Tomb Raider on Mac: Can you run it?
Tomb Raider is without a doubt my favorite action adventure game on Mac. Granted, gamers on other platforms have moved on to the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, but while we wait for that one to come to macOS, Tomb Raider is still an excellent game.
This reboot of the franchise hits all of the right chords. It tells a great story. It portrays an authentic Lara Craft that is human while still kicking ass. It has rock-solid gameplay filed with survival elements and satisfying bow and arrow combat. And it also has beautiful graphics, making it the total package.
But that last point brings me to the question you’re here for: How powerful should your Mac be to properly run this game? Blockbuster action games are often great-looking and demanding. Does this mean you’ll need a top of the line MacBook Pro or iMac to enjoy it?
Luckily for you, Feral Interactive was in charge of this one, which means Tomb Raider’s Mac version is so well-optimized, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to run it…
First things first, is the game any good?
In case it wasn’t clear enough already, I loved this game. But what did the other reviewers have to say?
No need to beat around the bush here: Tomb Raider was a critically-acclaimed success. Both professional reviewers and users loved and raved about it.
The game currently has an impressive 86/100 Metascore (by the way, anything with a score over 80 can be considered an achievement) and 95% of overwhelmingly positive Steam user reviews:
Why so much love? In a way, It felt like Tomb Raider finally did justice to Lara Croft. She’s no longer eye-candy but an authentic bad-ass.
IGN gave it a spectacular 9.1/10 score and perfectly summarized my point:
A new beginning for Lara Croft that does justice to one of gaming's most iconic characters.
Gamespot also loved it, giving it an 85/100 score and concluded that:
[The game] doesn't try to rewrite the book on third-person action adventure games. But with its excellent controls, engaging heroine, thrilling combat, and fascinating setting, it doesn't need to. Lara may be covering some previously charted territory here, but Tomb Raider is so well-crafted, you won't mind at all.
But what about regular gamers like you and I? You know how tough gamers can be when leaving reviews on Steam. What did they have to say about this reboot? They loved it.
95% positive reviews is an amazing result. And the fact the game already has 58,338 reviewers makes it even more impressive. Not that many games have this many raving fans.
My take? It really doesn’t matter if you prefer strategy games shooters, or something entirely different. Tomb Raider is an excellent action-adventure game with a great story, solid gameplay, and great looks.
You won’t be taking too many risks going for it.
I keep repeating this is a beautiful game with great graphics. But where does that leave us when it comes to performance requirements? Will those with older Macs be left behind?
To figure that out, we went ahead and tested the game 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)
Mac Mini (Late 2014):
2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)
5.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4000 (1.5GB)
Be aware that the 2012 MacBook Pro and 2014 Mac Mini do not officially meet the game's minimum system requirements. More on that below.
This combination of machines is the one we usually test games on. And we believe they’re a good selection because they complement each other well. The aim is to cover different setups and make sure one of these is close enough to yours:
- High-end Macs (the 2014 iMac).
- New, but basic Macs (the 2016 MacBook Pro).
- Older and basic Macs (the 2012 MacBook Pro and the 2014 Mac Mini).
Having a Mac similar to one of these should help you interpret our results easier. These are the settings we used to test the game running Tomb Raider’s in-built benchmarking tool:
- 1280x800 resolution
- Quality: Normal
- V-Sync: Off
Why these settings? 1280x800 is a little higher than basic high definition, which is the minimum modern gamers expect. That resolution, coupled with the Normal preset, should make represent fair testing conditions for both powerful Macs and more basic (older) models.
Prepare for some good news… This is a game most Mac gamers should be able to enjoy!
Having tested this game a long time ago on a MacBook Air, I knew it was a good port that should deliver good performance. To be honest, the results are even a little better than what I expected:
Remember, we usually aim for 30 frames per second. That’s the speed at which many games run on modern consoles and should be more than enough to all but the most demanding gamers out there. Some games can get away with less (such as turn-based strategy games), but an action-packed game like will need those 30 frames per second.
Yes, both Mac Mini and the 13-inch 2012 MacBook Pro missed the mark, but not everything is lost. More on that in a moment.
Let’s dive into different results.
Do you have a high-end Mac?
As always, if you have a high-end Mac (an iMac or a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a dedicated graphics card), you can stop reading this review and just go ahead and get yourself a copy.
Testing the game using the Normal preset, we got 121.2 FPS. Those results are completely out of the park, meaning there's a lot of margin left to bump graphics settings much more and still expect a smooth experience.
I turned the settings to their highest and set the resolution at an impressive 2560x1440. Even under such demanding conditions, my iMac still ran at an average of 40.8 FPS, which is great.
Expect to be able to play this game even at the highest settings and resolutions and still get over 30 FPS.
Do you have a new, but basic Mac?
This is usually the category that helps me decide whether a game is demanding or not. Great results on a top of the line machine with a killer GPU is expected, as well as having a poor result from old machines with integrated graphics. But what about new machines with integrated graphics?
Integrated graphics are not ideal for gaming and demanding games make that statement painfully obvious. In this case, my 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with integrated graphics scored 43.8 FPS. That’s way above our 30 FPS target.
If you have one of the newer Macs, it doesn’t matter which one, you can expect it to run this game smoothly.
Do you have an older and basic Mac?
The initial results of 26.3 FPS and 21.1 FPS using the 2014 Mac Mini and 2012 MacBook Pro respectfully were technically too low. But again, this was expected from older machines with weak graphics. But can something be done?
Using the 2012 MacBook Pro, we went ahead a lower the game’s settings even more:
With these new settings, we got 29.9 FPS.
At practically 30 FPS, Tomb Raider is playable if you are prepared to compromise graphics fidelity and play the game at lower settings.
If you have an older Mac with Intel HD Graphics 4000 or better, it is possible to play this game at the lowest settings.
If you're still on the fence, I recommend you run the free Unigine Heaven Benchmark using the Basic Preset and input your results into this form to estimate the FPS your Mac should get from the game:
Keep in mind that this is an estimate and far from exact. If you are too borderline here, don't risk it.
Bottom line: This is one fine port from Feral Interactive that can easily adapt to a wide variety of setups. Do you have a powerful Mac? Bump the settings to high and enjoy the great graphics.
Do you have an old Mac but you still want to play this game? You can if you’re prepared to play it on the lowest settings.
Always check those system requirements
Remember, if you don't pay attention to the system requirements, you risk buying a game you won't be able to play!
Developers such as Feral tirelessly test their games to see come up with minimum system requirements.
These are Tomb Raider’s Mac system requirements:
- OS: macOS 10.9.1
- Processor: 2.0GHz Intel or greater
- Memory: 4GB
- Graphics: 512Mb AMD 4850, 512Mb Nvidia 650M, Intel HD4000* (See Notes for more details)
- Hard Drive: 14GB
The game is supported on the following Macs:
- All 13” MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012 (models with an Intel HD4000 or HD5000 graphics card require at least 8GB of System Memory and an Intel i7 Processor)
- All 15” MacBook Pros released since Early 2011 with a 512Mb graphics card or better
- All 17" MacBook Pros released since Early 2011
- All Mac Minis released since Late 2012 (models with an Intel HD4000 or HD5000 graphics card require at least 8GB of System Memory and an Intel i7 Processor)
- All 21.5” iMacs released since Mid 2010 with a 512Mb graphics card or better
- All 27” iMacs released since Mid 2010
- All Mac Pros released since Late 2009
The following models should be capable of running the game but are not officially supported:
- All MacBooks released since Early 2016
Also, Multiplayer is compatible between Mac and Linux only.
I knew this was one well-optimized port but the results were even better than expected:
This is a game that can adapt to both powerful and weak machines
It doesn’t take too much to enjoy it at the highest settings
It even supports the old Intel HD Graphics 4000 card!
Demand level: ✅ Low