M1 Mac mini and M1 MacBook Air power gaming setup [Setups]

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An M1 Mac mini and M1 MacBook Air power this Mac gaming setup.
An M1 Mac mini and M1 MacBook Air power this Mac gaming setup.
Photo: raka_ny@Reddit.com

Given the dominance of PCs in the gaming world for various reasons, it’s refreshing  to see somebody purpose-building a Mac computer setup for gaming. Sweden-based Redditor Raka_ny put one together with an M1 Mac mini, an M1 MacBook Air and assorted peripherals.

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The Mac mini sports 16GB of unified memory while the MBA has 8GB. Both machines offer 256GB of storage, so raka_ny added a 1TB Samsung T5 SSD. They use a Magic Keyboard, a Magic Mouse 2, a Razer DeathAdder Essential Gaming Mouse and a basic USB 3.0 hub.

Landscape- and portrait-mode monitors

With those, raka_ny’s Mac gaming setup runs a 28-inch Lenovo L28u-30 IPS Monitor with 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. It’s the primary gaming display.

The second, portrait-oriented display is a BenQ GL-2580T with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. They use it for browsing, reading and various chat and collaboration apps.

The two displays are mounted on an Andersson MRA 3.2 mounting system.

Games played

Raka_ny said they like to play many games. Among them are RimWorld, DiRT Rally, 7 Days to Die and BeamNG.drive. For added realism in the driving games, they use a Logitech G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel and shifter bundle.

For the BeamNG game, raka_ny uses CrossOver, a third-party Windows translation software for Mac that the maker says runs more smoothly than Windows emulator software.

One commenter wanted to know how raka_ny managed to get BeamNG to play on a Mac.

Here’s how to run it and how well it works, according to raka_ny somewhat technical explanation:

To play BeamNG on CrossOver, you need to run the latest nightly build or the CrossOver 21 beta. Then select the DX9 or DX10 beta in steam. DX9 runs flawlessly but I can’t get mods to work. Seems to run 30-45fps no matter what, that could be down to limited testing in my part. DX10 runs 60fps @1440 or higher depending on mods, map and your system ram. I will note, the best performance for me was vanilla or low complexity modded vehicle (not automation) and using the vanilla or more open maps. Using heavily modded maps and automation vehicle halved my FPS. I hope that helps. The game runs without error, controllers work perfectly.

Wired for sound

When asked where the speakers were hiding, raka_ny said they use their STR-790 Sony surround-sound home-theater receiver and a Harman Kardon HK 5.1 speaker system via Bluetooth for casual audio and movies. They use AirPods for meetings or Sennheiser headhphones “if it’s not super hot.”

Why Mac and not PC?

Inevitabley, someone asked why would raka_ny run games on Macs when the games are optimized for PCs?

One commenter said, “it just blows my mind on a daily basis that people who have enough money to get a gaming pc and are into gaming chose [sic] to get macs and 100 different accessories so they can run 10 year old games at sub 45 fps.”

Below is raka_ny’s reply. As they made clear in their post, they really like Macs. But there’s more to the answer than that.

I love apple devices, so I replaced my older apple devices with new M1 chips. I also tend to try to be as eco friendly as possible, considering I can do my day to day business on a <30 watt device, I see that [as] a huge win.

I can play a lot of modern games at 60fps on a [ARM-based SoC] … really nice. For instance I just played Rust for an hour at 1440p 60fps on high graphics. Alas I don’t often have much time these days to play.

To be fair, I spent the last 15 years building gaming machines etc for my wife or for me as a hobby, would last 6 months a year and I would want to upgrade. I preordered the 8700k when it was announced, more recent was a 2600x Ryzen machine. I prefer the build and tinkering with linux or a cheeky opencore install than the end result.

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Computers:

Displays:

Peripherals:

Audio

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.