Fortnite Mac Review

Can your Mac run it?

By Ric Molina | Updated Jan 15, 2019

Seemingly overnight, Battle Royale games have become all the rage. Led by Player Unknown Battleground but now surpassed by Fortnite, 100-player last-person-standing games have caught more attention than any other genre before.

In Fortnite, you jet glide to your chosen spot on an island and start hunting other players and gathering gear. Every encounter is critical, and as you get closer to the final 10 players, you can feel the tension rise to incredible levels. No wonder the entire gaming community is so obsessed.

Fortnite is everywhere. Even celebrities such as Drake are playing it and breaking records on Twitch.

But can your Mac run the hottest game in the world right now?

Fortnite is so big, we decided to do something big too. Instead of testing one of the finest FPS games for Mac on our usual three machines, we tested it on more than two dozen Macs, thanks to you, our readers.

What’s new with Fortnite on Mac? We first reviewed the game on May 22, 2018, but Fortnite is an online game that is constantly evolving. Season 7 is the latest example, bringing new game modes, features, and gear to the game.

More importantly, Fortnite continues to slowly improve its Mac Performance. You can read more about it below.

First things first, is Fortnite worth it?

Fortnite Battle Royale didn’t become one of the top games in the world by chance. It’s just so much fun to play.

Follow the sounds of gunfire to seek out enemies or hide out and gather resources until the final moments of the game. You decide how to play, but with a gradually narrowing storm center forcing players together, eventually, you’re going to have to fight it out.

It’s easy to understand why both reviewers and gamers love this game. Battle Royale games create tension and excitement like no other genre can and the addition of crafting makes for an even more fun and interesting game.

Fortnite Mac

Add to that well-balanced gameplay, a good variety of weapons, a surprisingly non-toxic community, a generous free-to-play system, and you get the hottest game of the moment.

IGN (9.6/10) loves the game and wrote:

Fortnite’s zany style and unique blend of shooting and building almost never offers anything less than an outstanding time… Fortnite sets itself apart from the crowd by giving you the freedom and tools to express your own personal playstyle.

Most professional reviewers came to similar conclusions, as can be seen from the game’s official Metascore. Interestingly, while millions love the game, online user reviews are usually negative… That’s another internet mystery

Metascore

User Score

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Our Score ★★★★☆

Fortnite Mac Requirements

Now, before we dive into our benchmarks and results, you’ll want to make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

According to Epic Games’ official website, these are Fortnite Mac requirements:

OS OS 10.12 Sierra
Processor 2.4 GHz Core i3
Memory 4 GB RAM
Video Intel HD 4000
Hard Drive 19 GB

If your Mac is from 2012 or newer, you will probably be able to join the party.

At first sight, this seems like an easy game to run, but we all know how wrong system requirements can be…

The Test: Can you play Fortnite on Mac?

We usually test games using our 3 in-house Macs, but because Fortnite is the most popular game to come to MacOS in years, we knew we had to do something bigger.

We started out by testing the game on these three machines:

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 2016):

2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013)

2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)

Fortnite Mac review test machines

On top of that, we launched a huge reader challenge, and with your help, managed to test the game on these models:

  • 27-inch iMacs from 2012, 2014 and 2015
  • 21-inch iMacs from 2013 and 2017
  • 13-inch MacBook Airs from 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • 13-inch MacBook Pros from 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • 15-inch MacBook Pros from 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Mac Mini from 2012
  • Mac Pro from 2010

Why these machines?

We always try to test a game on as many different models as possible. But more than that, we aim to test completely different types of Macs: desktops, laptops, old and new. The aim is to give you a flavor of how the game will run on different models. Because we have a lot of results, we decided to separate them into three different categories:

  • High-end Macs (machines with powerful graphics cards)
  • Recent entry-level Macs (recent machines that do not have powerful graphics)
  • Older Macs (machines that are either recent or have powerful graphics)

Finally, these are the in-game settings we used:

  • 1280x800 or equivalent resolution
  • 100% 3D resolution
  • Low Quality Preset
  • VSync: Off

We tested the game using Count It, our in-house Mac FPS counter tool, playing a normal Solo battle royale game for around 5 minutes.

The Results: Fortnite Mac performance was poor

As mentioned before, the game has changed a lot in the past few months, especially on Mac.

We knew we had to test the game again and can confirm that as of now, January 2019, Fornite on Mac runs much better than it did back in March 2018.

On our three machines, we recorded the following results:

Fortnite Mac results (updated)

The raw figures are not any higher compared to our previous results, but the devil is in the details.

The game runs much more stable now. The ridiculous frame drops that plagued the game (especially during those first minutes of each match) are long gone. The improvement is noticeable on all three machines.

You can find every single one of our “older” results submitted by the community below. Just keep in mind that those machines wouldn’t run the game any faster today but overall stability would be higher:

SeriesModelYearProcessorGraphicsAverage FPS
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2015)20152.8 GHz Intel Core i7Radeon R9 M370X (2GB)66.4
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2013)20132 GHz Intel Core i7Intel Iris Pro38.5
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013)20132.4 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris 510023.4
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2015)20152.7 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Graphics 610028.1
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017, Touch Bar)20173.1 GHz Intel Core i7Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)92.6
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016, Touch Bar)20162.7 GHz Intel Core i7Radeon Pro 460 (4GB)85.4
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (Non Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2012)20122.9 GHz Intel Core i7Intel HD Graphics 400040.2
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017)20172.3 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Plus Graphics 64060.2
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Touch Bar)20173.1 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Plus Graphics 65039.0
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)20162 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Graphics 54050.4
Mac Book ProMacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Touch Bar)20163.1 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Graphics 55051.4
Mac Book AirMacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)20152.2 GHz Intel Core i5Intel HD Graphics 600024.4
Mac Book AirMacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2014)20141.4 GHz Intel Core i5Intel HD Graphics 500020.6
Mac ProMac Pro (Mid 2010)20103.33 GHz 6-Core Intel XeonGeForce GTX 970 (4GB)90.9
Mac MiniMac mini (Late 2012)20122.5 GHz Intel Core i5Intel HD Graphics 400025.8
iMaciMac (5K, 27-inch, Mid 2015)20153.3 GHz Intel Core i5Radeon R9 M290 (2GB)74.0
iMaciMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)20154 GHz Intel Core i7Radeon R9 M395X (4GB)88.0
iMaciMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)20153.2 GHz Intel Core i5Radeon R9 M390 (2GB)57.2
iMaciMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014)20143.5 GHz Intel Core i5Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)100.3
iMaciMac (4K, 21.5-inch, 2017)20173.4 GHz Intel Core i5Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)93.2
iMaciMac (27-inch, Late 2012)20123.2 GHz Intel Core i5GeForce GTX 680MX (2GB)115.7
iMaciMac (27-inch, Late 2012)20123.4 GHz Intel Core i7GeForce GTX 680MX (2GB)107.9
iMaciMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013)20132.7 GHz Intel Core i5Intel Iris Pro44.9
Expand to see the different levels of performance

For your reference, this is how we describe the different levels of performance (in frames per second):

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.

If you have a high-end machine with a fast dedicated graphics (like an iMac or 15-inch MacBook Pro), you’ll be able to run the game just fine.

In fact, if you have a high-end Mac, you can safely increase settings to the Medium Preset. That will result in good performance and much better-looking graphics.

Can you play Fortnite on a MacBook Pro?

But what if you, like most Mac users out there, have a 13-inch MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, will you be able to play and enjoy Fortnite on Mac? According to our data, you can if you have a very recent model.

Fortnite officially supports the Intel HD Graphics 4000 or better. As the last model to use it is from 2013, all recent MacBook Pros should be able to run Fortnite just fine. In theory.

And our results confirmed that theory:

Fortnite MacBook results V2

The game runs great on most machines, with smooth and fast FPS levels. But only the higher-end models with dedicated graphics cards can handle settings higher than Medium. Using our 2016 13-inch MBP, we tested the following settings:

  • 1280x800 and Low settings: 43.9 FPS
  • 1280x800 and Medium settings: 22.1 FPS

Going from Low to Medium settings requires some horsepower but the graphical improvements are significant. We definitely recommend using Medium settings if your machine can handle it and still run at 40 FPS or better.

This is a point where we have to insist. Fortnite is a competitive shooter where stutters can be a disaster. You need the most fluid experience possible to have a chance to win a face-off.

Can my Mac run Fortnite?

If you’re reading this, that is probably the only question you care about right now. But as always, the answer is never straightforward: It depends.

Fortnite Macs wide

With a little luck, we tested a machine very similar to yours and in that case, you only have to see the results. If the game runs at 40 FPS or more, you’re good to go. If not, you’ll have to skip Fortnite, at least for the time being.

From the 20+ results we received, we can conclude that:

  • Fornite on MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro: The game will run fine on machines from 2016 onwards.
  • Fornite on MacBook Air or Mac Mini: Performance will be too limited to actually enjoy the game
  • Fortnite on older Macs: Machines from 2015 or older won’t be able to run it unless they have a powerful dedicated graphics card.

 My advice? Fortnite for Mac is free. If you really want to test it, download it and see for yourself if your Mac can run it. Even if it can’t, it won’t cost you a dime to try!

How to run Fortnite on Mac?

If your Mac can barely run Fortnite (below 35-40) on Low settings, there is one last thing you can try…

You can always reduce 3D resolution to 75% or less. That will result in a significant performance improvement but that comes at a cost. Using our 2013 13-inch MBP, we can see big improvements:

  • 1280x800, Low settings, 100% 3D resolution: 23 FPS
  • 1280x800, Low settings, 66% 3D resolution: 35.2 FPS

With the 3D resolution set to 66%, our 2013 MBP runs the game 40% faster. Even better, it brings us closer to much more acceptable FPS.

Fortnite Mac review different resolutions

Reducing the 3D resolution obviously hurts the game’s looks. I was prepared to recommend against lowering 3D resolution because of how blocky and ugly the game looked, but in reality, I forgot all about it once I started tracking another player. It was glorious and fun.

Deciding how bad 66% 3D resolution looks or whether it is acceptable will be up to you.

I wouldn’t recommend going lower than 66% though because at some point gameplay will suffer too. Can you really be effective if you can’t differentiate faraway enemies from trees?

The best Fortnite Mac settings for performance

If you’re struggling with performance, you can try the following settings. These should increase the game’s FPS at least a little:

  • Fullscreen mode
  • Set frame rate limit to 30 (to decrease those big frame rate drops)
  • Quality: Low
  • V-sync off
  • Reduce the 3D resolution setting

Don’t expect huge improvements, but this could provide those extra 5 FPS to make Fornite playable on your Mac. The biggest improvements come from reducing the 3D resolution but visual fidelity will suffer a lot…

The best Fortnite Mac settings for graphics fidelity

If you have a high-end Mac and want the game to look great, you can either increase the settings or resolution.

As an example, these tests were all performed on our high-end 2014 27-inch iMac:

  • 1344x756 resolution and Low settings: 104.7 FPS
  • 1344x756 resolution and Medium settings: 71.9 FPS
  • 1344x756 resolution and High settings: 52.3 FPS
  • 1344x756 resolution and Epic settings: 38.5 FPS

Going from Low to Medium reduces FPS by 31% but the game looks much better with added shadow effects and details. On the other hand, going from High to Epic reduces FPS by 26% but the graphics improvement is barely noticeable.

As always, I recommend avoiding the Epic, Extreme or Max settings and increase the resolution instead. Using that same iMac, increasing the resolution or going from Medium to High settings generates a similar FPS loss the higher resolution looks much better:

  • 1344x756 resolution and Medium settings: 71.9 FPS
  • 1920x1080 resolution and Medium settings: 51.9 FPS
  • 1344x756 resolution and High settings: 52.3 FPS
  • 1344x756 resolution and Epic settings: 38.5 FPS

But as tempted as you are to increase the settings even higher, remember that speed is more important than looks in a game like Fortnite. You’ll have a much better experience on Medium settings and 70 FPS than Epic settings and 38 FPS.

Download Fortnite for Mac

Want to give it a try? After all, this is an excellent free-to-play game that doesn’t hide it’s best content behind paid walls or microtransactions. That alone is reason enough to give it a try and see how much you like the world of Tyria.

You can download Guild Wars 2 Mac free version from ArenaNet’s official website.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Our Score ★★★★☆

Our Verdict

Review Fortnite on Mac
Summary

It’s not surprising Fortnite is a demanding game. After all, it looks great and takes place in huge environments filled with trees and buildings to provide cover and hide loot. 

That said, the game’s Mac version was a extremely poorly optimized. For months, playing Fortnite on Mac was nearly impossible for most. Gladly, Fortnite on Mac has improved a lot and is now good enough for most.

Author Ric Molina
Rating 3.5 (out of 5)

Demand level: Medium