The device you run Zwift on can make or break your experience. I did a video and a post on troubleshooting Zwift and it made me wonder, why do so many people have so many issues? So this is a follow-up video/post or maybe it should be a prerequisite to that video.
Most problems with running Zwift can be avoided if it is running on the right device. I’m going to run you through the most common devices for running Zwift and the pros and cons of each.
My favorite device to run Zwift on and most likely will give you a trouble-free experience is the iPad. It simply just works.
Zwift instantly starts on the iPad. The pairing process is very simple and straightforward. And it doesn’t matter which iPad you get, whether you have the iPad Mini, iPad Air, or iPad Pro, as long as you can still update the iOS to the latest, it will just work.
The iPad uses Bluetooth, so just make sure all your devices are Bluetooth compatible. So if you are using a garmin heart rate monitor that only broadcasts in ANT+, that’s not going to work. Also, with an iPad, you can still run the Zwift companion app on your phone to give thumbs up, chat, and all things you can do on the companion app.
My second favorite device from a simplicity standpoint and trouble-free experience is the Apple TV 4K 1st generation or 2nd generation. Just make sure it has a 4K on the name. I’ve personally used the Apple TV for about two years and never had an issue. It’s also the most economical hardware to get you starteded with Zwift. You can buy an Apple TV for around $180. I’ve seen it go for $120 on Black Friday. You only need to get the 32GB option to run Zwift and anything related to the Apple TV. Apple TV just works. Zwift starts instantly on it, and you get to use your big screen tv as well.
The only problem with the Apple TV is, it does have limitations on how many Bluetooth devices you can pair to it. So if you try to pair a bike trainer, a heart rate monitor, and a separate cadence sensor, you will run into these limitations. But you can override these issues by using the “Pair with the Zwift companion app” option.
Also, many of the newer bike trainers measure cadence so it can be paired as power, controllable trainer, and cadence using only one Bluetooth signal which solves the Bluetooth limitations with the Apple TV.
Zwift and Apple TV remote don’t play well together, but you will eventually get used to it. Zwift is working on fixing that soon with a new redesigned interface. Hopefully, we will see that very soon.
With the Apple TV 4K, you are not going to run Zwift in 4K, actually, just a basic graphic profile and you will get 30 frames per second. But if you’ve never seen Zwift in ultra or 4K, you won’t really know what you are missing.
LAPTOPS AND DESKTOPS
Moving onto laptops and desktops. One thing I like about running Zwift on these devices is you can use the keyboard and mouse and use some of the Zwift keyboard shortcuts and different camera angles that you don’t get on other devices. Laptops and desktops can work really well, however, this is also where I have found most issues pop up as they vary greatly.
Devices from Apple like the MacBooks Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini tend to run zwift well as long as you are not running something very old. Zwift particularly runs so well on the new Macs with the M1 chip. Easy to pair devices in Bluetooth and You get a very good performance. With most of the Intel variety, you will get a high graphic profile. If you have a new one with the M1 chip, you can run it in an ultra graphic profile.
Windows desktops and laptops can run Zwift but these tend to be less consistent. Unlike Apple where the hardware and software are integrated and you sort of know what you are getting, Windows devices can differ greatly from one device to the next.
But assuming you have something that meets the requirements you should have a good experience. One issue that I’ve noticed with windows is that they tend to have more trouble with Bluetooth connections. So you might have to settle for ANT+ which I personally don’t like to use when indoors.
Bluetooth aside, one plus with Windows devices is that, if you get a decent graphic card, you can run zwift in 4K and once you run Zwift in 4K, everything else will be inferior and you will never be able to go back.
Smartphones are a great and easy way to run Zwift. They are convenient as they are with you all the time, and Zwift runs really well on them. I’ve used my iPhone a lot when going to a gym to run on a treadmill. The main downside with using your phone is the screen size and you can’t use the Zwift Companion app. But other than that, these just work well.
I have run zwift on almost all of these devices, all except Android, and used them for a decent period of time. From my own trial of all of these, my favorite and current setup which I’ve been using for the past two years or so is the Windows Gaming desktop. I know everyone who knows how much I love Apple is shocked right now! It’s a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti connected directly to a big screen tv via an HDMI cable and it’s sweet.
A PC with a good graphic card will give you 4K graphics and good frame rates. I love mine and rarely have connectivity issues, and with the smooth frame rate and graphics, I feel like I’m really out there in Watopia. One thing you still want to make sure if you decide to go the Gamin PC route is to get decent Bluetooth hardware because most will come with crappy Bluetooth and you will have trouble with connection unless you want to use ANT+. If you decide to go with ANT+, it’s best to get an extension cable and place it right next to your trainer for the best results.
Thank you for reading!