So exactly which mac can run "ultra"

running a 2012 "Thin iMac" 27. i7, 32GB, packed to the gills with every option... still cant run ultra without stutter..

yeah, yeah... i know Mac's aren't Gaming machines... but seriously... is there something i'm missing to get the best performance out of WoW?
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90 Human Rogue
4960
I've been asking myself this question for a number of years now. Sadly, under OS X, none of them.

I believe that there are two problems, with the first problem being the main cause. The first issue is that OS X currently only supports Open GL 3.2, whereas 4.0 is the latest version (hopefully OS X 10.9 offers this). And then, as a result, Blizzard has to make due with what they're offered, so the game's performance suffers.

It's a shame, because running the game on the same exact hardware through Windows results in a way better game play experience. So hopefully Apple can get with it and give their OS a current version of the Open GL API.
Edited by Jfods on 3/20/2013 6:31 PM PDT
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83 Blood Elf Priest
0
The version of an API hardly affects its performance. The amount of effort spent optimizing the programs that implement that API, however, can be a major factor in how smoothly it functions.
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90 Draenei Warrior
15750
The version of an API hardly affects its performance. The amount of effort spent optimizing the programs that implement that API, however, can be a major factor in how smoothly it functions.


Err, applications don't implement the OpenGL API. Apple provides the implementation of the API (see /System/Library/Frameworks/OpenGL.framework), which applications such as WoW use as a library.

You can think of it as sort of a stack. The graphics card is at the bottom. Above that is the driver, which interfaces directly with the graphics hardware, and is usually written by the graphics card vendor. Application writers don't want to have to write a separate set of instructions for every card, which is where OpenGL comes in -- between the driver and the application. The OpenGL API provides a standard set of functions that application writers can use to write graphics code for any graphics hardware that supports the standard.

So there are basically three levels of software:

1. Graphics driver - written by the graphics hardware vendor, last software point before the graphics hardware
2. OpenGL implementation - the API is maintained by the Khronos group, but there does need to be a concrete implementation (provided by Apple in this case)
3. Application (e.g. World of Warcraft) - uses OpenGL API calls to draw graphics

The graphics driver has to be good at talking to the hardware, the OpenGL has to be good at talking to the graphics driver(s), and the application has to be good at making OpenGL calls (and everything else the application does, such as sound, HID input, etc). If any of the three layers has a flaw, performance will suffer accordingly.
Edited by Phine on 3/20/2013 11:46 PM PDT
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90 Human Warrior
4840

I believe that there are two problems, with the first problem being the main cause. The first issue is that OS X currently only supports Open GL 3.2, whereas 4.0 is the latest version (hopefully OS X 10.9 offers this). And then, as a result, Blizzard has to make due with what they're offered, so the game's performance suffers.

It's a shame, because running the game on the same exact hardware through Windows results in a way better game play experience. So hopefully Apple can get with it and give their OS a current version of the Open GL API.


You need to stop thinking about the spec version...

The spec version dictates features more than anything else, not performance. You can have a current version and have terrible performance, or an older spec version with great performance.

In saying that though, some of the features in the newer versions of the api can be used to speed up performance in games, if the games are written to take advantage of those features.

And although OSX only has 3.2 core... None of Blizzards games are using that profile. All of them are still written against OpenGL 2.1.

So OSX getting OpenGL 4.x isn't magically going to make WoW go any faster without some work from Blizzard.
Edited by Boland on 3/21/2013 5:00 AM PDT
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90 Human Rogue
4960
Thank you everyone for the informative answers. So I guess it really relies upon Apple providing better graphic drivers and Blizzard putting more attention and effort into the Mac client. It seems like there has been an ongoing problem since Cataclysm with poor Mac performance (stutter, poor performance with shadows and liquid effects, etc.)

I hope it gets resolved sooner than later.
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90 Human Rogue
4960
So not to hijack the thread, I too would like to know what can be done to maximize performance on Mac. It's been an issue with every Mac I've owned over the years ever since Cataclysm it seems.

Currently I am running a 21.5" iMac with 8gb of ram, Fusion, and a GT 650m. It is up to date with 10.8.3. I run no add ons.

I have tried everything, lowering settings or turning off settings (like multi sampling and texture filtering, view distance, shadows, liquid detail, light shafts, SSAO, etc), turning certain combinations of settings on and off (v sycn off with a frame rate cap of 60 or 30 - still loads of tearing, fooling with audio settings), resetting the SMC and PRAM and all that stuff, nothing seems to help at all!

Whatever the settings are frame rates still drop and stutter. The hardware isn't the problem when a Windows machine with the same specs offers a better experience.

I know I am preaching to the choir at this point, but it's frustrating.
Edited by Jfods on 3/21/2013 9:08 AM PDT
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10 Dwarf Hunter
30
Jfods,

That is terrible news. I am just about to upgrade to your exact machine, although with more memory (16Gb) and I'm still debating between i5 and i7.

I don't feel like I need to run on Ultra, but I expect to run on High with excellent performance. Is that unrealistic?

If I spend $2200 on a new iMac and get stuttering, I'm going to be really upset.
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90 Human Rogue
4960
Jfods,

That is terrible news. I am just about to upgrade to your exact machine, although with more memory (16Gb) and I'm still debating between i5 and i7.

I don't feel like I need to run on Ultra, but I expect to run on High with excellent performance. Is that unrealistic?

If I spend $2200 on a new iMac and get stuttering, I'm going to be really upset.


I may be pickier than most in regard to performance (I've had several gaming PCs in the past too), but to try to remain at a steady 60 FPS with vsync has me at Fair/Good settings.

Anything around Good/High (vysnc enabled) and it is usually sitting at 30fps, with the frequent drop to 20fps territory. Sometimes around Good it can acheive 60fps, but it never lasts. It always goes to 30 and then it isn't even a solid 30fps.

:(

Maybe it's me? I usually like to have at LEAST 2x multi sampling and 2x texture filtering, and then of course some graphical effects like at least fair shadows, fair liquid detail, and projected textures. Not sure anymore, just wish we could tap into the performance of our machines and not have some crippled experience.
Edited by Jfods on 3/21/2013 10:35 AM PDT
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10 Dwarf Hunter
30
Thanks for the quick reply.

BTW, do you have the i5 or i7? I see some references to the i7 possibly having problems with some games, but nothing seems definite. Have you heard this at all?

Money is not an issue for me - would you go with the i5 or i7? I realize it will not make much difference in WoW, unless the i7 causes some display problems. I tend to keep my systems for a long time, so I usually go for the fastest CPU.
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90 Human Rogue
4960
Thanks for the quick reply.

BTW, do you have the i5 or i7? I see some references to the i7 possibly having problems with some games, but nothing seems definite. Have you heard this at all?

Money is not an issue for me - would you go with the i5 or i7? I realize it will not make much difference in WoW, unless the i7 causes some display problems. I tend to keep my systems for a long time, so I usually go for the fastest CPU.


I have an i5. I have heard a few things about performance issues/differences but find them hard to believe. The benefit from the i7 is really the hyper threading. I can't see Wow or any games in general, tapping into that potential any time soon (at least on a Mac none the less). I feel that when an i7 is necessary for gaming, the 2012 iMac will be outdated (faster CPUs using less power, faster ram, better GPU, etc).

That was my logic behind my purchase. Oh and a limited budget :)

I feel that the same logic applies to the amount of ram too. 8gb is fine by todays standards, and when 16gb is necessary, the computer will be updated as it is (faster ram, etc.) Again, a decision partly dictated by a budget.

However, two things. If money is no problem, go i7 and 16gb, I would have. Also, if you do other tasks that will tap into the CPU capabilties of an i7, chances are 16gb will complinent those tasks as well.

So it really comes down to your usage and budget. I usually upgrade every 2 years or so, but I am trying to break that habbit this time around and keep this Mac as long as possible!

Hope this helps!
Edited by Jfods on 3/21/2013 11:37 AM PDT
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MVP - Technical Support
90 Human Warrior
18100
If you get an imac, don't get one with 650. that's just not that powerful for a 21 or 27 inch screen resolution and gaming at that native resolution. you BTO it with a 680MX though and it screams. i've seen people actually running those at ultra just fine. Just don't go stock. stock is always way weaker than BTO (built to order)

Although even that model won't get 60fps on ultra. it'll be more like 30-40
Edited by Omegal on 3/21/2013 3:55 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Warrior
15750
If you get an imac, don't get one with 650. that's just not that powerful for a 21 or 27 inch screen resolution and gaming at that native resolution. you BTO it with a 680MX though and it screams. i've seen people actually running those at ultra just fine. Just don't go stock. stock is always way weaker than BTO (built to order)

Although even that model won't get 60fps on ultra. it'll be more like 30-40


Pretty game
http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7052/screenshot20130321at741.png
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90 Human Rogue
4960
If you get an imac, don't get one with 650. that's just not that powerful for a 21 or 27 inch screen resolution and gaming at that native resolution. you BTO it with a 680MX though and it screams. i've seen people actually running those at ultra just fine. Just don't go stock. stock is always way weaker than BTO (built to order)

Although even that model won't get 60fps on ultra. it'll be more like 30-40


Pretty game
http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7052/screenshot20130321at741.png


Love it! What's your specs on your computer?
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88 Human Paladin
3725
Regarding the Mac OpenGL suck thing (which is totally wrong), I'd like to add that :
- it's true OS X 10.8.3 only implement full OpenGL 3.2 and not 4.x
- but OS X 10.8.3 also implement 5 OpenGL 3.3 extensions and 1 OpenGL 4.1 extension
- (and like someone already mention, there's actually no need of full OpenGL 4.x support for WoW and tbh even for most of the other games)
- it's true that Windows DirectX is better (performance wise) than OS X OpenGL but not too much (just a little more % which in a game like WoW will only translate in a few fps not so much)
- but OS X OpenGL is faster than nVidia or AMD/ATI OpenGL on Windows (for example if you have a Windows 7 Bootcamp partition on your Mac you can test this by yourself using Unigine benchmark which is free), so Apple and nVidia or AMD/ATI OS X OpenGL implementation and drivers don't suck at all!
- if you have a Windows Bootcamp partition you can also install WoW on this partition and test, you'll hardly get a few more fps

The truth (and only real fact) is that iMac come with a MOBILE graphic card (notice the 'M' and the end?) and a BIG screen. So everyone really need to stop expecting playing in Ultra with a iMac (or a Retina Macbook Pro). That's all. You should still play fine in High on a 27" iMac, but not in Ultra.

Apple doesn't make high-end gamers computers.
Edited by Dugnar on 3/22/2013 2:23 PM PDT
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Stutter is a different problem anyway, it seems to be a WoW bug at this point.

It was fixed late in Cata (4.2?) but seems to have come back in MOP.
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I have a new thin 27" iMac with 16GB RAM and 2GB video card - in short, the works. On ultra I'll average around 30-35 fps. Two things that clearly affect fps have been the screen resolution - drop down a bit and you'll pick up about 10-15 fps - but its just not as crisp as I would like. Your view of the horizon also affects it about as much: work as though you are operating 'over you toons shoulder' and I can get as high as 80-90 fps - indoors it is always good. But have your point of view directly behind the toon looking toward the horizon and you are back to 30-35 fps. This shouldn't be on such a model and I have not seen a good reason why. Prior to MoP I had a similar iMac 1Gb video and 12GB RAM and would get around 60 fps often higher. Only with the expansion did I see the fps plummet - on the first week frame rates were so low (5-10fps!) that it was unplayable even with good bandwidth. It improved thereafter so the game was playable, but never above 25-30 fps, often around 18 (or lower while in flight). WHatever problem there is, at least in my hands on my two top end models, they came with MoP: I doubt it is the hardware. Just my two cents - good luck to each of you, please share your success stories should you have them!
Edited by Stello on 3/22/2013 10:05 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Warrior
15750
Love it! What's your specs on your computer?


Same as the OP, 680MX, but only 8GB of RAM. The screenshot is cheating a bit, I'm facing the open water. I could have draw distance at minimum and the screenshot would look practically the same. From my testing with this machine, the biggest killer is draw distance. Set to good and you can run everything else ultra, 4x MSAA and never go below 50fps, usually glued to 60. Sometimes out in the world (in Pandaria and Isle of Thunder in particular), dropping to 30fps is worth pushing the draw distance up to ultra.

@Dugnar, OS X OpenGL outperforming Windows OpenGL is nothing, Windows OpenGL has always been horrible and almost disappeared entirely during the Vista days. Linux OpenGL can outperform Windows DirectX, there's no reason we can't hope for reasonably similar results under OS X.
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88 Human Paladin
3725
@Phine: I'd like to see benchmarks of Linux OpenGL outperforming Windows DirectX.

When testing with Unigine benchmark on my 2011 iMac AMD Linux ATI OpenGL perform something like 5% less than Windows 7 AMD OpenGL driver (using latest AMD driver) which already perform almost 10% less than OS X 10.8.3 OpenGL.
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90 Draenei Warrior
15750
http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/133824-valve-opengl-is-faster-than-directx-even-on-windows

I guess they note the efficiency of the Linux kernel, something we obviously don't have in OS X (woooo Mach).

Associated slashdot article where I first saw it: http://games.slashdot.org/story/12/08/02/1738229/is-it-time-for-an-opengl-gaming-revolution
Edited by Phine on 3/23/2013 1:44 AM PDT
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