OS X Switch to "PC" gaming

Derkatwork

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 8, 2010
453
0
Milwaukee
I bought a ps4 and I'm regretting it. Not that it isn't amazing. I love it and it works fantastically. I've been toying with upgrading a MacBook Pro from 09 and moving to pc gaming rather than console. I don't want the standard desktop. I'd rather have a Mac mini or something similar and play through the tv (it will be larger than any monitor). I'm not sure how the current $800 mini would run an intensive game like battlefield 4. I'm not looking for running on ultra settings. Standard settings comparable to the ps4 (unless of course that is the ultra setting). The higher end Mac is way too much, but the Mac mini seems like a bargain. Would this be a worthy investment and good to game on? Thanks.
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Oct 8, 2002
9,808
28
The Bamboo Forest
Do you plan on running Windows on the Mac Mini? Do you already have the Mac Mini or are you planning on purchasing one? What do you find lacking in the PS4 vs playing on a computer?
 

Derkatwork

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 8, 2010
453
0
Milwaukee
I don't currently own a Mac mini, but I have a 2009 MacBook Pro that has been showing its age in recent times. I plan on running steam on the Mac side. Boot camp for anything I can't get through that. I'm not dissatisfied with the ps4, but the lack of backwards compatibility is annoying. Sony made the right choice in using a different architecture and I don't fault them on the lack of compatibility. I think a big thing is that I'd prefer all my games in one spot. I have been planning on upgrading my laptop as it's now a little old. Minecraft gets a little laggy at certain points. It'd be nice to game with people too as I'm the first to move to a ps4.

Also, nice link to the panda cam :D
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Oct 8, 2002
9,808
28
The Bamboo Forest
When I did have a Mac as my primary gaming machine, I ended up booting into bootcamp so much, it didn't make sense to have a Mac side to it. In which case it made more sense to have a Windows machine with better gaming hardware (for cheaper). So if your Mac Mini is going to be used primarily for gaming, it might be worth just getting a Windows machine for that.

The PS4 might be getting some backwards compatibility via Playstation Now, so it might be worth seeing how that pans out. My understanding is there will be a beta by the end of this month and it will go live in the US this summer.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
If you are wanting to game on a Mac Mini, I would almost most certainly put Windows on it to get the best out of it. OS X regretfully lacks a lot of titles as well as technologies like DirectX and native coding.

Personally though, for me, a Mac Mini wouldn't cut it. Intel HD graphics won't be able to run you many new games on either OS.
 

Derkatwork

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 8, 2010
453
0
Milwaukee
I have heard of play station now, but I'm not 100% sure that's he path for me. Details such as payment are unknown. I'd rather not pay for games in my collection again. They would most likely be cheaper than original retail, but it's the principal. Also, the service will be rolling out games over time as ports are made.

The only deterrent to getting a dedicated windows computer is that I truly dislike windows (I'm not sure at what point I will budge on this) and getting boot camp to run the few games I can't find for Mac is a decent compromise. I wouldn't be running all games through boot camp. I guess a better question would be what is the loss in performance when running windows through boot camp to see if the end performance would be enough.
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Oct 8, 2002
9,808
28
The Bamboo Forest
The only deterrent to getting a dedicated windows computer is that I truly dislike windows (I'm not sure at what point I will budge on this) and getting boot camp to run the few games I can't find for Mac is a decent compromise. I wouldn't be running all games through boot camp. I guess a better question would be what is the loss in performance when running windows through boot camp to see if the end performance would be enough.
If you want to game, you're going to need to get over that for the time being. Performance is generally better under Windows via Bootcamp. When 70% of your Steam library is Windows only, are you really going to reboot into OS X for that other 30%, then reboot to Windows to get to the 70%?

Look at this thread around the $800 mark. Those builds will knock the pants off the Mac Mini, no problem. You can easily get smaller cases that will sit in a living room just as well as a Mac Mini. The landscape might change in 5 years, but for now you'd be getting a Mac Mini just to subvert an OS you don't want to use, despite the fact that you'll end up booting the Mac Mini into it and long term keeping it there.

You're also going to face the occasional issue of the Mac version not being able to play with PC players. Then you have the same problem of your friends not having a PS4.

As for performance difference between Boot Camp and OS X, I'm sure there are benchmarks out there if you look. But by 'sticking it to Microsoft', you're really just hurting yourself.
 

Derkatwork

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 8, 2010
453
0
Milwaukee
I don't want to fully abandon some Mac only games. And I have steam for Mac. I think I can switch steam to windows sand keep my games, but I'm guessing it is better to emulate mac than emulate windows. It's a sad truth.
 
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jeanlain

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2009
1,311
287
If you are wanting to game on a Mac Mini, I would almost most certainly put Windows on it to get the best out of it. OS X regretfully lacks a lot of titles as well as technologies like DirectX and native coding.
Everything lacks DirectX except Windows and I don't know what you mean by "native coding".
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
7,984
533
Pennsylvania
I would not get a Mac Mini to play video games on. Everything about it is a bad idea. Slow HDD, Integrated GPU, limited cooling, and expensive to boot. Why not pick up a $400 Dell, throw in a GPU, and put it behind your TV? Between the Steam Tiles app and a wireless mouse + keyboard, you'll have a more powerful and cheaper gaming system.

Actually, check out the Alienware x51. It's a very capable gaming system and it starts around $700.

Everything lacks DirectX except Windows and I don't know what you mean by "native coding".
Probably C++ on OS X, as many mac ports make use of emulation technologies.
 

lunaoso

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2012
1,331
50
Boston, MA
Build a hackintosh that is a capable gaming machine. Dual booting is the way to go in my eyes. It works well for the most part. More tweaking is needed than a normal mac though, so that's the disadvantage.
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
1,769
182
Many OS X games are just the windows version in a wraparound such as Wineskin. These games often run horribly unless you have amazing specs.
I don't know if I would say "many" there. It's really only a small number compared to the number that are native Mac apps. There is exactly one commercial release that used Wineskin that I'm aware of and that was The Witcher and the second game that followed it is a native app. There is only about a dozen current games using Transgaming's Cider. The vast majority of Mac games sold at retail on Steam and elsewhere are native apps.

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I bought a ps4 and I'm regretting it. Not that it isn't amazing. I love it and it works fantastically. I've been toying with upgrading a MacBook Pro from 09 and moving to pc gaming rather than console. I don't want the standard desktop. I'd rather have a Mac mini or something similar and play through the tv (it will be larger than any monitor). I'm not sure how the current $800 mini would run an intensive game like battlefield 4. I'm not looking for running on ultra settings. Standard settings comparable to the ps4 (unless of course that is the ultra setting). The higher end Mac is way too much, but the Mac mini seems like a bargain. Would this be a worthy investment and good to game on? Thanks.
What you describe wanting sounds a lot like the upcoming Steambox by Valve. Unfortunately, the hardware is in beta and so that's not much of an option yet but down the road it could become what you are wishing for. If you Google for it you can read more about the Steambox if you are not already familiar with it.

Meantime, you mentioned you loved the PS4 and it works fantastically so why not keep it would be my question? Run what you can when you wish on your Mac and otherwise go for the fancy new demanding titles on PS4. A Mac Mini connected to a TV isn't going to compete with the latest greatest dedicated gaming console in terms of visual fidelity and stable acceptable frame rates for the newest demanding games now never mind in the coming several years.

It isn't that the mini cannot play any games. It can but it lacks the GPU power needed for demanding titles to run at native resolution with high settings and good performance. For that you'd want a Mac with the best GPU option you can get and afford. You mention a higher end Mac being way too much (money I presume) and so I think you are best off sticking with your PS4 that you say you have enjoyed and again, there is a lot of titles you could play on your Mac for those times when it isn't convenient to be at the television, etc.

For me personally, the ideal world is a Playstation and a 27" iMac with best GPU option on it. Between those two platforms there is no shortage of awesomeness to enjoy.
 

christarp

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2013
453
436
Agreed with the steam box, that's what you'll want eventually. A mac mini just doesn't have the hardware to play more demanding titles, and a mac that does is quite expensive. Your best bet would be building your own PC and installing windows on it and running steam in big picture mode with a controller hooked up to your TV. This is however not as a refined solution as a PS4 or Xbox one.

If you really want to switch to PC gaming I'd suggest getting a fast windows computer and using the keyboard and mouse, if you really don't want to use the keyboard and mouse then I'd suggest you stick with the PS4 and get a mac or windows PC as a separate machine for separate duties other than gaming. Most pc games that work well on controllers are also coming out to consoles where you'll be able to pretty much play the same games. For games that aren't out on consoles (many MMO's and RTS games) you'll not want to use a controller for anyway because it's just so wonky.

It's a lot of money to build a PC and have it run windows and steam in big picture mode just to play PC games with a controller when you could just keep your PS4 and play pretty much the same games with a controller anyway.
 

CJM

macrumors 65816
May 7, 2005
1,332
541
U.K.
Further agreement that your best bet is acquiring a Steam Box or similar machine. Buying a Mac for the express purpose of gaming is really silly. Sillier now even more than it used to be.

You can buy/assemble a cheap, small PC with much more power than a Mac Mini (admittedly, it might be a bit bigger) that you can plug into your TV and use with Steam Big Picture mode.
 

garnerx

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2012
443
194
Build a hackintosh that is a capable gaming machine. Dual booting is the way to go in my eyes. It works well for the most part. More tweaking is needed than a normal mac though, so that's the disadvantage.
Seconded. I use mine in OS X for 'productivity' stuff and Windows for games. You can build one with integrated graphics or a cheap graphics card, then upgrade later if you want better performance.
 

jeanlain

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2009
1,311
287
And the Xbox.


Many OS X games are just the windows version in a wraparound such as Wineskin. These games often run horribly unless you have amazing specs.
But this has nothing to do with OS X capabilities. And I don't think so many demanding games use a wrapper. For once, games by feral, aspyr, valve and ubisoft don't.
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,654
122
PC gaming is for strategy games and other genres not on consoles

the only reason people play FPS on PC's is if they trick it out with the best graphics card and turn the details up to max settings


and Steam consoles, i think they will be a failure
 

Renzatic

Suspended
PC gaming is for strategy games and other genres not on consoles

the only reason people play FPS on PC's is if they trick it out with the best graphics card and turn the details up to max settings
Throw a 360 pad on a PC, and it's just as good as any console.

I say this as an owner of both a game capable PC and a PS3. I like them both, and the PS3 has enough exclusives to justify its place on the shelf. But if there's a game available for both, I'll pick the PC version 9 times out of 10 for the simple reason that I can play it in a higher framerate with a higher resolution.

Also, I agree with building or buying a small form factor gaming PC over a Mac Mini. They're great little machines for what they're designed for. But for gaming, all you're gonna be doing is spending $500-$800 for a whole lot of disappointment.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
the only reason people play FPS on PC's is if they trick it out with the best graphics card and turn the details up to max settings
Well I game on a PC because I dislike controllers. And because of the awesome Steam sales. So I guess that isn't the only reason.

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But this has nothing to do with OS X capabilities. And I don't think so many demanding games use a wrapper. For once, games by feral, aspyr, valve and ubisoft don't.
Sure. OS X's capabilities. OpenGL. A very outdated version if you're using anything less than Mavericks. And even if you do use Mavericks, there is no guaranteeing the game will have been updated to support the newer technologies in the newer version of OS X.


For example, the Mac version of Portal only runs at 54% of the speed of the Windows version. This is not uncommon thanks to Apple's lackluster driver support and ability to keep up to date with OpenGL libraries.
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
1,769
182
All the above graphic really demonstrates is performance of one specific game. Implying this translates, especially so dramatically, commonly to all other games is just an assumption without any proof to back it up.

What this graph also indicates is that for this particular game, performance is so good across the board that it really doesn't matter what system or resolution (of those tested) that you run it on. It's going to look good and run smoothly in all of those cases.

I don't think you are trying to intentionally misrepresent the facts here but that graph doesn't really make the case that OS X games perform half as well as Windows games across the board which is actually not true.
 

jeanlain

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2009
1,311
287
This was the very first release of a Source game for Mac. Portal now runs much better on OS X, especially after the 10.6.4 graphics update, and then the linux port that brought multicore rendering. I'd say that performance now is very close to that under bootcamp on my Mac.
 

Asuriyan

macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2013
622
16
Indiana
Actually, check out the Alienware x51. It's a very capable gaming system and it starts around $700.
Seconded. It's basically a proto-Steambox. I've had one for about 6 months- it's quiet, compact and easily upgraded, everything I was going for when I used to build ITX rigs in Shuttle cases (another solid option).
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
All the above graphic really demonstrates is performance of one specific game. Implying this translates, especially so dramatically, commonly to all other games is just an assumption without any proof to back it up.
Of course it is only one example and a worse case scenario one at that. But it was only to illustrate my point that for a better gaming experience, Windows is the way to do it on computers. And these are personal experiences too, its personally having gamed on a wide variety of machines I have often noticed a large difference in graphics capabilities between the OS X and the Windows version. And for me the Windows versions have always run the best.

Gaming OS X is fine if you wish to do that. More titles on Steam get released for the platform everyday and I wish it all the best since I used to game on my iMac in OS X many moons ago. But for the very best of the best, to push all the capabilities of your hardware and to get the best results, I recommend Microsoft Windows since it provides a much more reliable and consistent experience with very little risks of running into bad ports and remaining fully up to date in driver and graphic library software.