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How You Can Game On a Macbook

So, you have a MacBook. You want to game, but a gaming PC is $700 or more. What to do? As you may have seen in our "Why Macbooks are bad for gaming" article, the main culprit is the graphics. All of Apple's laptops aside from their 16" pro use integrated graphics. And the 16" Pro is impractical because it starts at an abnormal $2,400. So, what solutions are there?

The first one is called, "don't buy an iPhone X". This also works with an iPhone 11. If you regularly buy some of the newest smartphones, you'll be spending around $1000. By keeping your older phone for one more year, you'll be able to spend the $1000 you saved on buying a gaming PC. Simple as that. Think about it, if you already have an iPhone 8, iPhone X, or a comparable Samsung phone, what do you get from dropping another 1k? Slightly better camera? A different, quite possibly less secure way to sign in to your phone? Even if you love those features, it's probably a better use of your money to acquire a powerful computer. A PC would also be upgradeable by swapping parts, "future-proofing" it somewhat.

The second solution is a trade-in. Although not efficient, this would work if you were already leaning towards getting the Pro 16", and wanted to save some money. If you bought your Macbook with a high storage option, you could get up to around $1000 for trading it in to the Apple store. This reduces the price of the 16" Pro to around $1400 baseline, and the Pro is an extremely powerful machine. The baseline model includes Radeon 5300M graphics (4gb GDDR6 RAM), 16gb DDR4 RAM, a 6-core i7 processor, and obviously Apple's great OS. This strategy would grant you a dynamic computer with the capabilities to run most games as well as video edit at a professional level. The reason you could only get a Pro 16" instead of, say, a ThinkPad is that you will not be able to trade in a MacBook for as much money to another company. The downside to getting a Pro 16" is that in 4 years, the Pro may not be regarded as very powerful.

The last solution you could try is an eGPU enclosure, or external graphics processing unit enclosure. This is a box that you plug into a laptop via Thunderbolt 3, and then into the wall. Inside, there are 1 to 3 PCIe slots for graphics cards. Additionally, there is a sizable power supply for those graphics cards and for charging your laptop. The best eGPU we could find was the Razer Core X. There are two versions, the Razer Core X and the Razer Core Chroma, but sacrilegiously we have to advise you to steer clear of the chroma version as it is a good $100 more. This one includes 3 PCIe ports and a 650-watt power supply. 375w are allocated to powering the GPU(s), and 100w are available for laptop charging. Unfortunately, only AMD graphics are supported, so you can't put any GeForce series GPUs in. However, the Radeon or Vega series are still very capable GPUs, and you can choose what level of power you want. The Core X costs $300, and a decent graphics card will set you back another $150. However, this is still cheaper than building a different PC. Apple's processors are already adequate in general, so pairing a GPU along with that will make the Macbook viable gaming machine. A downside of this is that repeatedly overclocking your processor can eventually cause damage to it, and while this isn't a huge problem on a PC since you could customize the processor more and you could swap it out if it was damaged, a Macbook Pro's i5 processor would not be replaceable and damaging it would result in you having to replace the whole $2000 machine. Getting a better processor on an Apple device also costs you a lot more money than getting a better processor on a PC. For example, upgrading from an i5 to an i7 on a Pro costs $300 while the cost difference, in reality, is around $100.

I think there is one reliable solution: the eGPU. I can't affect if you normally buy a nice phone, and the trade-in solution only works if you really wanted a nice Apple device. Although it's deplorably expensive and altogether impractical, the eGPU is the only way you can game effectively on a MacBook.


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