The new MacBook Pros may come with a cool TouchBar but donu2019t expect to play your favorite games at the highest screen resolution.
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Apple’s new MacBook Pro computers have gotten a lot of attention in the media for their cool, new TouchBar feature. But if you are considering buying a new MacBook Pro for gaming then you are in for a rude awakening. The new MacBook Pros just can’t hold a candle to cheaper, more powerful Windows computers when it comes to gaming.
…it should mean acceptable performance running something like Photoshop, easy playback of 4K video, or gaming at good settings, but only at a 1080p resolution.
That’s a problem, because the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s display is a much higher resolution than 1080[. Higher resolution needs a more powerful graphics card to push all those extra pixels, so to do any gaming on the new Pro, you’ll need to lower the settings or the resolution. That’s no fun.
Things get worse when you compare the $2,000+ laptop to other 15-inch Windows laptops, most of which tend to be designed for performance. A quick search throws up numerous 15-inch laptops around the $1,500 mark, which have much more powerful graphics cards, and more RAM and storage to boot. For a little extra weight, you can even get laptops with desktop-level GTX 1070 or 1080 cards, which are hilariously better than the Radeon Pro 400s in the MacBook Pros.
Comparing the Pro 400s to desktop graphics cards makes you realize that for a serious workstation running demanding programs on multiple monitors, even the best 15-inch Pro will be underpowered. The specs for that card aren’t far off the old Radeon HD 7770, a desktop graphics card I bought for about $200 in 2012. I replaced that two years ago with a GTX 970 when the old card started struggling to run games in 1080p.
So the takeaway here is that if you want to game on the new MacBook Pros, you’ll be stuck at 1080p resolution due to the hardware limitations of these new laptops. If you try to use a higher screen resolution, you’ll likely experience a drop in frame rates as you try to play your game.
Now don’t get me wrong, 1080p isn’t a bad resolution to play games at since it still looks good. But if you are going to pay top dollar for a laptop, you’d expect to be able to play your games at the maximum screen resolution available on your computer at a reasonably good frame rate.
I know that some of you will dismiss all of this by reminding me that “Apple doesn’t design MacBook Pros for gaming.” Well that might be true but that doesn’t mean that people who buy MacBook Pros won’t want to game on them. Whether Apple likes it or not, many MacBook Pro users play games on their computers. So sub-par gaming performance on the expensive new MacBook Pros is bound to cost the company some sales from folks that are in the market for a new mobile computer.
Here’s a great video that takes Apple to task for releasing its underpowered and overpriced new MacBook Pro laptops:
I wouldn’t buy a new MacBook Pro laptop
I took the time so sit through Apple’s keynote address about the new MacBook Pros and I was very disappointed by the final specs of all of the new models as well as their prices. Prices start at $1,799 for the 13-inch model and go all the way up to $2,799 for the base 15-inch model. If you max out the 15-inch model you’ll have to pay a mind-blowing $4,299!
Wow. Talk about sticker shock. The new MacBook Pros certainly aren’t cheap. To some users that won’t be an issue, but others might blink at forking over so much money for these laptops, particularly since the maximum amount of RAM they can include is just 16GB of RAM.
Oh sure, the TouchBar feature is neat and should be quite useful for some people. But dollar for dollar, Apple’s “pro” laptops can’t hold a candle to many Windows laptops these days in terms of gaming performance.
Yes, some of the Windows laptops I’m referring to may be thicker or heavier than the new MacBook Pros, and they certainly don’t have the TouchBar feature. But who cares about any of those things if you are in the market for a high-performance laptop and want to play some games on it?
The folks that want such devices expect to get as much raw power as they can for their money. Chopping off a little weight or making the laptop thinner isn’t what they are interested in and it’s why some people will no doubt opt to buy Windows laptops instead of MacBook Pros this time around.
None of this is an issue for me right now since I’m not in the market for a new laptop. But if I were looking to buy one, I’d opt for a Windows laptop instead of the new MacBook Pro. I’d pay way less for the Windows computer and I’d get a whole lot more from it in terms of performance when I wanted to play World of Warcraft and other games.
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