This age-old question, if you had asked this question just a few years ago, the answer would be a resounding no, but nowadays, the answer is a “kinda?”. It is still complex but to boil it down shortly for you, you can install steam, and play MacOS-compatible titles. But there’s more!
I’m Ty, an IT Whiz and avid consumer of all digital media, including video games. A gamer since pretty much diapers, I have played every console or piece of hardware I have been alive long enough to get my hands on, and the MacBook Air is one more I can add to my list now.
In this article, I will go through how you can get gaming on your MacBook Air, which games you can play, and even some cheeky workarounds to get incompatible games to function on your device!
Let’s boot up, and get into it!
Getting Set-up With Steam
The first step to getting set up with steam is navigating to https://store.steampowered.com/ and getting yourself set up with an account. From there, you can install steam, and browse all of the games compatible with macOS.
It would be best to stretch those gamer legs of yours a bit, and to peruse the game store, though I always recommend starting light and small with a free game.
Once you get set up you can start building up your steam library and get to gaming! But hold your horses there, it isn’t as simple as it seems. As this article proceeds, I’ll get down to the nitty and the gritty of gaming on this device.
How is Performance?
The most important thing to remember about this all is that MacBook Airs were never meant to be gaming devices. They have never been marketed as gaming machines, and that is for good reason.
You won’t be playing games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on a device like this any time soon. I’d be surprised if you could even get a game like that to open. For something like this, it would be best to stick to less demanding games.
Gaming can be a very taxing thing for devices, especially those not built for the express purpose of being high-powered gaming machines. If you’re curious to see what games your device can run, and how well, check out this article by Ric Molina.
MacBook Air vs Gaming Laptops
Let’s take a look at how our Macbook fare’s up against something that was built to squeeze out every last frame from its games. For this, we will take a look at the HP Omen 15 vs a MacBook Air with an M1 chip.
A new MacBook Air will cost as much money as the HP Omen 15 at about 1200 dollars. The HP Omen is equipped with a GTX 1660ti Graphics card, which is what does a lot of the heavy lifting during gaming. This GPU and CPU combo will give you solid performance all around!
On the other hand, the MacBook Air is fitted with the M1 chip which is a very powerful processor, that is capable of playing a few games at good performance. But When paired up against something like the HP Omen, the M1’s gaming performance is a bit of a dud.
If you are looking to play games like Minecraft, Roblox, or Fortnite, the MacBook Air should do the trick at decent enough performance. But it simply does not hold a candle to the gaming power of a laptop with a dedicated graphics card.
But worry not, there are more ways to game on your device with the power of cloud gaming.
Gaming in The Cloud
The cloud is quite new, so the art of it is not perfect. Once the art of cloud gaming has been perfected, it will change the landscape of gaming forever. This new way to play has allowed a much broader audience to experience games in a whole new way!
First, let’s get into how the cloud even works. Cloud gaming is much like a streaming service in a way. Like how we stream movies through Netflix, cloud gaming allows us to stream video games themselves.
The service provider hosts the game on powerful hardware, it is then streamed from their device, through the internet, and onto your device, letting you play the game off of their hardware, instead of your own.
This is the absolute dream for someone who has less-than-stellar gaming hardware, like a MacBook Air!
It isn’t perfect, unfortunately. Like with Netflix, you’ll need a solid internet connection for this to run smoothly. A very, very good internet connection. Unlike Netflix which is simply streaming a video, Cloud gaming has to stream all of your inputs on top of everything else.
With a so-so internet connection, cloud gaming is almost unplayable. All you are left with is a blurry, laggy, hard-to-enjoy gaming experience.
One of the newest cloud gaming services that only requires a steam account, and some games in your library, is GeForce Now! Though it is limited to closed beta access and only the U.S and Europe, this service has the best potential.
Another, and arguably the most stable and reliable, is Xbox Game Pass on Mac! Though it is not “Steam”. All this requires is an Xbox Membership, Game Pass subscription, and your MacBook! With just that, you can get hours upon hours of gaming goodness right there on your MacBook Air.
Gaming IS possible on a MacBook, but with the hardware provided, and some compatibility issues, it is not perfect.
Cloud Gaming is quickly advancing and may be the new way to experience next-level games, on some not-so-great hardware. Using only your internet connection to stream, you can play triple-A games from your Steam Library, right on your own MacBook Air.
That was a doozy, but hopefully, I have helped explain the very complicated answer that is, Can you Play Steam Games on a Macbook Air?