iMac: Play World of Warcraft at 5K

Yes, you can play World of Warcraft at 5K resolution on the iMac. Here are my favorite settings to run WOW at 5K on my iMac.

wow 5k hero
Jim Lynch

Much has been said about Apple’s 5K iMac since it was first released. Many people have scoffed at the idea of playing games at 5K on the iMac, given that iMacs come with mobile GPUs instead of more powerful desktop cards.

However, it is possible to play World of Warcraft at 5K resolution on the iMac. But playing at 5K comes at the price of having to tone down some of the eye candy available in WOW’s graphics settings.

In this post I’ll show you what I think are the graphics settings that provide real 5K resolution for World of Warcraft while still maintaining as high a frame rate as possible.

Before I go any further, here’s a list of the specs of my Mac so you know what hardware I am using:

5K iMac (Late 2014)

4 Ghz Intel Core i7 processor

32 GB DDR 3 RAM

AMD Radeon R9 M295x with 4 GB of video ram

Adjust your graphics settings for WOW at 5K

Here’s how you can adjust your graphics settings in World of Warcraft to play at 5K.

1. Click the Game Menu icon.

2. Click on System.

3. Click on Resolution and make sure it’s set to 5K.

4. Set all of the Effects options to either low or disabled, then click on Apply.

5. Click on the Advanced option (it’s right below Graphics on the left side of the System menu)

6. Change your render scale to 100%, then click on Apply.

wow 5k system graphics Jim Lynch
wow 5k render scale Jim Lynch

Now World of Warcraft will be set to play at 5K screen resolution on your iMac. If you want you can try adjusting the Effects I mentioned above to higher levels, but I prefer to have them at the lowest settings to get the most frames per second rate on my 5K iMac.

How to check your Frames Per Second in World of Warcraft

You can check how many frames per second you are getting by pressing Control-R on your keyboard. You’ll see the FPS appear on your screen. To turn it off, just press Control-R again.

On my 5K iMac I was getting roughly 45 frames per second while sitting in the trade district in Stormwind, a busy place filled with people coming and going to use the auction house and bank.

wow 5k stormwind Jim Lynch

My frame rate was quite respectable at 5K screen resolution, given where I was and how many people were moving around me. Your frame rate may vary, depending on your hardware and what your location is in the game.

For example, my frame rate dropped to just above 30 frames per second in the Dreamgrove, the druid class hall. That didn't surprise me as that area has always run slower than other parts of the game.

wow 5k dreamgrove Jim Lynch

Now if you want an even higher frame rate, you can adjust the render scale to be lower. WOW won’t look quite as good, but you must find the right balance between render scale and the frame rate that suits your taste.

For example, you might set the render scale to 75% instead of 100%. That could net you some additional frames per second at a minimal cost to how good the game looks on your iMac.

Beware of some World of Warcraft add-ons

Like many other people who play WOW, I use certain add-ons for additional features. Add-ons can be quite helpful but remember that they can also slow down your computer, and that can affect your gaming experience at 5K.

I recommend that you take a careful look at your add-ons. Do you really need all of them? Or did you install some but hardly use them? Go through them and get rid of the ones you don’t need, and that might help you get additional frames per second while running at 5K.

wow 5k addons Jim Lynch

Too many add-ons might slow down your 5K iMac unnecessarily, so prune out the ones that you don’t really need.

Gaming at 5K on the iMac is a trade-off

Now some of you reading this might be disappointed that you can’t run World of Warcraft at Ultra settings in 5K without watching your frames per second plunge into the low digits.

5K gaming on the iMac is definitely a trade-off, and you have to decide how much certain eye-candy is worth to you in terms of FPS. The best thing to do is adjust your graphics settings until you hit your sweet spot.

The settings I listed above work very well for me, but your mileage may vary. Ultimately I hope that Apple releases future 5K iMacs with much more robust video cards, preferably desktop quality.

But until then you have to balance your lust for World of Warcraft’s eye candy with your desire to see it running at 5K.

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