Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Left for Dead box art

The best way to play left for dead on a mac (like any game) is by dual booting into windows. Games on mac uses Windows 7 (see why).

Here is a test to see how well the Mac mini could run Left for Dead when booting into Windows 7 with boot camp.


The test machine:
Apple Mac mini: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 Ghz
Nvidia GeForce 9400m 256mb
OS: Windows 7 (using bootcamp)
RAM: 2gb

Apple Mac Mini

After installing Left for Dead on my Mac mini under windows 7 the first thing needed was an update (after all Left for Dead is already over a year old). It normally would be a good way to check out networking for the Mac mini in Windows 7 but I live out in the country in Spain with only 'one megabit' internet access. Left for Dead took about an hour to update (maxing out at 300kb/s).

When the install was complete I launched fraps to monitor frames rates and then the Left for Dead. The opening sequence (a video cut scene) ran smoothly at a sloid 60fps which is what I would expect given that no game engine was running. Displaying video sequences is simply a matter of decompressed video in real time, something any modern Intel Core 2 duo and GeForce combination should be able to handle no sweat.

After Left for Dead had loaded, I went straight to the options screen to see what settings had been loaded by default. Most games will detect your hardware and set the default video settings to an optimal balance of quality and performance. Left for Dead was set by default to the following settings:

Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9
Resolution: 1600x900
Filtering Mode: Anisotropic 4x
Shader Detail: Very High
Effect Detail: Medium
Model/Texture detail: Medium
Page Pool Memory Available.

The single player showed early on that the mac mini wasn't handling it very well. Although it started out at 24frames per second (fps) it quickly slowed to around 14-16fps. This was still playable but hardly satisfying. A resolution change was needed to get the frame rate up.
At 1300x768 Left for Dead played quite nicely on the Mac Mini running about 24fps consistently. Although at the higher (default) resolution the frame rate lowered to 9fps when the horde attacked at the lower resolution the horde attacks didn't affect the frame rate enough to take my attention away from killing zombies.

Left for Dead looked good even at the lower resolution setting and I must say that although I have a gaming PC (with 192gpu cores) I didn't notice any great difference between running Left for Dead on the big machine and on the mac mini (with the advantage that the mac mini uses less power and is much quieter.) Sure the high res/smooth frame rate of PC with a big graphics card could by soime be consider a noticeable difference, but I'm talking about the fact that the images look about the same. I definitely found playing left for Dead on a Mac Mini under Windows 7 not the least bit a sub-par experience.

If you looking to buy a Mac mini (or similar Apple Mac) and want to know if it will play Left for Dead, then worry not. As long as you are prepared to dual boot using bootcamp with Windows 7 it will play nicely.

If you already own a Mac Mini/iMac and want to be happy that if you buy Left for Dead it will run well enough, just make sure you mini/iMac has a Nvidia GeForce 9400m or better graphics chip.

The older Mac minis/iMacs with a Intel GMA 950 will definitely not be able to play left for dead at an acceptable frame rate.


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