Having a Mac is fantastic, although sometimes we Mac owners are left in the dark by game developers that choose not to make a game Mac-compatible. It's understandable, since most Macs are lacking in the graphics department when compared to their PC brethren, but now more than ever there seems to be a lack of decent macOS-supported AAA games.
Don't worry Mac gamers - there are still ways to play your favourite PC games on your Mac. From the reliable Boot Camp method to cloud-based streaming services for Mac, here's how you can play PC games on Mac.
GeForce Now for Mac
Pros: Easy to use, no downloading required, access to huge library of AAA games
Cons: Requires high-speed internet connection and recommends Ethernet cable over Wi-Fi
One of the easiest and best ways to play PC games on a Mac is to use Nvidia's cloud-based game streaming service for macOS and Mac OS X users, GeForce Now for Mac. GeForce Now for Mac is available right now in beta form across Europe and the US, and allows users to play a range of games from their Steam or Battle.net accounts instantly, without any need to worry about the graphical power of their machines.
Why? All the processing is handled by Nvidia at sites scattered across Europe. The game is powered remotely and is sent to your Mac at high speeds via the internet - so high, in fact, that the lag is barely noticeable, even in online multiplayer games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. All the games have been optimised for streaming, meaning you'll get the best visuals possible without tweaking any in-game options.
Oh, and because it's streamed and Nvidia stores a cached version of each available game on the servers, there's no need to wait for downloads either - once selected, you should be playing the game within 30 seconds.
The best part? It's completely free for Mac users while it's in beta. So, if you're a Mac gamer with a vast PC game library on Steam or Battle.net, GeForce Now for Mac is the best option available right now - simply head to the Nvidia site to apply to take part in the beta.
Pros: Full cloud-based Windows 10 experience. High-end specs for gaming.
Cons: Requires a high-speed internet connection. Expensive monthly subscription.
If you like the idea of a cloud-based service but want the full Windows experience, Shadow is the ideal solution for Mac gamers. Unlike Nvidia's service, Shadow provides users with a full copy of Windows 10, allowing you to install a variety of launchers (Steam, Origin, Epic Games Store, etc) and change settings as you would on a PC.
It's tailored for gaming, offering a GTX 1080 equivalent and 12GB of DDR4 RAM, providing up to [email protected] gameplay, and it'll be upgraded free of charge as technology improves. There's also 256GB of storage on offer, allowing you to install multiple games at once. There are apps available for not only macOS but Windows 10, iOS and Android too, allowing you to access your virtual PC from almost any device.
Another benefit of Shadow is internet speeds; the virtual computer offers 1GB/s download speeds and 100Mb/s upload speeds, providing lightning fast game downloads and updates.
It is pricy at £26.95 per month, and activation wait times can vary, but we are very impressed by the high quality, low-latency cloud gaming experience that Shadow offers.
Pros: Cost-efficient Windows experience on a Mac.
Cons: Takes more hard drive space.
If you truly want the authentic Windows experience on a Mac without paying for Shadow's cloud gaming service, you should partition your hard drive using Boot Camp and run Windows 10 on a separate partition or drive. This does mean you will have to sacrifice hard drive space from your Mac in order to run Windows.
If you're going to be installing Windows on your Mac, we suggest running Windows 10, as you'll soon be able to play Xbox Play Anywhere games too. Meaning you'll be able to play both your favourite Windows and Xbox games on your Mac - as long as it's powerful enough.
We also suggest allowing enough space on your Mac-Windows partition, as your games will take a considerable amount of space. For example, a game like Battlefield V can take in excess of 40GB, so be warned. You can always change your partition size once you've sectioned off the drive, but it can create problems. See our guide on how to partition your Mac's hard drive or SSD.
For a full guide on how to use Boot Camp and install Windows, we suggest checking our dedicated article on how to run Windows 10 on Mac using Boot Camp.
Pros: Run Windows and Mac side-by-side.
Cons: Performance hit. Expensive.
Using virtualisation software allows you to run both Windows and Mac at the same time. This means you can switch between the operating systems at the click of a button.
The major downside to running virtualisation software for gaming is the performance hit you'll experience. Unlike Boot Camp, which runs the operating systems on two separate partitions, virtualisation software use the same partition to create a 'virtual desktop'. This means that gaming is severely hit by performance limitations, as your Mac still has to run another operating system in the background.
If you're looking to play certain games casually or have games that don't require a lot of processing power, then virtualisation software might be your best bet.
Most software costs money, alongside the actual Windows license you'll need, so it's not the most cost-effective solution, but it's relatively hassle-free.
If you're looking at which is the best virtualisation software, or want to know how to run it, see our dedicated article on Parallels, VMware, VirtualBox - the best virtualisation tools for your Mac.
Pros: Cost effective.
Cons: Technical and not fully compatible with all games.
Wine is a way to have an additional layer on your Mac which essentially tells your Mac to run Windows Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In other words, using your Mac to run Windows programs without any error messages.
Wine is not to be confused with an emulator, but works off the same principle - emulating an operating system within another, in this case, Windows in macOS.
Wine can be hard to get your head around -especially if you want to fully utilise it - and there's no 100 percent guarantee that Wine will work with the game you want to play. Often you'll find that newer games struggle to run without crashing, whilst older games that have a lot more support and patches run more smoothly.
On the plus side, this solution is completely free to try. If you've got some time on your hands and want to experiment, we would suggest trying Wine as a means to play your favourite Windows games on a Mac. There are other solutions, such as Boxer, which is for you old school DOS gamers out there!