What Does A Retina Display Mac Mean For Gaming? [Opinion]

What Does A Retina Display Mac Mean For Gaming? [Opinion]

Mac gaming, long the red-headed-stepchild of the computer gaming scene, just stepped up its, well, game. Today’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco saw several announcements from Apple regarding gaming, including the fact that the hot new MacBook Pro will have Retina graphics capabilities.

The new MacBooks have pixels so small, Apple says they can’t be individually discerned by the human eye. The display will have a resolution of 2880X1800 pixels, powered by a NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPU optimized for laptops.

According to NVIDIA itself, “the (Kepler-based) GeForce GT 650M offers unprecedented performance and extreme energy efficiency, giving it the muscle to process the 5,184,000 pixels in the next-gen MacBook Pro’s ultra high-resolution display.”

While the graphics chip here isn’t the highest end chip out there, it is a solid mid-level graphics chip that will run higher end games, like Activision Blizzard’s new hit, Diablo III, at higher than current graphical demands. It is also supposed to manage power to keep a laptop like the MacBook Pro running longer.

Does this signal a move by Apple into the higher end gaming scene? I’m not sure it’s ready to commit to that, as yet. Apple’s choice to include the GT 650M shows a continued balance between power management and performance.

However, I do believe that a Retina display like the one we saw announced today is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as gaming goes. My guess is that the move of Game Center from iOS to Mac, coupled with the higher end graphics card and super amazing Retina Display can only be a good thing for Mac gamers both now and clear into the future. But will it be enough to give the Mac the lead over the PC when it comes to gaming? Only time will tell.

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  • Blake Beavers

    With high end, fast paced games, like FPS games, I fail to see how this laptop will be able to run games with this high of resolution at 60 frames per second.

    But I still want one…
  • steve_mikulic

    Not really seeing this as a bellwether of a shift in Apple’s approach to so-called hardcore gaming. I’d just like to see the graphics card render games in OS X that are made to run in OS X as well as it runs the same games Bootcamped into Windows 7. 


    I’ve got a 2010 MBP 15″ with a dedicated ATI graphics card  Can barely run StarCraft 2 or Diablo 3 on medium settings, but flip that over into Bootcamp and Windows 7 and both games run very well on high. If they can fix this sort of problem with the new model, I’ll be content with that. Otherwise looks like a phenomenal machine, and the new Laptop to Have. 
  • JackJones

    Useless for gaming… Just get an Alienware for the same price tag and you won’t be disappointed. It will rape the MacBook, plus it looks nicer. 

  • I_am_Andy

    Does anyone know whether one can upgrade memory from 8 to 16 GB without Apple?

  • shannon_f

    I’m so ready for Apple to release a desktop that doesn’t cost over $2k and that can really run AAA games. Once that happens, so long Windows 7 PC. But until that day, I will hold onto that HP under my desk…

  • NotSoNinja75

    Yep, you’re not going to buy an £1800+ laptop with a ‘mid level’ graphics card to play games. 

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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