What makes the biggest difference in computer performance with Zwift?


I’ve logged a few km’s now on Zwift and have really enjoyed the motivation of the competitive timed segments and riding with others.

Almost everything is great in how Zwift runs on my machine. Great ANT+ connection, great audio performance, great online connectivity, BUT THE VIDEO PERFORMANCE IS A NEAR FAIL. My frame rate is not very high. Maybe 8fps? 8 at best. Definitely not as smooth as the demo videos being shown for Zwift. I’ve found the best performance for video is using “view 8”.

Though I have no one to blame for this but myself as my laptop nears being 6 years old. This machine is no spring chicken, but it has always been my daily workhorse and has never let me down.

My question is what makes the biggest difference in computer performance while riding Zwift?

My machine:
Macbook Pro
Mid 2009
Model 5,5
4 gb ram
SSD drive

Where does one see the biggest gains?
video card?
processor power?
internet connection?


The graphics card is the most important by far. Processor may play a small role, but it’s pretty insignificant compared to graphics. RAM is usually only a problem with slow loading times. Hard drives just lead to slow loading times too. It has more to do with the speed and fragmentation of the hard drive rather than the capacity though. A slow internet connection will make the other riders “jumpy”, but won’t affect your framerate at all.

So essentially, get a really powerful graphics card and a decent processor (preferably one with a higher clock speed rather than lots of cores). You are unlikely to notice any major improvements from changing out the RAM, HD, or Internet Connection.

As Kyle said, it’s all about the graphics card. Apple doesn’t typically put “gaming” graphics cards in their mac, and your mac is now 6 years old, so you’ve got the worst of both worlds at the moment. Any current mac works fine, with something having a dedicated NVidia or AMD chip being the best (altho Iris Pro is pretty good too).

Some of the mid-2009 MacBooks were sold with a higher performing graphics card that must be enabled through the power-savings settings in the system preferences. If you have this feature, make sure it’s enabled.

I also have a mid-2009 MBP, with the optional graphics card, and Zwift appears to work ok. The framerate isn’t great, but it’s not annoyingly bad either - pretty much what I’d expect for a 5-year old laptop.

I figured out a cool workaround that doesn’t cost a penny!

Zwift works smooth as cream on the iPhone. I have an old iPhone 5s and a mid 2009 15" Macbook Pro.

The idea is that you mirror your phone on your computer.

Here are the instructions I found online:

Connect your iPhone , iPad or iPod touch to your Mac via a Lightning Cable. Open QuickTime on your Mac , and select File > New Movie Recording . A recording window will appear. Click the arrow next to the Record button, and select your  iPhone from the dropdown menu that appears.

For sound select your phone from the Microphone dropdown. Press the un-mute button on the Quicktime screen.

You’re all set!

Hope this helps some folks out!

I ‘third’ the notion that it’s all about the graphics card!

I was using a 5 year old Lenovo ThinkPad on Zwift.  Being a workstation caliber laptop with a ton of RAM, i7 processor, and an SSD drive, I thought it would be good enough.  However, I recently tried running Zwift on my much other laptop which is less than a year old.  It has less RAM and a mid-grade i5 processor, but a much newer graphics card. 

All I can say is “WOW!”  Running Zwift with my new laptop made a huge difference in how Zwift looks and responds.  Motion, such as bikers moving around me, is much more fluid and less jerky, textures are much smoother, and I swear the lava is hotter in the volcano!   Not only that, I think some of the lag I was experiencing in Zwift when going up and down hills has been reduced… perhaps my old laptops graphics card just couldn’t keep-up.

So needless to say, if you’re using a relatively old laptop, you might be due for a new one if you want to get the most out of Zwift :-/

I use a Mid-2010 Macbook Pro with NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 MB

It runs slow, but with no major problems.