What’s the one thing that we expect to see on every laptop, smartphone, tablet, or even maybe a Smart Fridge? It might be messaging abilities, video streaming capabilities, but I bet everyone is expecting to see the ability to run games! While not all devices can run games, there are and will be some games for most devices you own, even old Nokias have games.
You probably see where this is going, but what about Macs? Macs are Apple’s expensive computers which basically revolutionized personal computing for everyone on Earth. Macs are the ones that were affordable and fun back then. But now, they are quite the opposite. They are expensive and boring.
Sit tight and relax, we will cover why Macs are poor for gaming and if you want to own or already own a Mac, I’ll also include some tips that’ll make gaming on Macs a bit better.
Why Is Gaming Bad on Mac?
Lack of Customization Options
One of the main reasons why gaming is poor on Macs is because they lack customization options. While Windows PCs offer a lot of different settings and customization options where you can change how your computer runs.
You can overclock CPUs, GPUs, and even RAM to make things run faster and smoother. While if you do that on a Mac, you might void your expensive Mac’s warranty.
Here’s the thing you must know about Macs. While they have some cutting-edge tech inside them, most of those are usually underclocked or toned down, why? There might be a handful of reasons but I think it all comes down to performance stability and component longevity as overclocking components like the CPU, RAM, and GPU will expose them to potential damage much faster.
Macs Prioritize Productivity and Ease of Use
While Macs are terrible for gaming (and anything fun in general) they are beasts of a machine when it comes to productivity. It runs word apps, spreadsheet apps, and presentation apps using Apple’s free apps and it does so without any hiccups even if you load some complicated spreadsheet file. And if you want to run Microsoft Office Apps, it’ll also run that with any ease.
But enough about those light apps, any laptop can run those, what about video editing in Macs? Well, it’s wonderful! Maybe even better than Windows in some cases, especially with Apple’s exclusive video editing app, Final Cut Pro.
And it’s not just about what Macs can run or what they can don’t, once you get used to a Mac, everything on it just feels so easy and comfortable, Macs have that “it just works” feeling to them.
Windows PCs, on the other hand, feel like you always need to tinker with something or download some new app from the Microsoft Store (or even on some sketchy websites) to make it work properly which in most cases is a pain and it will damage your productivity.
Some Macs Don’t Have Dedicated GPUs
The thing with GPUs is they require a lot of power, they’re bulky, and they produce a lot of heat, and those three things are things that Apple doesn’t like especially on their thin, fan-less, and power-efficient MacBooks.
But, things can change with the iMac, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro computers. These are desktop computers and these things don’t have to save space on chips to get a thinner body design.
Let’s say you maxed out the options on your MacBook or iMac or even a Mac Pro before getting it, you’ve got the most powerful CPU and GPU available, the most amounts of RAM possible, and a spacious SSD to top it off.
But the thing that will surprise you is the fact that some of your favorite games might not even be on Mac. That’s right, some of the biggest AAA titles like GTA V, Skyrim, and The Witcher III.
There is a bunch of solutions though, but it will most likely include running Windows in your Mac either through Bootcamp or a Virtual Machine software like Parallels.
Either way, the experience will probably be crappy, and in some cases, the performance while running Windows on Mac is worse than just running macOS.
And at this point, I’d immediately tell anyone, if you want to play even indie and undemanding games on your computer, don’t get a Mac.
Macs Focus on Software Optimization
The reason why Macs can perform well even on a very underpowered chipset is because of their software optimization, not because of their sheer computing power.
On the other hand, if you use a Windows PC even with the latest and greatest GPUs, CPUs, and RAM, there will be hiccups, still. It’s an experience that all Windows users will experience.
And that’s just it, even though Mac’s software and OS are well optimized, the games that will run on it usually aren’t. And since Macs have a smaller market share than Windows PCs, most game developers don’t get a lot of incentive by pouring a ton of time and resources into making a Mac port of their game. And when they did make a port of their game, it’s usually buggy.
Tips and Tricks to Improve Gaming on a Mac
Alright, let’s say you’re stubborn or you’re stuck with a Mac for a couple of years and you just want to play games, I’d say that your experience won’t get much better, but there are some things you can try.
Running Windows on a Mac
First, you can try running Windows on your Mac. This is the easiest and most common solution for gamers on a Mac and there are two ways of doing this, through Bootcamp or by using virtual machine software like Parallels. I’ve tried both and in my opinion, Bootcamp is the way to go as it’s more stable and you’ll get better performance.
The only downside of Bootcamp is that you need to restart your computer every time you want to play a game or use Windows which can be a pain if you’re used to using a Mac which needs little to no troubleshooting, but it’s a small price to pay for a smidge of improvement in gaming performance.
What’s not a small price to pay is the hardware you might need. Yup, to run Bootcamp, you either have to make a Windows Partition on your existing hard drive. Or you might need to get an external HDD or SSD because let’s face it, most Macs especially the newer ones don’t have a lot of storage space and Apple doesn’t make it easy to swap drives.
Upgrading Everything You Can
This tip wouldn’t apply to everyone, and it certainly won’t apply to most of the latest Macs since those things have either proprietary or soldered components. But if you’re using a Unibody MacBook Pro (2008-2012), Retina MacBook Pro (2012-2015), MacBook Air (2008-2017), iMac (except for the latest iMac), and Mac Pros, then you can still upgrade a thing or two.
To improve gaming performance you can upgrade your HDD to a faster SSD and you can upgrade your RAM for ones that are either faster or has higher capacity, and that’s pretty much all you can do to most MacBooks.
As for iMacs and Mac Pros, you can do all the things I just said, but you might also have the option to swap the CPU and GPU for more powerful ones. And hopefully, you can make a setup that’s great for gaming.
Update to the Latest OS
I’m sure that there are a handful of people who don’t like updating their Mac’s OS, and for good reason. For some of you who are confused, Apple released iOS updates before which intentionally slowed down iPhones, and they could’ve done the same for Macs.
And the thing is as you update any device, that device does have the possibility to get slower, but if you want to get a better gaming experience, I recommend updating to the latest OS all the time. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you don’t update for quite some time, the day might come that your OS is now too outdated to run a game. Besides, some MacOS updates will make even older model Macs a bit quicker now and then.
Remote or Cloud Gaming
If all is lost, but you have a fast and high-bandwidth internet connection, then why not try remote or cloud gaming? But what’s the difference between the two?
Remote gaming is just you taking advantage of another PC you have, perhaps a better-specced Windows PC. To give you an idea, it’s like mirroring/controlling your computer from another computer. This method will require a more powerful PC, so why not just play on that, right? But it does come in handy in certain situations, like when you’re not at home while the only thing you have in your MacBook. You can then tap into your PC at home to play your favorite games.
But let’s say you don’t have another PC, to begin with, an option I’ll recommend is Cloud Gaming. What even is that? Cloud gaming is basically like Netflix or YouTube but with games. And the best thing about it? You don’t need a powerful device to run the app, you just need a good internet connection, it’ll run on iPhones, Androids, iPads, Windows, Macs, and even a Smart Fridge! Here it is if you don’t believe me:
And the same thing applies to Mac. There are several cloud services like Xbox Cloud and Stadia which works as a console, but there are also cloud services like NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Shadow, and Vortex that will allow you to take advantage of your existing PC game libraries since you are essentially paying these services to have the games processed on a computer somewhere near you.
And yeah, if you want sheer gaming performance on your Mac, cloud gaming might be the best thing for you. If you want to know more about cloud gaming, you can read the article I made about it here.
Despite these tips and tricks, gaming on a Mac will never be as good as gaming on a PC. If you’re serious about gaming, you should consider investing in a Windows computer instead (take it from me, a Mac user). With that said, if you’re set on gaming on your Mac, following these tips and tricks should help a bit, especially the cloud gaming bit.
Did you find this blog post helpful? Do you have some ideas on how to improve gaming on Macs? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!