Is Apple or PC best for gaming?

Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS are the two most popular operating systems, and they’re both relatively accessible to the average user. While neither is terribly difficult to use, they have considerably different pros and cons and are most useful for very different things.

If you want a smooth user experience, like to work with audio, photo or video editing software and only casually play some low-impact games, an Apple computer is a great choice. If you have any interest in playing the latest AAA titles at high resolutions and frame rates, a Windows PC is an absolute must-have.

Apple gaming computers

The first difference between Apple and Windows computers is that Apple allows for basically zero customization on the hardware level. In fact, it’s a violation of Apple’s copyright to install macOS on a non-Apple computer, which means you can’t actually build your own Apple computer.

The advantage of this from Apple’s standpoint is it can optimize its operating system to work best with specific components and configurations that Apple has complete control over. The result of this optimization is an OS that makes efficient use of the hardware and delivers an unparalleled user experience. Tweaking your Windows PC to run just right can take some insight and patience, but macOS is powerful and easy to use from the first time you boot it up.

Unfortunately, if you want to play the latest, most cutting-edge 3D games, Apple and its operating system don’t have much going for them. Because few Apple computers have the necessary hardware, there are very few advanced games available for the platform. On the other hand, there are plenty of casual games available for macOS, such as top-down adventure games and puzzle games.

Apple gaming computer pros

  • Great for non-gaming uses: Apple PCs are incredibly popular for photo and video editors. This is partly because programs like Adobe Photoshop are optimized to run smoothly on macOS and partly because Apple’s display quality is generally unmatched in terms of resolution and color accuracy.
  • User-friendly experience: For the most part, Apple computers work perfectly out of the box with little to no configuration or tweaking.
  • Fun casual games: There’s a decent selection of games that work with Macs. In particular, the new M1 chipset that powers the latest round of MacBooks is relatively good at medium-impact games like The Sims 4, Stardew Valley and Slay the Spire. There’s also a good variety of exciting, fast-paced games from just a few years ago that are confirmed to work on the new chipset. These include Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Bioshock Remastered.

Apple gaming computer cons

  • High prices: Apple computers consistently cost more than Windows PCs with comparable hardware.
  • Subpar performance: The components inside Apple computers simply aren’t powerful enough to run the latest 3D games.
  • Limited premium game catalog: Since the code it runs on is so different from Windows, macOS lacks support for many games. A developer has to spend significant resources to create a macOS-compatible version of a game written for Windows, and few large outfits take the time to do that because Apples lack the necessary firepower for high-end graphics.

Best Apple computers for gaming

2020 Apple MacBook Air M1

2020 Apple MacBook Air M1

This is a good all-around laptop with high performance due to its groundbreaking new Apple chipset. It offers great performance on casual games and passable performance in more intense 3D titles.

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2020 MacBook Pro M1

2020 MacBook Pro M1

If you want to play the most resource-intensive games available to Mac users, consider the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 instead. Its 14-core graphics processing delivers high frame rates in a wide variety of exciting titles.

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Windows gaming computers

Windows PCs are and have been the top choice for dedicated gamers for many years. The ability to build a custom computer lets each user set their own performance level, but it can also add a significant degree of difficulty. Nonetheless, if you want to play flashy first-person shooters in Ultra HD at 120 frames per second, a Windows gaming PC is your only option.

Windows gaming PC pros

  • A nearly endless catalog: One of the biggest upsides of PC gaming is that there’s practically no limit to the selection of games you can play. If your hardware can handle it, you can run nearly any software program released to the platform in the last couple of decades.
  • Impressive performance levels: If you can afford premium hardware and know how to tweak it just right, a Windows PC can deliver performance that even Apple’s top-of-the-line hardware can’t match.
  • Customizable hardware: The ability to pick and choose your components lets you set a specific budget for your gaming PC. By comparison, Apple computers force you to pay a particularly high price regardless of if you’ll use every single one of a MacBook’s premium features.

Windows gaming PC cons

  • Configuration can be a little tricky: If you’re new to PCs or electronics in general, setting up a Windows PC can be confusing at first. Since Windows is designed to work with such a huge variety of hardware configurations, there are often hiccups in terms of how the software communicates with other software and the components. This is even more pronounced if you decide to tweak your setup for enhanced performance using methods such as overclocking.
  • They’re still not cheap: Due to external forces like raw material shortages and massively increased demand, it’s surprisingly hard to get your hands on powerful components without spending an arm and a leg.

Best Windows gaming desktop computers

Skytech Azure

Skytech Azure

Its Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 makes easy work of some of today’s most exciting titles.

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AVGPC Hellfire II

AVGPC Hellfire II

While it’s not the most powerful PC, it runs most games just fine and is ideal if you’re willing to save up for some upgrades in the next year or so.

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CUK Continuum Micro

CUK Continuum Micro

It’s a compact desktop PC packed with your choice of some of the most advanced components on the market. The only downside is that it costs quite a bit.

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Best Windows gaming laptop computers

MSI GP76 Leopard

MSI GP76 Leopard

It offers a great balance of price and performance and is equipped with a 17-inch screen that can display up to 240 frames per second.

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Asus TUF Gaming F17

Asus TUF Gaming F17

This one is an excellent value on a 17-inch gaming laptop that makes surprisingly few sacrifices.

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Asus ROG Strix Scar 17

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17

If you demand peak performance from high-end components, this is the one for you.

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Should you get a Windows or Apple gaming computer?

If you’re focused on high-resolution, resource-intensive gaming, a Windows gaming PC is definitely the right choice. If you’re only interested in casual or older games and want something that can make your creative or professional life easier, Apple computers (particularly the new MacBooks) are more fun than ever.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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