If you have an iMac computer and are curious if you’ll be able to enjoy a gaming experience on it, the answer is yes! Although it must be said that a traditional Windows PC will likely serve you better for gaming overall. Nevertheless, you can enjoy gaming on your iMac and a selection of other Apple laptops like the Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, or Macbook Air.
So while it’s possible to game on your iMac, is the iMac good for gaming? We’ll be covering a broad overview of Mac computers and gaming, the advantages and disadvantages of gaming on an Apple iMac, and seeing what alternatives you have at your disposal. Don’t miss out and read on to see if you should buy one of those new fancy 2-in-1 laptops instead.
Mac Computers & Gaming
If you want a seamless and smooth gaming experience on your iMac computer, you’ll need to make sure that your device’s specifics are compatible with the sometimes intense requirements demanded by today’s games.
The iMac has an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, boasting a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD for its storage capacity. These would be able to handle most games, but you’ll likely find that that gaming performance will drop when trying to tackle the more new generation Mac games and graphics compared. Intel processors you find in Windows PCs still have an edge in this respect.
These specifications are different when you introduce Mac computers like the Macbook Air and Macbook Air, so we highly recommend you compare and contrast your own device’s specs to see if you can effectively play games on them. We’ll be taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using your iMac for gaming!
Advantages of using an iMac
While on average not as robust and smooth as a Windows PC, Mac users will be happy to know that there are many advantages of using your iMac for gaming.
Availability of Games
Although Apple devices tend to separate themselves from other Windows devices, you’ll be glad to know that game developers haven’t forgotten about adding popular games to iMac. With applications like Steam library and GOG, playing games is easy on your iMac, including many of the AAA games that are coming out every year.
While Windows users have higher graphics capabilities and graphics processing thanks to their Intel core, Mac users have a wider variety of graphics cards they can add to their devices.
So even though it’s unlikely that you’ll have an Intel-based Mac, you have a wide variety of discrete graphics card options to install into your iMac, including products from Nvidia, AMD, or sticking with the Apple integrated GPU that came with your device. You may find it worth investing in a different graphics card to upgrade your Mac for gaming.
One of the most heralded design features of the new iMac and all of the products that Apple sells are the intuitive and easy-to-use software optimization.
Mac models come with an all-in-one machine capability for productivity and gaming, and its high-definition monitor also allows users to enjoy better visual quality compared to Windows PCs.
Close Knit Community & Support
Although you’ll find that Macs generally have fewer options for games than your standard Windows PC, there are several forums and close-knit groups you can find online for Mac computers.
Discover all the latest and new games, and even make a few friends along the way, when you immerse yourself in the online community that uses an iMac as their gaming computer.
Disadvantages of using an iMac
Sadly, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when comes to gaming on the iMac and other Apple products. There are several disadvantages to gaming on an Apple device, and we’ve listed some of the most prominent ones that we’ve seen come up.
Insufficient Hardware & Software
Mac performance is unfortunately one of the most common issues when it comes to gaming. The iMac and other Macbook products aren’t marketed as gaming laptops so their hardware and software are made to handle intense gaming.
Windows games will often perform better and smooth and more consistent than an iMac unless you find a way of upgrading the hardware within. This is also why there’s a more limited selection of games available on most Macs, although you still have access to famed titles like Tomb Raider.
Limited Storage Space
Without upgrading the amount of storage space or purchasing a more expensive iMac or MacBook product, gamers may find that their storage space will fill up surprisingly quickly.
Many of the top games available today command 50+ gigabytes of storage and once you have a few of these along with your necessary applications, you’ll inevitably run out quite quickly.
High CPU Usage
Gaming is quite an intensive process for laptops to handle, and iMac and MacBook users can find that a lot of their CPU usage will be taken up by a medium-intensity game. Be sure to leave up to 70% of your CPU unused when you’re gaming or you may find that your usage rocket up to 100%.
Sadly while storage space and the hardware of an iMac and Macbook are not a terrible choice, what usually lets down the Macs are the low-power Intel processors core that inhabits most of them, which is difficult and expensive to upgrade and replace.
Expensive to Upgrade
As we’ve said before, the iMac and Macbook are not inherently designed to be gaming computers, and instead for productivity and video editing. To upgrade an iMac or Macbook is quite expensive and you’re only able to upgrade the SSD and storage of the device.
While this may improve performance for your gaming experience, the lackluster processor still will always let you down in the long run – which you are unable to upgrade. If you’re willing to shell out $200 – $600 to upgrade your storage, you’re also more likely to find a gaming PC that will allow you to play games much better.
Frequently Asked Questions
We see a couple of questions continuously pop up when speaking about PC gaming on an iMac or Macbook device. Listed below are some of the most common frequently asked questions that we’ve taken the time to answer for your benefit!
Is iMac or PC better for gaming?
PCs are most often than not the superior choice when it comes to hardcore gaming, and you’ll find that PCs will offer you much more for your buck than a Macbook or iMac computer.
That’s not to say that iMacs and Macbooks aren’t able to handle gaming, just not as well or consistently as PCs made for gaming do.
Is iMac good for casual gaming?
The iMac is a solid choice if you want to engage in casual gaming alongside your work or studies. We’ve been using the 24-inch iMac as our main point of discussion here, which will allow you to enjoy casual gaming as a true visual experience.
What games can’t you run on iMac?
There are several games that you can’t run on iMac and other Macbooks, and there are benchmark games you can test your device against to see if it can play it. With a simple Google, you can find which games are the benchmark for your device and go from there.
Although an iMac may fulfill your gaming needs, it will hit a certain limit if you try to play games above the benchmark.
Are Macs good at running games? Sort of. You likely won’t have too much trouble when you play casual games and games that are below the benchmark games.
However, iMacs and Macbooks are often used for productivity and work like data science and creating things on Cricut. If you’re planning to mainly use your Apple device for these kinds of activities with gaming as a side passion, there shouldn’t be an issue.
If you’re planning to solely use your computer or laptop for games, sadly even the best Mac computer can’t compete with the best gaming laptops out there since that’s not their main marketing or purpose.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.