The state of Mac gaming
I’m a big Apple fanboy. I love my Mac and I love gaming. I’ve seen with great pleasure Mac gaming completely evolve in the last few years. I remember the times when the top games available were Spore or Age of Empires II (and this was around 2008!). Yet, I have to admit I just spent the last 3 hours playing on Windows (Guild Wars 2 is just that good!)…
The truth is, although you can play plenty of awesome games on MacOS right now, some of the very best games are still Windows only.
Think for example:
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 94 Metacritic score
- Batman Arkham City – 92 Metacritic score
- Mass Effect games – 89 – 94 Metacritic score
- Battlefield 3 – 89 Metacritic score
So where does that leaves us? Can a serious gamer really consider getting a Mac for gaming?
The Mac platform has never been stronger
I will not get tired of saying this: Mac gaming is here and it is here to stay. We are witnessing its golden age, with more and more AAA games appearing on the platform. We even have huge games with the same release date between Mac and Windows! You can play some of the highest rated modern games right now. Don’t believe me? Check these out:
- Starcraft II – 93 Metacritic score
- World of Warcraft – 92 Metacritic score
- Civilization V – 90 Metacritic score
- Portal 2 – 95 Metacritic score
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution – 90 Metacritic score
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict things will keep getting better and better: Apple and its products keep selling more and more. Therefore more and more people have Macs and are willing to spend some serious cash on software, including games. The more potential customers, the more reasons for developers to make games for Mac… Simple.
Gamers can be more than happy gaming on a Mac.
If you have a Mac for any given reason AND also enjoy gaming, you can survive and even have some fun gaming on your Mac. I’m not talking about playing Age of Empires II, the original Starcraft or any other 10-year-old game. I’m talking about the coolest modern games available right now, natively.
But what about hardcore gamers?
If you are a true hardcore gamer, wanting to max out all specs and smoothly run the latest and most sophisticated games, Mac gaming will not be enough for 2 reasons:
1 – The hardware: It can be very good but not optimal for hardcore gaming: the latest iMac has great specs, however, it lacks top of line graphics cards (like the latest 499$ Nvidia GTX 680 for instance), and that is the main limiting factor for hardcore gaming.
2 – Choice is still “poor”: Some awesome games exist but a lot of other awesome games do not. Think about me and Guild Wars 2, or all of those eager to play Borderlands 2 and Fifa 13.
Are hardcore gamers lost forever?
NO, you can have your cake and eat it too. You have 2 choices:
1 – Use Bootcamp:
You can get a high-end iMac like this one and install Bootcamp: you will be able to have an awesome machine with all the perks of OS X, play some great games like Starcraft 2 natively and if you really want to play Guild Wars 2 for example, you can play it using the Bootcamp Windows installation right there on the same machine and install any Windows game you can think of and run it as you would on a “normal” windows machine.
This solution will help you solve problem number 2 described above: A limited selection of games. For a solution for problem number 1: The hardware, keep reading…
2 – Build a Hackintosh Pro:
The ultimate solution for Mac lovers /hardcore gamers is to go the Hackintosh route. I am preparing a more detailed post explaining more in detail how to build yourself a Hackintosh and the advantages (and disadvantages) of going that route.
In a nutshell, a Hackintosh is a computer not made by Apple that can run OS X. Now that Apple uses Intel processors and more and more “standard” motherboards, it is much more simple to build a Hackintosh.What does this mean for a hardcore gamer?
What does this mean for a hardcore gamer?
By carefully selecting components (the closer they are to those used by Apple, the easier it will be to have a stable machine), you can build yourself a monster gaming machine capable of playing the newest games at maxed out settings on windows AND also have OS X on the same machine! And this will cost you a lot less than a Mac Pro!
I have a Hackintosh myself and I can tell you it works as advertised! I use it as I did my previous iMac, and when I really want to test a new game only available on Windows, I launch the Windows partition and play as if my machine was a Gamer rig.
What is your setup? Don’t be shy, leave a comment!