World of Warcraft shouldn’t need an introduction. Mostly known as WoW by fans, World of Warcraft isn’t only the most famous MMORPG ever created, it’s one of the most popular games in history.
WoW may have lost subscribers over the years, heck, some even claim its glory days are behind us, but make no mistake, WoW is still one of the best MMORPG Mac games available today.
In this review:
First released in 2004, WoW has been around forever. But the steady stream of immense patches and ambitious Expansions have kept it young and at the forefront of the MMO genre.
But how good is WoW on Mac? Like every other game from its developer, Blizzard, WoW has a terrific Mac version. So much so, it even runs great on older Macs. Read on for all the details.
What’s new with World of Warcraft on Mac? World of Warcraft has seen a lot of positive changes lately.
Battle for Azeroth, the game’s latest Expansion, continues to improve and every prior Expansion became free a few months ago. But all the headlines are focused on one thing and one thing only, the release of World of Warcraft Classic.
You can read more about it below.
World of Warcraft tells the story of the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde. Orcs vs. humans, undead vs. night elves and so on. As a new player, you’ll get to chose a side (Alliance for life!), select a race and begin your journey from level 1 to 120.
That journey will be full of quests, battlegrounds, dungeons, and raids. And it all takes place in a huge world that still looks great, a feat for a game that runs on an engine created more than a decade ago. That said, if you’re looking for the best looking MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online may be a better choice.
Competition has never been as fierce as today, SW: TOR and Final Fantasy 14 for Mac come to mind, but World of Warcraft remains the most solid and high-quality MMO in the market, with responsive gameplay, addicting leveling, and challenging Raids and PvP.
In spite of being an excellent MMO overall, Battle for Azeroth, the game’s current Expansion, was heavily criticized at launch:
To be fair, Blizzard has been working tirelessly to solve all of the issues gamers have complained about, with several patches and updates released so far.
As IGN puts it:
Battle for Azeroth isn’t the most ambitious expansion ever, but many of its memorable quests take place in beautiful new zones, and the Azerite armor and amulet hold a lot of promise.
Plus, all of the excellent systems introduced by Legion and every expansion before it are still there, keeping WoW fun and engaging.
Last summer, Blizzard introduced the biggest change WoW’s pricing-model has ever seen. Instead of having to buy a “battle chest” including the original World of Warcraft and its previous expansions, monthly subscribers now have access to all of that content for free.
The only Expansion you will need to buy is Battle for Azeroth, the current expansion, and that won’t be necessary until you hit Legion’s Level 110 cap.
This is a welcome change that newcomers will appreciate. Plus, paying $14.99 a month should be enough to have access to most of the game.
Battle for Azeroth, the latest Expansion
Battle for Azeroth, the game’s current Expansion, introduced new zones to explore, new World Bosses (taking a page from Guild Wars 2‘s book), new raids and dungeons, new races and a new level cap of 120. But much more noteworthy is the inclusion of a new game mode called Warfront.
In Warfront, you can take part in huge 20-player cooperative PvE battles that mimic real-time strategy games such as the old-school classic Warcraft 3.
World of Warcraft Classic, anyone?
World of Warcraft Classic, the faithful recreation of the original WoW, is currently getting all of the attention. WoW Classic seemed so simple at first: recreate the game as it was before the release The Burning Crusade. But for some reason, WoW Classic is a huge success, at least at launch. So much so that players are forced to wait in line to complete quests!
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These are the official World of Warcraft Mac system requirements (updated with the release of Battle for Azeroth):
- OS: OS X 10.12
- Processor: Intel Core i5-760
- Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, ATI Radeon R9 M290 or Intel HD 530 or better
- A Metal capable GPU
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Hard drive space: 70 GB
Notice the requirements are higher than the previous vanilla World of Warcraft. If your Mac already struggled with WoW, you may want to upgrade to a new machine before jumping into Battle for Azeroth…
That said, the game does support older integrated graphics cards such as the Intel HD 530 which means Macs from 2013 onward should be able to handle it.
World of Warcraft Classic Mac requirements
If you’re interested in World of Warcraft Classic for Mac, these are the official system requirements:
- OS: OS X 10.12
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5
- Graphics card: Metal capable GPU with 1 GB VRAM
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard drive space: 5 GB
Clearly, if your Mac struggled with World of Warcraft, WoW Classic may be what you’re looking for.
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World of Warcraft may be over 10 years old but the game has seen its fair share of graphical upgrades over the years. Plus, MMOs have always been surprisingly demanding, not because of the levels of detail required but because of the sheer size of their worlds.
To evaluate how demanding WoW on Mac really is, we tested it on the following machines:
- 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, Late 2013): 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)
Using our in-house FPS counter, we tested all machines using the following settings:
- 1280×800 or equivalent resolution
- Graphics Quality: Level 5
- V-Sync: Disabled
All benchmarks consisted of 5 minutes of real-time gameplay in an open area, running around and killing everything in sight. We prefer to test games outdoors because they tend to be more demanding and taxing than indoors.
For the record, Medium settings and 1280×800 resolution may seem low but it’s the best compromise when testing both high-end and low-end models. box.
PS: These are our favorite accessories for playing/testing games on Mac!
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|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.|
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This graph shows you how our Macs performed:
As you can see, the game runs great on all three Macs, including our 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro.
PS: 35.5 FPS on a 6-year old machine with integrated graphics is respectable, especially for an MMO.
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.
We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience for most.
An improved Mac experience thanks to Metal
World of Warcraft has always offered good performance on Mac but the team over at Blizzard made a significant improvement when they moved the Mac version of the game to Metal with the release of the Legion expansion in 2016.
At the time, we compared both World of Warcraft running with OpenGL and World of Warcraft running with Metal:
World of Warcraft was the first game ever to support Apple’s then-new Metal graphics API and the results were incredible. The Metal version of the game was 61% faster than the older OpenGL version!
Can my Mac run World of Warcraft?
World of Warcraft is a forgiving game that should run on most modern Macs. If you have a high-end Mac, be it a 15-inch MacBook Pro, an iMac or any machine with dedicated graphics, you should be able to run the game on high settings and at least 1080p resolution.
Our iMac runs the game at an impressive 156.9 FPS (frames per second), leaving a lot of room to significantly increase the game’s settings while maintaining 60+ FPS.
Can you play World of Warcraft on a MacBook Pro?
If you happen to have a more “average” MacBook, say a 13-inch MacBook Pro with integrated graphics, you should still be able to easily run this game.
Our 2016 13-inch MBP can run the game at a comfortable 78.4 FPS. As long as your MBP is from 2015 or newer, rest assured it will run World of Warcraft without breaking a sweat.
But what if you have an older MacBook?
This section is usually where it gets tricky as older Macs offer a very limited gaming performance. In this case, however, even our older 2013 13-inch MBP runs World of Warcraft just fine at 35.5 FPS.
If you’re worried your Mac is too old to play this game, don’t worry. World of Warcraft on Mac is a well-optimized game that makes great use of MacOS’ latest technologies (Metal 2.0) and should run on virtually any Mac from 2012 onward.
World of Warcraft has always been one of the most expensive MMOs in the market. Yet that’s never been a problem, as WoW has always delivered a premium experience well-worth the $15 a month.
What was annoying was the need to also purchase the base game plus each Expansion as they came out. Luckily, that changed when World of Warcraft (and all previous Expansions) became free to all subscribers.
That said, you still have a couple of options when it comes to purchasing the game. You can either purchase the Battle for Azeroth Expansion including the base game plus all previous expansions or the Complete Collection, include everything Battle for Azeroth does, plus a Level 110 Character boost.
World of Warcraft Mac Review
There's a reason no MMOs has managed to take its crown. 10 years later, World of Warcraft remains the best MMO on the market. And since the game was moved from OpenGL to Metal, performance has gone through the roof, allowing most modern Macs to run it without breaking a sweat.
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