Best Device to Run Zwift

PC with a nice screen, especially if you’ll spending a lot of time Zwifting.

Apple tv ? - I was quite keen on this option - especially as there are tons available used on ebay. But in true apple style there are loads of different versions and conflicting reports on what version works and what version doesn’t.
Original Poster here.

Even DC rainmaker in one of his reviews - said get the one with the black remote - but then some 4k ones seem to have the silver remote.

Also I don’t have an iphone or an apple id - most of the set up vids assume you have an iphone - typing in the mega long wifi code could be a right pain - any experience folks

DCR is I think referring to when the black remote superseded an older silver remote, and those silver remote models were much earlier than the 4K. Those older silver remote ATVs can’t run Zwift at all. But the newer 4K models have a different silver remote which is a lot better than any of the old remotes.

So try and get one of the newer 4k models (2nd generation 4K or current 3rd generation 4K) with the silver remote.

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Further info on the remotes. See the picture below.

The left-most remote is the latest 4K remote, and works the best (mainly because of the directional buttons and not just a touchpad).

The middle remote is the previous one, and comes with the first-gen 4K and some older ATVs that run Zwift fine, just that the remote isn’t as good as the latest.

The right-hand remote is the oldest one and comes with ATVs that are not capable of running Zwift.

Screenshot 2023-07-12 113746


My Apple TV is the 2021 4K model that came with the (silver, second generation) Siri Remote, with the smallest storage capacity. I have never experienced any of the frustration/problems that have often been described on these Forums regarding not being able to navigate Zwift menus smoothly, etc.
My advice is not to buy one with the older remote unless you can also afford to buy a separate, post-2021 remote (they are sold separately).

One caveat: I did find typing using the remote a real drag. Having an iPhone, which lets you connect to its more ergonomic typing interface, does make for a much better experience. If you don’t use an iPhone, just I’d bear in mind that keying in strings of characters will take much longer than on a keyboard.

Also, here’s a timely article from Zwift Insider, from the perspective of someone who used a PC to zwift for many years:

Apple TV HD 4th gen is still supported, but do not buy it. That will be the next one to be dropped. I wouldn’t even bother with the 1st gen 4K - we’re starting to see differences in the game among the 4K models such as availability of video snapshots, due to lower performance.

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Could I create an apple id on a PC beforehand - then just login when prompted

I have tried all (most?) avenues of running Zwift: ATV, phone, iPad, desktop, and laptop.

ATV: PITA for me…only two connections and I had the ATV in a different room from the TV so the BT signal would not stay connected. Moved the ATV and still an issue… I can do it but … uggghhh. Very limiting if you get into some of the esoteric aspects of Zwift (logs/ hacking/ etc…)

Phone/iPAD: have to be desperate to run a screen that small…ugggghhh

Desktop: Cheapest way to get 4K but not very portable unless you have a screen at your destination and use an SFF pc…then you are limited in GPU cards…its OK unless you build a permanent setup.

Laptop: My primary…more $$ than a desktop but portable. I can play on any screen in the house. Get a 1660Ti or better and good to go.

Summary: if just testing to see if you like, use a phone or tablet. If you do not care about graphics quality or some of the intricacies of Zwift, an ATV works for most people but to get more than 2 connections (new ones get three??) without some shenanigans is limiting. A better permanent solution is a desktop. If you need portability and willing to spend a bit more a laptop works.

the problem with desktops is that they are expensive - ok you can get a refurb for about £100 - but then I would usb wifi and usb BT - USB wifi hasnt been great in my house - so I would a desktop pc with an expansion slot for wifi adapter.

You’ll get no better signal from a pci WiFi card than you will from a USB dongle. The ariel is essentially the same.

If you’ve poor signal I’d recommend using a set of powerline adapters.

You’ll can get a refurb desktop for half that price. Mine cost under £40 delivered.

Ok - it’s not the WiFi signal per se. But an external dongle is slower than WiFi on a motherboard.

Erm…nope. A WiFi dongle will only be restricted by the speed of your broadband/fibre signal. They are more than capable of over 300mbps and that’s just cheap ones.

Gotta disagree - if the data from the WiFi goes straight onto the motherboard then it will be quicker than data that has to come via a usb port to get to the motherboard.

Wifi cards often have a screw-in aerial connector which can be replaced by (if not already supplied with) an aerial on an extension lead. That will likely provide much better wifi reception than a USB dongle with a tiny internal aerial or an integrated external aerial. So a lot depends on what you’re comparing with what.

Yes you can create an Apple ID on the Apple website any time. It’s the same account you would use for making a purchase from their store. Apple ID

I’m out. Clearly my input & experience isn’t needed here.

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Latency of PCIe WiFi is slightly better than USB adapters in a USB 3.0 port. Much better than in a USB 2.0 port. Plus the antennas are usually bigger and better, and you can combine Bluetooth and WiFi in a single adapter without sharing a single USB port’s bandwidth.

I think a lot of the decisioning comes down to whether you have a dedicated space where you can setup your trainer and leave it (indefinitely), or whether you take down and put back up your bike/trainer setup when you switch between indoor and outdoor.

Combined with this consideration, leaving aside Zwift, do you have normal day-to-day computer uses? Are these uses served best by a tablet or a laptop. Do those who’ve chosen an ATV not have other computing needs? Otherwise couldn’t any laptop or tablet, be cabled to the same monitor or tv that the atv is hooked up to and perhaps offer better output?

Tablet will be close to the same as Apple TV at best, with HUD elements on the Apple TV being sharper. A gaming laptop (or PC) with an Nvidia GPU would certainly be better than the Apple TV, with higher frame rates and graphics profile.

I use an M2 mac Mini. It just works, and I can throw the thing in a bag, or suitcase, and pack my bike and trainer and have it work wherever I go (provided there is an HDMI input). It does rider shadows, and just seems to slay Zwift. So happy with it. I use a Magic Trackpad, and obviously a keyboard, and the track pad is pretty much hardy and so far indestructible.

The Apple TV means getting the top of the line newest one to support the graphics. The ATV also has a ridiculous limit on Bluetooth connections. If you can do what you need within that limit, it’s a pretty darn good box to use. The problem I had, which might be fixed by now, was if the ride discos in the middle. Recovery was not likely to be a thing. I just saw the limitations to be too much, but it works well for a lot of people. It also opens up the possibility too for traveling with it and bike and trainer. It’s plug and play, but the Mini is too, with more capability.

I tried using a few PC notebooks I had, and it just plain sucked. The screens were too small, and keyboards and track pads were iffy. (Unless you get a ToughBook?)

Maybe a NUC pc computer box would work, but it means looking for accessories.

But whatever you use, plan on getting a (couple of?) USB extension cables to move the dongles closer to the trainer (yeah, it really helps).

(Intel Mac Minis may still be available, and they have more USB connections) If you want to save some money, buy Apple an certified refurbished Mini. You get the whole warranty, and can get AppleCare for it too so full coverage just like it was ‘new’.

Oh, I tried Zwifting with an iPad Pro and it worked, but wow… I mean, I do an iPad for Companion, and it’s great, but to actually do a ride with it? Hmm, worse than the ATV IMO. But the TwelveSouth HoverBar Tower made it way more usable. I use a standard HoverBar Duo to hold an iPad on my desk in the pain cave. The Tower was a little less stable, had to put a weight on the base, but it works in a hotel room, and I never slipped the iPads on either one.