Fortnite is one of the most popular online video games out there. You can play it on just about any operating system there is, although some are better than others. Of course, Macs are infamous for their poor video game experience. However, in more recent releases of MacOS (High Sierra and newer), Fortnite has become much more Apple-friendly. You’ll still need to play around with some settings, but once you read our quick guide, you’ll be the last man standing in no time.
Important: As of late August 2020, Epic Games is no longer updating Fortnite on Apple devices, which includes iOS and MacOS. This change is a direct result of the ongoing litigation between Epic Games and Apple. While you can still download Fortnite for Mac, you will not be able to partake in playing the latest season or cross-platform play (playing against PC, Android, or console gamers) — which essentially means you’ll only be able to play against other players on Apple devices.
To download Fortnite on your Mac, just visit the Epic Games site and start the download process from your Mac. Select the Download button in the top-right corner, then choose the PC/Mac download when given the option.
You’ll need to log in if you have an account or create a profile you don’t already. Once that’s done, the EpicInstaller file will be downloaded, which you should launch to start the process. Drag the Epic Games Launcher icon to your Applications folder and confirm opening the Launcher if your Mac asks if you’re sure. The download will now begin.
The Epic Games Launcher will now ask you to make an account 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 the default location 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.
The next 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 graphics
- Core i3-3225 3.3 GHz processor
- 4GB of RAM
- MacOS Mojave 10.14.6 or newer
- A Mac compatible with Apple’s Metal API (check if your Mac is compatible here)
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 look better. When possible, make sure you have these specs (or better):
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 (or equivalent DX11 GPU)
- Core i5-7300U 3.5GHz processor
- 2GB VRAM
- 8GB of RAM
- MacOS Mojave 10.14.6
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 faster, but it may also make the game harder to play. Here are a few settings to keep in mind.
Display resolution: All modern Macs have high-resolution Retina displays. However, you’ll probably want to stick to 1080p resolution for better frame rates. You’ll want to try to get as close to 60 frames per second as possible, though anywhere above 30 should be playable enough to at least have some fun with.
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 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.
Vsync: In most cases, you’ll want to have Vsync turned on to reduce the amount of screen tearing in the game. However, if you find that it’s costing you too much performance, you may have to live without it.
Remember that game quality can change over time. Things improve, but patches also introduce new issues. Fortnite performance on Macs has seen major improvements 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.
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 a laptop and playing on a 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, so try to stick to those.
We also suggest sticking with the 15-inch or 16-inch models. Both upgrade from integrated graphics to various discrete GPUs — including the new Radeon Navi architecture in the 16-inch version — which gives an important boost to your gameplay. Other Mac laptops with their 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 2017 or more recently for the best results. The same goes for the Mac mini, which doesn’t include discrete graphics (although both the iMac and Mac mini can be used with an external GPU, which will massively help).
Here at Digital Trends, we matched the 5K 27-inch iMac with a Radeon Pro 580x graphics card to see how the display would react with such a powerful card. The results were around 60 fps and upper-70s on Epic and High settings, respectively.
One thing to keep in mind with Macs: they can only run Fortnite if utilizing Metal Support. Metal’s technology coordinates between a Mac’s GPU and CPU functions, which Fortnite needs to run effectively. OS X El Captain was the first update to use Metal, so if you’ve been regularly updating your OS, you’ll have the capabilities to run Fortnite.
If your MacBook was made post-2015, then in all likelihood it has Metal included. Fortunately, if you have a Pro or Mac from 2012, then you also have Metal included. Back in 2012, iMac products integrated Metal into their systems. Then, at the end of 2013, Mac Pros added it as well. If you want to play Fortnite, you’ll need to ensure your Mac has Metal.
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