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Friday, February 23, 2024

I Played Baldur’s Gate 3 On Base Model MacBook Air M2, Here Is My Experience After 80+ Hours

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The Apple MacBook Air is not designed for gaming but Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the few games that is natively supported by the developer and since I recently got the base model 15-inch MacBook Air M2 and was away from my PC for a little more than a month, I decided to play the critically acclaimed title on the laptop. Here is my experience of playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on the base model 15-inch MacBook Air M2 after spending more than 80 hours.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Performance On Base Model 15-Inch MacBook Air M2

The base model 15-inch Apple Macbook Air M2 comes with the Apple Silicon M2 processor (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine), 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Furthermore, the laptop has a fanless design, unlike most Windows laptops that have fans to keep thermals in check, which is not ideal for gaming.

From the get-go, I did not have high expectations. Baldur’s Gate 3 got excellent reviews, was on sale and I was tempted to try the game out on the Macbook Air M2. Worst case, scenario, if it did not work well on the laptop, I could play it on my gaming PC when I returned to it.

M2 Macbook Air Base Model Specifications

Since the base model only comes with 256GB of storage and even less of it is actually usable, Baldur’s Gate 3 took up most of the storage on the laptop. Once the game was downloaded I hit play on Steam and it did take a while for it to run for the first time. I thought there and then that this was not going to work out and that I was a fool to think that Baldur’s Gate 3 would run on the M2 Macbook Air without a memory upgrade.

To my surprise, after a few minutes of waiting, the game launched just fine and I was able to get into the settings to make the Tweaks that I needed to make.

Baldur's Gate 3 M2 MacBook Air

How Well Does Baldur’s Gate 3 Run On MacBook Air M2?

I turned down all the settings to medium or low (if not off) and also enabled AMD’s FSR AI upscaling to take the load off the GPU and get the best possible performance out of the MacBook Air M2. Although BG3 only uses FSR 1.0 and there are newer versions of the technology available, it does work surprisingly well keeping in mind that the base model is limited to 8GB of memory.

The following is a breakdown of the settings that I used to run the game:

  • Display Mode: Full Screen
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:10
  • Resolution: 1710×1068
  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz
  • VSync: Off
  • Frame Rate Cap: 60 FPS
  • AMD FSR 1.0: Quality
  • Model Quality: Medium
  • Shadow Quality: Low
  • Cloud Quality: Low
  • Texture Quality: Medium
  • Texture Filtering: Anisotropic x2
  • Instance Distance: Low
  • Fog Quality: Low
  • Detail Distance: Medium
  • Animation Level of Detail: Medium
  • Anti-Aliasing: None
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Depth of Field: None
  • God Rays: Off
  • Bloom: Off
  • Subsurface Scattering: Off
  • Slow HDD Mode: Off
  • Dynamic Crowds: Off

It is worth mentioning that these are not the most ideal settings and you could get even better performance out of the MacBook Air by turning down all the details. I did try that and the game looked like a blur and that is something that I did not want to deal with. I wanted to have a decent experience playing the game even if it was on the MacBook Air M2.

With that out of the way, Baldur’s Gate 3 runs surprisingly well on the base model M2 Macbook Air. I had a few issues when trying to launch the game but once I was in-game it ran smoothly, and the cutscenes were especially immersive. I did not face any performance issues whatsoever in Act I or II. Which I imagine is due to the AMD FSR AI upscaling.

While the first two acts went by without major problems, I did start to experience the limitations of 8GB of memory on the base model M2 MacBook Air I got into the big city that has higher population density and large buildings in Act III. The game runs well when you are underground and in dungeons since these areas have fewer buildings and crowds but in the main city areas and the lower city area, there are FPS drops.

During Act III I was forced to tweak the AMD FSR 1.0 setting and switch from the quality preset to the performance preset to get a bump in performance. This did make the graphics blurry but it did provide a boost in performance that helped me explore the city and get through the Pale Elf storyline. The performance was much better in the sewer areas under the city.

Not to say that the game is unplayable. Yes, the exploration is not ideal when trying to roam around the streets of the big city but the combat is not affected since the number of enemies is limited compared to NPCs in the city that need to be rendered and animated. At the time of writing, I have more than 80 hours in the game, am at Act III, and have completed the Pale Elf questline. I do not want to include any spoilers since the game has plenty of choices and players will want to try out the game over and over again to see the consequences of their actions. If you have played the game for around the same time as I have then you know which city I am talking about.

Issues I Encountered While Running BG3 On M2 MacBook Air

While BG3 runs surprisingly well on the M2 MacBook Air, there were some issues that I faced. The following is a breakdown of the issues that I faced and how I solved them. This could help you solve these issues if you are also playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on the M2 MacBook Air or even the M1 MacBook.

BG3 Black Screen After Larian Logo Issue

This one took a while for me to figure out but it turned out that the Documents folder that also contained the Larian folder for the settings of Baldur’s Gate 3 was uploaded to my iCloud and was no longer on the MacBook. So all I had to do to solve the Baldur’s Gate 3 black screen on launch issue was downloading the documents folder back to the storage of my MacBook Air. That solved the problem for me.

BG3 Launching Zoomed In

Once I changed the resolution of my M2 MacBook Air M2, Baldur’s Gate 3 launched zoomed in and I was unable to go into the settings to change the video settings. The fix for this issue is to head into the Larian folder in the documents folder and edit the resolution in the game settings file. Once you have saved the new resolution you can launch the game.

FPS Drop In BG3 Act III

Baldur’s Gate 3 takes players into different terrains and parts of the world. Each Act has something new to offer and there are new environments to explore. I had no issues running the game in the first two acts but once I got to the big city in Act III, I did start to see the limitations of the MacBook Air M2 even with AMD FSR. There is no real fix for this and all I could do to make the game relatively playable in the big city areas was turning the AMD FSR setting from quality to performance. You can turn down other settings as well for an even smoother experience.

If you encounter other problems then you can check out our guides on how you can fix the file verification error and the Vulkan error.

Conclusion: Should You Play Baldur’s Gate 3 On Base Model MacBook Air M2?

Baldur’s Gate 3 runs surprisingly well on the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 thanks to AMD FSR 1.0. I was able to play the game without performance issues and had a decent experience during the first two acts. I only started facing performance issues once I got to the large city in Act III of BG3.

Whether or not you should play Baldur’s Gate 3 on the MacBook Air M2 comes down to the model that you have and the kind of experience you are happy with. With the base mode, you will need to turn down the settings a fair bit to get a smooth experience. If you have the variant with 16GB of RAM then you should get better performance. You will get a much better experience playing the game on the MacBook Pro M2.

Here is my experience of playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on the base model MacBook Air M2. Let us know what you think about the game. If you are interested in learning more about the game, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 guides hub.

Talha Amjad
Talha Amjad
PC hardware enthusiast and avid gamer. Has been creating content for more than 8 years and has worked with multiple brands and renowned websites. Tech and gaming are more than just work, they are a passion and way of life for me.

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