Is The MacBook Pro Good for Gaming?

Are you looking for a new gaming rig and wondering if Apple’s MacBook Pro will suit your needs? You might want to look elsewhere.

As a Mac admin, ex-certified Apple technician, and an everyday MacBook Pro user, I know the ins and outs of macOS and Macintosh hardware.

In this article, we’ll look at why the MacBook Pro probably isn’t your best choice if your primary objective is to use the device for gaming.

Read on for all of the juicy details.

CPU Performance Isn’t Everything

There’s no denying that Apple’s MacBook Pros perform well.

The Cupertino-based company has a well-earned reputation for engineering quality, high-performing computers. And with a word like “Pro” in the name, it better be good right?

As of this writing, the highest end MacBook features Apple’s own ARM-based M1 Max chip with a 10-core CPU and a whopping 32-core GPU.

That sure sounds impressive, but does the computer really perform, or is it all hype?

Geekbench 5, which measures CPU performance with real-world tests gives the M1 Max a multi-core score of 12768, just south of Dell’s Alienware x17 R2’s i9 processor score of 13255.

As you know, GPU performance is generally more important when measuring gaming performance. Although an apples-to-apples comparison can be difficult due to the differing architectures, Anandtech’s review of the 32-core GPU shows that the graphics chip excels in productivity and power consumption, but falls far short of benchmarks achieved by Nvidia’s and AMD’s high-end GPUs.

So while the M1 Max dominates the competition in performance per wattage consumed, Apple’s silicon isn’t going to outperform any of the high-end GPU offerings. The hard-core gamer knows every fraction of improvement in performance can be the difference between getting pwned and achieving victory.

This reason alone should be enough to steer gamers away from the MacBook Pro, but there are others.

Consider the Price

If gaming is your primary concern, you’re probably willing to pay a hefty price if it equates to performance. So how does the MacBook Pro stack up?

A fully loaded MacBook Pro 16” costs $3899. That price seems high, for sure, but let’s compare the cost to an Alienware computer.

A maxed out x17 R2 laptop will set you back a cool $4100.

Considering the performance discrepancies above, someone only concerned with gaming performance would expect to pay a lot less for a MacBook Pro.

Of course, there are many other reasons to purchase a MacBook. As we discussed, there’s probably not another laptop on the planet that can touch the efficiency of the new MacBook Pro, and the CPU itself has similar performance levels of high-end Intel processors.

Then there are other considerations such as the Macintosh operating system which has a well-earned reputation for stability and security thanks to its Unix-based kernel.

In addition, Apple manufactures good quality products known to last and function well for many years.

So don’t consider this an indictment on the quality of the product. For some people, the MacBook Pro is worth every penny they pay. Nevertheless, again, if gaming is your primary concern, you can get way more bang for your buck from other laptops.

Title Availability

Performance and price aside, perhaps the biggest negative is the list of available titles for the Macintosh operating system.

You could have the greatest performing computer of all time at a reasonable cost, but if the OS didn’t support any games, what would be the point?

While this is obviously an exaggeration to make a point, it’s not far off from the truth—there just aren’t that many high-quality titles available for macOS.

Of Polygon’s top 10 games of 2022 (so far), only two—Vampire Survivors and Total War: Warhammer 3—are available on macOS. In contrast, only two of the top ten are not available on Windows. One is a Playstation exclusive and the other is a Nintendo Switch exclusive, so neither of these are available on macOS either!

But can’t you run Windows on the MacBook?

Well, not really.

Since Apple’s switch to its own brand of chips, Bootcamp support has disappeared. Microsoft does have an ARM version of Windows, but it’s only available to members of the Windows Insider program, and it’s not clear if that version would even work natively on a Mac. The ARM version of Windows will run inside of a Parallels VM on macOS, but your gaming experience would leave much to be desired, to say the least.

What about Apple Arcade?

Ah yes, we would be remiss to exclude Apple Arcade from this discussion.

Apple Arcade is its own beast. While you can play Apple Arcade games on a Mac, the catalog is mostly aimed a mobile gamers, which generally equates to more casual, puzzle or adventure-type games.

No judgment here, if that’s your thing, but to say a MacBook Pro is good for gaming because it supports Apple Arcade is probably to oversell the service.

And we do mean service, because Apple Arcade, like just about everything these days, is a subscription. Access to Arcade will cost you $4.99 per month.

What are the best games on Apple Arcade?

JRPG Fantasian, by the creators of Final Fantasy, is a good place to start. A few others include the adventure games Alba and Neo Cab.

The lineup here isn’t bad per se, but it also doesn’t justify the purchase of a MacBook either.

FAQs

What is the best Mac for gaming in 2022?

Currently, the best Mac for gaming has to be the MacBook Pro 16” with the M1 Max chip. This maxed out behemoth will cost you, but it’s the cream of the Apple crop.

What are the best games for the MacBook Pro?

Some of the best games currently available for macOS include Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, Stardew Valley, Minecraft, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

What are some upcoming Mac games?

Some notable titles include Lunark, a 2D platformer, the puzzle-platformer Harlow, and the RPG Arcadian Atlas.

Conclusion: Don’t Buy a MacBook for Gaming

As you can see, it would be foolhardy to purchase a MacBook Pro solely for gaming purposes.

Can you game on the MacBook Pro? Yes, some, but the list of titles is paltry.

And even if the titles were there, you’ll get more for your gaming dollar by purchasing a Windows PC instead.

About Andrew Gilmore
Based in Norman, Oklahoma, Andrew is an ex-certified Apple technician with over fifteen years of experience in the IT world specializing in macOS and iOS. When he's not writing, he enjoys video games, reading, and really bad movies.

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