The QA Team’s Favorite Macs for Gaming

Posted by Mac QA Team on August 13, 2013 in Editorial -- Share:

Now that we’ve shared the Best Overall Macs for gaming in a previous article, we have to tell you about our own personal favorites. 

Leia: As you may have guessed, I believe the 15-inch MacBook Pro is the best overall Mac for gaming. But this part isn’t about practicality, it’s about what I love most in my heart, and that’s going to be a MacBook Air. My first Air model from 2008 was flimsy, slow and just lacking in promise; I considered it as stable as a Diet Coke can. To my complete surprise, the new models from 2011 and newer are total all-stars and I keep an 11inch and a 13-inch model on my desk. This is in part because I need to check compatibility because yes, these aren’t going to be compatible with 100% of our games and that is a major bummer to serious gamers. But the great majority of the time they are a portable and lightweight option for me to play my games, and I find that I just want to bring them everywhere.

During the day I run around a lot talking to people and having impromptu meetings, and I need a Mac that can do all that with me. I love having an Air handy to reproduce a bug right on the spot if I’m working with another tester, and the new ones are so quick that they cut down on time transferring builds. At home, I keep it near when I’m in the kitchen so that I can grab a few levels of a Time Management game while my favorite banana bread is baking. I bring it into the den so I can keep playing while I’m chatting with my husband or we watch TV, and I love to bring it with me on plane trips, where a Match 3 game is just the best comfort. I can’t wait to see what they do to improve further models (I heard they are trying for a Retina model if they can keep costs low), and it’s the Mac I would buy for a loved one.

On your air, try a long Match 3 game like 4 Elements II, or a great HOPA like Phantasmat, the kind of games you just can’t stop playing and want to take with you everywhere.

Jason: When Apple first announced the Retina display, it got my ears perked up. Being a Video major and studying and learning way too much about display technology, I was amazed by what they were offering. I set my expectations high, and boy did Apple deliver a perfect product right into my awaiting hands.

The first thing that impressed me with the Retina is the sheer power under the hood. When it comes to playing games, being able to run a game smoothly with no interruptions is key, especially when dealing with seconds between getting an expert/gold time and having to start the level over again. I have never once had trouble getting a game to play perfectly, and sometimes, I feel like I have to catch up to my Retina’s speed, not the other way around.

When it comes to why the 15-inch Retina is my favorite Mac hardware, look no further than it’s name, the “Retina Display.” The best way to demonstrate the difference between a Retina display and a regular display is to pull up some vector images, say for instance a page of text. Put two laptops side by side and pull up your favorite web page full of text, and start to realize the future of display technology. However, text is not the only thing that looks gorgeous, pull up your favorite Big Fish Game, and marvel at how crisp and clear the graphics look (I always suggest pulling up a Big Fish Studios game like Drawn or Fairway, and marvel at just how good the artwork looks).

The combination of power and jaw-dropping visuals make the Mac Book Retina Display my Mac of choice. To get an idea of another fun game to play on the Retina, I recommend Ancient Rome 2.

Alex: My favorite Mac in our lab is the 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display. The first time I held it, I just knew it was my new favorite Mac. It’s not the most objective way to evaluate a computer but I think you can tell a lot about any piece of technology just by the way it looks and feels. In this case, it looks and feels absolutely right. It’s the pinnacle of Mac design.

Of course, the retina screen is the big highlight on this machine. When I’ve used any retina screen for an extended period of time and switched back to a non-retina screen, the change is jarring. Suddenly, everything feels pixelated and blurry. The retina screen is just so pleasant on the eyes. When I’m using it, it feels like I’m giving my eyes a rest much like looking out my office window at the Puget Sound. Games like Nightmares From The Deep: The Siren’s Call Collector’s Edition look amazing on a screen like this. The game’s beautiful artwork and intense cinematic scenes engage you that much more due to those tiny, beautiful retina pixels.

The size, feel, power, and portability are all perfect on this little beast. Other Mac laptops feel like you’re sacrificing one feature to gain another. This laptop has the Goldilocks ‘just right’ feel to it. If I were to buy a new Mac for myself today (or steal one from the Mac Lab,) it would definitely be this one. She’s a thing of beauty.

Mike: For me, iMacs hold more appeal than MacBooks. I’m not someone who does a lot of gaming on the go (and when I do it’s on a tablet or my phone) and the bigger screen on an iMac make games and movies look brilliant.

To my mind, playing a fun game like Bejeweled 3 or Calavera: Day of the Dead Collector’s Edition on one of these machines is definitely the way to go – really immerse oneself in the colorful visuals. Here in the pond my main testing system is an OS X 10.7 iMac.

For several years a MacBook Pro was my computer of choice. At that time I did quite a lot of video editing and needed it’s sheer power. These days, though, the smaller footprint of the iMac really fits my needs and for playing or testing even the most demanding Casual Games it’s more than enough.

Is there a Mac that has stolen your heart, or perhaps one that got away? Let us know in the comments!

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The Mac QA team are Leia, Alex, Mike and Jason. In their free time they enjoy tator tots, television, Danish walks, OS updates and, of course, video games of all kinds. Everyone on the team has a true passion for all things entertainment and technology related. They bring that same excitement and critical eye to the job of making sure Mac customers have the best gaming experience anywhere.

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