Can you game on a Mac?

Yes. Yes you can.

More? Ok.

This is actually two questions. Can you game on OSX? Sure, you can. You can get Steam,, and so much more all on Mac now. The other question is can you game, for real on a Mac? And by that I mean, installing Wndows, and running serious games at decent frame rates at high resolution. You shouldn’t expect industry leading performance, but the answer is yes here too.

Let’s start with gaming on OSX. The library of titles isn’t remotely comprehensive, but there are a lot of big titles and smaller indie games that absolutely do support the Mac. Thanks to efforts like the Humble Indie Bundle, Apple’s own gaming support, and most importantly the swath of multi-platform frameworks like Unity and Gamemaker the mac is now home to a healthy sampling of the best gaming has to offer.

If you’re running any model of MacBook Pro, you should be able to run most of these indie titles and quite a few bigger titles without a problem. If you’re looking for honest to goodness AAA gaming, though, this is not your bag. Apple is well known for walled gardens and gaming is no exception. This is where Boot Camp comes in.

Boot Camp works beautifully. Once you’re all up and running with a copy of windows on your mac, sky’s the limit. Actually, well, the limit is actually your graphics card. And that’s where a PC beats a mac. On a mac, you’re stuck with what you bought out of the box. No expandability. A PC can just swap in a powerful graphics card if necessary, but here you’re definitely going to be dialing down the quality settings in your games quite a bit.

Once you’re in Windows, you’ll need to tinker with what settings will work best for your particular build. For me, I’m running a late 2013 15” MacBook Pro with retina which sports an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M and a meager 2GB of VRAM. While this certainly isn’t much in this day and age, it’s still enough to be able to reliably play Heroes Of The Storm, the new Assassin’s Creed, and plenty of other titles. Just don’t expect to be playing Skyrim with all the most realistic mods you can find.

The best of both worlds for me is running a boot camp partition I can boot into when I’m looking to get serious with something like Magic Online, Overwatch, or another AAA title that either doesn’t support the Mac or will run better on a PC due to your expansion options. I also keep a Parallels instance handy for when I need to make a change on the Windows side, but I don’t want to have to reboot just to do it.

For example, if I want to start a download on a game I know I’ll play later, I’ll use Parallels to virtualize the Boot Camp partition on my MacBook Pro, and use that to start the download while still just using my Mac normally. I never use Parallels to play games, though. Even though there are optimizations in it for gaming, and some games run fine in Parallels, I just can’t justify the drop in performance for the convenience of not having to reboot.

So, let’s answer the question once and for all. Can you game on a Mac? Yes. You can. And to a pretty large extent, too, especially if you’re a filthy casual like me. If you’re looking to get serious, the PC is still the only option. Nothing else will give you the sheer control over your experience like a PC can.

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