2020 MacBook Pro

Hey I’m thinking about getting a 2020 MacBook Pro. Iv played on my Windows PC since WoD and time is getting to her. I’m mostly on the move and I want a laptop that can generally do everything, and I’ll hopefully go to school in the fall (if Covid allows). There are deals on the MacBook since I’m a student and im a sucker for apple so I think I’ll go with that. However, I don’t want something that’ll burn out so quick from overheating or something, I want it to last for a couple years. I currently play at 3 graphics so anything that can run at that or more with minimal problems will make me happy.

For those who have it, what specs do you have and how does it fair? For the computer savvy, how does the 2020 MacBook look for shadowlands? Which ones should I not bother with?

I feel like I should avoid the 8Gb of ram macbooks, but I understand there’s more than that to consider. Would the 16in run better than the 13 because the size or would the difference be negligible?

What else will you be doing with it? Also, do you need to be able to play away from a desk or is an external GPU a possibility?

Generally though…

MacBook Air

:speech_balloon: Not good for any kind of gaming.
:red_circle: CPU is weak
:red_circle: Iris Plus graphics are weak and will struggle to deliver 60FPS on low settings in some areas
:red_circle: Limited cooling capacity, will throttle

MacBook Pro 13"

:speech_balloon: Passable depending on your needs, but not great.
:green_circle: CPU is somewhere between adequate and good, depending on model
:red_circle: Iris Plus graphics are weak and will struggle to deliver 60FPS on low settings in some areas
:orange_circle: Cooling is better than the Air’s, but still likely the throttle
:orange_circle: Almost as expensive as the 16" model in top end configuration

MacBook Pro 16"

:speech_balloon: Easily the best performer of the lineup for gaming.
:green_circle: CPU is great
:green_circle: Dedicated Radeon GPUs are dramatically more powerful than Air/13" Iris Plus and can handle WoW at retina resolutions with low-med settings or 50% render scale with high settings
:green_circle: Cooling is dramatically improved compared to Air/13"
:orange_circle: Most expensive in the lineup, but also highest value


Thanks, that was super helpful!

Extrernal GPU isn’t off the table but for this instance let’s assume I won’t have one.

The most I’d do with it is video editing, streaming services, other games. Although you answered some concerns I had, mainly the high end 13’ compared to the 16. It’s not a huge price difference but obviously it would make a big difference.

just make sure to select the most RAM you can afford.
it will help future proofing you purchase

1 Like

A 13” with an eGPU will do much better than a 16” without. Forget the Air. (Great machine for many purposes, but not this one.)

16GB minimum, I’d say.

Might also wait and see what’s announced at WWDC later this month, because the A-series laptops rumored to be coming next year may throw everything into chaos.

1 Like

That’s a good point, I’ll definitely stay posted on that

Yeah, I’m kind of stoked / apprehensive to find out what is going to happen with this.

I’ve been cycling back and forth between WoW on a PC gaming rig and iMac for years (been on my gaming rig the last five years), and the itch is returning for a beautiful elegant iMac as my primary home machine, once again.

So, on one hand I’m stoked about the rumors of an iMac refresh with possible AMD Navi chips on the top end (hopefully with somewhere remotely in the ballpark of RTX 2080 performance on 4-5K).

On the other hand, this impending ARM conversion has me nervous. I was all onboard with the PowerPC-to-Intel switch because it brought Macs in-line with the industry standards and really helped to take Mac acceptance among developers to the next level (certainly saving Mac as a platform).

However, this is different. This will be pushing away from standard x86-64 architecture into a mobile-driven world. This is a hugely risky move for the Mac (not necessarily for Apple as a whole, being as Macs are now just a fraction of their business). It could pay off in the long term and force the entire industry to look at wider ARM use (Microsoft tried and failed to push this). On the other hand, it could backfire and the Mac platform could lose most of its developers and power users.

I mean, let’s ask the brutal question here (one which of course even Blizzard can’t answer right now), but would Blizzard be willing to rebuild their current Mac lineup for ARM architecture? Remember that there is a limit to how much they are willing to do. Consider Overwatch.

Could we be looking at a future where Blizzard and other major developers start having to disclaim, “Support for Intel Macs only,” as we watch the Intel Mac lineup shrink over time?

Does ARM Mac become an exclusive App Store-only club?

So yeah, this concerns me greatly. Even if we get all we could possibly want in this year’s Mac lineup (that is to say machines able to run well at 5K), does the platform have a future with ARM?

These aren’t rhetorical questions, either. I think the entire industry is waiting to find out. If Apple is successful and a large market share eats-up ARM Macs, then we may actually see a shift in the Windows world towards ARM, as well. (Unlikely, in the short term, but possible down the road, as laptop vendors have tended to follow Apple’s design lead in most other ways.)

1 Like

There should be very little in most modern applications (games included) that’s x86-specific. WoW might be a bit different given its age, but anything newer should already be very platform agnostic… especially anything based on Unreal, Unity, etc since those have run on ARM platforms (iOS, Android) for around a full decade now. Something like 90% of “porting” existing Mac x86 apps to ARM should consist of little more of ticking an ARM checkbox in the compiler settings and recompiling.

There’s also a good chance of some kind of hardware level x86 compatibility. Remember that Apple is on good terms with AMD, an x86 licensee, which could open up the possibility of something like hybrid A-Series/Ryzen CPUs or even just something as simple as an AMD-designed hardware x86 translation component that Apple drops in.

1 Like

I don’t think you can understimate the impact of Apple producing their own chips. They’re a 1.5 trillion dollar company, I think they know what they’re doing.

Also, PC ARM devices are being embraced by major manufacturers. Microsoft is investing into it. To say this is some sort of hurdle Apple has to clear is a bit of a stretch. This is industry wide.

As far as porting, it’s literally a check box in most major dev. It’s not like they have to re-write new code by hand anytime a new game comes out.

Hey Allyriae - I have a 13 inch MBP 2020 base edition and interested in EGPU. Would I be better to get a 580 rx or 5700xt graphics card. Cautious of the bottleneck effect on the cpu. Also are there any monitor drawbacks? Thanks!

I love mine. The 16" is a huge upgrade from the prior years model. I don’t play on full settings I have mine set at 5 and it plays between 45-90 fps with average in the 60’s. I have 16GB, 2.3 GHz 8-Core I9 wit the Radeon Pro 5500M 4GB video.

1 Like

Your CPU won’t be the bottleneck at all. It’s true that the CPUs on the MacBooks will thermal throttle easily enough and cut performance quite a bit (compared to the desktop), but even then, I’ve never had WoW peg a CPU core on my newer 2018 MacBook Pro (i7-8850H). I think you should be fine even with a mid-range current-gen i5.

Your GPU will unquestionably be the bottleneck, which gets to the question of which one. The Radeon 5700XT is a newer and much faster card than the Radeon Pro 580. One challenge you may have is finding the best eGPU vendor to go with for this. Personally, mine is the Blackmagic eGPU Pro with the Radeon Vega 56, but they’ve discontinued that model and only have the 580 version, which I do not recommend.

This leaves a bit of a gap in the Apple-supported eGPU market right now.

In all honestly, I can only recommend waiting a few months if you can. Big Sur is almost upon us, and with that will come a whole new slew of driver support changes (both issues and improvements), plus, hopefully we’ll see either Blackmagic or another vendor pick-up the slack as the best Apple-supported eGPU provider (presuming Apple is still interested in eGPU support moving forward with their new architecture).

If you can’t wait that long, you can go ahead and get a newer Radeon card in any Thunderbolt eGPU enclosure and in-theory it should work. I just personally can’t speak to the level of stability and support you’ll see with it. Others around here probably can, however.

I hope this info helps! I know it’s fairly inconclusive, and that’s because we’re in a period of rapid change and uncertainty with Apple hardware in respect to gaming.