The WoW Performance Guide For Macs

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90 Tauren Warrior
9265
The World of Warcraft Performance Guide For Macs - Updated 10/17/2013

Introduction

1-A. Current Conditions of an Evolving Game

World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving and growing game. Right now, Sunshafts and Liquid Detail are sucking the life out of performance on most machines because of OS X being stuck on an older version of OpenGL. This will however see significant improvements with OS X 10.9 Mavericks once Blizzard decides to make use of it some time after its release.

Current End Game 25-Man Raid Minimum System Requirements:

Mac OS X 10.7.5
2.2 GHz Intel Core i5 or later
4GB of System Memory
ATI Radeon 5870 or nVidia GeForce GT330m with 512MB of VRAM or better

Expect an average of 30fps on similar machines at minimum settings.

Note that this is the estimated minimum requirements for a 25-man raid, not the minimum requirements listed on the box, which was balanced around solo-play. Raids have higher requirements than say, wandering around the Barrens.

1-B. Things To Know Before Changing Any Settings

For the sake of keeping the actual settings section of this guide clean and easy to read, I'm going to list most all of the innate, machine unspecific requirements here.

10.7 Lion users should be at 10.7.5, and 10.8 Mountain Lion users should be at 10.8.5.

There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't have the latest software for your chosen OS. This software fixes bugs, enhances your security, and improves the overall stability of your computer. It's free and its simple to get.

To get the latest possible software for your Mac's version of OS X, go to the Apple icon on the top left corner of your desktop, click the "Software Update" option from the list, and then download everything on the list that pops up.

You can check to see what version you're running by clicking on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your desktop, and then clicking the "About This Mac" option on the drop-down list.

Limiting the in-game frame rate to 30 or 60fps will help keep your Mac cool and prevent overheating. The MacBooks and Macbook Pros especially tend to run a little bit hot being in that nice tiny form factor. To limit the frame rate, type in the following into the standard WoW chat box while playing the game.

/console maxfps 60

"60" being the value of whatever number you want to cap it at.

The Settings

From this point on, this guide will assume the following:

1. You have at LEAST 4GB of RAM in your computer, 8GB is preferred.

2. You did not launch your macbook into low Earth orbit just to see how gravity works.

3. You have all of the latest updates for your version of OS X.

4. If you can run the 64-bit build of the game, I will assume you are.

Notice: Unfortunately I hit the text cap within a single post when trying to update this guide, as there are simply too many Mac models out there now. So I've decided to come at this from a completely different angle.

The vast majority of Macs sold now shouldn't have any trouble running WoW, unlike when this guide was originally written back in 2008. So I've decided to remove the huge list of various Mac models. All of those models were over two years old anyway. Instead, I will have you follow these basic guidelines to help you tune the settings for your system.

iMacs

As a general rule, even the very best iMacs use mobile (aka, laptop) video cards, and most of the iMacs force those lower powered cards to run big screens at very high resolutions. So don't expect to get the same performance from an iMac as a similar desktop system. The lower-end iMacs either use integrated graphics, or a lower-end video card. So you'll want to keep your settings on the main slider around "Fair" or "High". If you want better performance, the most demanding graphics settings you'll want to turn down are the View Distance, Shadows, SSAO, Liquid Detail, and Sunshafts.

Ground Clutter and Particle Density will have a smaller impact if turning down the above settings aren't enough. If you can deal with the more pixelated look, turning down the game's Resolution will have a huge impact on increasing game performance.

MacBooks

I'll just say this right now, If you're on a 13" Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro, there's an extremely high chance all you have is either Intel or nVidia integrated graphics. There was only ever a couple 13" models that ever had a real graphics cards in them. Though the newest Macbook Airs released in the summer of 2013 had Intel's new Iris Pro GMA 5200 integrated graphics, which seems to run the game decently well at "Fair" to "High" settings at the screen's native resolution.

15" Macbook Pros do have dedicated graphcs cards however, and will run the game much better. If you want a laptop that will play WoW well, get a 15" inch.

If you want better performance, the most demanding graphics settings you'll want to turn down are the View Distance, Shadows, SSAO, Liquid Detail, and Sunshafts. Ground Clutter and Particle Density will have a smaller impact if turning down the above settings aren't enough.

3-B. Past Changes

- 10/17/13: Changed the format of the guide completely.
- 03/21/12: Added Late 2011 Mac Models, updated to represent 64-bit performance.
- 04/22/11: Added Late 2010 Macbook Air, notes on integrated graphics.
- 12/14/10: Updated for Cataclysm, lowering some settings to accommodate slow performance.
- 10/14/10: Revamped settings for new graphics interface. Removed older Mac Models.
- 04/28/10: Added newest Mac models, revamped settings to uniform 60fps across all models.
- 02/12/10: Revised, condensed, and corrected small typos.
- 12/01/09: Added Snow Leopard and newest Mac models. Removed PowerPC Macs.
- 04/21/09: Updated settings to match the new scheme in patch 3.1.
- 03/13/09: Added early 2009 Mac models.
- 11/20/08: Updated new information after Wrath of The Lich King launched.
- 10/08/08: Complete & utter overhaul in preparation for WoTLK.
- 03/30/08: Updated findings for patch 2.4.
- 02/13/08: Added details concerning the OS X 10.5.2 Leopard Graphics Update.
- 02/07/08: Included PowerPC G4, G5, and newest Core 2 models.
Edited by Stoneblade on 10/17/2013 9:21 PM PDT
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90 Tauren Warrior
9265
Just adding the existing performance guide to the new forums. Hope people find it useful.
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Support Forum Agent
Stickied. Again. ;)
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90 Tauren Warrior
9265
Ooo! Thank you!
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90 Night Elf Rogue
11705
I strongly suggest you add Mac Pros to this list including the standard video cards and the upgraded cards if at all possible. (I game on an '09 Mac Pro myself).
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90 Tauren Warrior
9265
As I mentioned in the old forums, I didn’t add them originally because at the time I made the first iteration of this guide, the “Video Card Upgrade” sticky already had the Mac Pros covered. However that thread soon fell to neglect and disrepair. So I was going to add the Mac Pros to this thread a revision or two ago.

But my working situation changed, and I don’t have access to any Mac Pros anymore. I can only add the models I can personally test. The moment I get my hands on multiple Mac Pros to test the variances between them, I’ll do so.
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- Technical Support
90 Human Priest
6120
I'm assuming this guide is for when 10.6.5 is actually released, seeing as unless I've been under my rock for too long, it's still in pre-release starus (latest dev seed came in about 10 hours ago).
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41 Dwarf Hunter
450
Can you put the Model Identifiers back in please it's easier to find your Model.
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80 Orc Shaman
1995
I appreciate your efforts. I too will be looking forward to the Mac Pro updates. Just bought a 2.8 Quad core with the upgraded HD 5870 card. Only 6GB RAM atm, not sure if anymore would help.
Edited by Grumak on 11/6/2010 8:56 AM PDT
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85 Worgen Priest
5485
Very helpful! My 2008 Macbook is running 50 fps now. Much obliged.
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- Technical Support
90 Human Priest
6120
I appreciate your efforts. I too will be looking forward to the Mac Pro updates. Just bought a 2.8 Quad core with the upgraded HD 5870 card. Only 6GB RAM atm, not sure if anymore would help.


I'd kill to know why there are plenty enough 5870s out there for BTOs, but not one single kit available for sale retail for the rest of us Mac Pro owners wanting to upgrade.
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- Technical Support
90 Human Warrior
18580
I appreciate your efforts. I too will be looking forward to the Mac Pro updates. Just bought a 2.8 Quad core with the upgraded HD 5870 card. Only 6GB RAM atm, not sure if anymore would help.

I'd kill to know why there are plenty enough 5870s out there for BTOs, but not one single kit available for sale retail for the rest of us Mac Pro owners wanting to upgrade.


actually, the apple store has FINALLY started selling them in last couple days (at least they are taking orders now). however they still have no available ship time. but it's a step up. Maybe they were waiting for 10.6.5 all this time before selling kit? BTO they kind of had to ship with crappy drivers, cause it'd be dumb to not offer them card then make them upgrade 2 months after buying a new mac. But for everyone else maybe they just wanted to wait for 10.6.5 so the card wouldn't suck so bad for us?

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC743ZM/A?mco=MTY3ODQ5OTY
Edited by Omegal on 11/7/2010 9:58 AM PST
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54 Tauren Hunter
600
I have a iMac (Core 2 Duo 2.8 Ghz), 4 GB memory, and a ATI Radeon 2600 video card with 256 MB Vram.

Should I follow the "Core 2 Duo iMac with ATI 4670 Graphics Card" guide?

Also, if I want to set my view distance to high, what should I lower to compensate?

Thanks!
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90 Tauren Warrior
9265
Sadly the ATI x2600 Apple used in it’s iMacs was severely underclocked, and performed WORSE than the x1600 card at just about every test I threw at it. I removed the model completely from the list when I couldn’t get it past 15fps in any kind of party or city situation after 4.0.

Follow the GT130 set if you want to, but know that the 2600 won’t perform well no matter how low you set the settings. The GT320 integrated solution actually does almost twice as good.
Edited by Stoneblade on 11/8/2010 3:35 AM PST
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54 Tauren Hunter
600
Sadly the ATI x2600 Apple used in it’s iMacs was severely underclocked, and performed WORSE than the x1600 card at just about every test I threw at it. I removed the model completely from the list when I couldn’t get it past 15fps in any kind of party or city situation after 4.0.


Ugh. Fantastic. :-( Well thank you for the info.

I suppose there is not much I can do except hope that 10.6.5 will fix this a bit.

Or get a new machine.
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85 Draenei Priest
4025
Greetings.

While your efforts here are appreciated and laudable, I must point out that your information- at least as it pertains to the system specs of my own computer- are frankly WRONG.

On a late 2009 iMac i7 (ATI 4850), the sunshaft/water settings you list drastically reduce performance.

Raising the water effects level above fair reduces the frame rate to 15fps, regardless of any other setting.
Turning on sunshafts AT ALL reduces the frame rate to 15fps, regardless of any other setting.

This is on a computer with 4gb of RAM, the above-mentioned processor/graphics setup, and running the fresh and new 10.6.5. This is with GLL.

I'm not sure what is going on now, but it is very frustrating to have a machine running at ULTRA settings in 3.3.x now reduced to "good" settings with bad water and no sunshafts.
Edited by Strict on 11/11/2010 9:18 PM PST
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85 Human Rogue
8680

I'm not sure what is going on now, but it is very frustrating to have a machine running at ULTRA settings in 3.3.x now reduced to "good" settings with bad water and no sunshafts.


Because what was Ultra in 3.3.x is probably somewhere between Good and High in the scale of 4.0.x. Every expansion Blizzard ups the graphic quality but they don't add 'Super Ultra' or anything to the end of the scale, instead they recalibrate it. The new Ultra is designed for the very latest and most powerful gaming machines.
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- Technical Support
90 Human Warrior
18580
I'm not sure what is going on now, but it is very frustrating to have a machine running at ULTRA settings in 3.3.x now reduced to "good" settings with bad water and no sunshafts.


you're complaining that your ultra settings from before match your current settings? ultra in 3.3.5 was old water, no sunshafts, so running 4.x at those settings is still your old ultra, but with a new name. nothing more. just like ultra view is equal to high view now, fair ground clutter, and fair or good object view distance (not sure which)...settings have a new names but your 3.3.5 fps shouldn't be any different than 4.x fps at the actual equivilent settings. if you think the new ultra is same as old ultra you are very incorrect

that said, 4.x still has some stutter bugs, which isn't so much related to fps but in loading, but it makes fps tank as a side effect (they climb back up once stuff is loaded)...this happens regardless of settings but naturally gets worse the more loaded at a time (such as view distance)...THAT i hope the devs address. but the majority basis of your complaint is that you don't like that your setting doesn't say "ultra" anymore, even though nothings changed visual wise from what you had going on in 3.3.5
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85 Draenei Priest
4025
Fine. All of that said, the water and sunshafts issue is unresolved, as is the fact that the graphics listing in the ORIGINAL POST in this thread is incorrect, at least for my machine.

Sunshafts at anything other than "off" and water at anything above "fair" dumps fps to 15. The guide here says I should be at "good" and "low". It is incorrect.
Edited by Strict on 11/12/2010 4:44 AM PST
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- Technical Support
90 Human Warrior
18580
yes that much is true strict. they take way more performance than they really should. i use sunshafts off and water fair on my system cause i know they subtrack about 30fps. I also see a lot of bad stutter in certain areas, worst being strand of the ancients.

however, i still get 62fps everywhere but dalaran with my settings just as i did in 3.3.5 cause they are compariable to 3.3.5, not ultra across the board, when not stuttering from the bad loading bugs in 4.x
Edited by Omegal on 11/12/2010 9:51 AM PST
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