iMac – Can It Play Games Well?

Hey, how’s it going? Dave 2d here. So, this is the 2017 27-inch iMac and this is their fully spec’d out one. It’s got the 7700K and the Radeon Pro 580 and if you purchased this from Apple from their website, it would be closing it at $5,300 which is disgusting.

Now I purchased the 8 gig model and I added my own RAM to get up to 64. So if you purchase a 27-inch iMac I highly recommend you do the same, because Apple charges crazy amounts of money for their RAM. Now, just a quick hardware overview. This year, the 5k display has been improved a little bit. It’s supposed to get 40 percent brighter, you can notice it in a really bright room, but it is measurable with the Spider. The drive speeds are faster this generation, particularly the write speeds.

Now, this is the two terabyte model, I’m not sure if the smaller drives are slower. Now, in terms of the ports we get 4 USB-A and a couple of USB-C that support Thunderbolt 3. It is just a wider spread of ports than the previous generation.

With a Thunderbolt 3 port external GPU connections work really well in Windows. I tried both the Razer Core and the Bizon Box 3, those connect without a hitch, but in Mac OS I’m still getting hiccups. Now, I don’t know if I just need a newer version of Mac OS, so High Sierra is supposed to support external GPUs a lot better.

So I’ll probably revisit that in the near future. The dedicated GPUs this year are the Radeon Pro 500 series. And the one in here is the Radeon Pro 580, which is based on the RX580. It’s not the most powerful GPU in the world, I mean on paper it’s not too bad, it looks like it’s between a GTX 1060 and a 1070, but that’s what I want to do: test the hardware to see what it could do for games and video editing.

So first I played some games on Mac OS and the performance is better than I thought it would be. Apple claims that you can get up to 50% better frame rates compared to the previous generation and playing some Blizzard games I’m actually getting around 40% better, so that’s not bad. Now Blizzard is a developer that put a ton of effort into the Mac content, but overall pretty impressed with the gameplay.

Now playing some Steam games, I don’t have anything super demanding in my Steam library for Mac OS, but for the curious here’s some data when running at 1440p. Now if I play at 5k resolution, as expected, framerates get choppy, but let’s be real here. Macs aren’t meant for 5k gaming and at 1440p at this screen size games look really good. Running Bootcamp Windows, the Radeon Pro 580 actually gets to show off a little bit more, the biggest difference that you can play Overwatch in Windows. You still can’t play anything in 5k but… whatever.

Some games have scaling issues because it’s not a standard 16×9 screen. You get some black bars at the top and bottom, nothing too bad and in general this card does well for gaming and bootcamp. Very comfortable performance in 1440p for moderately demanding games. Heavier games and also poorly optimized games, you’ll have to drop quality or run at 1080p. But if you want to play games on the Radeon Pro 580, you’re good to go. Now I tried to connect my Vibe to test out VR games, but I couldn’t get it to connect.

I’m not sure if it needs drivers from HTC or if I need to get High Sierra running up on this, but yeah I’ll have to revisit that in the future. Right now, can’t get it to connect. Ok, video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro. Now, this is where I found the most surprising results.

The previous top end iMac with the M395X was never great in Premiere, but these new Radeon Pro GPUs, they’re pretty good. The 580 keeps up with the GTX 1060 for 4k footage and for 5k footage from the Scarlet W, it’s actually a little bit faster. And i tested this a couple times. Now, let’s keep in mind this machine is stupidly expensive.

I mean you could build a PC with a 7700K and a GTX 1060 for like $800-$900, it wouldn’t have this amazing 5k panel, but it would be a lot cheaper. It’s hard to compare the two because of this panel. The takeaway is this: the Radeon pro 580 in here is a better card than I thought it would be, it’s an Apple iMac and if you build it like this configuration, it’s idiotic. You’re still overpaying through the nose.

If you build a more reasonable configuration, I think for like 2,500 bucks, you can get something that still has this great card and has good components. That’s a better value. It’s still an Apple, it’s still an iMac, you’re overpaying, but it’s a better value than Apple iMacs have been in the past.