Is MacBook Air Good For Gaming?

Is MacBook Air Good For Gaming

You might be wondering is Macbook air good for gaming? Most gaming laptops are Windows laptops, so how well does the Macbook air compare?

The Macbook air is not a gaming laptop and will quickly overheat during gameplay sessions, however the Macbook air is capable of running some games with decent frames per second.

Is MacBook Air Good For Gaming?

The Macbook air is not as good for gaming as windows laptops because there are a lot less games to choose from and that the Macbook is not built for gaming.

Gaming laptops are far better made for gaming because of their internal cooling features and powerful components.

The Macbook air is used for light work and will therefore overheat very fast when playing games. If you overheat the motherboard too much then it will get damaged and the replacement cost is around $600

Game Choice

The macOS does not have many games to choose from, for example on Windows you can play the big titles like Fortnite, Apex legends, Valorant, CSGO and league of legends.

On mac you can only play Fortnite, CSGO and league of legends. On Windows you can play pretty much every single game that is out there on steam and origin.

Some games like overwatch 2 have to be run through the mac bootcamp to be able to play it.

Overheating

This laptop will overheat quickly when it comes to games and can melt parts of the motherboard which cost a fortune to replace.

The cost of replacing the motherboard can actually be enough to buy a decent windows laptop that can run these games.

You can use a cooling pad but this is still very risky and not recommended as the system is more built for work use than gaming.

Design

The Macbook air is not designed for gaming as it has a fan-less design which means that it is not as good for airflow as the Windows laptops that are designed to run games.

Fans and airflow are super important to any gaming computer or laptop because it allows cool air to flow throughout the chassis and cool down the components which are running these intensive games.

This fan-less feature is good to keep noise down and to have a slim laptop setup that can be great for work and everyday use but not for gaming.

The keyboard is also not great for gaming as the switches are very shallow and the keys have very little depth. Using the WASD keys on a Macbook air is much harder than using it on a gaming laptop which has mechanical keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards are far greater in terms of responsiveness and tactileness which are important for gaming as you are controlling characters via the keyboard and if you can’t move correctly you will be punished in the game.

You can also easily break the keyboard on these laptops because they are not built for gaming compared to the mechanical counterparts of brands such as ASUS and Alienware.

Components

The GPU is not built for high-end gaming, it’s not a powerful intel i5, but it is capable of running graphic design or 3d programs. It has an 8 core GPU but does not have a dedicated card which is the problem.

Gaming requires a powerful CPU and GPU, when they are combined it significantly decreases the performance output of the whole computer.

The air does not come with the best macOS processing chip so it’s already at a disadvantage.

Hard drive space is also very limited on the air because most people opt for the 256gb or 512gb which may not be enough to host a bunch of video games that are 50gb each whilst having all your work files on there.

When your HDD reaches it’s data holding capacity it will eventually begin to slow down and that can cause problems while gaming when combined with the other issues mentioned here.

Optimisation

Most games are not optimised for the Macbook air, they are not optimised for silicon based platforms, but are only optimised for x86 and x64 platforms. When you are gaming on this laptop you have very little choice of what you can do.

Even though the M1 chip in the MBA has 3 Ghz, it’s still not capable of running games because these games are optimized for AMD and intel processors only, not for the silicon chips.

There are options to use virtual computers to stream to your MBA which could be a workaround but these cost money.

What games can the macbook air run?

You can only play a handful of lower tier games on this laptop. For example you can play shadow of the tomb raider on quality settings. But you are not able to even play new gen games on steam with the OS that you are using.

You can also play games like the metro franchise on the Macbook Air M1 chip and total war, stellaris or even sid meyers civilization V. But that’s the extent of which you can run.

Even if you could via bootcamp or another method, the chances that you can run the new games like cyberpunk 2077 are next to none. Performance on bootcamp is all over the place and there are many API limitations.

People have to run games at 720p and lowest settings on the air just to get some decent FPS. If you choose to play any GPU intensive games I suggest turning off ambient occlusion, vysnc and motion blur. I also recommend choosing the lowest settings and changing the resolution to something lower if you need more FPS.

You should also use a cooling pad or prop your MBA on a book so it can get more airflow into the vents because it’s going to get really hot.

CSGO

One of my favorite games to run on the MBA is CSGO because you can run it at decent FPS. With high settings CSGO will run round 40-60FPS depending on the map. Some maps like nuke really destroy your FPS.

Even though teh FPS is good you get a bunch of glitching and wierd jittering because of the silicon chip. CSGO won’t throttle the system much and won’t overheat the laptop too much but it is very choppy.

League of Legends

FPS on league of legends is really high around 100-170 FPS while being at the lower end when in fights. The GPU barely gets used and the game runs very smooth onthe MBA.

Temps stay relatively good as well with max settings and native resolution.

Windows based games

You can use certain programs that change the APIs so macOS can run Windows games and bootcamp is no longer available.

Windows based games use near 100% of the GPU and CPU and start to heat heaps. You also get a lot of throttling. The FPS is also not smooth and no where near as good as league of legends.

Don’t expect a smooth experience with games like GTA or the Witcher 3 when using crossover programs to access windows games. There is a lot that is not fully optimized in a situation like this.

Even though you can play some decent games with bearable FPS, it will still feel choppy and glitchy because of optimization problems.

What is the Best MacBook for Gaming?

The MBP with M1 pro chip or the M1 max chip is the best option you can choose for gaming but it will still be subpar.

The Macbook Pro would be a better option for gaming but it still has a lot of negatives compared to the Windows laptops that are made for running video games.

The MBP has a better processor and graphics capability than the MBA but it’s still not good enough to handle top tier games on bootcamp.

The M1 and M2 chips from apple are not meant for gaming, they are meant for everyday use. The whole build of the Macbook is dedicated to have a sleek design and long battery life which comes at the cost of all the features you need to play games on decent settings.

These features include a separate GPU & CPU, a powerful CPU & GPU and also fans that can cool down the system. The MBP is still prone to overheating when playing games even though it’s a stronger model.

Conclusion

The Macbook air is not a great choice for gaming as it is one of the lesser powerful Macbooks. These laptops are not built for gaming and will overheat quite rapidly which can cause internal damage to the motherboard and components.

If you are not careful with gaming on the Air then you can actually be in for a lot of trouble when you get the bill for replacing components.

The Macbook pro would be much more suitable to play games because it’s more powerful however it still has some limitations.

I hope you have gotten the answer you were looking for in this article so let me know in the comments what you think. Is the MBA good for gaming? or are there better alternatives.

With over 12 years of experience with laptops, Grayson Uppington has delved deep into the tech world, always learning and sharing. His top pick is the Lenovo Legion Slim 5, blending performance with style. Formerly a pro gamer in CS:GO, those tournaments sharpened his skills and heightened his appreciation for laptop potential.