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How to play Fortnite on Mac

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Really wish you could play Fortnite on your Mac, but not sure if it can handle the job, especially when gameplay gets a little crazy?

The good news is that Fortnite has been compatible with Macs since around MacOS Sierra, and that 2019 has seen a major boost in the quality of playing Fortnite on a Mac machine. But Fortnite can struggle on Macs, so it’s important you find optimal specs and settings. Here’s what you need to know.

Start playing Fortnite on your Mac

To download Fortnite on your Mac, just visit the Epic Games site and start the download process from your Mac. Select the Play Free button, and when given an option, choose the PC/Mac download.

How to play Fortnite on Mac

This will download the EpicInstaller file, which you should launch to start the process. Drag the Epic Games icon to your Applications folder, and confirm opening the Launcher if your Mac asks if you’re sure. The download will now begin.

Epic will now ask you to make or sign in with your account. Sign in, and select the green Install button. When your Mac asks you where you want to save Fortnite, letting it download to Program files is a good idea. You should also keep the Auto-Update option selected so Fortnite stays current. Let the game finish downloading, and select Launch when you’re ready to start playing.

Important Fortnite settings

How to play Fortnite on Mac Dan Baker/Digital Trends

When you start the game, Fortnite will automatically detect your hardware and dish out some recommended settings. That’s a good place to start, but you’ll probably want to adjust a number of in-game settings related to graphic quality and performance manually. Adjusting these settings down can help your Mac run Fortnite more faster, but it may also make the game harder to play. Here are a few settings options to keep in mind.

Display resolution: All modern Macs have displays higher than 1080p. However, you’ll probably want to stick to 1080p resolution for better framerates. You’ll want to try and get as close to 60 FPS as possible, though anywhere above 30 should be playable enough.

Quality presets: You can choose from Low, Medium, High, and Epic (or Auto, but you want more control than that). Start off at Low, as this will give you as many FPS (frames per second) as possible. If it looks like your Mac is running on Low settings with no problems, try bumping up to Medium and see how your playing experience goes. If gameplay is still very smooth, you can try increasing the settings even more to get the most out of your performance.

3D Resolution: Keep this at 100 percent going in, you don’t want to mess with this unless performance is really poor. In that case, try lowering it to 75 percent or around there to see if it helps. This can improve your FPS, though at the cost of graphical qualities you may not want to miss.

Remember that game quality can change over time. Things improve, but patches also introduce new issues. As we mentioned above, Fortnite performance on Macs has seen major improvement just between 2018 and 2019, thanks to new updates and compatibility.

However, as we’ve seen with past updates, sometimes new versions can also introduce bugs that create crashes or slowdowns. These bugs are fixed in time, so either roll back the update if possible, or stay patient and wait for a fix.

The specs you need for Fortnite on Mac

How to play Fortnite on Mac

The first thing to ask is what specifications Fortnite needs when running on a Mac. Epic provides information on both minimum requirements — the base level for functionality — and recommended requirements, which deliver a more optimal experience. If you’re on a budget or have an older Mac, you may be interested in the minimum requirements, which are:

  • Intel Iris Pro 5200
  • Core i3 2.4GHz processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • MacOS Sierra 10.12.6

However, for the best, most competitive gaming experience, it’s best to look for the recommended settings, which will help the game run faster and more smoothly. When possible, make sure you have these specs (or better):

  • AMD Radeon HD 7870 (equivalent DX11 GPU)
  • 2GB VRAM
  • Core i5 2.8GHz processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • MacOS Sierra 10.13.6 (although the latest MacOS yields highly recommended improvements to the experience)

Recommended Macs for Fortnite

How to play Fortnite on Mac Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Okay, so what specific Mac models are ideal for Fortnite, and which will run into problems? Let’s look at two separate cases, playing on laptop and playing on desktop.

On a MacBook: If you are playing on a laptop, you need recent specs to support smoother play — otherwise you’re going to have a really rough time. We highly suggest using the MacBook Pro for playing Fortnite, and stick to models that were released in 2016 or more recently. The newest MacBook Pro models greatly increase performance.

We also suggest sticking with the 15-inch model. The 13-inch is just a little too small for the sort of surveillance and shooting that Fortnite often requires. The 15-inch version also upgrades from integrated graphics to a discrete GPU–the impressive Vega 20–which gives an important boost to your gameplay. Other Mac laptops with there integrated GPUS just won’t be as smooth.

On a Mac desktop: An iMac can handle Fortnite, as long as it’s one with a discrete graphics option. It doesn’t matter how great your iMac looks, if it’s running standard integrated Intel graphics, it’s not going to perform well in games. Furthermore, for compatibility reasons you should look for a model released in 2016 or more recently for the best results. The same goes for the iMac mini, which doesn’t include discrete graphics.

We tested the the 5K 27-inch iMac with a Radeon Pro 580X graphics card, which gave us near 60 FPS on Epic, or in the upper-70s on High.

There’s an important caveat for Macs: To run Fortnite, they have to have Metal support. Metal is technology that coordinates tasks between the CPU and GPU in Macs, and Fortnite requires it to run properly. Metal was introduced in OS X El Capitan, so as long as you’ve updated your Mac’s software in the past couple of years, you should be good.

Generally speaking, any MacBook released in 2015 or later will have Metal. Any Air or Pro models had Metal in 2012 and later. iMac models got Metal in 2012, and Mac Pros got it in late 2013. If your Mac doesn’t have Metal, Fortnite isn’t really an option until you upgrade.

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