Guitar Hero III (GH3) For Mac, some important notes

Announced Sept 11, 2007, Released December 11 and patched December 20, and patched again in MayGuitar Hero III has finally landed on the Mac platform.

Being the furthest tentacle out on this gaming franchise (with xBox 360, PS2, Wii and Windows generally taking priority) there are a few questions that don’t seem to have easy-to-find answers.

Bronzefinger shall attempt to answer what it has learned thus far:

Q: Will Guitar Hero III run smoothly on my iBook/iMac/MacBook/etc.?
A: I know a lot of us are in a state of denial about this game’s system requirements because they are so slap-you-in-the-face high. In fact, many people are disregarding these and buying the game anyway and then experiencing the pain of lags and stutters. Don’t believe me? read the reviews at and weep.

The MINIMUM system requirements:

  • Operating System: 10.4.10 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard)
  • CPU Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • CPU Speed: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 5.1 GB + 1 GB Swap File
  • Video Card (ATI): Radeon X1600
  • Video Card (NVidia): Geforce 7300
  • Video Memory (VRam): 128 MB
  • Media Required: DVD-ROM
  • Macintosh mouse and keyboard
  • Official Guitar Hero X-Plorer Guitar Controller


  • CPU Speed: 2.33 GHz
  • Memory:2 GB RAM
  • Video Memory (VRam): 256 MB

The key here is really the graphics card — most MacBooks, MacBook Pros and early Mac Pros video cards DO NOT MEET THE MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENT and they WILL cause the game to stutter.

Here are a few real-world examples from the Bronzefinger stable:

Guitar Hero III for Mac, patch 1.1 installed, all other programs off:

MacBook Pro (dual 2.16Ghz, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD, 64MB Graphics Card (BELOW SPEC!)):
Plays the first two levels up to the prison just fine with effects off. Then songs will fairly regularly suffer from visual slowdowns that are bad enough to not be able to play through them “by ear”

Mac Pro (quad 2.66Ghz Xeon, 5GB RAM, 500GB SATA HD, 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT (Aspyr support says this card is below spec but their website says it’s supported)):

No visual difference between screen resolutions so play widescreen at the lower resolution. All effects on and mostly smooth gameplay but when panning through the crowd in the Japanese Superdome and the Desert Rock tour the screen will stutter slightly.

Q: Are there downloadable songs for this game like the PS2 version?
A: No.

Q: Can I play my friends online?
A: RedOctane states in their online F.A.Q. that online game play is NOT available between consoles, so you can NOT play online with your xBox or Wii friends.

Q: Since this came with an XBox USB guitar can I use the XBox wireless guitar or PS2 Guitar (since it uses a USB adapter)?
A: No. The official word from Aspyre is:
“The Guitar that we support for this game is the X-Plorer USB Guitar Controller. The Playstation 2 controllers will not work properly, even with the adapter. There have been many reports of compatibility problems with the PS2 controller. So, the X-Plorer (wired) USB Guitar Controller is the only controller that we support for GH3.

You can, however, dress your guitar up a bit with vinyl covers from a variety of sources including

For owners of GH3 on other systems you can find a handy chart of guitar compatibility in the scorehero forums

Q: What does “NOTICE: This game contains technology intended to prevent copying that may conflict with some disk and virtual disk drives.” mean?
A: In an act of customer loathing Aspyr has employed some kind of copy protection that requires that your install DVD be inserted into your machine in order to run the game. It appears that it is only used as a check to prove you “own” the game and is not used to play the actual game — so you don’t have to worry about it decreasing performance due to the slower read speeds of optical drives.

This does, however, create quite a few opportunities to scratch your disc (either by the drive mechanism or general storing/retrieving). If this happens you’re off to the Activision/RedOctane/Asypre maze to figure out how to get a replacement disk all the while you’re w/o the game you purchased.

It appears that this software can tell if you’ve made a local .dmg or .iso copy and similarly can tell if you have inserted a copy of the disk into your optical drive meaning that you can ONLY play your game by validating it with the actual DVD that came in the box from the store — you can not use a copy even if it was an exact disc-to-disc copy.

Update 28 March 2008: The “unofficial” way to protect your original Guitar Hero III Disc is to not use it at all. For as long as it is available you can check on this thread for instructions. They would be post #7, #20, #25 and #33, roughly in that order.

Update 22 August 2008: After some more testing and tweaking I have found a better way to play Guitar Hero III on a Mac

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