Experience with Macbook air for Zwift?

Hi folks, just wondering if anyone has experience using a (new) macbook air on Zwift?

If I wasn’t taking Zwift into consideration I would get the cheapest new Macbook air. But I’m told macs aren’t the best for gaming and hence Zwift.

  • is it just a case of graphics not being so great?
  • would upgrading the processor, ram or storage help improve things?
  • should I be thinking about giving up on mac and getting something better for gaming at a similar price? any recommendations (£800 - £1200)?

Thanks in advance

You might want to ask this question on a Zwift forum.

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2014 Macbook Air is capable of running Z at lowest settings quite smoothly. For better graphics consider adding an egpu.

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A Macbook Air will run TrainerRoad a lot better than Zwift but it is okay. Like said above it will be on low settings but I guess low settings is better than no settings.

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I use a 2018 MacBook Pro (2-core) with an eGPU (radeon rx580-based) to run TR and Zwift@4k at the same time. Zwiftinsider.com has some articles on building a cost-effective PC that might be worth a read. Most of the time in zwift the graphics processor is what determines performance. Single-core CPU performance is important when in large groups, but mostly it comes down to GPU. TR is quite light on the processor and I only get the occasional stutter when zwift maxes out one of my CPU cores when big group rides hit dirt roads. Btw, zwift@4k is awesome.

A cheap way to do it is to get a small form factor business PC for a couple hundred dollars and add a inexpensive GPU and you can get zwift looking nice at 1080p or 4k resolutions. If you go the Mac route I’d look at an eGPU such as the Gigabyte Gaming Box RX580 or Sonnet eGFX Break Away Puck as they are one piece and ‘relatively’ inexpensive. Costs can go up when you get a standalone eGPU chassis and buy a separate graphics card.

You can also search zwiftilizer for different CPU/GPU/system combinations to see what kind of performance you can expect.

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I use an old Dell Inspiron from 2012 and run zwift full resolution and TR simultaneously with 2 monitors and it runs with no issues. On the other hand my MacBook pro 2013 has issued with only Zwift…

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That’s interesting because I have started running TR and Zwift on my 2011 MacBook Air with no issues at top speed. The only time I have a problem is if I’m trying to run a group workout through TR, in which case I just use my windows laptop for Zwift.

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If you want to run Zwift well, use a windows machine with a dedicated GPU. The difference in the experience is well worth it.

For the same price as the Macbook Air you will be able to get an entry level gaming laptop that will far outstrip performance both in terms of resolution and FPS.

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Adding some more info here: I ran Zwift on medium quality graphics on my 2018 MBA with a frame rate of around 30fps and howling fans. I recently upgraded to a new M1 MBA and can run Zwift in high quality graphics at 50+FPS, with TrainerRoad as well, and still have 70% CPU idle. There aren’t any fans to make a noise so it’s silent still. The M1s are amazing.

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Are you hooking the MBA to a TV or just using the laptop screen? If hooking it up to a screen what are you using to do that? Cheers.

I have a 2012 MBP that runs Zwift, albeit at the lowest settings. No issues though. I recently put in a new battery and a 500gb SSD. It’s like a new laptop.

Just going to throw in that my m1 2020 MacBook Pro runs zwift on medium settings way way better than I expected. Honestly I could probably crank it to high if I wanted and be fine. My 2019 MacBook could barely run it on low.

Its fine on my 2017 pro, but I dont find the graphics make any difference to the enjoyment of that platform. I have stopped fighting with a laptop for it and just run it on my previous phone streaming to a tv via chromecast.

I’m about to grab an M1 MBA. I love everything I’m hearing about it so far!

Currently not supported with apple silicon machines

I know this isn’t what you asked, but i run a 2019 MacBook Pro w 2.4 quad and the standard graphics card with no issues

M1 runs at ultra settings absolutely fine. My comment was for intel chip MBAs.

I just use the laptop screen but if I did want to hook it up to something else I guess I’d use HDMI for a TV or DisplayPort for a monitor, though I am not an expert and in general I loathe dealing with the constantly-changing ways to plug one thing into another thing.

Another vote for MacBook Air M1. I mostly use TR but do a bit of racing on Zwift. I used a dedicated gaming PC for 4k 60FPS goodness. I repurposed the gaming PC so I tried the M1 MacBook Air (base model with 7 core CPU), expecting it to be rubbish. It works really well and I don’t notice the drop from the gaming PC on a 15 inch 4k monitor mounted close to the bike.

Performance on last ride was 48FPS average, 41FPS 1% level at 1440p High settings. And it’s completely silent because the new MBA has no fan.

I wouldn’t buy one just for Zwift as you could get a 4k ultra gaming set up for that price, but if the question is can you use a general purpose MBA M1 for Zwift then definitely yes.

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