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

    I was just summarizing the result of the test. Macs are slower, yet more expensive. What's not crap about that? Reply
  • heffeque - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Basically you're saying that a Mac is slower than itself. That just plain stupid. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Macs aren't slower. OS X is slower because you're comparing a game engine that's spent the last decade being designed and optimized for Windows with a game engine recently ported to OS X. You'd find exactly the same initial performance deficit if Valve ported Source to Linux.

    Saying "Macs are crap" based on the fact that their default OS is slower when running a specific program that hasn't been fully optimized for that OS is so asinine it's mind blowing.
  • killerclick - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Mac is what it is, not just the hardware with the Apple logo but also the OS, the 3rd party support and the niche it's carved for itself. If I have you pay more for less performance and a smaller choice of software then yes, I'll say Macs are crap. Reply
  • ibuckyi - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    You have no idea what you are talking about. OpenGL has been the forefront of gaming way before DirectX came in to play. Stop making excuses for Mac and admit the loss. I'm sorry that your 2000 dollar machine can't handle 20 years of gaming. And to think by now Macs would be able to handle what windows has been doing for 20 years. Give up on the excuses, and just admit.. Steve Jobs got you! Reply
  • LaughingTarget - Friday, June 4, 2010 - link

    Uh, OpenGL hasn't been at the forefront of gaming for some time. Once DX9 hit the market, it was pretty much lights out for OGL. Even the last major holdout, id Software, has backed out of OGL development and moved onto DirectX. Moving Steam onto the Mac platform is unlikely going to rekindle any kind of OGL interest since it lacks significant market share to put out any kind of real effort onto the platform short of just hastily porting major titles over. Reply
  • Strunf - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    And yet there have been Doom after Doom using it, and with evrery new one everyone is amazing by its graphical quality!!
    I don't think Id Tech would bet on a dead horse...
  • dgz - Monday, June 7, 2010 - link

    You are wrong. Rage and the new Doom (both id Tech 5 based) render things in Direct3D mode only on Xbox 360. The Windows, Mac OS and PS3 versions render shit in OpenGL mode. Well, PS3 actually uses PSGL, which is Sony's implementation of OpenGL / ES. Anyway, stop making shit up so you can support your silly arguments. Reply
  • sprockkets - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    yes, and the drivers made for windows vs. mac and the respective subsystems used have nothing to do with it either. Reply
  • ArizonaSteve - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    I wouldn't say Macs are crap, but I would equate Apple to Bose and Monster Cable. Reply

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