Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on Mac: Runs Great on M1 Processors

by | Dec 27, 2020 | Shooter

Once an exciting franchise on Mac, Call of Duty games stopped supporting macOS for years. But that finally changed last year with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on Mac.

As always, Aspyr Media was the team in charge of Black Ops 3 for macOS. And they certainly did it right, as Blacks Ops 3 uses the superior Metal graphics API and is a 64-bit application.

Black Ops 3 is an extremely demanding game to run for most Macs, but the new M1 Macs blew me away with their improved performance. More on that below.

Black Ops 3 on Mac: Everything you need to know

Release Date: April 4, 2020
64-Bit Support: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on Mac: Runs Great on M1 Processors 11
API: Rosetta 2
M1 Support: Metal

Black Ops 3 may not be the latest and greatest Call of Duty out there, but it still offers that signature fast-paced shooting that can’t be found anywhere else.

On top of that, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 combines three unique game modes (Campaign, Multiplayer, and Zombies), making it one of the most ambitious Call of Duty packages ever.

The Zombies Chronicles content expansion includes 8 fully remastered classic Zombies maps from Call of Duty: World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2. That alone can give you hours of entertainment.

Is it good?

The reviews for Blacks Ops 3 were not stellar but still good. Do keep in mind that people love to have COD games:

Black Ops 3 Mac Metacritic

The last COD to support macOS was Modern Warfare 3, released for Mac back in 2014. We’re glad to see that Activision’s partnership with Aspyr is still alive and well. With a little luck, COD games will once again be among the best FPS games on Mac, starting with Black Ops 3.

Some will complain about not getting the latest COD, but seeing how some of the top shooters, such as Overwatch or PUBG, are missing on MacOS, Black Ops 3 remains good news.

Into first-person shooters? These are our Mac favorites:

Game★ Best OverallBest for MacBookBest Value
GenreCo-opCompetitiveBattle Royale
Release date201220122017




Our rating★★★★★
Full Review
Full review
Requirements✅ Not Demanding✅ Not Demanding⚠️ Fairly Demanding
Check Price

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Official Site

About the Mac version

Black Ops 3 for Mac supports absolutely all the content available on Windows. It will be up to you to decide which package better suits you:

  • The Multiplayer Starter Pack: For gamers only interested in Multiplayer.
  • The Zombies Chronicles Edition: For gamers wanting the full base game and the Zombies Chronicles content expansion.
  • The Zombies Deluxe Edition:  For gamers wanting the full package (the full base game, Season Pass & the Zombies Chronicles content expansion).

But the most important fact about Black Ops 3 is that it’s the first COD to be 64-bit compatible (and hence future-proofed). Also, as confirmed by Elizabeth Howard, Aspyr’s VP of Publishing, the game supports Metal:

We’re thrilled to bring all of the amazing Black Ops III content to Mac supporting Metal.

That alone should ensure the best MacOS performance possible. More on that below.

Black Ops 3 Mac requirements

These are the game’s official Mac requirements:

  • OS: 10.13 (High Sierra)
  • CPU: 2.3 GHz  Intel Core i5
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Disk Space: 150 GB
  • Video Card:  2GB ATI M290X or better

Please note that Intel and NVIDIA GPUs are not officially supported hardware.

‼️ The Mac version of the game no longer supports cross-platform multiplayer. You can only play with other Mac users.

Can your Mac run Black Ops 3?

This is where things get interesting. When we first covered this game months ago, we ran it using this 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016): 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)

As expected, the game was too demanding and barely playable. The integrated Intel graphics crumbled and left us with FPS (frames per second) averaging 21 FPS. As we all know, 30 FPS is the bare minimum to properly enjoy a game, especially a fast-paced shooter such as Black Ops 3.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Mac test

To be fair, Intel machines are not only below the official system requirements, they are clearly identified as “not supported”.

Black Ops 3 running on the new M1 Macs

You’ve probably heard by now how powerful the new Macs with those tiny M1 processors are. But can an M1 MacBook Air run the game significantly better? I was personally skeptical. The new MacBook Air is still a MacBook Air and those M1 processors are modified iPad processors… But I was so wrong.

My 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple M1 processors can run Black Ops 3 in ways an Intel-based MacBook Air could only dream of:

  •  13-inch MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8 GB RAM

On max native resolutions and Medium settings, the game ran at over 43 FPS at all times!

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on Mac: Runs Great on M1 Processors 13

That is nothing short of impressive for a MacBook Air.

And this was tested on both the Zombies mode and the main campaign during action-packed sequences:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on Mac: Runs Great on M1 Processors 14

When running the game on the same 1280 x 800 resolution as we did with the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, the game ran at 60 FPS, which is the maximum possible.

Benchmark 2016 MacBook Pro M1 MacBook Air Change (%)
Medium Settings 20.4 60 +194%

Needless to say, the performance of the M1 processor blew me away. I read about this and was expecting a noticeable improvement but I did not expect to comfortably run and enjoy Black Ops 3 on a 13-inch MacBook…

Black Ops 3 Mac download

If you were hoping to purchase it from the Mac App Store, you’re out of luck as Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is currently available on Steam only.

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  1. star-affinity

    Yet another tile that only runs on AMD graphics? I guess Metal isn’t what it could have been on Nvidia. Not to mention the lack of support in Mojave for many of the later offerings from Nvidia.

  2. J G

    how to hide the mouse?

  3. Zombiehunter00

    I love the way this plays on my 2009 Mac Pro! RX480 and 4K!

    • Ric Molina

      RX 480 are excellent value for money so it’s good to know it can run Black Ops 3. Thanks for the information!

  4. Jaro

    Hey, Thanks for this news. Do you think, that a MBP2016 with Radeon Pro 580 8 GB e-GPU (from Blackmagicdesign) will be allright for the Game@FHD? Thanks in advance!

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