Rumors of a 'gaming Mac' are swirling

macBook (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Rumors are circulating that Apple plans to announce a high-end gaming Mac.
  • A Taiwanese outlet says Apple plans to launch an "Esports PC" next year.
  • The expected release is reportedly WWDC 2020, and it could be anything from a laptop to an all-in-one desktop.

Some very suspect rumors have started floating around over the Christmas period, suggesting that Apple is planning to release some kind of gaming Mac/Esports PC/all-in-one/maybe a laptop at WWDC 2020.

As you may have gathered, the details are super murky, and the source is not held in very high esteem. Back on December 22, Taiwanese outlet Economic Daily News reported the following (translated):

According to market reports, Apple plans to launch an e-sports PC next year with a unit price of up to $ 5,000 (about NT $ 152,100), which will be the first time that Apple has entered the e-sports PC field. It is both a new product and a high unit price. The industry expects that the gross profit margin of Apple's supply chain manufacturers will be positive. (The global e-sports market is expected to leap by $ 1 billion )

Yeah, $5000. I mean, it's been at least a month since Apple released its last $5000 Mac, so another one is definitely long overdue. The rumor comes totally out of left field. More importantly, it comes from a source with a very patchy track record of success. As MacRumors notes, EDN previously reported that Apple's AirPods Pro would ship in as many as eight different colors.

Then there are the specifics of the rumor, or rather, the fact that there aren't any... The report states that the purported device "may be a large-screen all-in-one or a large-screen gaming laptop." Specifications are reportedly going to be top-end (still doesn't explain the $5000 price), and it is expected to be announced at WWDC in June.

Now, Apple has made some promising inroads into the world of casual, arcade gaming through Apple Arcade and support for wireless controllers like the Xbox One S and the Dualshock 4 controllers, but it seems an awful stretch to suggest Apple is about to drop a fully-fledged gaming Mac on us.

The biggest problem with the rumor currently is its veracity, there are currently no corroborating stories and as mentioned, the only source we have is not considered reliable.

Beyond that, however, there are a good few issues. Firstly is the reported price. Apple has just released its $5000 (plus a bit more) Mac Pro and has a very expensive lineup of iMacs too. It just doesn't seem to make any sense that Apple would throw another expensive Mac into the mix. Not to mention that for $5000 you could build a PC powerful enough to run the latest and greatest games with all the pixels and all the frames and probably still have $2000 leftover.

The Intel + Nvidia is the most favored CPU + GPU combination in gaming circles. A quick look at the Steam Hardware & Software Survey will tell you that as of November, 75% of Steam users had Nvidia graphics cards, and 80% of them had Intel processors, compared to just 15% of users who had AMD cards, and 20% who had AMD graphics. Whilst AMD is certainly on the rise, it isn't nearly as highly favored by gamers as Intel and Nvidia's hardware. With that in mind, Apple's awful relationship with Nvidia, and its reliance on AMD graphics hardware might struggle to sway gamers to "the dark side," given the community's current affinity for Nvidia.

Because Windows (75% share) has enjoyed a monopoly on PC gaming since time began, the vast majority of Steam games are made for Windows, by comparison, the Mac library is relatively small. If Apple were to release a gaming machine, another off-putting factor might be the significantly reduced access to games because of the smaller macOS library. (Which isn't to say that couldn't grow, just that it wouldn't happen overnight.) It's similar to how gamers often argue about the Epic Game Store, a gaming client alternative to Steam. Whilst there are some benefits like cool sales and free games, EGS can't match Steam for volume. Another comparison might be Apple TV+ and Netflix. The only difference being, everything you can play on macOS, you can also play on Windows.

To be fair, PC-gaming is crying out for some of the optimization and stability that Apple's operating systems and hardware thrive on. But for many, the joy of PC-gaming comes not just in the playing, but in the customization, endless tinkering, upgrading, and re-upgrading, and none of that is very Apple. I'm not sure many gamers would be enticed by the prospect of buying a gaming PC that they might not even be able to open, let alone upgrade. Apple would certainly have to move towards the Mac Pro's model of reparability and modular design, but that could come at a financial cost too great for some.

The prospect is an interesting one for sure, and whilst the gaming and Esports markets continue to trend upwards, it would certainly be a tough nut to crack. Could you see yourself using a "gaming Mac"? What sort of specs and features would it need? Would you want a desktop or a laptop? AMD or Nvidia? Let us know!

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9