Why Apple isn’t making a powerful gaming laptop

And these are not empty words – now Sony and Microsoft game consoles are in short supply. The same can be said for NVIDIA and AMD gaming graphics cards. In parallel with this, many companies produce certain solutions for e-sportsmen – from mice and chairs to especially “high-frequency” displays. Don’t forget about a bunch of software improvements. This is, for example, NVIDIA Reflex technology, which allows you to reduce the time lag between the click of a button and the reaction on the screen, which is important for network shooters. However, at the same time, Apple stands apart from global trends, openly ignoring the general fashion for gaming laptops and computers. In this article we will try to understand the reasons for this.

So, a gaming laptop is often a powerful and hot machine that is equipped with productive hardware and has a powerful cooling system. After all, some conventional mobile i7 Core i9-9980HK with 8 cores, 16 threads and a frequency from 2.4 to 5.0 GHz needs to be cooled. And its thermal package, for a minute, is 45 watts.


The second aspect that also needs cooling is the gaming graphics card. Most often it is NVIDIA in the Max-Q or Max-P design, which emits 80 watts of heat and more. So the system will in no way be cold without powerful CO. And this is a high noise level, a 250 watt power supply and a battery that is enough to run from one outlet to another. Don’t forget about the display. In the name of gaming performance and smooth video streaming, display refresh rate acceleration is applied. It is easy to find a 144Hz IPS screen in gaming laptops. Now look at your thin and light MacBook Air or Pro. It is the CPU that heats up most of all there – a maximum of 45 W in the models of recent years. If there is discrete graphics, it consumes much less.This is enough for working and watching videos, but not enough for fast network battles. And the battery is designed for long-term operation, and not for the role of some kind of uninterruptible power supply device to reach the outlet.

And the problem of throttling has not gone away since 2018. Processors, when there is a lack of cooling, simply drop frequencies, which reduces performance. This won’t work in games. Finally, keep in mind that support for NVIDIA’s CUDA technology ended in 2019 due to a deteriorating relationship between manufacturers. Although the company has access to AMD Radeon video cards, these are not the latest solutions of the 6000 and 5000 lines, so you should not expect any records in gaming performance from them. Subtotal – Apple does not use the latest gaming hardware due to its gluttony and the need to aggressively cool it. Also, the company does not use the most powerful video cards, the highest frequency displays, and so on, giving priority to long-term work, and not to gaming records.

What about the software?

Another “anti-gaming” aspect is the closed nature of software. macOS can run games, but it doesn’t support modern game frameworks. Only in 2019, thanks to the creators of the Parallels Desktop package, support for DirectX 11 appeared in the OS. This made it a little easier to run games and heavy graphics programs for Windows on macOS. At the same time, OpenGL and OpenCL, which are also used for many games, were declared obsolete back in 2018, suggesting Metal instead. However, it seemed critical for developers to use more familiar solutions. At the same time, network sources clarify that there is support for OpenGL on the M1, but the company itself is silent about this.

Of course, you can play on MacOS, but most often these are old games that run on emulators or native ones that do not require great performance and modern software solutions. Also, keep in mind that Apple is positioning its laptops as “long-lasting” solutions for work, not entertainment. The intermediate result is that Apple’s operating system can technically support games, but these are either old / undemanding solutions, for they are emulated, or written using Metal. And there are few of them, since the developers are not particularly eager to create and support games on different frameworks.

The financial side

Apple technology is notoriously expensive. However, in addition to the price, one should not forget about the concept of marginality. That is, the difference between the cost of creating a product (cost) and the amount that the company receives from the end consumer. But the software, on the contrary, is high. After all, hardware is developed by Intel, AMD, NVIDIA and others. And the operating system is made by Apple itself. It is she, including Metal and other solutions, that is the main factor in the price.