Why MacBooks Aren’t Great Gaming

I’ve noticed that Windows and MacBook users can never agree on anything. It’s like the impossible debate. Except for one thing. We all can agree that MacBooks aren’t really that great if your main purpose is gaming. Even with the M1 & M2 Chips.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t play any games on your MacBooks. There are still many people out there that do gaming on Macs.

Besides performance issues, the most popular games today aren’t optimized for macOS. Windows is the platform of choice. But why does a company like Apple – arguably the largest tech company today – not make computers that support dedicated gaming?

Reasons Why People Don’t Game on MacBooks

Here are the 4 main reasons why Apple isn’t a great laptop for gaming

  • Hardware
  • Gaming Support
  • Software Optimization
  • Upgradability

Gaming Support

It’s rather a function of games not supporting the macOS than macOS not supporting games. With the Windows Operating System taking around 80% of the operating system market share and the macOS taking just 10%, it’s totally natural that more developers will gravitate towards creating games that run on the most used operating system. Even if more developers were to start developing games supported by macOS, it would still take some time for Mac gaming to become a thing among consumers.

Hardware

Looking objectively at Mac hardware, it is pretty obvious that gaming is not one of the underlying themes. Don’t get it twisted. The hardware is pretty decent and in some instances, impressive when the discussion is centered on productivity – just like Macs are made for – and not dedicated gaming.

In a market where normal laptops are getting increasingly slimmer and sleeker, you would wonder why gaming laptops are still rather heavy and clunky. The reason is not farfetched. The hardware components needed for smooth gaming require hefty cooling solutions. Gaming laptops are more powerful than your traditional laptops, and as such, they generate more heat.

Software – Hardware Optimization

Apple, especially in recent times, has not been focusing on specific hardware components like RAM, Processor, GPU, and others when advertising their computers. Rather, the selling point has been the optimization of software and hardware to achieve optimal performance even with mediocre hardware. This is why Macs seem to perform better than traditional laptops with similar hardware specifications.

However, this software-hardware optimization is largely oriented towards day-to-day activities, office and business tasks, and professional workloads. Apple’s software-hardware optimization does not cater to gaming activities, and gaming applications are typically not able to tap into the hardware’s full potential like regular productivity applications.

Upgradability

This is another key reason why MacBooks are unsuitable as dedicated gaming devices. Most modern gaming laptops allow you to change and upgrade specific hardware components like RAM and SSD to keep up with the ever-dynamic requirements of modern gaming. If you game on computers, you’re typically looking for the next piece of hardware to support the next generation of games

Macs are notorious for upgradability issues. While some models have more flexibility as regards hardware upgrading than others, most modern MacBooks feature soldered hardware components, which means upgrading them is next to impossible.

Fun Fact: Did You Know MacBook Once Was Good for Gaming?

Interestingly, Apple devices weren’t always in the bad light in the gaming world. Back in the 80s, in the days of the earliest Macintosh computers, the devices were touted as excellent home entertainment platforms. They were characterized by advanced graphics hardware and better display compared to the competition available at the time. Naturally, it was easier, and it made much sense for developers to create interactive games.

However, there was more money to be made in the business and enterprise sector, and Apple was having a hard time breaking into that market. Office workers would request Apple devices, but the employers were worried they could waste time playing games instead of being productive. So, the company sought to separate itself from the gaming market.

Will The M2 Chip Bring Back Mac Gaming?

The M2 chip, introduced in 2022, supports the fastest MacBooks made by Apple. According to the tech company, the M2 chip has the world’s fastest CPU core and the world’s best CPU performance per watt. One of its exciting highlights is the “System on a Chip” design that integrates several hardware components like RAM, CPU, GPU, and more on a single chip. This unifies memory architecture and eliminates the need for hardware components to transfer data to one another. Instead, they are all able to access the same data pool, thereby increasing system speed and efficiency.

Thus far, there are indications that games that have had setbacks running on the Intel-powered chips can now run on M2 macs with minimal setbacks. The streamlining of system architecture could improve graphics rendering, GPU performance, load time, frame rates for an optimized gaming experience. This doesn’t take away the other limitations that still exist, but it presents some likelihood for future improvements on mac.    

Which MacBook Model Is The Best For Gaming?

MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max Chip is the best macbook you can get for gaming purpose

If you want to get the best MacBook for gaming, we recommend the MacBook Pro 16-inch with the M1 Max chip that was released in 2021. It’s one of the most expensive MacBooks out there.

The M1 Max chip is currently the best processor you can get for MacBooks, hence making it the best possible gaming laptop. In 2023 they will release, most likely M2 Max chip.

Another great option would be the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M1 Max Chip. The key difference would be a smaller screen.

Another Option to consider is the Mac Studio M1 Ultra. It’s the only Apple device that’s equipped with M1 Ultra Chip. It’s not a laptop, but it could handle gaming better than other Apple laptops.

Which MacBooks Gamers Should Avoid?

If you want to do some gaming on your MacBook, you should avoid getting MacBook Air and Mac Mini. Even with the new M2 chip MacBook Air won’t be able to handle heavy gaming.

Both MacBook Air and Mac Mini are good for your basic daily needs, but they don’t have the necessary GPU to handle gaming.

What Do People That Game On Mac Have To Say?

I’ve been going on and on about the fact that MacBooks aren’t great for gaming, but it might sound very subjective. Let’s add other people’s responses as well. So you can get a better picture.

Verdict

MacBooks have always lagged behind PC when it comes to game support. The company decidedly does not optimize its devices for gaming. With the introduction of the M1 & M2 chip, there seems to be some hope on the horizon for Mac gaming, but there’s so much that’s yet to be seen. 

If you’re currently on a fence between Windows & MacBook and gaming is an important factor in your life, you will do much better with a Windows gaming laptop. The games are better optimized for Windows OS than the macOS, which alone presents more gaming opportunities.

I like to play games myself, and playing games on my MacBook feels a bit desperate. I tried World of Warcraft recently on my Mac, and it was playable, but I couldn’t enjoy the game. FPS was 40; I kept lagging, and it just ruined the overall experience, I do not recommend.

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I love tech and all about it. I'm interested in finding ways how they can make my life more productive, and I share my knowledge with my blog readers. I'm an iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch user, so I know a thing or two about these devices and try to write helpful content around these topics.

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