Fortnite is one of the most popular online video games around. You can play it on just about any operating system, although some are better than others. Of course, Macs are notorious for their poor video game experience. In newer versions of the MacOS (High Sierra and newer), Fortnite just got a lot more Apple-friendly. You still have a few settings to play around with, but if you've read our quick guide you will be the last man in no time.
Important: As of the end of August 2020, Epic Games will no longer update Fortnite on Apple devices, including 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 won't be able to participate in the latest season or cross-platform games (playing against PC, Android, or console players) – which essentially means you can only play against other players on Apple devices.
Play Fortnite on your Mac
To download Fortnite on your Mac, simply visit the Epic Games website and start the download process from your Mac. Click the Download button in the top right corner then click PC / Mac Download when you are given the option.
You'll need to sign in if you have an account or create a profile you don't already have. Once that's done it will download the EpicInstaller file which you should launch to start the process. Drag the Epic Games Launcher icon to your Applications folder and confirm opening the launcher when your Mac asks if you are sure. The download will now begin.
The Epic Games Launcher will now ask you to log in with your account. Sign in and click the green Install button. If your Mac asks you where to save Fortnite, it's a good idea to have it download to the default location. You should also keep the Automatic Update option selected to keep Fortnite up to date. Let the game download and select "Start" when you are ready to start playing.
The specs you need for Fortnite on Mac
Next, you need to wonder what specs Fortnite needs to run on a Mac. Epic provides information on both minimum requirements – the basic level for functionality – and recommended requirements that provide a more optimal experience. If you are on a budget or have an older Mac you may be interested in the minimum requirements:
- Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics
- Core i3-3225 3.3 GHz processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- MacOS Mojave 10.14.6 or newer
- A Mac that is compatible with Apple's Metal API (check if your Mac is compatible here).
However, for the best and most competitive gaming experience, it is best to look for the recommended settings to make the game run faster and look better. Whenever possible, make sure you have the following specifications (or better):
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 (or equivalent DX11 GPU)
- Core i5-7300U 3.5 GHz processor
- 2 GB VRAM
- 8 GB of RAM
- MacOS Mojave 10.14.6
Important Fortnite settings
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
When you start the game, Fortnite will automatically detect your hardware and hand out some recommended settings. This is a good start, but you'll likely want to manually adjust a number of in-game settings related to graphics quality and performance. Adjusting these settings downwards will make your Mac run Fortnite faster, but the game can also be more difficult to play. There are a few settings to note here.
Screen resolution: All modern Macs have high resolution retina displays. However, you should probably stick to the 1080p resolution for better frame rates. You should try to get as close to 60 FPS as possible, although above 30 FPS should be playable enough to have at least a bit of fun with it.
Quality presets: You can choose from Low, Medium, High, and Epic (or Auto, but you want more control than that). Start with Low as you will get as many FPS (frames per second) as possible. If it looks like your Mac is running at low settings without any issues, try switching to Medium and see how your gaming experience develops. If the gameplay is still very fluid, you can try turning the settings up even further to get the most out of your performance.
Vsync: For the most part, you'll want Vsync enabled to reduce screen tearing in-game. However, if you find that it is taking too much performance, you may have to live without that performance.
Keep in mind that the quality of the game can change over time. Things are improving, but patches also bring new problems. Fortnite performance on Macs improved significantly between 2018 and 2019 thanks to new updates and compatibility. As we've seen with previous updates, new versions can sometimes also introduce bugs that lead to crashes or slowdowns. These errors will be corrected in good time. So either roll back the update if you can, or be patient and wait for a fix.
Recommended Macs for Fortnite
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Okay, what specific Mac models are ideal for Fortnite and which ones are going to run into problems? Let's look at two different cases: gaming on a laptop and gaming on a desktop.
On a MacBook: If you are playing on a laptop, you will need up-to-date specifications to allow smoother gaming. Otherwise it will be very difficult for you. We highly recommend using the MacBook Pro to play Fortnite and sticking to models released in 2016 or more recently. The latest MacBook Pro models increase performance significantly. So stick to this one.
We also recommend sticking to the 15-inch or 16-inch models. Both upgrades from integrated graphics to various discrete GPUs – including the new Radeon Navi architecture in the 16-inch version – give your gameplay an important boost. Other Mac laptops with built-in GPUs aren't as smooth.
On a Mac desktop: An iMac can handle Fortnite as long as it has a discrete graphics option. It doesn't matter how good your iMac looks. If it runs standard Intel built-in graphics it will not perform well in games. Also, for compatibility reasons, you should look for a model that was released in 2017 or more for the best results. Same goes for the Mac mini, which doesn't have discrete graphics (although both the iMac and Mac mini can be used with an external GPU, which is massively helpful).
We tested the 5K 27-inch iMac with a Radeon Pro 580X graphics card that gave us nearly 60 FPS on Epic settings or in the upper 70s on high settings.
There is one important limitation for Macs: in order to run Fortnite, they must have Metal support. Metal is a technology that coordinates tasks between the CPU and GPU on Macs, and Fortnite requires it to run properly. Metal was introduced in OS X El Capitan. As long as you've updated your Mac's software over the past few years, you should be good.
In general, any MacBook released in 2015 or later will have Metal. All Air or Pro models had Metal in 2012 and later. iMac models got Metal in 2012 and Mac Pros in late 2013. If your Mac doesn't have Metal, Fortnite isn't an option until it's upgraded.