When Minecraft burst onto the gaming scene in 2011, users were enchanted with the blocky graphics that allowed you to build anything you could imagine. In fact, it was often described as building with Legos on the computer.
With a variety of different modes to play with, Minecraft on Mac can be a sandbox game allowing you build undisturbed, a multiplayer game where you can cooperatively build your world with friends, or a game you play on servers where survival is the goal (my son’s favorite used to be a Hunger Games server).
In this review:
And while Minecraft’s (ok, technically Mojang’s) purchase by Microsoft in 2014 caused some concern, so far the game has remained true to its roots. With a huge modding community, the ability to join or create your own servers and the ability to create actual working machines within the game, Minecraft created what many believe to be a new genre of games, but perhaps one in which it is the only true member.
Having sold 176 million copies across all platforms, Minecraft is considered the best selling game of all time, so that should tell you something. With an impressive 93 Metacritic score from critics and a 7.6 from users, there’s no sign of its popularity waning any time soon:
Minecraft even boasts a number of rare 100 scores from critics, including from Eurogamer, which said:
Minecraft is a towering achievement in the very possibilities of gaming, and it does this without losing itself to either esoterica or cynicism. It is a game anyone can play and anyone can get something out of, no matter how skilled or imaginative they are. They will make something and they will have an experience that feels like theirs and theirs alone.
In another “100” review, Gamespy similarly gushed over the freedom to create, maybe literally, anything:
I remember the first time my friends and I discovered Minecraft. For a short span, it became the center of our incredibly nerdy existence… “Should Sauron’s all-seeing eye go next to the Millennium Falcon, or over by the half-finished attempt at recreating The Wall from Game of Thrones?”
It was all we did. We each dreamed up increasingly elaborate super lairs and then built them from the ground-up… All of it was ours, though. And we were proud.
If you want a truly open world where you can build whatever you want, with friends or alone, with monsters trying to destroy your creations or not, Minecraft is truly the game for you.
These are Minecraft’s Mac system requirements:
- OS: 10.9 Mavericks
- Processor: Intel Core i3
- Video Card: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or higher
- Memory: 4GB RAM
- Hard Drive: 1 GB of Hard Drive space, though this can increase drastically depending on the worlds you install
Minecraft will soon receive a massive visual update that will radically change the game’s requirements, but that will sadly be an NVIDIA RTX exclusive unavailable for Mac gamers…
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These system requirements seem modest, but to evaluate how well Minecraft really runs, we’ll test it on these models:
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016): 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)
- iMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014): 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2013): 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, GeForce GT 650M (1GB)
Why these machines? We want to give you results from a variety of machines so that even if you don’t have an exact match, you should be able to judge if your Mac can handle the game. To that end we have one Mac from each of three levels:
- High-end Macs (the 27-inch iMac).
- Recent entry-level Macs (the 2016 MacBook Pro).
- Older Macs (the 2013 MacBook Pro).
These are the settings we used to test Minecraft using our in-house FPS counter Count It for a fixed duration of 5 minutes:
- 1280×800 resolution
- Graphics: Fancy
- VSync: On
Why these settings? Remember, we are testing vastly different machines. Some high-end, some not. 1280×800 and Medium settings won’t impress anyone, but they are acceptable and should meet the requirements of the average gamer.
While Minecraft’s huge, open worlds might make you think a high-powered machine is needed to take full advantage, the blocky graphics help keep the game running smoothly.
The target? This chart includes the average frames per second (FPS) recorded on each machine. We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience.
Some readers argue that 30 FPS is not high enough, but it’s still what current-gen consoles aim for, and considering most Macs were not built for gaming, 30 FPS is a good target.
As a reminder, this is how we describe the different levels of performance:
- Below 20 FPS: Unplayable: Laggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
- 20-30 FPS: Borderline: Can be OK in slow-paced games. Still, not optimal.
- 30-45 FPS: Playable: Acceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
- 45-60 FPS: Smooth: Fluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
- 60+ FPS: Very Smooth: For hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.
All three of our test machines aced the 30 FPS challenge, but read on further to see how far you may be able to go.
Can my Mac run Minecraft?
While our 2014 iMac may be getting a little old, it is the only one of our test machines with a dedicated graphics card. Because of this, we didn’t expect it to have any problems with Minecraft, and we were right. Minecraft runs without any problems, so if you have an iMac, it’s game on!
Take away: If you have a high-end Mac, you can expect to smoothly play this game at the highest settings.
Can You Play Minecraft On A Macbook Pro?
Again, looking at Minecraft’s system requirements, you wouldn’t expect a more modern MacBook Pro like our 2016, even with integrated graphics, to have a problem with our default settings. And sure enough, it had no problem running the game.
- 1280×800: 60 FPS
- 2560×1600: 60 FPS
Take away: Running in Java helps Minecraft have consistent results across different Macs. Any recent Mac should have no trouble with it as long as you meet the minimum graphics requirements.
But What If You Have An Older Mac?
According to our results, no problem. Our test 2013 Macbook Pro ran the game at 56.7 FPS, which is way above our target. If your Mac is even older than that, it will really depend on your machine’s graphics. If you have the minimum Intel HD Graphics 4000, you should be able to play Minecraft with no trouble.
Take away: Minecraft is an excellent game for older Macs. Again the fact that it runs in Java actually helps with consistent performance, and the blocky graphics keep those system requirements modest.
A genre-creating game, Minecraft allow us to scratch our creativity itch as no other game has before. The ability to build whatever you can imagine, a variety of game modes, and huge modding community means the game never gets old or repetitive.
Its modest system requirements that allow any recent and many older Macs to play, and a reasonable price, means there’s no reason why every Mac gamer shouldn’t have Minecraft on their computer.
PS: These are our favorite accessories for playing/testing games on Mac!
|Game||★ Best Mouse||Best Controller||Best eGPU|
|Why we love it?||The G502 is Logitech's most accurate gaming mouse yet. Plus, it has a plethora of buttons and a killer design.||The official PS4 controller just works on Mac. It's wireless, it's precise, it has an excellent grip and it's durable.||The Razer Core X turns your MacBook or Mac Mini into a killer gaming machine by adding external graphics support.|
326 Amazon reviews
9,678 Amazon reviews
74 Amazon reviews
|Price||From $56||From $39.99||From $299.99|
Minecraft is available for download from the Minecraft Store; a demo is also available.
Minecraft Mac Review
A genre-creating game, Minecraft allow us to scratch our creativity itch as no other game can. Plus, thanks to its modest system requirements, most Macs should be able to play it, including many older models. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have Minecraft on your computer.
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