Metal OS X

When OS X 10.11 El Capitan launches this fall, it will feature Metal, a graphics framework Apple originally introduced for iPhones, iPads and iPods following the release of iOS 8 last fall. In addition to making El Capitan’s user interface and apps perform smoother than before, Metal for Mac is absolutely huge news for game developers and makers of graphics-intensive apps.

Like on iOS, El Capitan’s Metal significantly reduces the overhead of graphics frameworks such as OpenGL by enabling low-level access to your Mac’s graphics subsystem. Photo apps, games and video editing software like Adobe After Effects will experience up to ten times faster draw call performance by offloading certain tasks from the CPU onto the GPU.

But does your Mac sport modern hardware needed to support Metal’s features? It’s dead simple to determine this for yourself, here’s how.

Metal for Mac takes advantage of modern GPUs from NVIDIA, AMD and Intel.

Apple has said that Metal will be supported on Macs made since 2012, meaning older models won’t experience speed increases promised by Metal.

Specifically, Metal will support any Mac model from the late-2012 Mac mini onward, including late-2012 iMacs (including Retina 5K models), the new mid-2012 Mac Pro, mid-2012 MacBook Airs, 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros (Retina and non-Retina) and the new twelve-inch MacBook with Retina screen.

For fans of bulleted lists, the following models are supported:

  • Late-2012 and later 21.5-inch iMac
  • Late-2012 and later 27-inch iMac
  • Late-2013 and later 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display
  • Late-2012 and later Mac mini
  • Mid-2012 Mac Pro
  • Late-2013 Mac Pro
  • Mid-2012 and later 11-inch MacBook Air
  • Mid-2012 and later 13-inch MacBook Air
  • Mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro
  • Late-2012 and later 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • Mid-2012 15-inch MacBook Pro
  • Mid-2012 and later 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • Early-2015 12-inch MacBook

Is your Mac on the list?

Tell us in comments!

How to determine if OS X El Capitan’s Metal supports your Mac

Step 1: Choose About This Mac in the Apple menu.

Step 2: A window will pop up with basic information about your system, including a version of the operating system installed and its model year.

OS X Mavericks About Mac window 001

As the screenshot attests, my daily driver is a mid-2013 13-inch MacBook Air so I’ll be enjoying the benefits of Metal when El Capitan arrives.

OS X El Capitan Developer Preview runs on every Mac capable of supporting OS X Mavericks. As for the consumer edition of El Capitan, Apple hasn’t publicized official system requirements on its website yet and likely won’t until the free software update makes its debut this fall.

Some of the key benefits of using Metal over OpenGL include precompiled shaders and deep support for efficient multi-threading, making your Mac’s CPU and GPU work in concert to enhance performance without one of them sitting idle while the other is under strain crunching numbers.

Metal is up to 40 percent more efficient when it comes to rendering than OpenGL, according to Apple. “Metal combines the compute power of OpenCL and the graphics power of OpenGL in a high-performance API that does both,” said the company.

Apple provides a MetalKit framework for developers to integrate Metal into their apps using essential APIs for controlling drawing and loading graphic assets.

Already some of the biggest game developers have pledged their support for El Capitan’s Metal, including Epic Games which demoed a Metal-enhanced Unreal Engine 4 during an on-stage presentation at WWDC.

More about Metal for iOS and OS X can be found on Apple’s website.

Are you looking forward to Metal for Mac?

  • Asam R

    Hmm, my SS is not showing that.. :-/

    Does that mean it won’t be available to me, i think i have the same Macbook as you.

    • It will be supported of course, as your MacBook also carries same GPU power.

  • Anmol Malhotra

    Does it support early 2015 MacBook Pro 13inch? 😀

    • Austin

      Yeah what the heck! thats what i was wondering

    • madcanada

      if you could have struggled to read through the list you would see that 2012 and later 13″ Retina Macbook Pro are in the list.
      Obviously it would support the newest Macbook Pro.

  • Sigfredo Martinez

    Will it support 2009 Macbook pro?

    • louis

      yes it will. Works on mine Perfectly.

      • Richard Andrade

        I have the 17 inch MacBook Pro… 2009… El Capitan should work well, it is just that none of us will see the performance boosts bragged about in the article. Always a day late and a dollar short. I love my 17 inch MBP… I upgraded it to a 1 TB hybrid drive… and I use it all the time… it is my mainstay machine. Too bad that Apple does not make a 17 inch MBP anymore. I would buy an updated one in a minute… especially one with a 4 K display!

  • Logan

    Considering the demo Apple showed looked like a sub-par IOS game, I don’t really think anyone will really use it anyways.

    • People will use it since if I understand it correctly it offers direct access to the GPU taking the strain off of the CPU resulting in much better performance. In one of the WWDC videos Adobe shows off some of their applications that have been modified to use Metal and the rendering happens much quicker basically in real-time with no lag or delay.

  • Mohammed Khaled

    iPods can’t take advantage of metal. Only 64-bit chip devices! A7 and up!

  • Darn you Apple.. lol I already upgraded my wifi/bluetooth to be compatible with continuity and hand-off, what now…

  • jalexcarter

    missed it by a year, 2011 MBPro, thats okay i still love my baby and I cant wait to run El Capitan!

    • Richard Andrade

      Missed it on my 2009 17-inch MBP, my 2011 MB Air, my 2008 24 inch iMac… LOL. I am just losing it all around… LOL

  • Rupinder

    What about the 2015 MacBook Pro?

    • Chris

      Anything Mac made after 2012 is supported.

  • Martynet

    My iMac is not on the list 🙁
    But Since I swapped HDD for SSD drive and upgraded the graphic card, it’s running really well. Have the Latest iMac in the office with highest specs and there is not big difference. So maybe there will be a way how to run Metal on older machines too…

    • Juschan

      i don’t think so but why would you care if its running well i will get metal on my mba but i really don’t see the need of it

    • Ariel

      I have a 2009 20 inch iMac, thinking of upgrading the graphics. Is it difficult?

    • White Michael Jackson

      Thanks for the serial number was able to get my mac fixed with yours

      • Martynet


  • Chris Tangler

    will this support late 2011 MBP 17″?

    • Juschan

      is it older than the oldest supported MBP on the list they made than it will obviously not be available for yours

  • AnoNymouz

    you guys should really hide your serial numbers for your machines.

  • Zeth Kyhn Madsen

    iMac (27”, ultimo 2012)
    3,4 GHz Intel Core i7
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB

    Is this model supported? Don’t know the difference between ultimo and late

  • Roman Melnychuk

    Ok, the 2010 Mac Pro is basically the same as the 2012, EXCEPT for faster cpus – will Metal work on those ?

  • Ricardo Nebel

    Is Metal GPU and CPU dependent, or only GPU? I have a 2009 Mac Pro with a AMD Radeon 7950 sapphire video card (3GB)

  • fraggler

    I have a mid-2012 Macbook air, should i upgrade? Or will it slow down the computer?

    • Augustus Sotelo

      Did you ever decide to upgrade you Macbook air to El Captian?