With four different Macs sitting in the CNET lab right now, Valve couldn't have picked a better time to release its Mac Steam client, at least from a testing perspective. We just spent the past few hours with Steam, as well as Portal and Torchlight, two of the more graphically demanding games available for Steam at launch. So far, we find Steam on the Mac just as seamless as the Windows version. The games are also mostly trouble-free.
First, to accompany this launch Valve is offering Portal as a free download until May 24. If you haven't played Portal, or even if you have, we recommend it. It's fun.
The Steam software itself should feel instantly familiar to anyone who's used the Windows version. Valve recently gave Steam a cosmetic overhaul, so even Steam veterans might need a minute to adjust, but overall it remains intuitive to navigate. One considerate touch: In the Steam store you'll see the full list of titles available for download, Windows titles included, but a mouse-over message will warn you if you hover over a game that's unavailable for the Mac. That will hopefully prevent any incompatible purchases. At launch, there were roughly 50 Mac titles available.
For the games themselves, we have few complaints about their performance on our various test systems. Granted, we'd expect neither the older Portal nor the purposefully lightweight Torchlight to challenge a halfway respectable computer. With more games coming to Steam for the Mac from Valve and (presumably) other game manufacturers, future titles may provide more of a challenge to the Macs we tested. For today at least, we find that Apple's higher-end Mac laptops and all-in-ones make capable gaming systems.
Our four test systems:
27-inch iMac with 2.8GHz Core i7, 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 27-inch iMac with 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo, 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.66GHz Core i7, Nvidia GeForce 330M
13-inch MacBook Pro with 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia GeForce 320M… Read more