While not everyone’s cup of tea, it is undeniable how popular The Sims franchise is. Hell, I’ll go ahead and admit there was a brief period in my life when all I played was The Sims. Create a Sim, build a house, get a job, make friends, find love, all in the comfort of your computer.

But a lot has changed since the heady days of the 2000s and after 3 main entries and countless expansions, developer Maxis has now delivered The Sims 4, one of the most addictive simulation games for Mac.

The premise is the same, yet The Sims 4 creates more depth and introduces new mechanics, features, and vastly improved graphics. Speaking of graphics, this is a game that looks surprisingly good on a high-end Mac at the highest settings. But what if you have an older Mac or an entry-level model?

I’m here to help you answer those questions. And as we always do, we will be testing the game on 4 different Macs, ranging from the new and powerful to the older and more basic models.

It may not have as many things to do as The Sims 3, still, this is the most sophisticated, better looking and fun Sims ever made.

Our score: ★★★★☆


$34.99┊MMOGA


First things first, is the game any good?

There’s a reason why The Sims is one of the most popular franchises in gaming history. These games are extremely addictive and very appealing to casual gamers.

But is this still the case for The Sims 4? Is it as good as its predecessors? Reviewers can’t seem to agree. The game has a 70/100 Metascore, which is good but not great: 

The Sims 4 Mac Metacritic

But taking a closer look at some of the reviews, a trend begins to emerge. Gamespot gave it a 6/10 score, concluding that:

The Sims 4’s biggest problem is that The Sims 3 exists. […] This is a lovely and lively game that elicits constant smirks, but The Sims 4’s moments never feel like part of a bigger picture.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Everyone agrees The Sims 3 had more to do, yet The Sims 4 has more depth:

Yet The Sims 4 does succeed in being a deep and complex game when it comes to Sim interactions, with lots of entertaining emotional potential. The emotions system and its contextual actions are really strong.

Plus, excellent building tools make architecture more fun than ever.

When looking at the user reviews (on Metacritic, as the game is not available on Steam), it doesn’t look good for The Sims 4. The game has a 4/10 average score of over 2100 users. Again, for the same reasons: the world is too small and there aren’t enough things to do…

The Sims 4 Mac gameplay

My take? If you haven’t played The Sims 3, that could be a better place to start. It will be cheaper, will have more Expansions (and things to do) and will be even less demanding on your Mac.

If you have, The Sims 4 should have enough depth and new features to be worth a shot, especially now that enough Expansions have been released that add more stuff to do.

Into simulation games? These are our favorites:

Game★ Best OverallBest for MacBookBest Value
GenreCity-builderTycoon simulationRPG simulation
Release date201520132016
Metascore

85

83

89

Our rating★★★★★★★★★☆★★★★★
Requirements⚠️ Fairly Demanding✅ Not Demanding✅ Not Demanding
Check Price

Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle

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The Sims 4 Mac requirements

These are The Sims 4 Mac system requirements:

  • OS: 10.7.5
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz Processor
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 320M, 9600M, 9400M, ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or better. Video RAM of 256MB or better.
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 10 GB of Hard Drive space

Warning: You’ll be forced to use EA’s Origins client (which I deeply dislike)


The Test: Can you play The Sims 4 on Mac?

To evaluate how well The Sims 4 runs, we’ll test it on these models:

  • 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, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012): 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, GeForce GT 650M (1GB)

Be aware that the system requirements are not perfectly clear regarding integrated graphics. Are the 2012 MacBook Pro and 2014 Mac Mini supported? More on that below.

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 very clear idea of what to expect. These are the setups we will be covering:

  • Recent high-end Macs (the 2014 iMac).
  • Recent entry-level Macs (the 2016 MacBook Pro).
  • Older Macs (the 2012 MacBook Pro and the 2014 Mac Mini).

These are the settings we used to test The Sims 4 using our in-house FPS counter Count It for a fixed duration of 5 minutes:

  • 1280×800 resolution
  • Graphics Quality: Medium
  • Vertical Sync: Off
  • Retina display: Off

Why these settings? Remember, we are testing vastly different machines. Some high-end, some not. 1280×800 and Medium settings won’t impress anyone, but they are acceptable and should meet the requirements of the average gamer.

PS: These are our favorite accessories for playing/testing games on Mac!

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Mac compatible?
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The Results: A surprisingly easy game to run!

There were reports of poor Mac performance that had me worried, but it seems the reports were a little overboard (or perhaps Maxis has improved the MacOS version over the years):

The target? This chart includes the average frames per second (FPS) recorded on each machine. We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience.

Some readers argue that 30 FPS is not high enough, but it’s still what current-gen consoles aim for, and considering most Macs were not built for gaming, 30 FPS is a good target.

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.

We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience.

You’ll notice all Macs did better than 30 FPS, which is a good thing, but let’s dive deeper into the results and see how far The Sims 4 can be pushed.

Can my Mac run The Sims 4?

The real question is not whether a high-end Mac can play this game. We know it will.

Haters may claim Macs can’t run games, but if you have a recent high-end Mac with a dedicated graphics card with 2GB of Video RAM (or more), you can safely play ANY game that exists on MacOS.

The real question is: How high can you increase the graphics settings while still experiencing a smooth experience?

Case in point, my 2014 iMac’s results. While nowhere near as fast as the latest iMacs, it still ran the game at 60 FPS using the Medium settings defined for these tests. And it only did 60 FPS because the game locked frame rates at 60 FPS maximum.

But what happens when we bump the graphics to make The Sims 4 really shine? When increasing the settings to Ultra and raising the resolution to 2560×1440, the iMac still ran the game at 56.2 FPS.

Take away: If you have a high-end Mac, you can expect to smoothly play this game at the highest settings.

Can you play The Sims 4 on a MacBook Pro?

This is when things get complicated. Many of us own $1500+ MacBook Pros we believe to be high end (otherwise, how can you justify that price?). Unfortunately, they are not, at least when it comes to graphics performance.

I’m not here to criticize Apple’s choices. They decided that mobility and battery life come first, which is great for most users, but bad for gamers.

The Sims 4 Mac gameplay 2

Anyway, having an entry-level Mac means you have integrated graphics. And that means gaming performance will be limited. But how limited? It depends on the game.

In this case, The Sims 4 did great on my 13-inch MacBook Pro. The game ran at 54.9 FPS, which is almost double our 30 FPS target.

These results mean you could slightly increase the graphics settings and still get a smooth experience out of The Sims 4. I did two more tests on high and ultra settings, and as expected, there was still some room (although ultra is a little too much):

  • 1280×800 and high settings: 44.5 FPS
  • 1280×800 and ultra settings: 24.1 FPS

Take away: The Sims 4 is properly optimized for macOS and not particularly demanding. Any recent Mac should be able to handle it, even those with integrated graphics.

But what if you have an older Mac?

According to our results, there is hope for you. Our test 2014 Mac Mini ran the game at 45.40 FPS, which is way above our target. If your Mac is even older than that, it will really depend on your machine’s graphics. If you have dedicated graphics, like our 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro, you should be fine.

And if you don’t and worry yours won’t be able to take it, you can always try Stardew Valley, an excellent, albeit different, simulation game that supports MacOS.

Take away: If your Mac has integrated graphics, anything older than the Intel Iris 5100 from our Mac Mini will be risky. If your Mac has dedicated graphics, any model from 2012 onwards should be fine.

Bottom line: Turns out, The Sims 4 is a forgiving game that should run just fine on most Macs out there (unless you have a pre-2012 Mac with integrated graphics)…

Maxis clearly did a good job optimizing the game, but this is an inherently simple game (graphics-wise) that is not meant to push your machine to the max. After all, there are plenty of other games out there for that!


Download The Sims 4 for Mac

The Sims 4 is available for download from several digital stores including Origin and MMOGA:

It may not have as many things to do as The Sims 3, still, this is the most sophisticated, better looking and fun Sims ever made.

Our score: ★★★★☆


$34.99┊MMOGA

Our Verdict

Review The Sims 4 on Mac
Summary Much can be said about the Sims 4. It certainly doesn’t have as many things to do as the Sims 3, but the gameplay itself is more sophisticated, the graphics are better and the Mac version runs flawlessly. What else can we ask for? Maxis did a great job bringing The Sims 4 to MacOS. 
Author Ric Molina
Rating 4.0 (out of 5)

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