage of the Mac Pro however is dual D700's which nets me 3531 in Luxmark 2.1 compared to a single GTX 980's 2618.
That's not a great comparison because NVIDIA has gimped OpenCL performance of its desktop cards (so designers will purchase the more expensive Quadro line). The D700 is a professional-class GPU and has no such restrictions, so it naturally will be faster.
 

quickcalibre

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2013
191
32
London
Lowering the resolution to 2560x1440 increases performance and FPS. It has less to render, so why would it make it go slower? :confused:
I don't know, which is why I was asking :)

I'm unsure if 2560x1440 rendered pixels has a different effect being displayed on a 5k screen or not.
 

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
That's not a great comparison because NVIDIA has gimped OpenCL performance of its desktop cards (so designers will purchase the more expensive Quadro line). The D700 is a professional-class GPU and has no such restrictions, so it naturally will be faster.
Eeh, the new Maxwell cards are not "gimped". As shown, it takes two D700's to beat a single GTX 980. It's why I included the GTX 780 as a reference as it's a Keplar based card.

Now NVIDIA Keplar is a different story, they are "gimped".
Also there is No OpenCL improvement for the Quadro vs GeForce series. The Quadros do have Double Precision, which GeForce cards do not however.

Here are Replay Quadros, FirePros and Radeons in OpenCL. As you can see the Radeon can out do the FirePros, simply thanks to not being "gimped" like NVIDIA Keplar cards, and having far higher clock speeds

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-workstation-graphics-card,3493-23.html


Here are more OpenCl tests, this time included GeForce Cards as well. The GTX 980 against the R9 290X, which is faster than all FirePros bar the W9100 which is based upon it.

These tests use Lexmark Room, which is more intensive than Sala
http://www.anandtech.com/show/8526/nvidia-geforce-gtx-980-review/20

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firepro-w9100-performance,3810-12.html
 
Last edited:

N19h7m4r3

macrumors 65816
Dec 15, 2012
1,191
8
I don't know, which is why I was asking :)

I'm unsure if 2560x1440 rendered pixels has a different effect being displayed on a 5k screen or not.
No effect expect it'll look a little fuzzier, since it's a 2560x1440 image being stretched to 5K, which is 4X the size of 1440p.

Although given the screen is still 27", you shouldn't see any difference between 2560x1440 on the 5K with on the normal iMac 2560x1440.
 

iMi

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2014
1,203
2,244
This is pretty much what I was expecting for first generation. The screen is lovely but the GPU hardware to drive it effectively (for gaming) in an iMac doesn't even exist yet and I would suspect it is going to be a number of years before high settings 5k gaming has any chance of becoming a norm.

It's too early to buy into retina if gaming is the reason but I am glad the evolution has begun. Hopefully when it is time to replace my 2013 iMac the hardware will exist for good performance in gaming on a retina iMac. I am thinking of the 27" model when I say these things. Having owned two of them now, I wouldn't want to go back to a smaller screen.
You are spot on... 100% agree. The screen outpaced the rest of the hardware in terms of gaming. I have the same machine as you and wouldn't accept a smaller screen.