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F1 2017 on Mac: Can you run it?

The latest in the high powered F1 series by Codemasters, F1 2017 is as good as it gets for any sim racer fans. Bringing back the much loved classic F1 cars, the 2017 iteration of the franchise builds upon the success of its predecessor and ups the ante in every way. It's no surprise this game earned a spot among our favorite MacOS racing games.

The much-improved graphics and more accurate physics promise higher immersion than ever before. The best news of all? The Mac version was launched on the same day as other platforms thanks to the hard work of our friends over at Feral Interactive.

F1 2017 also heralded the beginning of the F1 eSports series, and the beauty of this competition is that it’s open to anyone who has a copy of the game. Of course, to have a competitive chance of winning, having consistently high frame rates is absolutely critical.

Let’s see how your Mac stands up to the rigors of this game, and whether your machine can pilot you to the winning leagues.

And as we always do, we will be testing the game on several different Macs, with a focus on higher-end models.

First things first, is the game any good?

Every iteration of the F1 game franchise has been better than the last, but is it worth spending the extra dough, when the previous edition was already a fantastic game?

Luckily for me, the answer was easy this time around. And it's not just me, everyone is impressed with the improvements over its predecessor.

The adoration for this game is clearly visible in the tsunami of positive reviews it has received since launch. A Metacritic score of 89/100 and 85% positive reviews (from 2,400 reviews) on Steam isn't something to sneeze at. You really can’t go wrong with this game.



User Reviews

The chaps over at IGN sum it up pretty succinctly:

Rich with details and faithful to just about everything that makes contemporary F1 tick, F1 2017 is about as good a simulation of a single, modern motorsport as you can get.

Whereas our contemporaries at Ars Technica have a slightly longer take on it:

The game will keep such gamers busy for weeks with both Career and Championship modes. In fact, just the addition of the classic cars to the game is probably reason enough for someone to pick up a copy. But even then, I think you'll find it engaging.

If you were ever waiting to get into the franchise, now is the time. If your Mac allows it...

F1 2017 Mac

The test

F1 2017 has some pretty hefty system requirements, and only the latest Macs are fit to play it. However, let’s see how much we can bend these rules.

To evaluate how well F1 2017 runs, we’ll test it on these models:

iMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014)

3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)

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

2.9 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4 GB)

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

3.1 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel 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, Late 2013)

2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)

Notice neither the 2013 MacBook Pro and the 2014 Mac Mini are officially supported.

Why these machines? Our purpose is to help you understand how well this game runs on different setups. And hopefully, one of these setups will be similar enough to yours to give you a clear idea of what to expect. We usually have a more varied selection of hardware but as this is a highly demanding game, we will focus on high-end models this time:

  • High-end Macs (the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro and 2014 iMac)
  • Recent entry-level Macs (the 2017 and 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros)
  • Older Macs (the 2013 MacBook Pro and 2014 Mac Mini)

These are the settings we used to test F1 2017 using the game’s internal benchmark for 1 lap around Australia in Heavy Rain conditions.

  • 1280x800 or equivalent resolution
  • Detail Preset: Medium
  • V-Sync 1
  • Anti-Aliasing TAA
  • Anisotropic Filtering 4x

Why these settings? Australia is a tight street circuit so that lots of traffic to would be rendered simultaneously, and the particle system from the Heavy Rain conditions will push the demands of the game to the max.

But remember, we are testing vastly different machines. Some high-end, some not. 1280x800 and Medium settings won’t impress anyone, but they are acceptable and should meet the requirements of the average gamer. Especially in F1 2017, where the final output will largely look the same on 720p or 4K unless you bump the graphics settings all the way up.

The Results

We knew going in that the hardware requirements for F1 2017 were challenging on the Mac side, and our results confirm that.

Recent Macs with dedicated graphics cards had no trouble with the game at our default setting, but any Macs that failed to meet the minimum requirements refused to play the game.

Beware of this limitation, and only get this game if your Mac meets the minimum requirements.

F1 2017 benchmark results

We also noted that frames per second are locked to 60 frames per second (FPS) max, no matter how low we turned down our settings.

This is certainly a choice Feral took to maintain a consistent framerate. While this decision is understandable, we’d prefer the game to allow more powerful Macs to express themselves through higher framerates, allowing competitive players to gain an advantage in multiplayer games.

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.

Do you have a high-end Mac?

There’s no doubt that a high-end Mac which meets the listed minimum requirements can play this game at our default settings. Locked frame rates of 60 FPS put our iMac and 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro at the top end of the Smooth range.

Even when we pushed the resolution all the way up to 2560x1600 on the medium settings on the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro, we still got about 50 FPS on average, which is super Smooth.

This is what can be expected when turning the settings to Ultra High (and 1280x800):

Model Medium Settings Ultra High Settings
2014 27-inch iMac  60 FPS Smooth  31 FPS Playable

Takeaway: If you have a high-end Mac, you can expect to play this game at the Medium settings without a problem, and you can probably bump things up a bit, on both the resolution and settings and still have a silky smooth experience.

And you would surely have an even better experience on powerful Macs such as the iMac Pro., but with frames locked at 60 FPS, that would be overkill.

Do you have a recent entry-level Mac?

The waters are a little murky here, as you’d expect, but it’s not too bad. Our 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro was nearly Playable at 29 FPS with our default settings.

The 2016 version of the same machine suffered some performance degradation, slotting into the Borderline category with 25 FPS. It’s definitely not ideal, and you will find some more joy by turning down the settings, but don’t expect to hit any big FPS numbers.

Model Ultra Low Settings Medium Settings
2016 13-inch MBP 29 FPS Playable 25 FPS Borderline

Takeaway: If you have a newer Mac with an integrated chipset you may find the game playable. We hit Playable on a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with our default settings.

Although it should be said that there’s no harm in turning down the resolution and settings for higher FPS numbers, as the game itself is pretty solid and you will definitely enjoy it, in spite of the relatively poor visuals as a tradeoff.

But what if you have an older Mac?

The short answer is, don’t even bother trying. The game will refuse to play, and it’ll just end in tears. The minimum requirements are not flexible, and the game will simply refuse to launch.

F1 2017 not launching

Takeaway: If your Mac does not meet the minimum requirements, you’re bang out of luck with this one. Sorry, but that’s how it is. There’s no negotiation on this front, and no amount of compromise, pleading, or prayers will work here

Still unsure?

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

F1 2017 VS Heaven benchmark

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

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

You can also input your Heaven result into this form to estimate the FPS your Mac could score when running the game:

Keep in mind that this is an estimate and far from exact. If your estimated FPS are too close to 30 FPS, don't risk it.

Bottom line: F1 2017 is highly demanding, and despite the best efforts from the folks over at Feral Interactive, the game is not as well optimized as it is for the Windows PCs. Although it does have Metal support, it still requires a powerful Mac for any sort of playable experience.

Always check those system requirements

This is particularly important for extremely demanding games such as this one. If you don't have a high-end Mac, you'd be wise to pay extra attention to the game's requirements.

These are F1 2017’s Mac system requirements (minimum):

OS 10.12.5
Processor 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory 8GB RAM
Video Card 2GB AMD R9 M290, 1.5GB Intel Iris Pro 6200
Hard Drive 36GB of Hard Drive space

The game is supported on the following Macs (to check your Mac model, select About This Mac from the Apple menu on your menu bar):

  • All 13” MacBook Pros released since Late 2016
  • All 15” MacBook Pros released since Late 2016
  • All 21’5” iMacs released since Late 2015 with 2.0GHz CPU or better
  • All 27” iMacs released since Late 2014
  • All Mac Pros released since Late 2013

Also, note that in multiplayer you will need a good internet connection to keep you from losing those dogfights where even a millisecond of lag could adversely affect your results.

A word about controllers: Racing games are best played with a controller, and even better with a steering wheel if you can afford it. We personally use a PS4 wireless controller but if you want to play this game with a steering wheel, this support page details all supported devices.

Final thoughts

F1 2017 is possibly the best sim-racer you can get for the Mac, and there aren’t any real alternatives to the game. It’s a good port, but the graphics are pretty sophisticated so it is a very demanding game. The single-player Career mode campaign packs a solid punch, and the multiplayer is not only spectacular but could offer you a shot at F1 eSports glory. As racing games go, this is one of the best out there.

However, you should be aware a few key things before hitting that “Add to Cart” button on the Steam store.

This is probably the best-looking racing game available on Mac

The minimum requirements listed are very strict, and if your Mac does not match those requirements, the game will refuse to launch.

Macs with integrated graphic chipsets will have a difficult time with this game.

Demand level: ⚡ High

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission (this is how we pay the bills). This commission comes at no additional cost to you

Please understand that I only mention games because I believe they're interesting, good, and/or fun. Never because I received a free copy or to earn a small commission.

About The Author

Salil Parekh

Salil Parekh is trained as a visual communicator from NID, India, and has written for more than a few gaming websites, most of which are now defunct. He is the resident racing nut at MacGamerHQ, and gets particularly excited about indie games. He also happens to be a game developer himself.

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