What Is the Best Mac for Gaming in 2020?

What Is the Best Mac for Gaming in 2020?

Even though Apple’s Macs are not usually considered gaming computers, some of the newer models are powerful enough to run most graphics-intensive modern games. However, up until recently Mac users wouldn’t be able to play most of them as the majority are designed solely for Windows PCs. Luckily, the number of games available on macOS has been growing exponentially since Apple started collaborating with top developers.

 

The combination of high-quality performance and the light-weight body of a MacBook will create a superb gaming experience for the pickiest user. iMacs also have their benefits. All you need to do is to choose a computer that meets your needs and download a game from App Store or Steam.

 

Apple has a range of products, both laptops and desktop computers. Out of all of them, these are the best models for playing games:

 

Now let’s look into each of them in more detail.

What should you look for when choosing a Mac for gaming?

Gaming laptops appeared on the market not so long ago, but they’re already taking over the gaming scene. The belief that comfortable gaming experience is only possible with a desktop PC is gradually becoming obsolete. As long as your device has the required specifications you can sit back and enjoy a game.

 

We listed the minimum specs required for gaming on a Mac.

CPU

Simple two-dimensional games might run just fine with a slower processor, but anything that is slightly more high-end, such as 3D graphics, requires a powerful processor. The minimum is an Intel Core i5 with 2.0GHz or more, although an i7 is recommended.

GPU

Generally speaking, most games require an advanced graphics card. If you’re playing a game with 3D animation, a fast processor will do nothing unless you have sufficient GPU as well.

 

Core i5 and i7 processors include an integrated GPU that uses the same RAM as the CPU. This doesn’t reflect well on your Mac’s performance—for a smooth gaming experience you should look into buying a discrete graphics card.

 

The usual integrated Intel UHD Graphics card is not powerful enough, but you can get away with an Iris Plus that uses its own memory. However, your best bet is a Radeon Pro discrete GPU that is included in some Mac models such as the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the 27-inch iMac. They have state-of-the-art graphics and can be сonfigurable to Radeon Pro 5700 XT discrete graphics card with 16GB of GDDR6 memory.

RAM

8GB of RAM is the absolute minimum for any gaming computer, whether a PC or a Mac. This amount of memory will allow you to run most games smoothly. Luckily, all Macs of the current range have at least that much with the room to upgrade. 16GB is the optimal amount of memory. This means that most older Macs won’t do the trick as the base models only contain around 4GB.

Display

Gaming requires a high-resolution, pixel-dense display—and that’s just common sense. Luckily, all of the latest Mac models use Retina displays with True Tone technology that recognise up to a billion colours.

 

The current Mac range includes the impressive 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display. In terms of screen quality and size this is your best option.

Ports

Most of Apple’s own peripheral devices, such as the Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, are wireless, so you don’t need to worry about having enough ports to connect those. However, if you prefer using professional gaming devices by brands such as CORSAIR, make sure that your computer can connect at least two accessories. It’s not an issue with Macs—even something as compact as a MacBook Air has two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Price

When it comes to gaming computers, there’s rarely even such a term as “low budget”. The need to invest in a large, high-res display, and an impressive GPU often tends to jump up the price tag.

 

The least you’ll pay is $1,299 for a 21.5-inch iMac. For a portable laptop, $2,399 is the minimum. There is no price limit—-if you look at a Mac Pro, you can go as high as $51,000 with all the extensions and add-ons.

Which Mac should I choose for gaming

16-inch MacBook Pro

The optimal decision for gamers is a 16-inch MacBook Pro that was released in 2019. The base model is equipped with a 2.6GHz 6-core 9th Gen Core i7 processor that can be upgraded to a 2.3GHz 8-core i9 with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. It contains a discrete graphics card AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB GPU GDDR6 that can be improved to AM Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB memory for better performance. 16GB RAM is combined with up to 1TB of SSD storage.

 

Compared with the previous 15-inch model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a much thinner display. The 3072x1920 pixels with 226PPI resolution display supports P3 and True Tone technologies with 500 nit brightness.

 

Finally, the sides of the laptop have 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 1 Audio port, a Touch Bar, and Touch ID. All of this is packed in 1.95 kg, price ranging from $2,399 to $2,799.

16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) Specs

CPU

Basic: 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7

Configurable to: 2.4GHz 8‑core Intel Core i9

GPU

Basic: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory

Configurable to: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory

Display

16-inch IPS display with 3072x1920 resolution

RAM

Basic: 16GB

Configurable to: 64GB

SSD

Basic: 512GB

Configurable to: 8TB

Ports

Four Thunderbolt 3  

21.5-inch iMac with a 4K Retina display

The 21.5-inch iMac is a powerful, all-in-one machine with a super-thin body. The 4K 4096x2034 P3 Retina display relays more than a billion colors, making the image bright and realistic. The accuracy and detail conveyed by the screen will satisfy any gamer.

 

We’re not considering the base model in this review as it hasn’t been updated since 2017 and, frankly, doesn’t meet even the basic requirements for gaming. When it comes to the more expensive variants, CPU ranges from a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th Gen Core i3 to a 3.0GHz 6-core 8th Gen Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz. 8GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM is configurable up to 32GB. The cheaper $1,299 model has a 1TB hard drive, whereas the more expensive $1,499 iMac contains a 1TB fusion drive instead.

 

The GPU can be improved from a Radeon Pro 555X with 2GB of GDDR5 memory to a Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB. The computer has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and 4 USB-C ports. All models come with a Magic Mouse 2 and a Magic Keyboard.

21.5-inch iMac Specs

CPU

Basic: 2.3GHz dual‑core Intel Core i5

Configurable to: 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7

GPU

Basic: Intel Iris Plus 640

Configurable to: Radeon Pro Vega 20 with 4GB of HBM2 memory

Display

Basic: 21.5-inch 1920x1080 display

Configurable to: 21.5-inch Retina 4K display with 4096x2304 resolution

RAM

Basic: 8GB

Configurable to: 32GB

SSD

Basic: 256GB

Configurable to: 1TB

Ports

Two Thunderbolt 3  

Four USB-A

Gigabit Ethernet

SDXC card slot

15-inch MacBook Pro

If you don’t mind getting an older Mac and want to save a bit of money, the discontinued 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro is what you’re looking for.

 

The base model was given a 2.2GHz 6-core Core i7 CPU that could be upgraded to a 2.9GHz Core i9 with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. This change shifted its performance on a new level, enabling it to solve more complex tasks and compete with gaming laptops.

 

The 15.4-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology had 2880x1800 resolution at 220 PPI was perfect to communicate realistic graphics. Moreover, the graphics card Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory was accompanied by an Intel UHD 630 with 1.5GB shared memory, giving the computer additional room for graphics processing.

 

This is the perfect option for beginner gamers.

15-inch MacBook Pro (2017) Specs

CPU

Basic: 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor

Configurable to: 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

GPU

Basic: Intel Iris Pro

Configurable to: AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB of GDDR5 memory 

Display

15.4-inch IPS Retina display with 2880x1800 resolution

RAM

16GB

SSD

Basic: 256GB

Configurable to: 1TB

Ports

Two Thunderbolt 2

Two USB-3

HDMI

SDXC card slot

Minimum system requirements for the most popular games

Every game has its own tech requirements to run smoothly. If your laptop’s specs don’t meet those parameters, you won’t be able to play—the game will fail to launch or cause the processor to overheat.

 

Let’s review the minimum system requirements of the most popular games.

Fortnite

The famous multi-user game is centered around a survival strategy in a world swarming with zombies and enemies. Your objective is to stay alive while exploring the territory and collecting useful resources.

ComponentMinimum system requirementsRecommended system requirements
CPU2.4GHz Core i32.8GHz Core i5
RAM4GB8GB
GPUIntel HD 4000

AMD Radeon HD 7870 equivalent DX11 GPU, 

GByte VRAM

DX 11
OSmacOS SierramacOS Sierra

Call of Duty: Warzone

This futuristic war game will transport you to the hostility of the New Cold War. In this reality, cyber soldiers fight side by side with robots in three modes: classic, cooperative, network multiplayer and zombie-mode. You can play this game on Mac through BootCamp, which allows you to run Windows without a virtual machine.

ComponentMinimum system requirementsRecommended system requirements
CPUIntel Core i3 or AMD FX-6300Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
RAM8GB12GB
GPUNvidia GTX 670/1650 or AMD Radeon HD 7950Nvidia GTX 970/1660 or AMD Radeon R9 390/RX 580
DXDirectX 12DirectX 12
OS

Windows 7 64-bit

macOS with BootCamp running

Windows 10 64-bit

macOS with BootCamp running

Storage175GB free space175GB free space
SoundDirectX-compatibleDirectX-compatible
Network connectionBroadbandBroadband

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

This is the third part of a legendary game series about the adventures of Geralt from Rivia, based on a fantasy book cycle by Andrzej Sapkowski.

 

The game is filled with crime, magic, and castle mysteries for you to resolve. Countless locations and scenic battles will captivate you. There are more than two dozens of possible endings to the game—each one of your actions influences the outcome.

 

This is another Windows-native game that you can still easily enjoy on your MacBook with BootCamp.

ComponentMinimum system requirementsRecommended system requirements
CPU3.3GHz Intel Core i53.4GHz Intel Core i7
RAM6GB8GB
GPUNvidia GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870Nvidia GTX 770 or AMD Radeon R9 290
DX1111
OS

64-bit Windows 7/8

macOS with BootCamp running

64-bit Windows 7/8

macOS with BootCamp running

Storage40GB free space40GB free space

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

This is the latest rendition of a classic multiplayer game that allows players to imagine themselves as terrorists and counter-terrorists that team up against each other. The aim of the game is to dominate a series of maps.

ComponentMinimum system requirementsRecommended system requirements
CPUIntel Core i2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750Intel Core i5
GPU

ATI Radeon HD 2400, DirectX 9-compatible 

with support for Pixel Shader 3.0

ATI Radeon HD 2400 or better
RAM2GB8GB
Storage15GB free space15GB free space
OSmacOS El CapitanmacOS El Capitan
DirectXVersion 9.0cVersion 9.0c

Macs you should avoid buying if you’re a gamer

Some Macs currently on the market may be great for generic use, but will be a terrible choice for gamers. Most often this is due to the graphics card. If you don’t go beyond light games such as Roblox, you’ll be fine even with a vintage model. However, if you usually go for more graphics-demanding games such as Fortnite or any other 3D action game—integrated graphics are simply incapable of running such high-end titles. The computers that have an integrated GPU such as an Intel HD graphics or an Intel Iris are unlikely to satisfy your gaming needs.  

 

Out of all Apple computers that you can easily find in shops, these are the ones you should avoid as a gamer:

  • Mac mini with Intel i3 CPU or any of the old Mac mini models
  • Any MacBook Air (due to a weaker GPU). It will run older titles and you can try an eGPU if you’re determined to use an Air.
  • 21.5-inch iMac with non-Retina display
  • Any 13-inch MacBook Pro (because of the integrated Iris Plus GPU). It is, however, possible to try an eGPU.

How to Optimize your Mac for Gaming?

Gaming is one of the most resource-consuming processes on Macs. It may not always be enough to choose the best Mac for gaming purposes. It's also a good idea to get an app to take care of your Mac's performance while you play your favorite Fortnite or Call of Duty.

 

You must have felt really annoyed when restarting your Mac each time your RAM reaches its limits.This is where Memory Cleaner in MacKeeper comes in handy. With just a few clicks you can automatically free up your Mac's RAM, so you can notice the difference, especially when playing resource-intensive games.  

 

Besides, games require a lot of disk space. MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature performs a profound scan of your Mac and suggests deleting junk files, logs, and leftovers taking up precious gigabytes on your Mac. In addition, the Duplicates Finder tool will scan any folder you like and search for copies of files. This can free up some space as well.

FAQ

Is Mac or Windows better for gaming?

Game developers used to be primarily Windows-oriented for a long time. However, nowadays more and more games are being adapted to macOS—especially since Apple began using Intel processors.

 

Apple realises that most games will be released on Windows first, so they offer a sneaky solution to Mac users—you can use Windows through Boot Camp. This utility allows you to expand your gaming opportunities and switch between operating systems whenever you like.

Can gaming damage my MacBook Pro?

A game can’t damage your MacBook. It may seem like it does, though. As you play, the load on your Mac increases, which can lead to more vigorous work of the cooling fans and a rise in the temperature of the processor. The performance may drop, but it will restore as soon as your computer cools off—no permanent damage is done.

 

MacBook Pro is equipped with sensors that track all parameters of your device. You can turn it off as soon as it gets too hot, which can corrupt its work. If you regularly use your Mac to its full capacity, we recommend using a cooling mat or a laptop stand to further cool it down.

Do games slow down your Mac?

Depending on the requirements of the game that you’re playing and the specifications of your Mac, certain scenarios may work slowly and inefficiently. When you quit the game, all of your laptop’s functions go back to normal.

 

To make sure that nothing is causing your Mac to slow down, check the amount of free space on your internal drive. You will experience delays and kernel panics if you’re running out.

Read more:

 

More Related Articles

arrow