Looking for Advice (Mac or PC Gaming Rig) for WoW

Apologies for the length on this. Skip to tl;dr section if you don’t want a story.

Okay, now I realize that this is a very broad topic which lends itself to platform zealotry, so let me explain my situation with a bit of background:

I’m a cross-platform IT geek. I’m equally comfortable on Windows, macOS, or whichever Linux distro. Out of 17 years in WoW, just about half has been on Windows, half on macOS. Presently I tend to play WoW on my 7-year-old Windows gaming rig, and sometimes on my 2018 MacBook Pro if I’m away from home.

Okay, so this having been said, I feel that I’m hitting a crossroads with my personal computing platforms. I’m seeking to simplify. If gaming (and I’ll clarify what I mean by “gaming” in a minute) weren’t a factor, I’d pretty much be all Mac all the time for my personal stuff (I still get plenty of Windows and Linux at work). So this would seem to end the discussion, except the gaming part.

Here’s the thing, for the last few years I’ve looked at how I really use my “gaming” rig, and the reality is this: I play WoW. Sometimes a little Civ V and VI. That’s about it. In the past, I was all into whatever Blizzard game was new, but the reality is that outside of a passing interest in Diablo for largely nostalgic reasons, I have no interest in Blizzard games outside of WoW (see aforementioned 17-year time investment).

So, this leads me to where I’m seeking advice from other fellow techies in this forum:

We know that the state of Mac support across Blizzard games is less than stellar right now, with no indication that it’s going to improve. However, WoW is by most reports I’ve been following here, really solid on Apple Silicon, with the exception of these reported game-breaking (or at least BNet client breaking) bugs which pop up and go unfixed seemingly for weeks or months.

This is what concerns me, and really what is holding back my plans. If there were some way that I could have reasonable assurance that WoW in particular (any other game is a bonus) would continue to work reliably well with good performance (60 FPS max settings) on an M1 Max system, then that would be enough to sell me. However, I keep hearing these stories of problems with slow to no Blizzard response or support, and it makes me question the wisdom of jumping-in to a new Mac Studio or MacBook Pro M1 Max as my home system.

So, how do you guys feel on this matter? Would I be foolish to go all-Mac with the expectation that WoW will continue to work well for the foreseeable future (Dragonflight and beyond)? Am I stuck anchored to a Windows rig just for WoW?

tl;dr:

I love the simplicity and elegance of the Apple ecosystem. The prospect of building another a new PC gaming rig moving forward doesn’t excite me like it once did, especially for one game. I’m frankly tired of how gaming components are marketed and the whole gamer culture around custom rigs. I basically want an appliance for general computing and for WoW. Is this realistically accomplished with the Apple solutions of today, and is it likely to be viable in the coming years?

P.S.

I realize that no one has a crystal ball for how things will go in the future, but I’m looking for opinions based on experience with the platform as well as any inside technical insight folks may have. Really I’m looking for an unbiased and honest opinion on whether or not my hope that I can rely on Apple products for WoW moving forward is realistic.

M1 Max = RTX 3080 - #21 by Valdomir-moon-guard should pretty much cover you since it already discusses expectations/results

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To be perfectly frank here, I’d recommend a PC.

The issue here is not whether a Mac is capable of playing WoW, the issue here is whether Blizzard cares to support WoW on a Mac. Support has been abysmal. Partially due to restructuring at Blizzard and partially due to the horrific support from Apple. Between the two, the writing on the wall is pretty obvious.

You don’t need a gaming rig to play WoW. Hell, you don’t even need an M1 Ultra. People seem to think that if you throw more power at something, it will inherently solve everything. It’s like refilling your gas tank every five minutes because your tank has a leak in it. You’re trying to hide a problem, not fix it. In this case, the problem is both an Apple and Blizzard problem. If they don’t care to fix the problem, you’re just wasting gas here.

You already state that your gaming interests have waned over the years. Just how much time do you actually play WoW anymore compared to what you used to? Odds are pretty good your gaming time is going to go down, not increase. It’s just the nature of things.

Your options are to just simplify everything and just go with the machine you use 99.9% of the time, irregardless of whether or not it can even play games. Or, keep an old machine around for gaming purposes (or a PC), and still spend 99.9% of your time on the machine you prefer.

Gaming on an Apple (sans mobile) is really not a thing, and hasn’t been for quite a while. Blizzard is not the only one dropping the ball on Macs here, ArenaNet, Zenimax, SquareEnix… have all basically said they are not moving forward with the ARM platform.

It just makes sense to develop for a single platform, and that platform is Windows. Simple logic. If you want to game, you want a PC. That statement is far truer today than it has ever been. Maybe back in 2007 you had a case for playing WoW on a Mac, but in 2022 that case has been overturned.

You can keep playing WoW on a Mac, but it will be a rocky experience. Most people accept a rocky experience from a less than capable machine that is on its last tooth… not one fresh off the assembly line.

Yes and no. there are some big positives here.

Apple managed to convince capcom to bring RE 8 over, and also no mans sky from whatever dev makes that.

In addition. DXVK and wine are making strides in getting both 32 bit and dx11 games running on macOS. in addition by 2023 codeweavers says it’ll even be possible to run dx12 games on mac through wine/dxvk.

The combination dxvk, wine, moltenvk is enabling a lot more games to run on macOS these days with minimal degradation of performance.

Blizzards lack of support not withdstanding, apple silicon is very powerful and devs are taking notice. Heck maybe even blizz will reverse course when it comes to mac support in coming years when they see what hardware is capable of. maybe they won’t, but more games will be playable on mac in next couple years, that I’m confident in saying.

That said, if the purpose of machine is only for gaming, PC may still be better route, but if you plan to use it at all for travel, or work, mac may be better depending on other needs.

If WoW is the only game you currently play and you want to keep your ecosystem simplified for home use, and you prefer the Apple ecosystem, the M1 Max is actually a viable choice.

As mentioned by Omegal I’m using a Studio M1 Max 32-core for about 3 weeks now and have zero issues. I’m playing on a daily basis, about 6 hours per day. I’m getting 130-144 FPS in SL on Ultra settings (with some tweaks). I don’t recognise of what another poster said about it “being a rocky experience”. If you get the right monitor and the right cable (USB-C to Displayport 1.4) it will run smooth as butter. A dedicated 4K gaming screen as a 2nd monitor just for gaming is no issue either. The Max is capable enough.

I was coming from a 2017 iMac which was loud, ran hot and drew a lot of power. It ran WoW ok-ish but that M1 Max is a giant leap forward. Also on my electricity bill (it’s using just 1/3rd of power compared to the iMac!). In an era of extreme inflation and rapidly increasing power prices, that can be a reason too (at least, here in EU).

Getting an additional custom PC rig just for WoW seems overkill to me imo. Not only more stuff on your desk and higher power consumption, but finding an affordable graphics card that matches or exceeds the M1 Max won’t be cheap either.

If Blizzard/Microsoft will continue to support Macs in the future: I don’t know. I guess time will tell. I do think ARM will be something of the foreseeable future also in the PC world. Maybe more titles become available on Mac, who knows. Maybe they’re easier to port? (I have little knowledge about that, so pardon me if it’s blabberish).

Metal III is also around the corner in Ventura so we might see more improvements coming for gaming.

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I appreciate everyone’s feedback here, thanks!

The way I see it, I have three courses of action to consider:

1.) Suppress my itch for new things and just wait and watch new hardware releases for the next six to twelve months or so. The reality is that none of my hardware needs replaced right now. It feels dated, yes, but it works. My trusty i7-4790K with an RTX 2080 manages (barely) WoW at 4K, max settings, 60 FPS most of the time (thanks to FSR). My 2018 Intel MacBook Pro (for work and mobile play) runs hot and noisy, and I’m itching to experience Apple Silicon, but it’s also not urgent. The battery has already been replaced under Apple Care once. Finally, I have my my old 2012 iMac file server (running Fedora), and I’d kind of love to consolidate that back into a single home rig, but it’s reliable and working.

2.) I could take the more conservative route and replace each item individually. So, replace my MacBook with the M1 Max MBP. Rebuild/replace my gaming rig with new components. Replace my iMac file server with a little Intel NUC-based system. This would fit all my needs, it just wouldn’t simplify or change much.

3.) I could take a the bold (and possibly risky) route of going all-in on Apple for a few years. I’d move my file archives to a Mac Studio, game in whatever capacity I can on my Studio (99% of which would be WoW). Then just have an MBP specced basically the same as both a backup machine to the Studio and as my mobile workstation. This is certainly the most technically simple and elegant solution. The only moderate risk is that a year or two down the road, if I get an itch to say play Diablo 4 or some new exciting game, the only solutions would be console, procure a gaming rig, or bust.

Obviously my dream scenario would be that one platform that can do everything simply in a nice ecosystem, but don’t we all wish for that, really?

I would very much like simply take Blizzard’s word at face value when they say right on the newly-published Dragonflight system requirements that they support Mac. I realize that the reality of that is more complex, but I still have a tendency to want to reduce this down to: They either support Mac and the game runs as-intended or they don’t. They say that they do.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eye on the threads here to read about folks’ continuing experiences (good and bad) with WoW on macOS.