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AtlantaX
New Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
 
2006-11-09, 16:00

OK - with the introduction of the latest slate of Intel based Macs, I've decided to FINALLY switch back to a Mac and I would like the Mac Pro. One nagging issue though is that all I hear is that Mac's are not good gaming machines - surprising since the last time I owned a Mac they were superior (ok, so it was 1990). Anyway, I'm not a "hardcore" gamer but I do like to run games like Battlefield 1942 and I always play online against others. The latest games are too sluggish on my machine to enjoy which is one of the reasons why i'm retiring my old machine (it's limited to 512mb memory).

Are the "Mac's arent good for games" complaints just from really hardcore gamers or would someone like me be frustrated with poor performance in general?

I'm not looking to have the most advanced physics, etc. but I do want the game to run without the pauses, hesitations, etc. that occur when the machine is overwhelmed.

Other than this nagging question, I am sooooo ready to come back to the Apple world.

Oh - I was thinking that January would be a good time to buy. First, because I believe Apple usually makes new product announcements in January? True? Also, I figure with the launch of Vista driving attention to PC purchases in January, maybe Apple will sweeten the current incentives to grab some of those people in buying mode. Thoughts?
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Yontsey
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Cleveland-ish, OH
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2006-11-09, 16:08

I think with a MacPro and ample RAM, you should be fine playing games. Keep in mind though, that games are limited on Mac's.

You could always use BootCamp though if you wanted and play games on Windows if you still want to game it up.

The MacPros are pretty sweet right now, but its rumored that there may be 8core Intels coming out in January.

Die young and save yourself....
@yontsey
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-11-09, 16:14

I guess it will do just fine if you install Vista on it.

The problem with Macs and gaming is not as much the hardware as the poor quality of the games that are ported to Mac OS. The Mac Pro is also quite pricey for a gaming rig, but since you said your last Mac was from 1990, I take you are not kid anymore and earn your own money. So I won't point any fingers at you there either. Availability of graphics cards that are Mac OS compatible might be a problem for some people, but you can always have stock card for Mac OS and a GeForce 8800 GTX for Windows gaming. Someone might be able to explain this topic better than me.

The issue I think might be the biggest problem is that the Mac Pro's FB RAM has a higher latency than ordinary DDR 2 RAM, but again I only think this is an issue for the very serious gamer.
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dmegatool
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: At home
 
2006-11-09, 16:15

There are not the fastest gaming rigs. I think it's because the ram as a little more latency than other computers with no-ECC Ram.

With that said, it still a very powerfull machine. With a x1900 in my 2.66ghz with 2gm of ram, I run recent games at max settings. Games like Oblivion or Company of Heroes don't gimme any problem. Others games I tried are Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Counter-Strike/Day of Defeat, Thief 3 deadly shadows. All of theses run perfectly.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I play all of these in XP with Boot Camp

Dave Mustaine :"God created whammy bars for people who don't know how to solo."
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AtlantaX
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Join Date: Nov 2006
 
2006-11-09, 16:21

great info - thank you all.

question regarding boot camp - the documentation I saw said you have to install XP using an XP SP2 build... can i not install first version XP and immediately go to Windows Update to download the SP2 pack, and the rest of the upgrades?

if the CD *must* be XPSP2, then i'm screwed because I don't own that version of XP...i have the original XP build
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2006-11-09, 16:26

I think it has to be SP2. But you could order a OEM copy from NewEgg for about $90 (right...?), or you could just wait until January for hot Vista action.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-11-09, 16:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlantaX View Post
great info - thank you all.

question regarding boot camp - the documentation I saw said you have to install XP using an XP SP2 build... can i not install first version XP and immediately go to Windows Update to download the SP2 pack, and the rest of the upgrades?

if the CD *must* be XPSP2, then i'm screwed because I don't own that version of XP...i have the original XP build
There was something mentioned about "streamlining" a SP2 into an old XP CD. But I have no idea what it is or how it works. I prefer to stick with Win2k.
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Yonzie
Mac Mini Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
 
2006-11-09, 16:53

The price/performance ratio on a Mac Pro WRT. gaming is pretty low, but it's Quad Conroe/1,3Ghz bus with darn good graphics (X1900XT, not the 7300 which is only decent) so it'll definitely fly.

It is (close to) impossible to install Win XP prior to SP2 due to the lack of built-in SATA drivers (and a floppy drive in the mac for driver disks). It MAY be possible to load the driver onto an USB stick though, but that's just a thought, I haven't tried nor seen it documented (or looked even).

Here's how to slipstream: http://maximumpc.com/2005/01/how_to_slipstre.html

Converted 07/2005.
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Kraetos
Lovable Bastard
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Boston-ish
 
2006-11-09, 17:01

I use my Mac Pro as a gaming rig, with WinXP, and it is as good as my old Alienware. The X1900XT isn't cream of the crop anymore, but it is still probably in the top 10 GPU's available these days. Combined with a gig or two of ram and the Xeon processor... you're set.

The main problem is that Apple GPU upgrades are few and far between. I am silently hoping that Apple becomes a little more vigilant about staying on top of Mac GPU's, now that they are potential gaming machines, but that is probably unlikely. This means that about 2 revisions from now, 12-18 months, a Mac Pro will ship with a GPU that is near top of the line and will offer an upgrade kit for older Mac Pro's.

It isn't the updated every six months bleeding edge technology that would be available if you had a normal, BIOS equipped computer, but unless you plan on running Crysis, or you have an obscenely large monitor, you should be fine.

Also, what Yonzie said. People don't say that Mac's are poor gaming machines because they don't have the horsepower, because they most certainly do. The problem is that Mac ports are infrequent, often shoddy, and require more processing power than they should due to the shoddy port.

Of course, when Parallels introduces graphics support, which they will, then the "Mac OS can't came" arguement will fly out the window, and the folks at Aspyr will be looking for new jobs.

Sadly, being a technology pundit is truly never having to say you’re sorry. You can be wrong for years and never lose your job.—The Macalope
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Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2006-11-09, 22:33

Yeah, especially after the Intel switch, Macs are now viable gaming machines. Here's one thing I'd like to clarify though - given the price of a Mac Pro, you can get a cheaper and better (for gaming) PC. But then, it's a PC and it can't run the Mac OS.

So basically, Macs are not the best "gaming machines," but they are perfectly fine "machines for gaming." I wouldn't buy a Mac specifically for gaming, nor would I spend a whole lot extra to buy a Mac more powerful than I need just for games, but if you need a Mac Pro anyway, why not? It's an excellent machine for all purposes, gaming included.

And yes, it's the quality and availability of the software that has held back Macs in the gaming arena since the 3D era began many years ago. There aren't many Mac games compared to PC games. Those that are available often come out many months, even years, after their PC equivalents. When they come out, they usually cost the full $50 original retail price, even if the PC version has since dropped in price by virtue of it being out for a long time. And the performance is often poor - sometimes, the Mac version even lacks basic features, like multiplayer (look at Command And Conquer, where the Mac version can only do multiplayer with other Macs).

To a lesser extent, it's also the cost and relative gaming performance of Macs compared to PCs. You see, Apple was never really that concerned with gaming performance, so they've never equipped Macs with extremely powerful graphics cards. As such, you spend a lot of money on a Mac to get a great piece of hardware with a mediocre graphics card. Great for most things except gaming.

But yeah, all this has changed. I think if you're getting such a powerful machine you should pick up an OEM copy of WinXP Home for under $100, and then get a bunch of Windows games. You could get some older ones for really cheap - most games that have been out for longer than five or six months will drop in price to the $20 range.

EDIT: I AM STUPID. I originally suggested Gears Of War. Apparently that is Xbox 360-only for now, though a PC version is likely in the works. That's what I get for not keeping up on gaming news.

Last edited by Luca : 2006-11-11 at 02:49.
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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-11-11, 08:39

Computer as gaming rig makes for a baffling waste of time and money. Get a wii for 1/10th the cost and 10X the fun.
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Eugene
careful with axes
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hillsborough, CA
 
2006-11-11, 09:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugge View Post
Availability of graphics cards that are Mac OS compatible might be a problem for some people, but you can always have stock card for Mac OS and a GeForce 8800 GTX for Windows gaming. Someone might be able to explain this topic better than me.
This is not possible.

Any graphics card you stick in a Mac Pro needs to be EFI compatible. For now you are stuck with Apple's three BTO options.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-11-11, 09:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Computer as gaming rig makes for a baffling waste of time and money. Get a wii for 1/10th the cost and 10X the fun.


They Hardly compare. The games for PC and Wii are quite different.

Generally speaking I kinda like the concept of having a standardised piece of HW that is guaranteed to play all games. But for me the consoles always fail on the input devices, they just aren't accurate or quick enough for shooters. The "Wiimote" might be better, but then the rest of the Wii HW (yeah I'm talking to you Broadway) is probably going to prevent any decent shooters from ever being released on it.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-11-11, 09:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
This is not possible.

Any graphics card you stick in a Mac Pro needs to be EFI compatible. For now you are stuck with Apple's three BTO options.
Someone who actually knows what they are talking about in the first place!

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ZacMoose
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Australia
 
2006-11-11, 09:57

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Computer as gaming rig makes for a baffling waste of time and money. Get a wii for 1/10th the cost and 10X the fun.
Buying a Mac exclusively for gaming would very bad value. However, if you have a powerful computer anyway, why not make the most it.

I find the shift from computers for "computer games" interesting considering so many things (TV, music, movies, photos, phone conversations, etc) are becoming more common on computers. Watching TV on computer and playing games on the TV seems a little back to front conceptually (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Besides, do you have any links to back up your 10X the fun statistic
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Koodari
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
 
2006-11-11, 13:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Computer as gaming rig makes for a baffling waste of time and money. Get a wii for 1/10th the cost and 10X the fun.
Fallacy #1: gaming on a computer is expensive
If you are going to have a computer anyway, it costs as little as $100 to get a decent graphics card and start playing.
$200 graphics on top of a regular quality email/web/wordprocessing box, and hardware-wise nothing prevents you from being a star player in a top FPS gaming clan.
So Wii can in fact cost three times more. Before accessories. The games are going to cost more as well.

For Mac guys it has been expensive because for the most part they have had to get a whole separate computer. With Boot Camp this might change, but the entry level graphics in iMac should be supplemented with decent graphics in xomething xlse.. Mac Pro, while nice, is just out of most people's league and costs 2.5 times as much as a Windows box with similar gaming performance.

Fallacy #2: console and PC gaming are comparable
Maybe they'll be comparable when there are free development tools for consoles, you can run games and mods you downloaded off the net and play them over the net, game patches, trainers, addons, your own servers with your own rules and scripts and white/blacklists and tournaments, play MMORPG, realtime strategy, hardcore strategy, simulators other than driving, and that's just as much as I can get off the top of my head. And hardware: there is no console equivalent of laptop. Handhelds are good, but different.

I have worked as a PC and mobile game developer, my current gaming happens exclusively on PS2 and I think Wii is quite possibly going to be the best next gen console. I'm by no means a "fan" of any particular system. I love the games. Objectively every one of the three major console systems, both in their previous and next gen incarnation, have had something going for them that the other two do not match. The PC even more so.
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Matsu
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-11-12, 09:54

Untill now the games that have been different enough to require the specific strengths of a PC, that is keyboard and mouse input, and a higher resolution screen -- things like RTS -- have played just fine on lower spec computers. No need for a specific machine built for that purpose . The other popular genre, the FPS, often pushes the hardware limits, and will need a higher spec machine, but these games have little but graphical overkill going for them. They're all boring, run around and shoot stuff, environments within which gameplay is pretty much the same old same old.

Computer and console gaming are not comparable at all -- console gaming is far superior! Computer gaming is more about measuring hardware performance than actually playing said games, and too a large extent the development reflects that. So much goes into pushing graphical boundaries there doesn't seem to be much left over for working on new, unique and -- wait for it -- FUN concepts... Yes, yes, some people like them, but they're mostly socially maladjusted, pimple faced teen boys who split their time evenly between fragging and whacking -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

.........................................
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Eugene
careful with axes
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hillsborough, CA
 
2006-11-12, 10:57

Going to have to agree with Koodari on this.

Anybody who says console gaming is "far superior" is full of shit. Where's the X-Plane or MS Flight Simulator equivalent console equivalent? Where's the WoW XBox 360 edition? Imagine if Myth or Marathon had been console games. Would they be as fun as the computer versions? How do fledgeling game developers offer shareware titles to console buyers without first waiting for somebody else to design the delivery/payment method for them?

The list goes on. Consoles are by nature very closed designs, inflexible on purpose so the company's who make them have complete control over the user experience. It makes for some tight integration, but the beauty of PC gaming is you can pretty much define it any way you want.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-11-12, 11:13

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Untill now the games that have been different enough to require the specific strengths of a PC, that is keyboard and mouse input, and a higher resolution screen -- things like RTS -- have played just fine on lower spec computers. No need for a specific machine built for that purpose . The other popular genre, the FPS, often pushes the hardware limits, and will need a higher spec machine, but these games have little but graphical overkill going for them. They're all boring, run around and shoot stuff, environments within which gameplay is pretty much the same old same old.

Computer and console gaming are not comparable at all -- console gaming is far superior! Computer gaming is more about measuring hardware performance than actually playing said games, and too a large extent the development reflects that. So much goes into pushing graphical boundaries there doesn't seem to be much left over for working on new, unique and -- wait for it -- FUN concepts... Yes, yes, some people like them, but they're mostly socially maladjusted, pimple faced teen boys who split their time evenly between fragging and whacking -- not that there's anything wrong with that.
Well, that would be your opinin dear Matsu. Which you hopefully will agree with me is subjective. How would you qualify what makes good gameplay for a guy like me? I bet I would know that better myself, so I merely stated that PC gaming and console gaming didn't compare not that one kind was superior. Sure PC's are better for shooters, which I kinda get the impression you are willing to admit, but there are also things where consoles are better. So it relly depends on what kind of games you like.

Actually I would probably say that the Wii would supplement a PC better than the other consoles, simply because it is attempting something new.

Oh, and when you have been spending your entire day with MS Office it's actually quite a relief to just go shoot some mercenaries on a tropic island. And where is Civilization or anything like that on the consoles?
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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-11-12, 16:21

The HW requirements for any of X-Plane, MS Flight Simulator, WoW, or Myth seem pretty basic. There are some big storage requirements for the first, but raw pixel pushing power is not at issue for most mid price home computers. So again, there's no need to go out and build a system just for gaming unless you're obsessed with counting frame rates (most of the FPS crowd)

The thing is the list doesn't really go on. Most of what we're seeing is just graphically improved re-hash of stuff we've all already played. And it's funny that the few distinct franchises mentioned are not the most graphically demanding. So the question has to again be considered -- why build a PC just for gaming? To be a beta tester is not a compelling argument. I'm sure the computer gaming market is a wonderful incubator for fledgling developers. That's not the point. The question is whether anyone should put time and effort into considering a computer's gaming cred when purchasing a machine? I say no. The point should be fun.

Consoles now have enough graphical power to deliver visuals as well. Modern (HDTV) display technology and the pervasiveness of internet connection has closed down two traditional computer interface advantages, and new controller designs could take care of the rest. Computers really don't have too many advantages from the point of view of someone who just wants to sit down and play games on a reliable platform. No installation, no upgrading, no crashes or conflicts, no authorization, etc etc... just plug and play, and expect a solid 5-7 year lifecycle. How much upgrading will your average framerate junkie do over a 5-7 year period in his ill founded attempt to stay current?

Computers have ruled FPS and RTS and flight sims, but you don't need huge graphical power to enjoy the last two, and consoles now seem perched to be more than good enough for those as well (on the balance of input devices and internet connection). On the other hand consoles have had better platformers (2d and 3d), better side-scrollers, better sports, better arcade franchises, better fighters (2d and 3d).. along with enough quirky and subtly innovative stuff to make for big fun over the years...

.........................................

Last edited by Matsu : 2006-11-12 at 23:00.
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almost2mac
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
 
2006-11-19, 23:49

I was going to make a new thread, but this one has been informative. I've been speculating "what if" for the future.

I have the first gen intel iMac 17" and it's rocked my world. I love it. The Mac version of WoW runs perfectly well with some of the settings down that I don't feel like I'm playing a choppy blocky game. I didn't buy it just for games, I bought it out of frustration that my old pc (Medion P4 3.0gig with a pretty good agp graphics card) was doing some weird stuff and the people who also use the computer weren't smart enough to avoid the pitfalls you have to with windows.

So the PC is squirreled back for my gaming use. It runs *pretty* well, although I think I'm going to upgrade the power supply which I think may be the cause of some random crashing. I tried the Vista RC on it and it was a nightmare, nothing worked, and it was unstable and I read that many people didn't have those problems, so its probably the hardware.

But I'm thinking forward for a year or two. I was going to avoid Vista like the plague, but I'm guessing one of the games that I'm expecting, Bioshock, will require DX10 which is Vista only. If the power supply solves the issue I'm fine and I'll run this machine into the ground.

For a while I even toyed with getting a PS3 once they're more readily available or even an Xbox and avoid messing with PC hardware. I loved the PS2 but I'm not sure if I want to invest in another console.

My friend got a Mac Pro and he loves it ... he was a hardcore "build it myself" PC-er, but now that he can plug his guitar into Garageband he's all about Mac. He was able to play WoW with every setting maxed with the default Mac Pro build bought from an Apple store. He does not own Windows, so I have not seen the performance in Boot Camp. But now I'm drooling thinking if I ran Windows on a Core 2 Duo machine that was *upgradeable* then I WOULD EASILY CONQUER THE WORLD!

I've read on this thread that Mac Pro legitimately qualifies as a gaming rig but still isn't as good as a PC with Windows. On the iMac XP partition I actually installed Oblivion and it ran solidly...although it starts to chug in the outdoor areas. So far it didn't seem unplayable. XP altogether seems to run better on a Mac than PC hardware to me. So would dual-booting a Mac Pro come close to an uber gaming rig that is expensive but worth it, especially since upgrades are easy and one could potentially upgrade it for ten years?

Someone mentioned there are only three choices for Mac video cards, surely there will be more as the Mac Pro becomes more commonplace.

My other choices would be to chuck gaming altogether and get a MacBook to pair with the iMac like a responsible working adult person, or just run the PC into the ground and eventually in a year or so get a current Core2 Duo PC for like $800 that probably will only last 2 years.

Now, if I could just win the damn lottery....
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