Final Words

The simple fact that Valve ported the Source engine to the Mac platform is enough to give the developers some leniency in improving performance. If Valve is truly committed to bringing all new releases on Steam to OS X than I doubt that Mac enthusiasts will be too bothered by the fact that performance is lower than under Windows, at least for a short while.

The Steam application itself is also slower under OS X. Launching games and the Steam application takes longer than under Windows.

Half Life 2 Episode 2 Load Time
Nehalem Mac Pro Mac OS X 10.6.3 Windows 7 x64
Time from Launch to Menu 48.7 seconds 35.5 seconds

Eventually performance and image quality parity will be necessary. Make no mistake, Apple is in the business of selling luxury computers. You can often get the same specs for less from Dell or HP, but the styling, attention to detail, ability to legitimately run OS X and user experience are all things Apple’s customers are willing to pay a premium for. A performance deficit rarely goes over well in these sorts of situations. It doesn't have to offer greater performance, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice so much just to play under OS X.

To Valve’s credit, at least on current generation Macs, Source engine games are absolutely playable. It supports Apple’s whole “it just works” mantra. You’re just better off running them in Windows if you have the option. Although I will admit that the convenience of not having to reboot is sometimes worth the frame rate penalty, at least for shorter gaming sessions. If I’m going to be playing for more than 20 minutes, then a reboot is more than worth it.

Image Quality: Still Foggy


View All Comments

  • killerclick - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    So Macs are crap, what else is new? Reply
  • wolrah - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    It's always about what you're looking for in a computer. If you're building or buying a gaming rig, Windows is obviously the way to go for now. You make yourself look like just as much of a tool as the idiots using terms like "windoze" and "M$" when you make comments like that. The hardware is exactly the same and I find the OS fits how I use it better. I get commercial apps and a proper Unix shell in the same OS. Windows does the GUI thing fine, but sucks like a toothless hooker when you need a shell. Powershell is fine for those familiar with the .NET environment, but to someone used to Unix or even the half-ass CLI DOS/cmd.exe provided it's foreign.

    I'm sitting at a Windows 7 machine with my Macbook Pro linked in by Synergy off to one side displaying a bunch of terminals SSHed in to various Linux boxes on it second monitor, so I think I can honestly claim to not be biased in any direction among the big three OSes.
  • killerclick - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Yeah, whatever nerdlinger. See that chart up there in the test? Mac = crap. Reply
  • SunSamurai - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Stop trolling asshole. Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - link

    Macs are not crap. The OS is crap, and dated.

    Valve can do all they want to the Source engine but it will never run as well as on Windows.
    OSX has many dated components. For instance it uses OpenGL 2.1 (or does 10.6.3 have 3.0 finally?)... the latest is 4.0. Which has been available on Windows for some time.
    OpenGL 2.1 is about equal to DirectX 9, at best. You wont get the Windows performance for this alone, and you wont get the graphical eye candy either and things like Tessellation.

    I'm surprised Anand does not mention this, but he does seem bias towards Apple.
    Either way, the issue of performance is atleast as much to do with OSX/apple itself as it is to do with the Source engine on OSX.
  • thehomelessguy - Monday, July 5, 2010 - link

    Mac's definitely use openGL 3.0 (they have to to have openCL which is at the core of a lot of snow leopard's improvements). Reply
  • Zombie-Bionic - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - link

    you know, I've lived with mac for at least 4 years now, and I think I can say yes, mac is very crappy. Music eats up space like a mutha bitch so gaming is virtually impossible unless you prefer playing an unintended 8-bit version of half life 2. It's no surprise to me that mac is the worst computer rated on the chart, but this is also on the internet. anything goes so it's really hard to say I can trust these results. So mac will always be crap if you want to just do gaming. It's definitely a leader for those who love itunes and facebook, but if you're not totally about the whole social networking trend get a PC, because not only are they better at games they also accomplish giving the user knowledge about their new shiny device. My knowledge of computers is at the equivalent of a cave man hitting a brick against the wall and getting killed by shrapnel. This is simply because mac does everything for you and is already very easy to "personalize" because of it's ability of hiding every known fact about itself so that when it comes time to fix it you don't know jack squat. Reply
  • xarglaph - Thursday, July 22, 2010 - link

    Zombie, are you retarded?

    Must be trollin'. OSX has so many logs that if you'd bothered to do a couple minutes of research you'd be able to find out exactly what problems you're having. Compare this to the annoying Event Viewer used in windows...

    mac tip

    open terminal,
    type cat /var/log/system.log > ~/FILENAME.txt
    in your home directory will be a nifty txt file full of all kinds of useful information.
  • vol7ron - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    If all you need a MAC for is shells, why not just get Ubuntu or some other version of Linux?

    If the hardware's the same, as you say, then why pay a premium for Apple?

    Granted, Apple, like any linux-based OS, has many nice features that cater to its customer focus, but your reasons don't support your argument. And as far as this article is concerned Windows still exceeds OSX. I would like Win7 to regain some of the WinXP gaming performance, though. Just like I wanted XP to regain some Win98 performance.

  • Jkm3141 - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    Ahh spoken like a true windows advocate. Mac OSX is not Linux based Reply

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