With the successful reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013, a sequel was inevitable, and on April 12, 2018, Mac users finally got their chance to play Rise of the Tomb Raider (RotTR).  The game has received excellent reviews from both the press and users, confirming it is a worthy successor.

As usual, we’re here to help you figure out if your Mac can run it.

Fans of the series will find what they expect here: Lara’s bow will be an important weapon, there will be tombs to explore and battles to fight. But to keep things fresh, the developers have added some crafting and RPG elements to the game in addition to some new gameplay modes.

This is our fastest Performance Review turnaround ever, as RotTR was just released on Thursday. As a new game in a popular series, we know you want to find out ASAP if your Mac can run it. Let’s get started.

First things first, is the game any good?

Is Rise of the Tomb Raider worthy of the series and the reboot? Survey says yes.

Using the familiar third-person perspective, in RotTR Lara starts out in Siberia searching for a lost city that holds the promise of immortality.

Rise of the Tomb Raider moves the series forward, keeping the successful elements of the reboot while adding in new gameplay elements and types. Improved graphics and a good story round things out. Users and the press seem to agree that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a worthy sequel to the immensely popular reboot.

With an 86/100 Metascore and an impressive 93% positive reviews from 26,000 users on Steam, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a safe bet for fans of the series or those looking for a new action/adventure game to try:

Metascore

User Reviews

Softpedia’s perspective is a popular one:

Rise of the Tomb Raider successfully reiterates the success of its predecessor by updating and upgrading quite a few different things, like combat, crafting, or RPG mechanics, while improving the environmental design and the general flow of the campaign.

PC Gamer agrees:

In many ways, Rise of the Tomb Raider is peak sequel design: an incredibly similar game with a set of expanded and additional systems. But RotTR is also better because it lets you spend more time engaging with those systems.

If you’re a fan of the series or interested in trying it out, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the game for you. Unless your Mac can’t handle it of course…

Rise of the Tomb Raider Mac gameplay

The test

The previous Tomb Raider was a perfect example of a Mac port done right. Is Rise of the Tomb Raider another one?

There’s only one way to figure out how demanding this game really is. We tested the game on as many machines as we could find in such a short notice:

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017) with eGPU

3.5 GHz Intel Core i7, eGPU Radeon RX Vega 64 (8GB)

iMac 27-Inch (5K, Mid 2017)

4.2 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 580 (8GB)

MacBook Pro (15-inch Touch, Mid-2017)

2.9 GHz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)

iMac 27-Inch (5K, Late 2014)

3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch Touch, Mid-2017)

3.1 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Iris Plus Graphics 650 (1.5GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)

Mac Mini (Late 2014)

2.6 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)

2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 400 (0.5GB)

Notice neither the 2012 MacBook Pro nor the 2014 Mac Mini are officially supported. Pay special attention to the system requirements. Also, at the time of this writing, no game from Feral Interactive officially supports eGPUs.

Why these machines? We want these tests to be as helpful as possible, and for that, they need to be as close as possible to the Mac you have at home. For that reason, we strive to test a big variety of machines. We always do our best to cover the following setups:

  • High-end Macs (the 2017 15-inch MBP and the MBP with an eGPU)
  • Recent entry-level Macs (the 2016 and 2017 13-inch MacBook Pros)
  • Older Macs (the 2012 MacBook Pro and 2014 Mac Mini)

These are the settings we used:

  • 1280x800 or equivalent resolution
  • Medium Preset
  • VSync: Off
  • Anti-Aliasing: FXAA

We tested the game simply using the in-game benchmark tool.

Why these settings? For the sake of having results that can be compared, all of our tests are done using the same settings. And as most of us have Macs with integrated graphics, we use settings (Medium) that are acceptable for the average gamer without being too demanding.

⚠ In some cases, our test settings are higher than what Feral recommends. The game will automatically use custom settings that provide the best possible experience. Those custom settings are defined by Feral Interactive based on hours of in-house tests and you should stick to those.

The Results

Feral Interactive clearly knows how to do a Mac port. But they can’t do miracles. A great looking game will always be a demanding game…

Given how smoothly the previous Tomb Raider ran, we expected this to be more demanding but still manageable. We were somewhat right.

Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark results V2

Keep in mind that in the case of the 2017 and 2017 13-inch MBPs, our test settings (Medium) are significantly higher than the custom settings the game will automatically use to provide the best possible results.

For your reference, this is how we describe the different levels of performance (in frames per second):

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.

Do you have a high-end Mac?

A high-end Mac can, of course, run this game without a problem. Our 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro, can run this game at a Smooth 48.7 FPS. That’s a good result but, for the fastest Apple laptop available, it isn’t that high and leaves little margin to push settings or resolution much higher. It’s a similar story for our 2014 27-inch iMac and its Smooth 51.5 FPS.

Our 2017 iMac, on the other hand, can run it at a Very Smooth 103 FPS. If you have something like that, go ahead, increase the game’s resolution and enjoy the game’s impressive graphics!

Our 2017 13-inch MBP with an eGPU (Radeon RX Vega 64 with 8GB RAM), on the other hand, runs the game at a Very Smooth  82.5 FPS. Clearly, settings can be pushed higher, but how much more?

Is 4K gaming possible?

Our tester ikir went ahead and pushed all the settings to the max (while keeping VSync Off) and the resolution all the way to 4K and still achieved a Smooth 53.33 FPS. In case it wasn’t clear before, eGPUs are a game changer, making 4K gaming a reality for an entry-level 13-inch MBP.

As a rule of thumb, if you have to choose between increasing the settings or the resolution, go with the resolution. Notice that playing with the settings, going from Medium to Very High won’t result in a jaw-dropping improvement:

Takeaway: A high-end Mac will do just fine, but if you have a MacBook Pro, don’t expect to play this game at the highest settings and resolution. Unless you have an eGPU that is.

Do you have a recent entry-level Mac?

This is when things get tricky. Feral Interactive official supports the following integrated graphics cards: Intel Iris Graphics 540 or better.

When using running the game using the default settings defined by Feral, our 2016 13-inch MBP runs at a Borderline  24.71 FPS. When using the Very Low settings, it runs at a Playable 24.71 FPS. These machines can run the game, but only at the lowest (or close to lowest) settings. If you’re ok with giving up on all the bells and whistles, Rise of the Tomb Raider can be enjoyed, providing a nice and fluid gameplay experience.

On the plus side, the lowest settings show less detail, of course, but they don’t look too bad:

Using our official test settings (Medium), our 2016 13-inch MBP runs the game at an Unplayable 16.46 FPS while our 2017 13-inch MBP can run it at a slightly improved, almost Borderline 19.4 FPS. In these cases, you will clearly want to stick to Feral’s default settings.

Takeaway: Entry-level Macs can get the job done, but only if you’re willing to play on low settings. If you have a recent entry-level Mac, make sure you double checked the system requirements first…

But what if you have an older Mac?

I’m afraid this section will be very short. If you have an older Mac not officially supported by Feral Interactive, the game won’t even launch:

And in some cases, the game may launch, but the experience will be completely unreliable. We can launch the game on our 2014 Mac Mini, but we couldn’t even finish the in-game benchmark before experiencing system-wide crashes (forcing us to restart the machine).

Takeaway: Feral has been very thorough with their system requirements. Do not buy it if your machine does not meet them. Simple as that.

Still unsure?

Remember, you can always run the free Unigine Heaven Benchmark using the Basic Preset and compare your results with ours:

Rise of the Tomb Raider Vs Heaven V2

If your machine had a better/worst Heaven score, expect a higher/lower FPS score accordingly.

The correlation between in-game performance and a standard benchmark is far from perfect, but it can still be a good comparison point.

Always check those system requirements

Sometimes you can still play a game even if your machine doesn’t officially meet the minimum system requirements. Not today.

Unless you have a recent top-of-the-line machine, you need to pay special attention to Rise of the Tomb Raider Mac system requirements:

OS OS 10.13.4
Processor 2.3GHz Intel Core i5
Memory 8GB RAM
Video 2GB Nvidia 680MX, 2GB AMD R9 M290, 1.5GB Intel Iris Graphics 540
Hard Drive 27 GB on Steam, 37GB on the Mac App Store

The game will be supported on the following Macs:

  • All 13″ MacBook Pros released since 2016
  • All 15″ MacBook Pros released since Late 2013 with a 2.3GHz processor or better
  • All 21.5″ iMacs released since Late 2017
  • All 27″ iMacs released since Late 2014 (except models with a Nvidia GT 755M graphics card)
  • 27″ iMacs from Late 2012 with a 2GB Nvidia 680MX graphics cards
  • All Mac Pros released since Late 2013

And if these are too high for you, you can always check the still relevant Tomb Raider.

Final thoughts

In terms of high demand levels, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a good problem to have. This is a very demanding game that won’t run on many machines, but that’s only because it looks amazing.

Feral Interactive put all its experience to deliver an optimized port powered by Metal that runs as smoothly as can be expected from such a sophisticated game.

Can run on recent entry-level Macs.

Looks great, perhaps the best looking Mac game right now.

This is one polished and smooth port.

Very demanding but only because it looks great.

Demand level: High

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