Will Mac Mini run Zwift in 4K

Hi.
So I want to run Zwift maxed out in graphics! I want the best picture available! 4k…Ultra Detalis, everything…!
I have an Projector specialized for gaming, which should handle the task!
= Benq tk700sti.

But… I’m Mac guy and would prefer to run it on Apple platform! Apple tv4k won’t deliver!
Will the new Mac mini with M1 chip give me what I’m looking for? Or do I have to run it on a PC system to reach top level of everything?

Best regards Hans

No. The M1 devices officially get High profile, which is up to 1440p resolution and one tier below Ultra profile (note that profile and resolution in Zwift are separate). High is good, but not long after they were upgraded to High, rider shadows went missing and as far as I’m aware this is still the case. So in that regard they’re actually worse than Medium profile, which you can get with a puny GT 1030.

To get Ultra profile you need a GTX 960 or anything higher/newer. There are some 700 cards too, but I wouldn’t recommend going that far back. However you also need to bear in mind that running the 4K resolution consistently well requires massively more GPU power than 1440p. So whilst you could run 4K on a 960 or 1050 Ti you won’t get 60fps very often, if at all.

This is all ignoring group events and Makuri Islands, where you also need a very strong CPU to avoid the frame rate tanking.

3 Likes

Wow, thanks!
Thats whst I read also…That the M1 is powerfuk enough but the Zwift ulta software is not available on Mac platform (yet? ).
So I guess its the Gaming PC with Gtx 1650 super (at least )to go for!!?

Zwift HQ manually determine what they think each graphics adapter is capable of, and assign them a profile. When you start the game, this is looked up. So at some point, High has been determined as suitable for the M1 products. Unfortunately since then it’s been downgraded, I suspect in error.

The GTX 1650 Super is an excellent choice for Zwift, but they’re spectacularly hard to get hold of present, and therefore very expensive.

Wow Dave… thanks for your effort and answered… really appreciate them!! Do we have any indications of if Zwift will get the Mac software upgraded or is simply not enough people asking for this? don’t wanna invest in a PC and then a month from now Mac software will be upgraded…

There’s nothing to suggest it will change IMO. At present Zwift runs on M1 devices via an emulator because Apple silicon is a different basic architecture underneath; they’d need to develop native support to see a meaningful performance uplift, which is probably an unfeasibly onerous task. And even then it wouldn’t outdo what can be had on a PC for a third of the price of an M1 Mac Mini, unless they created a completely new, dedicated version of the game specifically for the M1 architecture. Ultimately the vast majority of Zwift users don’t care that much about the graphics (hence the popularity of Apple TV), so the chances of Zwift deciding to dedicate masses of resources to rebuilding the game for one platform are basically nil.

Edit: They will presumably fix the errant downgrade from High at some point, yes. Sorry, I thought you were asking if it will get better generally.

Wow! You really read up on this, didn’t you ;)!
Many many thanks!

Now the question will be, go for the PC with a GTX 1660 super or stay with the Apple TV and hope that Apple will throw in a M1 in the Apple Tv …. (Yes I know… it will not happen).

Even if the Apple TV got an M1 upgrade (which would be years away, it’s only just been relaunched as it is), it’d still not be better than a PC with a 1660 Super in it, for Zwift. There’s simply no comparison.

If you want to go down the PC route, there’s a lot to consider, especially if you want to avoid spending more than necessary. Search ZPCMR on Facebook.

Monday the M1X Macs (or whatever they will be called) drop so I wouldn’t make any decision until we see how they perform. If a new mini is included I will be purchasing one when available.

p.s. Dave it was good seeing you on the Team CLS ride last week.

1 Like

Cheers! :+1:

The issue with waiting for any new Mac etc is that their existence doesn’t just miraculously make Zwift better. The existing M1 devices are plenty strong enough and don’t even get rider shadows. Yes, they could deem the newest chip strong enough for Ultra profile, but that can already be done on a PC for under £200, or £300 for 4K. You’d be paying a massive, massive premium for MacOS and not having to put it together. Many people are fine with that, but the point is it wouldn’t be any better at Zwift so the value for money goes off a cliff.

1 Like

Dave,

In the not too distant future every Mac will run on non-Intel chips. In past transitions Apple allowed applications to use Rosetta for a period of time. Zwift is surely aware of this fact. For a Mac partisan like the OP switching to Windows could be a painful experience. JMHO!

Not if it’s just for Zwift. :wink:

Oh and I agree about the Apple silicon, Zwift will be pushed at some point. Be a long while yet though.

Likewise Apple deprecated OpenGL over three years ago.

Ok.
So what should I go for to max out Zwift. Will a better GPU make it even smoother?

Geforce Rtx 3050 or gtx 1660 super?

RTX 3050 is only in laptops, I wouldn’t buy one of those for Zwift. What to buy depends on your expectations for frame rate but a 970 or 1060 (or higher/newer) is enough for 60fps in most places in the game in 4K and Ultra profile. If you want to maintain it in Makuri Islands you’ll need a 3060 Ti or similar, the demands there are ludicrous. This is all discounting group events and busy Pace Partners, where CPU is the more important factor and the demands for 60fps are very high. If you want to maintain 60fps at all times you’re looking at something modern and approaching 5GHz like a 10600K or newer/above, or a 5600X. Or just go for something massively cheaper and accept 30-50fps which is the norm for almost everyone in these circumstances. For which a i3-4130 is fine - they cost £8 in the UK.

1 Like

Wow! Your the man!!
Thsnks for info!!!

No probs. Far more info, guides and tips on the Facebook group if you’re interested. :+1:

Ok one last question… internet mb/s? What are the demands here?

5 Mbps is plenty. Wired is always better, but you’ll still need access to the same network via Wi-Fi if you want the Companion app to work.

This I’m not so sure about. I have two Mac Pro 5,1:

2x 3.46ghz Xeon X5690 (12 cores), 128GB ram, NVME SSD, Radeon RX580 8GB
1x 3.46ghz Xeon X5690 (6 cores), 32GB ram, SSD, Radeon RX580 8GB

Both use Big Sur 11.6 (and OC 0.7.4)

In both cases the CPUs do nearly nothing while riding in Zwift (use iStatmenus to see it). The GPU gets hammered while the first CPU core is about 30% and the others all idle.

Both of those machines are fine in normal riding with the 4K ultra setting but group rides with 100 riders close together are not smooth using HDMI 4K output to a 55 inch TV.

Looks like Zwift needs hefty graphics cards. Can anyone find me a brand new Radeon VII? (aka winning lotto).

For the OP, could you think about something like a refurbished/second hand Mac Pro 7,1 with a lower level CPU then put one of the latest and most powerful AMD GPUs in it? You’ll have a computer that you can upgrade for years to come especially in storage, GPUs and CPU. There will always be some of those types of machines going cheap, just keep a watch for them.

If you have high end projectors (which are costly) then $$$ probably not a concern.

The CPU utilisation numbers aren’t really relevant, aside from very slow/old CPUs, Zwift never makes full use of a CPU when it’s required. Loads of cores/threads are meaningless, Zwift essentially uses one as proven by a dual core Pentium G3258 being just fine once suitably overclocked. The fact is that when there are lots of riders around, the GPU utilisation drops like a rock; this is because it’s not being fed fast enough by the CPU, so the frame rate drops. CPUs with more IPC and faster clock speeds get better results with the same GPU. The frame rate always tanks, it’s just a question of by how much. You could stick an RTX 3090 in either of those systems and it wouldn’t make any difference in a group event.

PS: your Xeons are substantially slower than the i3 I mentioned earlier, in the only metric Zwift cares about. The i3 that costs £8.