Gaming on MacBook Pro vs a Windows gaming laptop. Asking for your experience on MBP.

I love gaming, obviously.
Looking around for a new laptop. I travel lots atm, so a desktop isn't an option yet.
Now, I've found this great MSI laptop with an GTX 870M 3GB videocard for a great price.

Or... I go for a MacBook Pro. I hate windows, love the MacOS.
Have plenty of games in my Steam library that I can play. I do like my fps' though
(Borderlands 2, Firefall, Thief etc). I am just not sure how much my gaming should decide
my choice of system this time. I hope that a certain change in my life will happen, that
will also greatly reduce my gaming time. But I do like my gaming....

So now I am weighing pros and cons for the MacBook Pro.

As far as I can see, they are:
Intel Iris graphics (2560x1600) vs GTX 870M 3GB GDDR5 VRAM (1920x1080) *drool*
i5 2.8GHz vs i7-4800MQ (2.7 GHz, 6 MB Cache)
13" screen vs 17.3" screen
SSD 128 Gig vs 1 TB 7200 rpm HD
Chicklet keyboard & Trackpad vs backlit keyboard & touchpad
MacOS Maverik vs win7 or 8

The MBP has a greater durability and resell value (but probably will get passed on). The design is just so much better
and love the whole package deal so much better (MacOS & iLife & iWork).
The MSI has pure raw gaming power, only hampered a bit by its HD, which I can upgrade later on.

I can dial back gaming time and I can change my gaming habits. But would love to know the experiences from gamers already
on a MBP or an iMac even (especially FPS).

Obvious question warning: Couldn't you go with a MacBook and boot camp into Windows for the occasional games that require it? It seems like the best of both worlds, but I don't have direct experience. Maybe folks chiming in can also comment on if they've tried boot camp?

Without a discrete GPU in that MacBook Pro, it's not even a contest.

Kurrelgyre wrote:

Without a discrete GPU in that MacBook Pro, it's not even a contest.

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

You might be able to get by at the quarter resolution, though, but as Clock said, it can't run everything.

I'm a little boggled that Apple aren't putting discrete GPUs' in MBP's anymore -- the last time I was shopping for a laptop, better graphics was one of the main things that "Pro" meant.

(My solution has been a Macbook Air to do work on, and a Windows 7 desktop for gaming, but that combination isn't viable for everybody.)

The MBP I'm using, which is a recent model, has a 750M with 2GB video memory. So discrete graphics is still an option. I think it comes down to your primary intended use for the machine. If it's gaming, get the MSI. Also, 128GB of storage is too small for a gaming machine or really any general use involving media, and a Mac laptop with a mechanical HD is just painful. If you really really want to get a Macbook, save up for a larger SSD.

Wow, so the only way to get a discrete GPU in a current Macbook is to spend $2600. On a 15-inch laptop. And it's not all that great, even then.

They certainly do like their profit margins, don't they?

If you are willing to spend $2500 get a Razer Blade (the new 14") you can run at half rez and not get the blurriness of running lower than native resolution.. AND you get a beefy enough GPU to make games look good. Mine still hasnt shipped yet.. 2 emails from Razer announcing delays sucks

misplacedbravado wrote:

I'm a little boggled that Apple aren't putting discrete GPUs' in MBP's anymore -- the last time I was shopping for a laptop, better graphics was one of the main things that "Pro" meant.

The discrete GPUs were always meant to handle heavy duty work--pushing more pixels, decoding more video, not necessarily gaming. I have a 2012 Retina MBPro for work, and the GT650M kicks in even when I'm not gaming, in part because the HD4000 struggles a little with this many pixels. The link I added shows the new Iris Pro to be within a certain percentage of the performance of that GPU just two years later, and I played the entirety of Bioshock Infinite with this configuration. Mind you, it wasn't pushing the hardware like Battlefield 4 or future titles might, but in a lot of work cases, it'll be plenty. I'd just think really hard about whether gaming is that important to you.

As someone who games primarily on my Macbook Pro, I can honestly say that it generally covers my gaming needs quite nicely. The caveat is I'm not a big FPS person, I tend to like turn based RPGs and play a lot of older games (Baldur's Gate, etc.) which aren't graphically demanding. I have a Mac and not a Windows computer largely because for my professional life I find it vastly superior. It is easier to type on, lighter, and the OS is hugely more intuitive.

That said, it does get awfully hot when I play certain games, and I do have to turn down graphics on something as seemingly low budget as Might and Magic X. It ran Banner Saga beautifully though. Weirdly, Fallout 2 heats it up so much that I can only play in small doses (which is fine, I should be working!)

I supplement with a console at home (PS3), and I'm very happy with my gaming life. There are very few times I get locked out of a game I want to play, and porting seems to be becoming a standard thing.

I've gamed on and off on my MBP for 8 years now. Sadly, it hasn't been able to play new games for some time (the last was Walking Dead) and I will usually boot to XP to get a bit of extra performance, even if the game has a mac version. I like Apple's hardware but the laptops are now way overpriced for what would be a primarily desk-bound machine. So, I'm waiting on a Mac Mini refresh, hopefully with some decent grunt at a less crazy price. The iMacs aren't terrible but I have no need or room for an extra screen.

Excellent feedback guys. Will give it some good thinking, but am leaning towards the MSI and maybe getting a cheap macbook later on.

Since you say you need a laptop for travel, you might want to pay attention to the heat output of the models you are looking at, since I assume you don't want to travel around with a lapdesk/cooling pad. Both the MBP and MSI you mention get very hot to the touch on the bottom when gaming.

http://www.notebookcheck.net/ is a good site that always has temperature and noise measurements and pretty thorough reviews.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

That said, it does get awfully hot when I play certain games,

I'm on a 2012 non-retina Macbook, 2.6 i7 with 8GB ram and I stopped playing games for that reason, even after I bought a coolstand with three (movable) fans. I tried playing Kerbal and was still alarmed at how hot it got.

The plan is to get a mid-range PC at some point, even if it's for independent titles and older games.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Since you say you need a laptop for travel, you might want to pay attention to the heat output of the models you are looking at, since I assume you don't want to travel around with a lapdesk/cooling pad. Both the MBP and MSI you mention get very hot to the touch on the bottom when gaming.

http://www.notebookcheck.net/ is a good site that always has temperature and noise measurements and pretty thorough reviews.

Thanks, will read up on that

1Dgaf wrote:
TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

That said, it does get awfully hot when I play certain games,

I'm on a 2012 non-retina Macbook, 2.6 i7 with 8GB ram and I stopped playing games for that reason, even after I bought a coolstand with three (movable) fans. I tried playing Kerbal and was still alarmed at how hot it got.

The plan is to get a mid-range PC at some point, even if it's for independent titles and older games.

Yeah, I think at some point I need to get myself a gaming devoted machine. A coolstand might be a good stop gap though, as I don't want to fry the insides of my laptop... I put that thing through its paces for sure.

EDIT - Is there a stand that you (or anyone) would reccommend? I've got to make an Amazon order today as is, so I might as well check this off my to do list :).

What laptop are you going to get Harpo?

I have a macbook pro. 13"

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

EDIT - Is there a stand that you (or anyone) would reccommend? I've got to make an Amazon order today as is, so I might as well check this off my to do list :).

Here's what I use:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coolermaster...

I do a lot of research before buying anything and found a couple of people complaining about fan reliability, but I decided to take a punt anyway. Because I can move the fans I put them under the part of the Macbook that got hot when I was editing video. The stand is made out of metal, so it's a bit slippy even with the rubber stops.

It did make a difference, but even so I decided to stop gaming on the Mac. Why put more strain on the machine than is necessary?

This looks really good. I decided to give myself at least a day to research all the options, but this is my early front runner. Thank you!

EDIT - Also, apologies for the minor thread hijack.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Kurrelgyre wrote:

Without a discrete GPU in that MacBook Pro, it's not even a contest.

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

+1

I have a MacBook Pro and I gave this a try and it didn't work. I bought Battlefield 4, Day Z and a bunch of other games I knew I wanted to play (AC IV). Tried them out and they ran terribly, even when booted into Windows. I went back and forth on this with people on the "help me build a PC" thread. I waffled back and forth. Eventually I built a gaming PC.

If you want to play PC-specific games and AAA games there isn't really a shortcut, honestly. It's a PC. If you cut out stuff like Crusader Kings, Dayz, Banished and games like that you can honestly get by with a console, Vita, iPad and then buy a cheaper laptop for what you need the laptop for. MacBook Airs start at $1000? The Retina Pro isn't much more. For the same price as a high quality gaming PC you could probably buy a MacBook Air (which will play small indie PC games like Papers Please, etc.) and a PS4. Maybe even a Vita or Wii U. Then you have access to most of the games you can get on PC, save the kind I mentioned (Early Access, PC-only, etc.) and you have a laptop as opposed to a desktop.

I made the case for going to a Windows desktop and it's turned out well. But I'm not fooling myself. It's a media streaming / storage device and a gaming rig. Nothing more. I still have a Mac laptop for my software development.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

Now I'm confused.

Malor wrote:

Wow, so the only way to get a discrete GPU in a current Macbook is to spend $2600. On a 15-inch laptop. And it's not all that great, even then.

They certainly do like their profit margins, don't they?

Yeah. That's why I eventually bought a gaming PC. I was basically being told by Apple that if I wanted a discrete GPU I had to buy a 15 inch laptop (I prefer the 13 inch) and I had to spend almost 3 grand. No. Sorry. Not happening. I was able to keep my MBP Retina that I paid $1400 for AND build a gaming PC for the same price. I'm not in love with having multiple machines and I wanted it to be portable, but this was like my Kobayashi Maru. There wasn't a good solution. So I settled for the one that gave me a great dev laptop and a great gaming PC and just dealt with the fact that setup wasn't ideal.

Kurrelgyre wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

Now I'm confused.

I've played Crusader Kings II and Civ V on a Macbook Air and a MacBook Pro. They chug at times, but they run. Actually, with that said, let me amend my earlier advice. If I were in your shoes I'd try this. Buy the laptop you want to buy. Don't let Apple dictate this to you. Save money if you want, get the amount of RAM you want, etc. Be happy with your laptop purchase. And then try Steam gaming on the Mac side on it. You'd be surprised the number of games that run just fine. And then when you hit a wall with something you really *have* to play ask yourself if you need a gaming PC. By that time you might find that most games you really care about are available on consoles already. You won't be able to make a great compromise here. But at least you could start by trying out the laptop you actually want to own.

DSGamer wrote:
Kurrelgyre wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

Now I'm confused.

I've played Crusader Kings II and Civ V on a Macbook Air and a MacBook Pro. They chug at times, but they run. Actually, with that said, let me amend my earlier advice. If I were in your shoes I'd try this. Buy the laptop you want to buy. Don't let Apple dictate this to you. Save money if you want, get the amount of RAM you want, etc. Be happy with your laptop purchase. And then try Steam gaming on the Mac side on it. You'd be surprised the number of games that run just fine. And then when you hit a wall with something you really *have* to play ask yourself if you need a gaming PC. By that time you might find that most games you really care about are available on consoles already. You won't be able to make a great compromise here. But at least you could start by trying out the laptop you actually want to own.

Thumbs up sans the "ish".

One more piece of information since I saw you mention a Windows gaming laptop. In the middle of all of my decision making I bought a Lenovo SLI laptop and tried that out. It barely ran better than the MacBook Pro with the Iris card that I already owned. Assassin's Creed and Battlefield 4 both had to be run at lower settings. Lower than even a Playstation 4. That was the clincher to me. I realized that if I wanted a gaming laptop I was staring down a lot of money (not $2700, but a lot) even if I went with Windows.

Once again, this is like the Kobayashi Maru of gaming decisions and I think your answer will be based on how much you want to work on a Mac laptop versus a Windows laptop or desktop.

+1 to DSGamer's advice. If you want a computer primarily as a games machine without limit, then it has to be a Windows PC. But if you also want OS X and iLife et al.—meaning gaming isn't the main purpose of the machine—then get the Mac and be amenable to the compromise.

I'll be getting a new iMac in the fall, as both my computer and main gaming machine. I know it won't be as powerful as a purpose-built gaming PC, but with a GTX 780M 4GB and Win8.1, it won't be a slouch either. But I only want, and only have room for, one desktop; and I have to have OS X, iPhoto, iCloud, Time Machine, etc. (And I want to play CKII, ETS2, and other PC-only games.) So it'll be the compromise, which is fine.

An iMac is also a better choice for gaming than a MacBook Pro. You get a bit more bang for your buck graphically with the desktop.

DSGamer wrote:
Kurrelgyre wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

+1 I have a MacBook Pro, and it's really not a gaming machine. Some games, like Crusader Kings II, won't even run without a discrete GPU. Don't buy a MacBook Pro for gaming.

Now I'm confused.

I've played Crusader Kings II and Civ V on a Macbook Air and a MacBook Pro. They chug at times, but they run. Actually, with that said, let me amend my earlier advice. If I were in your shoes I'd try this. Buy the laptop you want to buy. Don't let Apple dictate this to you. Save money if you want, get the amount of RAM you want, etc. Be happy with your laptop purchase. And then try Steam gaming on the Mac side on it. You'd be surprised the number of games that run just fine. And then when you hit a wall with something you really *have* to play ask yourself if you need a gaming PC. By that time you might find that most games you really care about are available on consoles already. You won't be able to make a great compromise here. But at least you could start by trying out the laptop you actually want to own.

Right. My Macbook Air is a work machine. I've installed a couple of games that are either lightweight (FTL, Unity of Command) or don't require smooth framerates (Civ V, CK2). Both work just great and make it a nice, screw-around-on-the-flight-back-from-Lansing option. For dedicated gaming, I use my consoles. I'm in the market but for a new personal laptop that might be geared more towards gaming but I can't justify the $500 jump you see from work-a-day laptops to gaming laptops.

For a Windows laptop, you also might want to look at Eurocom. A friend of mine was going to get an MSI until he found this company: for less than CA$2000, basically the same price as the iMac I want, he got:

17.3-inch display
2.40 GHz (up to 3.40) Intel Mobile Core i7-3630QM
8GB; 1x 8GB; DDR3-1600; PC3-12800
CrossfireX; 4GB; 2x 2GB GDDR5; AMD Radeon HD7970M
240GB SSD

It also, for a non-Apple machine, doesn't look like garbage. No extraneous grills or divots or LEDs or branding, just some sharp angles and a grippy black matte finish.

He travels a lot for work, so got it for that reason, and is pretty happy with it. Bioshock Infinite and Skyrim ran smooth on ultra. Mind, the power brick is as big as a football, the whole shebang isn't getting toted anywhere without its luggage-sized carrying case, and when I asked him how long the battery lasts he looked at me blankly since he has never run it off battery.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

An iMac is also a better choice for gaming than a MacBook Pro. You get a bit more bang for your buck graphically with the desktop.

Though even now down to 12 lbs, the smallest iMac probably isn't portable enough for Sparhawk.