My expectations for AAA gaming on any 13" notebook with integrated graphics are low for any IGP notebook brand. At Apple's WWDC and Mac product launch, gaming (game/games/gaming) was cited 23 times, so I believe Apple intended to create a good gaming experience. Gaming has not been much of a focus for the Mac operating system, but it has been a significant point of success for Apple on iOS. I am confident the company is talking more about iOS developers' games, but it did demonstrate AAA games like Tomb Raider, which led me to believe that AAA games were a target. Therefore, I wanted to see how playable AAA games were on the new M1-based Mac, given the giant M1 GPU and its UMA architecture that should speed up memory reads and writes between CPU and GPU.
I want to preface that my MacBook Pro 13" was not the highest-end configuration. The MacBook Pro M1 comes with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage at the high end. More RAM could increase FPS in certain games, so my results are not the new MacBook Pro ceiling with the new M1 processor. I have ordered a 16GB system, but it does not come in for a while.
Fortnite: While Fortnite is technically not an AAA title, it is undoubtedly one of the world's most popular battle royale games. I tested the game on 1440 x 900 and 2048 x 1280 resolution on high settings. At 1440 x 900 resolution, I was consistently getting in the 70-80 FPS range, and I also saw some FPS scores that peaked into the 100's. I raised the resolution settings to 2048 x 1280, and it dropped the FPS to 50-60 FPS on average, but that was still a good gaming experience. The application did freeze on several different occasions, taking several minutes of waiting or a forced quit to fix the issue each time it happened. Apart from the application freezes, the M1 is performing well out of the gate.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider/Rosetta 2: I used the built-in benchmark within Shadow of the Tomb Raider to test FPS scores on a couple of different resolutions. I ran the game on 1920 x 1200 and 1400 x 900 on high settings for both runs. First, I tried the benchmark at 1920 x 1200 resolution and yielded an average FPS of 20. When I ran the benchmark 1440 x 900 resolution, I got an average FPS of 30. The 30 FPS score may not seem impressive, but it is for a thin and light notebook. Especially when considering this is Apple's first iteration of its notebook silicon. It's worth noting that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the few AAA games that support Apple's Metal API. That could be a reason why it ran well and made its way into Apple's App Store.
Dota 2/Rosetta 2: Dota 2 was the only MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) title that we tested on the MacBook Pro M1 and is a Top 10 Steam game. I tried the game at 1440 x 900 resolution on medium to high resolution. On average, I was getting between 45-60 FPS consistently while battling rival players. Dota 2 was the smoothest game to play on the list that I tested. I never had any issues booting the game or closing it out with no freezes or application shutdowns while playing.
Sid Meier's: Civilization VI/Rosetta 2: I tested Sid Meier's: Civilization VI at 1440 x 900 resolution on high settings. Throughout the duration of the game testing, I was getting 60 FPS consistently with little variation. Like Dota 2, the game had no freezes or shutdowns throughout the testing. This title isn't too complicated or graphically intensive, so the MacBook Pro handled it with ease.
Total War: WARHAMMER II/ Rosetta 2: As I moved from village to village in Total War: WARHAMMER II, I was getting an average FPS of 30-40 on high quality presets at 1440 x 900 resolution. This game has an interesting hovering perspective where the player focuses on exploration and expansion across the fantasy world. While I was moving across the different islands throughout the map, the game was smooth and stutter-free.
Firewatch/Rosetta 2: This slow-paced but stunning game could not have held up any better. The forestry and life within the game moved around freely and without any issues. My settings consisted of 1440 x 990 with the graphics all automatically set on 'High.' I changed the 'World Detail' from 'High' to 'Ultra,' and the gameplay wasn't affected whatsoever. I had to enable 'VSync' as it comes to default. The framerates were still going perfectly without issue: no latency, no mouse lag, and no game crash.
After logging into my new MacBook Pro 13" M1, I could download games from Steam and the App Store pretty quickly. I did have to delete and reinstall Steam a couple of times before it launched successfully for the first time. After I got it installed correctly, it was easy to maneuver and add games to my library.
Most AAA gamers choose Windows as their OS of choice for obvious reasons. There are more games available for Windows, and the Windows games typically run smoother than the comparable macOS games because developers optimize for Windows. MacBook gamers' potential workaround for this issue is using a virtual desktop interface (VDI) or other virtualization software. Parallels Desktop 15 is a popular solution to this problem, which would give you the ability to play windows DirectX 11 games on your MacBook. I can't vouch for the type of experience you will get as an end-user, but the games look playable from what I have seen. Another option is using GeForce Now, NVIDIA's cloud gaming service, as a way to play games via the cloud.
The good news is that the new M1 processor's gaming performance was better than I expected, especially when considering Apple's first notebook powered exclusively by its in-house silicon. The FPS scores were similar to what I would expect on a comparable Windows 13" notebook. Out of the 12 games that we tested, only a couple had launch and crash issues. If FPS scores were the only measuring stick for gaming, then the M1 processor would be positioned at the top of the heap for a thin and lite notebook. The introduction of M1 marks the beginning of gaming on Apple silicon, and there is plenty of positive to build on.
There were plenty of positive takeaways from reviewing the MacBook Pro M1 in AAA games, but there were also several drawbacks. To start, I downloaded Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, more popularly known as CS: GO (#1 ranked Steam game as of publication date), on my MacBook Pro M1 for game testing. CS: GO is an excellent game to test because Valve has optimized this game to run smoothly on almost any hardware, and on a desktop gaming PC gets frame rates in the many hundreds, so it should run pretty well on the M1. The game downloaded fine, but it took nearly 10 minutes to load to the main menu when I went to boot. The application froze each time I attempted to play, which caused me to force quit and reboot. While using Steam, I had to force quit the application every second or third time it launched, which I suspected would be an issue beforehand.
I got acquainted with the infamous rainbow spinning wheel that signifies if an application is frozen or has overloaded the machine's processing power. The freezing happened several times while loading into a new game of Fortnite. The freezing also happened in CS: GO, which never booted in a playable fashion for me, even after several attempts. I also had multiple freezes when switching between games while having Safari running as well. I will note this could also be due to having an 8GB system, putting a strain on the system from swapping between the 8GB memory and the SSD.
The other issue I have with gaming on macOS is AAA game compatibility. There are plenty of MacBook Pro compatible games that you can download from Steam and the Apple App Store, but Apple and developers are leaving a lot off the table. If Apple is serious about gaming on Mac, it will need to get more developers to optimize macOS games. Sadly, most popular AAA games won't run natively on macOS, games like:
For the games I was able to boot and play, the M1's graphics performance was on par or slightly better than what I have seen in similar-sized Windows notebooks. AAA gaming is possible on the MacBook Pro 13" M1, but I believe there are more reliable systems for the job. Newer AAA games aren't a massive use case on ultrathin notebooks, but it is nice to have, and the value varies from user to user. With Steam made for the Mac and some AAA developers already releasing AAA macOS titles, I must assume this is an essential target for Apple.
The scenery in Metro Exodus is incredible. The beautiful snowy environment combined with the sandbox element of this game allows for some enchantingly immersive moments. Coupled with the lethal mutants and the freezing cold, it delivers the atmosphere of apocalyptic Russia like no other.
To top off the excellent story it provides, the combat in this game is amazing. Sure it can feel clunky and clumsy compared to newer games, and odd bugs sometimes appear during the gameplay. But there are few games out there that will let you kill something with bees while setting it on fire. Truly an incredible experience.
The campaign in this game is generally confusing and involves blowing up a train. The other two game-modes offered are multiplayer and COD Zombies. Unfortunately the multiplayer mode is dead. Hackers are a problem and most people have moved on to other games. The downsides of a 6 year old game.
Games have a largely subjective aspect to them. You may love some games while I might prefer completely different ones. This is why we identified a set of criteria that every single one of our picks has to meet:
Critical acclaim: Video games can be subjective, but to keep this guide as relevant as possible, we only consider proven games with positive reviews from both professional reviewers and average gamers.
Hi Jer. That was indeed a problem for a long time. But earlier this year we updated virtually ALL games list to only include 64-bit games. But maybe we missed something. Did you spot a 32 bit game here? 2b1af7f3a8