Can You Play World of Warcraft on a Mac?

So you recently bought a Mac and you’re wondering it can run World of Warcraft (WoW). Is it possible? What performance should you expect? I decided to use my MacBook to play some World of Warcraft and what I discovered might shock you.

Bear in mind, a MacBook is not a gaming machine. However, the new M1 Macs can run a lot of games at reasonable framerates.

Can You Play World of Warcraft on a Mac?

Yes. You can play World of Warcraft on the latest M1 Macs with an average of 60 frames a second. WoW was one of the first games to receive a patch that enabled native Apple Silicon support.

The patch allowed Mac users to run the game on ARM instead of demanding emulators. Today all Apple’s M1 Macs can run WoW and other Blizzard titles with reasonable frames.

So head on over to Blizzard and download World of Warcraft for Mac OS.

What are The Best Settings for WoW on a Mac?

Once you launch WoW on your MacBook, it will likely be very choppy because all the graphics will be set to ultra. To save you some time trying to find the performance sweet spot, I made a compilation of the best WoW settings for Macs.

Resolution & Render Scale:

The resolution is the most demanding display setting because it determines how many pixels need to be rendered. All of the M1 MacBooks, the M1 Air and Pro have the same internal display native resolution of 2560 x 1600.

In most cases, WoW can run at a MacBook’s native resolution with decent frames, but it might not be very reliable. For the best performance on an M1 Mac, I recommend adjusting WoW’s resolution scale to 50%. If it’s too blurry, you can increase it slightly until you find the sweet spot between performance and visuals.

It’s also a good idea to enable Vertical Sync because that will lock the game’s frame rate to your display’s refresh rate, which is 60 FPS. That way, the machine isn’t working hard to push more frames than needed. Limiting the frame rate will also keep the MacBook from getting too hot and throttling which is an issue I’ll talk about later on.

Best Graphics Quality Settings:

  • Texture Resolution: High
  • Spell Density: Dynamic
  • Projected Textures: Enabled
  • View Distance: 4
  • Environment Detail: 4
  • Ground Clutter: 4
  • Shadow Quality: Fair
  • Liquid Detail: Low
  • Sunshafts: Low
  • Particle Density: Good
  • SSAO: Disabled
  • Depth Effects: Disabled
  • Outline Mode: Good

With the above settings, the M1 Macs will run WoW at a consistent and stable 60 FPS. In high population density zones, it might dip a bit, as well as during raids, but it should quickly bounce back to 60 FPS.

Bear in mind, you can increase the graphics settings a little bit more on the MacBook Pro M1 for reasons I’ll discuss next.

Playing World of Warcraft on MacBook Air M1:

My experience playing World of Warcraft on the MacBook Air M1 was great. It’s interesting for me to play a game on a laptop and not hear the fans spinning in the background. For the most part, the temperatures on the MacBook Air M1 stay relatively cool.

The problem is when the thermals on the MacBook Air M1 start to climb, thermal throttling will kick in, and the frame rate will drop to 30 or even lower. However thermal throttling only happens when you try to push the game’s graphics too hard.

I noticed throttling on WoW using the MacBook Air after playing for about 30 minutes will all the graphics settings max out. For example, unlimited frame rate, the highest resolution, best-looking graphics settings, and whatnot.

Since the MacBook Air M1 does not have a fan, it will take a while for the temperatures to cool down. The graphics settings I mentioned earlier will keep a MacBook Air M1 from throttling when playing WoW and you can play for hours straight with no issues.

To monitor your temperatures on M1 Macs, I recommend a program called TG Pro. It will show read the temperature of all of your Mac’s components; CPU cores, GPU cores, battery, SSD, and others.

The best thing about gaming on the MacBook Air M1 is it is completely silent due to the lack of fans.

Playing World of Warcraft on MacBook Pro M1:

The performance of the MacBook Pro M1 is the same as the MacBook Air, except when it comes to thermals. The MacBook Pro won’t throttle the frame rate because the fans will keep the temperatures from reaching the throttle point.

The advantage is you can play for long sessions with higher graphics on the MacBook Pro. However you will hear the fan in the background, and it can be quite loud and bothersome.

Can a Mac Run WoW at 4K with 60 FPS?

The 2020 M1 Macs cannot run WoW at 4K at 60 FPS. M1 Macs can only get about 10 – 20 FPS in WoW at 4K using an external monitor which is not playable.

However, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max have absolutely no problem running World of Warcraft at 4K at 60 FPS, even on the highest graphics settings. The reason the M1 Pro and the M1 Max is so much better is they have more GPU cores.

The M1 Pro has a 16-core GPU, while the M1 Max has 32-cores. The original M1 chip only has an 8-core GPU, and some models are limited to 7-cores. Of course, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are quite expensive, and you can buy a better-performing gaming PC or laptop for the same price.

The Bottom Line:

To summarize, you can play World of Warcraft on a Mac, and since the game natively supports the M1 architecture, the performance is great. The original M1 Macs can reach a stable 60 FPS with low settings while the Macs with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips have no limitations.

The only issue that you should worry about is the thermal throttling of the MacBook Air M1. I recommend configuring the graphics settings to what I mentioned earlier, as soon as you open the game, so you can avoid putting unnecessary stress on the machine.

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