Now that the Mac mini is available with the M2 Pro, Apple is proving that it’s a great gaming computer.As the Mac mini website states, you can “jump into graphics-intensive AAA games such as no man’s sky and Resident Evil Village Featuring smooth frame rates and high fidelity – all thanks to the incredible GPU performance of the M2 or M2 Pro. “
The latest version of macOS has really good native support for Xbox and PlayStation controllers, and yes, you can certainly have fun with a sub-$2,000 Mac. But after trying it out for a while and comparing it to PC offerings, it’s clear that Apple still has a long way to go.
Apple Silicon is great, but the overall gaming experience on the Mac is as frustrating as ever. If Apple is going to appeal to gamers, it still has a lot of work to do.
Good performance, but the price is not high
open fire Resident Evil Village On our Mac mini — our $1,800 configuration with the full M2 Pro chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD — it’s clear that the chip can handle modern AAA games.With the game’s priority graphics Preset to 1080p resolution, performance varies from around 70fps to over 120fps, depending on position and action. Turn on the new MetalFX Upscaling feature in Quality Mode, and performance will increase by around 30% without really noticeable loss in quality. You can even crank it up to 4K resolution and play at 40-60fps in priority graphics mode.
That’s impressive performance, especially for a computer as small and quiet as the Mac mini.but it gets broken Through comparable priced Windows gaming PCs. A pre-built gaming PC, like the one I play a lot, with a Ryzen 9 5900X and a GeForce 3070 Ti currently retails for around $1,850 at Best Buy. And it absolutely ruins the Mac mini when it comes to gaming performance.
Resident Evil Village run with the same settings three times frame rate. The same grueling outdoor courtyard prowl on the Mac mini in the mid-70s ran at over 220fps on the PC. With upscaled 4K resolution enabled, I got over 120fps instead of 40-60fps. Damn, the PC is running at 1440p resolution with ray tracing enabled at 160fps here. Ray tracing isn’t even available on Mac.
It’s hard to find modern games to benchmark because the Mac has so few options. Just for fun, I ran our Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark on a Windows PC.at 1920×1200 with High By default, the Mac is clocked at 118fps. PC doubles that at 234fps!
Of course, the computers are only comparable in price. The Mac mini is small and largely silent, while gaming PCs are big and have lots of fans. But performance is a top concern for gamers. Games have to look great and run smoothly, now and in the future. In fact, when it comes to gaming, you can get at least twice the performance of a PC for the same price, or comparable performance to a Mac mini for a fraction of the cost. Sure, PCs are bigger and more power-hungry, but also upgradeable (another major concern for gamers).
To put it bluntly: the gaming performance of the M2 Pro is beautiful But that’s nothing to brag about.
Where is the game?
Even if the Mac mini doesn’t offer half (or less) the gaming performance for this price, it’s a poor choice because the games just don’t exist.
The large “AAA Gaming Experience for the Mac” section that Apple proudly advertises on its Mac mini page no man’s skya PC and console game released more than six years ago… Not released on Mac yet! Apple showed it off on their Mac mini hype page, and it’s still “coming in 2023.”
Mac gamers used to be able to rely on the latest Blizzard titles, but Overwatch never shipped on Mac, Overwatch 2 There is no Mac version in development, nor Diablo IV. Looking at the Steam Bestsellers page really sucks. Only two of the top 15 games have Mac versions, and they’re all over 10 years old.
The truth is, the Mac isn’t in a good position for the biggest game releases compared to the last decade: one or two new big games come to the Mac (they look and run worse than the Windows games), a year later, other Some major releases also come to the Mac, and 90% of the games you want to play don’t make it to the Mac at all.
Mac Gaming Roadmap
If Apple is serious about making the Mac a gaming platform to watch, it’s going to have to take some drastic steps. Trying to create a little hype every year around a new chip and “one of the big games we have” isn’t going to work.
Asking Apple to make a Mac that can play games without breaking the bank might be asking too much. Windows PCs will enjoy a huge price/performance advantage for a long time to come. But Apple could at least do something about the software situation.
The company has shown its willingness to embrace external gaming devices by natively supporting Xbox and Playstation controllers in macOS (as well as iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS), moving away from years of poor MFi program controllers. Imagine what that same willingness to get along would mean in the software world.
Valve’s Steam Deck is hugely popular with gamers despite running a Linux-based operating system, and Linux lags behind macOS when it comes to game support. How did it succeed? Because Valve and their partners made a software compatibility layer called Proton. It takes Windows games and translates everything to run on Linux.
It’s even open source — imagine what the Apple engineers responsible for Rosetta would have done if they had set their sights on getting Proton to run on the Mac!Apple should really Do that, and work with Valve to provide the same type of compatibility list in Steam. It could be a six-month software project that instantly delivers hundreds of top PC games now and in the future.
But that’s not enough. Apple can’t keep forcing everyone who makes native Mac apps to use their Metal graphics API. Nobody wants to do that for a platform as small as the Mac (for games). Supporting the more widely used (by game developers) Vulkan API for Apple chips would go a long way toward showing game developers that Apple is willing to compromise with them.
Finally, there is a blunt weapon that always works: cash. Apple sits like a dragon on a big pile of gold with over $150B in cash and cash equivalents. If only one percent of that idle cash was used to pay publishers to make native Mac versions of their big games, and ship them in sync with the Windows versions, it would make a huge difference.
That’s a $1.5 billion bribe to “make a Mac version too,” enough to fully fund dozens of Mac versions of upcoming hit games each year. Game development is a years-long process, so this approach won’t have an immediate impact. Proton for Mac plans could change dramatically in the short term, with the paid game version taking over in a few years.
Whatever Apple decides to do, it’s clear that its current path isn’t there yet. The Mac as a gaming platform is as bad now as it has been in the past decade.