PC Gamer's guide to gaming on a Mac

Mac gaming guide scotts mac

If you’re buying a computer purely for playing games, a Mac isn’t the best choice. We always recommend building your own PC. Macs are more expensive than a desktop Windows PC, especially when you add on extra storage, memory or a faster GPU, and there’s a far smaller library of games that run natively on OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system, than you’ll find for Windows. And yet, Macs are hugely popular. They're everywhere now—and that means we should make them the best gaming machines they can possibly be.

Maybe you prefer OS X for day-to-day computing and have a dedicated PC for gaming. Maybe you’re a frequent traveler or college student, and prefer using a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air over a Windows laptop. And we all know a few fanboys who buy every Apple contraption as soon as it goes on sale.

Gaming on a Mac may be more restrictive than with a desktop PC running Windows, but if you choose the right Mac hardware, and are willing to pay for it, you’ll be able to play most games without issue. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to gaming on the Mac, covering everything from the best Mac hardware for gaming, to using Windows Boot Camp, to the mice and keyboards you should buy for Mac gaming.

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If you don’t own a Mac, but are curious about what OS X might have to offer for gamers, I’ll explain the available choices, the different product lines, and what upgrades are most beneficial for gaming. I’ll look at storage, the GPU options, CPU upgrades and even some of the more exotic upgrades you could make, such as external graphics cards that connect via Thunderbolt, or what you could do to boost your Mac’s performance by whipping it open yourself and adding an SSD, more memory or a bigger hard disk.

Take away that shiny aluminum exterior (and bigger pricetag), and Macs and PCs are based on identical Intel-based x86 hardware. By setting up Boot Camp to run Windows side-by-side with OS X, you can play PC-exclusive games which haven’t been coded to run on OS X. I’ll cover Boot Camp—along with a look at some of the other ways to run Windows software directly in OS X like Wineskin and virtual machines—and their potential pitfalls.

Page 1: Introduction to Mac gaming
Page 2: Mac hardware and buying advice
Page 3: Mac gaming on OS X
Page 4: Running Windows games on a Mac
Page 5: Keyboards, mice, and gamepads on Mac