Which iMac for Windows games?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by hfg, Jul 17, 2016.

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  1. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #1
    I am not a gamer, but have become interested in some of the current games I have seen others playing. The in house location where I would be playing currently has a iMac which is wife-approved as it is in a more visitor/public area of the house (i.e. no clutter, no wires, no boxes, etc). I have 2 iMacs of fairly recent vintage and both are top-configured BTO units. I realize that a simple Windows computer would be better, but I need to maintain the low-profile of the iMac here and require OS X for daily non-gaming use.

    Which of these 2 iMacs would be better for running current graphics intensive Windows games:

    2012 27" iMac
    2540 x 1440 resolution
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB ram
    3.4 GHz QuadCore i7

    2014 27" Retina iMac
    5120 x 2880 resolution
    AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB ram
    4.0 GHz QuadCore i7

    Both iMacs have upgraded RAM (24GB, 32GB)
    Both iMacs have BTO internal large SSDs with dual boot OS X and Windows 10
    I realize I can't run the games at native Retina 5K resolution, which is fine

    Which one would you recommend using for Windows games???
     
  2. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Location:
    Ridgewood, NJ
    #2
    The m295x is ranked slightly higher than the 680mx on notebookcheck.com, so I'd choose that one.
     
  3. tonyunreal macrumors regular

    tonyunreal

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    #3
    Both would be fine with some tuning to the game configurations.

    I have had the 2012 BTO model for a while and had no problem playing Diablo 3 on native resolution. If you plan on playing games at 1440p, the 2012 model could be better looking, I guess.

    If I remember correctly, there were some reports about heating/throttling problem with i7 + M295X/M395X retina models (2014-2015), but it was a long time ago, and I have never played with these models, so I can neither confirm or deny these claims. I suggest you try some benchmarks on the 2014 model to see if throttling is a problem or not.
     
  4. hfg, Jul 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016

    hfg thread starter macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #4
    Would the slightly higher performance be lost due to the higher pixel density of the 5K display being driven at a lower resolution (1440)?

    I have also read many threads here regarding the advantage of NVIDIA GPUs over AMD GPUs when running games in particular, rather than video types of applications. This may be more critical under OS X than Windows 10 due to driver issues however. The 2012 and 2013 were the last iMacs using NVIDIA graphics in them.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 17, 2016 ---
    I was following those threads at the time, and I ran the testing programs they were using on my iMac and didn't see the extreme (>102C) temperatures on mine that some users were experiencing. This may have been just "luck of the draw" on build and parts, or possibly that my machine was in the first batch shipped to the US and may have been built under close supervision by Apple engineers during the thermal past application and heat sink fitting. Apple production units are known to be a bit sloppy with thermal paste application at times, possibly resulting in higher operating temperatures.

    Are you thinking the 2012 would be better looking due to the native resolution vs. creating 1440p on the higher resolution screen? Would that down-scanning consume additional GPU effort resulting in poorer performance?
     
  5. tonyunreal macrumors regular

    tonyunreal

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    #5
    Have you checked the running frequency of the CPU and the GPU under heavy loads? Temperature may not be exceeding 100C but Macs are known for throttling CPU/GPU frequency to meet power/thermal thresholds.

    My preference of the 2012 model resolution are indeed based on native vs downscaling, if the games you play can keep good fps under the native resolution (some games don't), native 1440p would be better looking (in my opinion). However on the retina model, the downscaling should be handled by the display and no GPU downscaling or performance hit should be expected.
     
  6. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #6
    I had the 2014 with the R295X and I found it fine for gaming, though the fans did run high to keep it cool.
     
  7. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #7
    The resolution you set the game is the resolution the GPU will render. Yes the screen has a higher resolution but don't confuse it with a phone and the way they render graphics. So lowering the resolution nets you FPS.

    AMD's OpenGL drivers are abysmal (we can now get a clear picture of that now that Vulkan is entering the scene) but under Windows you'll be using DirectX or Vulkan (not many games support Vulkan yet) so it will be fine.

    The 680 will certainly run cooler at the expense of performance. Although the 680 is a good GPU. I'd still go with the 295, however if you found an iMac with a 780 that would enter a gray area for me and price would become a much more relevant deciding factor (for me).

    Edit. I'm not sure an iMac can use Vulkan btw, maybe someone with experience can chime in on whether it works or not.
     
  8. Sakurambo-kun macrumors 6502

    Sakurambo-kun

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2015
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    It's just too bad Apple have no interest in supporting Vulkan, meaning we're stuck with those terrible, and comically out of date OpenGL drivers. Metal has zero traction in gaming or pro apps, so is not an option.
     
  9. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #9
    It could be a tactical move by Apple to drive the adoption of Metal on macOS. If they fully supported Vulkan or the latest Open GL drivers, there would be no real drive for major developers to move to Metal.
     
  10. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #10
    I don't disagree that Apple may think/hope that happens but it will unlikely be the case. There just isn't enough incentive when a Mac user could just use Windows.

    Just think, if Apple implemented Vulkan in OS X / MacOS then we'd be on an even playing field. I think that would give devs the incentive to make a port for Mac. Currently it just seems to be too much work for anyone except the largest of devs.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 19, 2016 ---
    Comically outdated with GPUs that aren't that great with even the most updated version. Lol

    Oh well, PS4 is my goto when it comes to gaming.
     
  11. Sakurambo-kun macrumors 6502

    Sakurambo-kun

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2015
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    If that is their reasoning, it's utterly idiotic. If you're the market leader (Microsoft), then sheer weight of numbers allows you to push your own proprietary APIs. For minor players such as Apple and the Linux guys, they must support common standards. Vulkan is on Linux and Windows now, and is performing extremely well. The recent Doom for example recently switched from OpenGL to Vulkan on Windows and saw massive performance gains. What will happen when pro apps switch to Vulkan? What incentive will there be to maintain support for Apple's creaky, ancient version of OpenGL?
     
  12. hfg thread starter macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #12

    How would the gaming "experience" compare between the PS4 (or X Box or new MS box coming) and the 2 iMacs I have? Since I have no real investment in games yet, choosing a platform now could be an option.
     
  13. cynics, Jul 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016

    cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #13
    There are just too many variables to compare. For example if you like playing city builders like sim city and city skylines then a computer is the best (only) option.

    For first person shooters I prefer consoles because it gives you an even playing field. Everyone is using the same specs and controller plus cheating is typically more difficult.

    Personally I don't find an iMac to be a very good platform for gaming and I've done a lot of gaming on them. The monitor refresh rate is limiting vs potential competition, input lag is ok'ish but could be better, the stock keyboard and mouse are pretty bad for gaming, and when next gen games come out you can't just pop in a new video card to stay competitive you will be forced to by a new Mac.

    Overall I think a new iMac is able to display a better image at a higher FPS than current consoles but at great expense. And a next gen consoles (somewhat) are right around the corner.

    But it's totally up to you, I've probably put 500+ hours into ESO on my current iMac using a Magic Mouse. I was at a disadvantage vs a lot of people on PCs but I still enjoyed it. Now I'm playing it on PS4 and I enjoy even more.

    Edited for typos....
     

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