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I'm considering the renewal of my old 2011 MacBook Pro and playing X Plane 11 with a enjoyable experience is one of my criterias.

I precise that having an old Mac (i7 2.0Ghz, 16 Gb of RAM but only a AMD Radeon HD 6490M 256 Mo) - I never even tried to install XPlane 10 or 11. Even FlightGear with low settings runs at 10 FPS...

I need to get a Mac for my work. I have a budget of arround 2200 USD and I'm considering two options:

  • Getting an high end 15" MacBook Pro or a 5k iMac (but this video is not really hopeful)
  • Getting a "cheap" (lol) MacBook Air for arround 1200 USD and spending arround 1000 USD in a custom built PC (I already have a 23" monitor)
The first option is my favorite as I spend a lot of time on my Mac, I like the idea of getting a state-of-the-art one. But if it stills being an high gap on the experience between a 1000 USD PC setting and a a 2400 USD Mac, I'll consider the second option.
Mac users of XPlane 11, what is your feedback about that ?
Thank you for your answers

1 Answer

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answered by (5.3k points)
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Hi MaximeFr,

I am a PC user and not a Mac user.  I have no connection with any product or business mentioned below. 

Although all of the X-Plane development work is done on Macs, there is a comment elsewhere in this forum by a Laminar Research staffer (jroberts) who uses a PC to fly.  That must be a clue on not using a Mac.  

I think the comments in the video you provided a link for has answered your question.

Buy your Mac for work and don't waste your money on anything Mac for Flight simulation.  Others in this forum have also made the same comment.  Even for a windows based gaming laptop you need to be selective in the brand. 

The author of the video mentioned a heat problem.  You need adequate cooling for the system.  The CPU generates a large amount of heat.  So does the the graphics card. The inbuilt graphics component in the Mac motherboard would have generated heat as well. The author makes reference to the graphics cards of today having cooling fans.  A must.  Otherwise your system will crash (blue screen) and reboot.

For the money you will spend on a mac you can get a higher spec PC.  Make sure the PC is 64 bit compliant otherwise XP11 will not run.

A PC will allow you to provide adequate cooling (additional fans) and more importantly you will be able to upgrade your system to the latest components as funds become available.  For a better performance go for a Nvidia card rather than a AMD card.  The newer top of the range AMD cards may give you the same benefit   You should have a dedicated graphics card.  The video author touched on this as well.  You will also be able to initially use your 23 inch screen provided it is 1920 x 1080 compliant.  Any other lower specification will be a disappointment. In time you may want to go for a multiscreen system.  This will be far easier to achieve with a PC system.

Take a look at the following youtube video found at  Take into account the specs for the PC.  The author, Michael, runs a company called X-ForcePC  producing PCs for flight simulation.  His company is the recommended PC supplier by Laminar Research in the USA.   Michael has also produced a number of youtube videos providing a number of good hints regarding x-plane..  One additional hint is to use an Intel processor instead of an AMD processor.  In other videos he also mentions not using an AMD card.

With Laminar Research recommending a PC supplier instead of a Mac supplier I think answers your original question on what to use for flight simulation.

As a final comment, if you haven't purchased X-plane as yet, make sure you purchase the official version from Laminar Research in either the digital download or disk version.  There is a Steam version.  This product has been developed by a 3rd party company taking a commercial advantage of the development work carried out by Laminar Research.  There is no connection of any type between either party.  As a sideline Steam released a disk version of X-plane 11 long before Laminar Research released the official disk version some months later.

Welcome to the world of X-Plane.



commented by (16 points)

Thank you so much for this so welcoming and detailled answer ! If the whole community is like you, I can't wait to switch to X Plane !

Ok, I get it, Mac are compatible in terms of software but their hardware doesn't matches any of the requirements of X Plane to get a comfortable experience - I will not get my money worth's.

I'll take a look to custom built PCs for my budget of arround 1000 USD. The Budget Gaming and Flight Sim System from XForce seems to be a strong start point. 

With this PC, I have 1200-1500 USD left to buy a Mac, which is a fairly decent budget for a Mac for work (even if it annoys me so much to put 2500 USD on PCs and get low-cost ones ! In these moments I hate Apple policy...)

Thank you for your guidance and feedback Glenn, I did not expected that long post and I truly appreciate it


PS : Looking for XForce, I got this link that Google never gave me despite my searches. I think it is also a good document for people who have the same question as me. 

commented by (186 points)
I'm on Mac since 1989, but for the first time I consider to buy a GamingPC just for X-Plane because the most powerful graphic cards are on the Windows side. But I wait first to try X-Plane with Max Settings on the new iMac Pro that should be available in late 2017. That iMac seems to have a very powerful graphic card. If I don't have 30 FPS with heavy graphics, then I'll buy a GamingPC.
commented by (10 points)

It helps me lot because I am a little bit confused when I thinking to buy a MacBook pro after seeing this valuable information, now I am feeling very happy to use this whenever I have an issue then I connect Apple Application Support team and get instant help.