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Can You Game on a Mac?

Macs have a lot of advantages. Maybe you like the simplicity of macOS, the sexy industrial design, or work in a creative field where they’re pretty much a requirement. But if you’re also a gamer, you may be wondering: can they handle the games you want to play as well as Windows?

Can You Play Games on a Mac?

Macs are made of the same components as any other PC. They’re just an Intel x86 computer in a fancier case with a different operating system. This means there’s no real hardware barrier to gaming on a Mac. It’s not like a PC has some magic video game component that your Mac lacks.

However, Macs aren’t exactly designed for gaming. The discrete graphics cards used in the high-end Macs aren’t all that great, and you don’t have the choice of the more powerful graphics cards you would in some Windows PCs. The Mac Pro is an exception, which carries a decent graphics card inside, but it’ll cost you a lot more than a comparable Windows PC would.

These graphics cards are also soldered in, so there’s no way to upgrade them a year or two down the line—even on desktops like the iMac or Mac Pro. Windows desktops are more upgradeable in this respect.

Entry level Macs don’t have dedicated graphics cards at all—they have integrated graphics chips that are even more asthmatic. They might reach the absolute minimum requirements of some popular modern games, but just barely.

There’s no way you’ll be able to play new games at full resolution with all the detail settings cranked up, even with a specced-out iMac—but they are technically capable of playing many games. Even a MacBook Air can play Minecraft. But, although it’s possible, is it worth doing?

A Mac is never going to be as good for gaming as a dedicated Windows PC, especially for the price. Even a Mac Pro can’t compete with a gaming-focused rig that costs a quarter of the Mac Pro’s $2999 price tag. If you’re serious about having the best gaming experience, your Mac isn’t going to cut it. Build your own gaming PC or buy a console and be done with it!

If you’re looking to casually play the occasional game, though, a Mac may suffice. I travel a lot, and only have my MacBook with me when I do. I’m away from my beloved PlayStation 4 for months at a time. My MacBook is able to give me a small gaming fix. It might be more methadone than heroin, but it’s something.

What Games Are Available?

The biggest issue with gaming on a Mac, though, is game availability. Windows’ DirectX APIs are incredibly popular with game developers. They don’t have any equivalents on macOS, which makes it harder for developers to port their games. Because…

What Is Coil Whine, and Can I Get Rid of It on My PC?

What Is Coil Whine?

On a pure technical level, coil whine refers to an undesirable noise emitted by an electronic component vibrating as power runs through an electrical cable. Just about anything with a power source can create coil whine to some degree, but it’s usually caused by an electrical current going through a power-regulating component like a transformer or inductor, causing its electrical wiring to vibrate at a variable frequency. This happens in almost all electrical devices, usually at a frequency and volume that’s inaudible to humans, especially inside a metal or plastic PC case.

An old-fashioned electromagnetic inductor in a radio. As the electrical current causes the coil to vibrate against the ring, an audible pitch may be heard.

But when you’re dealing with high-powered components in modern gaming PCs, especially the graphics card and power supply, these vibrations can be audible. This is especially true for anyone who’s sensitive to high-frequency noises. In bad cases, you can actually hear the pitch of the coil whine change as the GPU draws more or less power, and the electrical frequency across various components shifts. It might be particularly noticeable when running a 3D game or high-intensity graphics application. Coil whine can be especially noticeable—not to mention frustrating!—on otherwise “silent” PCs, like low-power home theater PCs or gaming PCs with a liquid cooling system.

Coil whine is really nothing to be concerned about. It can be annoying, of course, but it isn’t like a rattling engine or a squeaking wheel—the noise is a byproduct of your PC and graphics card’s normal operation. Your system isn’t losing any performance or longevity because of coil whine.

(Note: if you hear a distinct hissing or high-pitched whistling instead of a buzz or scratch, that might be the altogether different phenomenon known as “capacitor squeal.” This is something to be concerned about, since it indicates a failing component.)

What Can I Do About It?

Sadly, there isn’t an easy fix for coil whine, like an updated driver…