How to play Guitar Hero III on a Mac, in 11 easy steps

OK! After some ado I’ve figured out how to play Guitar Hero III smoothly on an Intel Mac. Here’s how you do it:


  • Step 1: Make sure you have at least a Mac Pro.
    Sorry, laptops (MacBooks, MacBook Pros) just don’t have enough juice. iMacs are questionable (I don’t have access to any). I’ve gone through all of the below with a new MacBook Pro with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5Ghz with a GeForce 8600M GT with 512 RAM and tweaked all the performance settings using the nVidia Utility to no avail. Can’t even play it smoothly at 640×480!
  • Step 2: Get a better graphics card.
    If you don’t already have at least an ATI X1900 you’ll need to buy one, despite the lukewarm reviews. The stock graphics card is not fast enough to run the game.
  • Step 3: Get a better cooler for the graphics card
    The X1900s run INSANELY hot and WILL overheat and crash your computer. I suggest the Accelero S1 from an earlier post.
  • Step 4: Adjust system fans to cool your better graphics card cooler
    The power plug for the turbo module is obscured by the enormous fins so it won’t fit if you were to buy one. An easy workaround is to simply download and install smcFanControl (free) to control the Mac Pro’s fans. Set the HD bay to somewhere near max.
  • Step 5: Install Windows using Boot Camp (requires OS 10.5 Leopard, Windows XP SP2)
    Don’t forget to print out the instructions before starting!
  • Step 6: Install hardware drivers from Leopard DVD
  • Step 7: Change sound settings for XPlorer Guitar
    Windows seems to think that the wired XPlorer guitars are speakers, rather than input devices. Funny, that.
  • Step 8: Install Guitar Hero III
    Install GH3 while booted into Windows.
  • Step 9: Install the Guitar Hero III patches
    Since Aspyr screwed up with the initial release you should install the patches to gain some missing features and improve performance
  • Step 10: Install ATITool and create an overclock profile for your graphics card
    According to the reports on my ATITool my ATI X1900 was clocked at a piddling 300Mhz. After testing it reported it could be run at 3000Mhz! While the numbers surely aren’t right, the performance gains when running GH3 are real.
  • Step 11: Pre-flight check and game configuration
    Before settling in to play your game make sure:
    – you set your case fans to high in OS X before booting into Windows so you don’t fry your graphics card
    – you have your Guitar Hero III CD inserted
    – you have ATITool running with your overclocked settings loaded
    – you have your game graphics set to your liking in the GH3 “options” menu. While I was able to play the first few levels at 1920×1200 some of the levels (like the Desert Tour and Kaiju) are too complex and will stutter at anything above 1024×640. You should feel free to turn on all the lighting effects, though, and treat yourself to a “packed” crowd.


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