Civilization 6 Mac Review

Can your Mac run it?

By Ric Molina | Updated April 7, 2019

Civilization 6 on Mac can’t be considered new anymore, yet this turn-based strategy game is still one of the best strategy games for Mac available today.

Civilization games are famous for their deep strategy. Looks have never been their forte and you might be wondering why even bother asking if you can run it. After all, turn-based games have simple graphics and are easy to run, right? Not so fast…

Civilization 6 has beautiful graphics and while it might not be as sophisticated as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it still requires a ton of horsepower to run.

So let’s see how demanding this game is and whether your Mac has what it takes to run it.

What’s new with Civilizations 6 on Mac?

Civilization 6 received its newest Expansion, Gathering Storm, on February 14, 2019. As well as the expected additions (such as new civilizations and units), the game also received a completely new gameplay feature: Global Warming.

You can read more about it below.

First things first, is Civilization 6 any good?

Released in late 2016, Civilization 6 has more than proven itself to be a safe purchase. The reviews all agree: Civilization 6 is a beast.

PC Gamer, for example, didn’t spare any compliments and gave it 93/100 score, concluding:

Sight, sound, and systems harmonize to make Civilization 6 the liveliest, most engrossing, most rewarding, most challenging 4X in any corner of the earth.

With an 88 Metascore, Civ 6 gets dangerously close to the Masterpiece status, usually reserved for games with a 90 Metascore or more:

Metascore

%

Steam Reviews

As usual, users were, on the other hand, more critical. The game has 70% Positive reviews, which isn’t bad, but not great either. I don’t want to downplay the opinion of the average gamer, but always take Steam reviews with a grain of salt.

For instance, among the game’s more than 37,200 user reviews (which is huge by the huge), there are people with over 145 hours of play time that still don’t recommend it because it has paid DLC…

Civilization 6 Mac

A new Expansion: Gathering Storm

Rise and Fall, the game’s first major Expansion, dared to make significant changes and enhancements. Most notably, it introduced the Loyalty system, Golden and Dark ages, improved Alliances and more.

Essentially, it made Civ 6 more rich and complex.

Now Gathering Storm, the game’s second Expansion, takes Civ 6 to the next level. With the introduction of a new World Congress and a World Climate system, the game delivers a more dynamic and rich experience, especially when you reach the end game and start seeing the real consequences of your earlier choices.

While expensive for an Expansion ($40), Gathering Storm makes a great game even better.

Cross-platform multiplayer

For a while, Civ 6 on Mac suffered from receiving late updates, disabling cross-platform Multiplayer with Windows users.

The situation is much better now, as Aspyr finally made cross-platform multiplayer possible in 2018:

Cross-platform multiplayer is now available between Mac and Windows on Steam. That’s right!  Download the latest update of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and conquer together online now!

Bottom line

I used to think Civ 5 was perfection. I even wondered how Firaxis could make it any better. Well, they did. Civilization 6 feels familiar, yet both gameplay and graphcis are superior.

This is one of the best strategy games you can play on your Mac.

Civilization 6

Our Score ★★★★★

Civilization 6 Mac requirements

We like testing the waters and see if unsupported machines can run a game, but you shouldn’t. Before going any further, you should make sure your Mac meets the game’s minimum system requirements:

  • OS: macOS 10.11 (El Capitan) and 10.12 (Sierra)
  • Processor: 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 (4 cores)
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Hard Disk: 15 GB
  • Graphics: 1GB Radeon HD 6790,  GeForce 775M, Iris Pro or better

Civ 6 officially supports the following graphics cards:

  • NVIDIA GeForce 650M, 675MX, 680MX, 750M, 755M
  • ATI Radeon HD 5750, HD 5770, HD 5870, HD 6750, HD 6770
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000, 5000, 5300, 6000, Iris, 515

If you don’t have one of these cards, I’m afraid this game isn’t for you…

The Test: Can you play Civilization 6 on Mac?

So the game is great and all but can your Mac run it? To give you a proper answer, we did what we do best and tested the game on as many Macs as possible:

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)

3.1 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, Intel Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)

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)

⚠ Notice the 2016 MacBook Pro, 2014 Mac Mini and 2012 MacBook Pro do not meet the recommended system requirements, but more on that below.

Why these machines?

The purpose of these reviews is to help as many of you as we can which is why we test our games on machines as different from each other as possible.

Hopefully, one of these Macs will be close enough to yours to provide results you can use really at home.

These are the settings we used to run Civilization 6’s internal benchmark :

  • 1280x800 (or equivalent 1344x756) resolution
  • Medium Preset
  • Anti Aliasing: MSAA 2X

Using the in-game benchmark tool, we tested the game on all Macs using the same settings.

Civilization 6 Mac can you run it

Civilization 6 is available from most digital stores and prices are stable across the board. You can really get it from your store of choice.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can always wait until the next time the game goes on sale. It happens a few times a year and the price can go as low as $20-30!

As mentioned before, 2 expansions are available. They add a bunch of nice features but they are quite expensive.

The Results: Civ 6 shouldn’t be this demanding

The results were much lower than expected, but there’s more than meets the eye here.

Civilization 6 Mac scoresKeeping in mind that we aim for 30 frames per second (FPS) or more, most of the results here are poor and suggest that Civilization 6 is unplayable on anything other than a high-end Mac. But things are a little more complicated. 10-15 FPS is unacceptable for a racing game or a shooter, but for a turn-based strategy game?

Also, the in-game benchmark is particularly demanding because it takes place very late in the game when lots of units are on screen. Let’s look at the different scenarios and see what can be realistically expected from the game.

Can my Mac run Civilization 6?

If you have a recent Mac with a dedicated graphics card, Civilization 6 will run just fine: smoothly and with no perceivable stutters. In fact, even older models can handle it if they have a  powerful graphics card.

That said, getting barely 30 FPS on our high-end 27-inch iMac is disappointing. After all, I can easily play Rise of the Tomb Raider on it. How can it barely run Civ 6?

The issue is most certainly coming from the fact Civilization 6 does not support Metal and has to run on the aging OpenGL graphics engine. This explains why we’re seeing similar performance compared to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s, a much more graphically intensive game that runs on Metal.

But luckily, Civ 6’s gameplay is much more forgiving (and acceptable at 20-30 FPS) than Mankind Divided’s. More on that below.

Can you play Civilization 6 on a MacBook Pro?

If you have a MBP with dedicated graphics, you should be fine. Our test 15-inch MBP runs the game at a decent 27.75 FPS.

But what if you have a MBP with only integrated graphics? This is where it gets tricky. If we look simply at the results from our 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, I would seem Civ 6 in unplyable on a 13-inch MBP (13 FPS on average). But Civ 6 benefits from a very particular type of gameplay: turn-based strategy. This means you don’t need super fast frames to enjoy it.

I played this game for a few hours while on a trip and had a great time. You can have fun playing it on a similar Mac too, but you’ll have to compromise.

Civ 6 Mac minimum settings

Running the game at the same 1280x800 resolution as before, but with settings set to Minimum and Anti-Aliasing off, it ran at an average 22.70 FPS.

While playing the game around turn 137 (with a decent quantity of units on screen) we got 26.3 FPS. Still low, but more than enough to enjoy such a game. This is far from ideal and I would not recommend it to those who need 60 FPS at 4K to enjoy a game, but this is decent enough to play this baby on the road.

But what if you have an older Mac?

Unlike Mankind Divided, you can still launch the game on machines that do not meet the system requirements, such as our 2012 MacBook Pro.

But running at barely 9 FPS on a 2014 Mac Mini and 6 FPS on a 13-inch 2012 MBP, you should stay away from this game unless you meet the system requirements.

You can always test the always popular and slightly less demanding Civilization 5.

Download Civilization 6 for Mac

Civilization 6 is available from most digital stores and prices are stable across the board. You can really get it from your store of choice.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can always wait until the next time the game goes on sale. It happens a few times a year and the price can go as low as $20-30!

The real question is what version you should get and whether or not you should get the Expansions separately or as part of a bundle or special Edition. Navigating the different options isn’t easy but the help you understand the different options available, this table should help:

Final thoughts

In spite of the disappointing results:

System requirements aren’t as high as expected

The game can still be played on mid-range Macs

Performance is dragged down by OpenGL

Demand level: ⚠ Medium 

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