Recently, I was faced with a question that has been on my mind for some time now. You may be interested in hearing what it is – is the MacBook Air good for gaming? After giving this matter some thought and sitting down at my laptop today to write an answer, here is what I’ve come up with
MacBooks and gaming, these two have never been on good times with each other. It could be because Macs are mainly used by professionals. They focus more on software optimization instead of high power hardware needed for gaming.
And finally, Macbook Airs are great for gamers – unless you’re not a gamer and find yourself playing the occasional game out of boredom.
Yeah, a MacBook Air is never considered enough for those of us who want to play games which require seamless hardware. You can play plenty of newer games on it – even some at high settings – but if you’re looking for more graphic-intensive games then this laptop probably won’t satisfy your cravings.
There are countless reasons for this. And I understand you’re here to get a detailed account of all this. Now let’s take a look at the both pros and cons of if the MacBook Air is an appropriate gaming laptop.
Is MacBook Air Good for Gaming? The Truth
Well, before giving you an immediate yes or no answer to the question, I want to provide you with some information about how M1 Air does when it comes to gaming in general.
Gaming on MacBook Air 2020 M1
When you play video games, graphics are often seen as the most important factor. Given this, the Mac Air 2020 equipped with the state-of-the-art M1 chip is able to deliver 8-core GPU processing power and vastly improved graphical performance. However, let me tell you honestly now – that’s just bragging!
Let me explain it.
To test the MacBook Air’s gaming performance, I installed a couple of high-end optimized Mac games on it. It was only a handful of games where I managed my desired outcome without sacrificing graphics.
Otherwise, the need to dial down graphics settings in order for games to run smoothly becomes inevitable. Anyhow, here’s how the Mac performs with each type of game you can play on the platform.
Games Where MacBook Air is Average, Perhaps Bad
When compared to some of the best games available for Mac, this game managed to stand out.
- Civilization 6 – you would barely hit over 27 frames per second when set to either high or medium quality, whereas it’s best for the FPS to be between 30-60.
- League of Legends – when playing on the native resolution (2560×1600), the game will run at approximately 65-70 frames per second. However, dropping down to lower resolutions can improve performance significantly and raise FPS rates up to 90 frames per second.
But if you play the game on a lower resolution such as 1650×1050 or even 720p, then you will find that your frame rate will be higher than it would normally be. Though, this may differ from player to player depending on their own preferences in-game.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – you’ll get an average frame rate of 18 for the lowest settings. Whereas for the medium and high settings, the FPS will not go over (and in fact barely hits) 15 (on average).
- But once you switch to even just medium settings, no matter what resolution you’re playing at, FPS will drop and stutter. The Macbook Pro will also start getting very hot. And yeah, it’ll take forever for your FPS to reach 50 on low settings (no matter what the native resolution is).
- The game runs well on M1 Air when the settings are set to low, but it’s not yet fully optimized for Macs. On average, you’ll get 60-70 frames per second and some occasional dips below 40 fps.
One thing is for sure – this Mac Air performs superbly with all my favorite AAA games. Games can still run smoothly even if I play them on lower settings (or at lower resolutions). If you’re a gaming enthusiast who wants things done quickly and efficiently then this laptop just won’t cut it.
Games Where MacBook Air Does Well
On the other hand, there are a few games where the machine does its job well.
And these are none other than Apple’s most treasured Arcade games i.e. Oceanhorn 2, Mini Motorways, Alba, and many others. These work simply great on Mac Air 2020.
Excepting them, if you want to play any of the other Silicon-optimized games on your Mac, then it would be advised to temper expectations. On lower settings i.e. Medium screen resolution and game settings – there should be no excuse for you not being able to run these games.
Though, we still haven’t reached a final conclusion about whether or not MacBook Air is good for gaming. Let’s take this one step further to find out.
Is the New MacBook Air M1 Good for Gaming or Not?
Although M1 Mac Air was able to run a number of mac-optimized games, it was far from the best gaming device available. So if you’re looking for something that runs great and looks even better – then this product might not be worth considering.
You can definitely take up games of this genre if you’re looking for something casual. You won’t have to pay attention to things like ray tracing, frames per second or DLSS because this type of game doesn’t require that kind of attention at all.
So, it seems that Mac Air has been having some trouble when it comes to gaming.
Reasons Why Apple MacBook Air is Not Good for High-End Gaming
It may come as no surprise that Macs were never really made for gamers. Apple is a professional oriented company, and so it makes sense that they would produce computers just for the professionals.
So, I am still unsure of whether to call these reasons for Macs’ gaming incompetence – the pros or the cons. Nonetheless, here are all of the ways in which MacBook Airs do not make for decent gaming laptops.
#1. No Discrete GPU Setups
For AAA-level gaming, a discrete graphics card is really necessary. However, the MacBook Air does not have this option available.
While the M1 Air 2020 showcases a powerful 8-core GPU and incredible graphics performance, it also has a retina display that you cannot take your eyes off of.
And that’s why this graphics setup has come to the classiest of standards when it comes to making visual beauty really pop out on a screen. It’s still not made for hardcore gamers – it’s pretty great for people who want to do other things, but can’t rely too much on games.
#2. Most of the Games Are for x86 and x64 Platforms
One of the key reasons for the majority of M1 Macs not being the best for gaming is a lack of Silicon-optimized games.
Many of the games you’ll find there are only compatible with x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit operating system). They haven’t been optimized for the Apple Hardware just yet, but it looks like developers are working on it.
Whereas most of the games are not even oriented to this new setup. That’s why you can’t picture playing every game on an M1 Mac.
#3. Fan-less Designs
Most new MacBook models are now fan-less, which means they offer an even quieter user experience. However, this also means people will not be able to hear what you’re doing on your computer screen if you have a nearby conversation going on.
Although Apple claims that the silicon core is ultra-powerful and stays cooler than one could imagine under pressure, I would recommend being cautious with it. Although you can theoretically play games for hours at a time without overheating, you do start to feel discomfort when pushing it just a little too hard.
So if you want to continue playing this game without having it become too frustrating, then either change the settings or stop playing for a while.
#4. Non-Gaming Keyboards
Although it may seem insignificant at first glance, keyboard preference is crucial. Unlike the scaled down or mechanical keyboards that are adjusted for gaming purposes, Mac keyboards are not designed to be perfect for gamers.
The keys here are more of a chiclet style, and they feel less clacky than those found on other laptops. However, this particular laptop lacks one of the most common keyboard mechanisms found in many other laptops – the dreaded (but thankfully gone) butterfly mechanism. It might not offer much for gamers, but it’s definitely an improvement from what came before it.
Is it worth waiting for the 2022 MacBook Air?
There is a possibility that the MacBook Air 2022 will have a refined version of the M1 chip or even the M2 processor that will make the wait worthwhile and take things to the next level.
Is MacBook Air OK for gaming?
To ensure the best gaming experience, you need a graphics card and processor that are dedicated to gaming. Gaming is not possible on the MacBook Air because of its 60Hz display.
Is the MacBook Air a touch screen?
The Macbook Air does not have a touchscreen, but the touchpad is excellent enough to make up for it.
So is the MacBook Air good for gaming? I would say it depends. The truth is, it does so to a very little degree.
Dude, I’ve told you so many times that Macs are only good for productivity. They did not have enough firepower to do anything else; it was never made for gaming purposes.
Nevertheless, you can use them for some light gaming. You can run many of the Mac-optimized games at low settings on a MacBook Air without running into too much trouble. And the M1’s 2020 model is doing even better in this regard – perfect for those who want to do some casual gaming.
Yes, it may not be worth the buy if you’re looking for something that has a lot of graphics, but M1 Air will satisfy every person who is willing to give up their need for graphical perfection.
Lastly, if you want to buy a Mac for gaming purposes only then go for the 16 MacBook Pro. This laptop doesn’t have the new M1 chip but still has an Intel Core i7 9th Gen CPU and comes with a dedicated GPU. Compared to other macs such as the Air, this one will give you excellent performance across all games – even though it may take up some more space than desired while being just slightly heavier than other laptops.