Last Updated: January 22, 2020.
A Mac is every bit as good as a Windows PC in virtually every aspect, but gaming isn’t one of them. Log in to any online game store (Steam, Origin, etc.), and you’ll find that there’s around one Mac-compatible game for every five Windows-compatible games.
All Mac-compatible games are compatible with Windows, but not all Windows-compatible games are compatible with Macs.
A reason for Mac’s lack of compatibility with video games is that these computers aren’t designed for gaming. Most Macs use graphics cards that aren’t as well-known and configurable as the giants like Nvidia and Radeon.
A Mac Pro offers higher specs than the standard ones, but even these are more expensive than building your own Windows PC.
DirectX is another reason—this API has seen widespread use among game developers for decades. Mac doesn’t have an API that correlates to DirectX. Initiatives to fill this gap include creating a program that allows DirectX support on Macs, but game developers are its end users. They use such programs to make porting to Macs faster.
Fortunately, Apple has long had BootCamp, a program that lets Macs run both Mac and Windows operating systems by partitioning Mac’s hard drive. The latest version, 6.1, can run Windows 10 and newer versions of Windows 7. Later Macs come built-in with Boot Camp, so there’s no need to download it.
Running The Boot Camp
Running Windows on Boot Camp is easy. Once you have a genuine copy of a Windows operating system (preferably Windows 10), follow these steps.
- Run the Boot Camp Assistant wizard.
- Choose the following tasks you want the wizard to conduct:
- Create an install disk for your Windows (flash drive required).
- Download the latest Windows support software from Apple.
- Remove any later versions of Windows.
- Determine how much space you want to allocate to your Windows.
- Select Boot Camp as the installation destination for your Windows.
- Wait to be logged in to Windows.
- Install any Mac drivers required—even in Windows, Mac will still run some systems.
The space allocated for Windows should be proportionate to the number of games you plan to play at a given time.
The 64-bit version requires at least 20 gigabytes, while the average video game is a little bigger. macOS can operate on as little as 64 gigabytes, but at least 128 gigabytes is required for the smoothest experience.
A rule of thumb is that Windows should take up at least 25% of the total disk space, but not to the point that the Mac starts to suffer from performance problems.
From this point, you can install the Windows games you’ve been dying to play. Search online for any additional instructions on running PC applications on a Mac. Switch back to the default macOS anytime by restarting the computer and holding the Option key on the startup ring. It will lead to a menu where you can choose what system to boot up.
To prevent Windows from booting upon startup, set the Mac drive as the default system—after all, you’ll only need Windows to play your games.
Up to Spec
Keep in mind that Boot Camp’s job is to run Windows on a Mac. Making sure the games installed run smoothly will still depend on the hardware.
Sluggish startups and occasional freezes are common problems among Macs running Boot Camp. Now that Windows is in your Mac, it will be drawing resources from the computer, particularly space. Be it Windows or Mac, a computer whose hard drive is close to full will start running slow. When this happens, backup any files you want to keep and delete those you want gone.
As for swapping out old hardware for new ones, it depends on the model year. MacBook Pros, the closest to gaming-spec laptops, can be upgraded with new RAM, hard drive, and battery for 2012–2019 models. However, it’s important to note that: the newer the model, the less upgradeable it is. For example, the 2018–2020 models of MacBook Air won’t accept any upgrades. Ask a local Apple service center if your Mac is upgradeable.
Apple managed to work around this problem by allowing external GPUs to be connected to any Mac running High Sierra or later. Not all external GPUs are supported, so it’s important to search online for those that are.
Keeping drivers and systems updated to the latest versions also helps. Have the newest macOS installed for the smoothest experience as older systems won’t have the capability to address more recent issues? Support always favors the later releases.
When your game still struggles after doing all stated above, it might be about time to buy a brand-new Mac.
Fortunately, newer models are becoming more future-proof than ever, carrying a larger hard drive, more powerful processors, and smarter macOS. For example, a MacBook Pro can last up to seven years before its technologies are rendered obsolete.
To Wrap Up
Despite the limitations, the number of Mac-compatible games on the market is steadily increasing. Still, if you fancy the sensation of using Windows to play your favorite games, Boot Camp offers just that. Take note of these tips, and you’ll have a worry-free gaming experience.