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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

3D GAME SHOOTOUT:
MacBook Pro Core i5 and i7
versus similar Macs

Originally posted Friday, April 23rd, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Today we probe the burning questions: "Can the new MacBook Pro produce a satisfying 'after hours' recreational experience?" and "Can you get acceptable 3D game frames-per-second in native 1920x1200 resolution without backing down High or Ultra quality settings?"

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars -- We used our recorded demo file which we call "BF." Settings are "High Quality." (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Call of Duty 4 -- We used a demo file called "mac_pipeline." Shadows and Soften Smoke Edges were set to "No." Textures Filtering was Trilinear with High Resolution. All other settings were "On" or "Normal." (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

World of Warcraft -- With "Ultra" settings and 1X Multisampling, our WoW GPU test occurs in FireTree realm. Our warrior stands next to the totem pole at the entrance to Camp Narache (Red Cloud Mesa). He runs East toward the large tree at the top of the hill. Turns around and runs West back to the totem pole. Using Titan Performance addon, we are able to capture min, max, and average frame rate. This test has proven to be a reliable measure of GPU power. (CPU power is harder to measure consistently since it requires a very busy scene with many characters doing their thing -- which is impossible to duplicate at different times for different Macs.)

Using a recorded flight of the X-15 being dropped from a bomber, we used the Terminal app to benchmark X-Plane at high quality textures, 2X AA, and 4X Aniso. (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Quake 4 -- We ran the "PerfTest" timedemo at "Ultra" quality with multi-core support enabled. (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Doom 3 -- Old but still interesting to some, we ran the "Demo1" timedemo at "Ultra" quality. (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

LEGEND of GRAPHS (RED bar means fastest)
iMac i7 2.80 R4850 = 27" iMac Core i7 2.80GHz with Radeon HD 4850 (512MB).
MBP i7 2.66 G330M = 17" MacBook Pro Core i7 2.66GHz with GeForce GT 330M (512MB)
MBP i5 2.53 G330M = 17" MacBook Pro Core i5 2.53GHz with GeForce GT 330M (512MB)
MBP C2D 3.06 G9600M = 17" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo 3.06GHz with GeForce 9600M GT (512MB)
All four Macs had 8GB of 1066MHz SDRAM main memory. All tests were run at 1920x1200.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?
If our tests are representative,
1. The fastest 2010 MacBook Pro is 10% to 32% faster than the fastest 2009 MacBook Pro.
2. The MBP Core i7 beats the MBP Core i5 by only 0% to 6% -- mainly because they have the same GPU and we were running at native 1920x1200 resolution at high or ultra quality. If your main use of the MacBook Pro is for gaming, the MacBook Pro Core i7 may not be worth the extra $200 (or 9%) premium over the Core i5.
3. The iMac Core i7 is 64% to 113% faster than the MacBook Pro Core i7 due largely to the much faster GPU.

As you can see, we used our typical set of 3D accelerated game tests. We are open to updating the suite. We welcome your feedback on what 3D accelerated games you think would improve our GPU performance analysis. Some that have been suggested recently include Bioshock, Starcraft II, The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, and Star Wars The Force Unleased: Ultra Sith Edition. Feel free to email your thoughts to me, .

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY A MACBOOK PRO and other Apple Products
Click on our Apple Store USA text links or display ads when you order a MacBook Pro. It's a great way to support Bare Feats since we earn a commission on each click-through that results in a sale.

USA Apple Resellers we recommend:
Power Max (takes trade-ins)
Small Dog Electronics

DON'T LIVE in the USA? Here are some Apple Stores to click:
Apple Store - Canada
Apple Store - France
Apple Store - Germany
Apple Store - Italy
Apple Store - UK

WHERE TO BUY MEMORY UPGRADES FOR THE MACBOOK PRO
The 8GB kits are available from
Trans International
and Other World Computing

WHERE TO BUY SSDs FOR THE MACBOOK PRO
Trans International
and Other World Computing
and MaxUpgrades

WHERE TO BUY PHOTOSHOP CS5 AND/OR CREATIVE SUITE 5
Order directly from Adobe USA to get free shipping. If you are a member of NAPP, get 15% off.
Don't live in USA? Try these links to Adobe France, Adobe Germany, Adobe Sweden, or Adobe UK. (Clicking our links helps us earn a commission.)

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster