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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

MACBOOK PRO VIDEO MEMORY:
Do you need 512MB or is 256MB enough?

Originally posted Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Wed, Apr 28th, 2010, orrected WoW graph.

One of the questions asked of me and posted on forums is, "Do I need the MacBook Pro with 512MB of video memory ro is 256MB enough? Is it worth $200 more?"

To answer the question, we ran some 3D games at various resolutiosn to see at what point the MacBook Pro with 256MB of video memory fell behind. Turns out that you have to go all the way to 2560x1600 resolution (using an external 30" Cinema display) and 4X Anti-Aliasing to bring bring the "VRAM challenged" MacBook Pro to its knees.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars -- We used our recorded demo file which we call "BF." Settings are "Maximum Quality" with all sliders at max, all boxes checked, highest choices selected, and 4X multi-sampling. Dark grey bar in graph is 1920x1200 and light grey bar is 2560x1600. (Results are in Frames Per Second; ORANGE bar means SLOWEST.)

World of Warcraft -- 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.

The video settings were "Ultra" at 4X Multisampling. Dark grey bar in graph is 1920x1200 and light grey bar is 2560x1600. (Results are in Frames Per Second.)

X-Plane -- Using a recorded flight of the X-15 being dropped from a bomber, we used the Terminal app to benchmark at high quality textures, 4X AA, and 8X Aniso. Dark grey bar in graph is 1920x1200 and light grey bar is 2560x1600. (Results are in Frames Per Second.)

Halo: Combat Evolved -- We used the built-in timedemo with highest settings and 4X Anti-Aliasing. Dark grey bar in graph is 1920x1200 and light grey bar is 2560x1600. (Results are in Frames Per Second.)

LEGEND of GRAPHS (ORANGE bar means SLOWEST)
MBP i7 2.66 (512MV) = 15" MacBook Pro Core i7 2.66GHz with GeForce GT 330M (512MB VRAM)
MBP i5 2.53 (512MV) = 17" MacBook Pro Core i5 2.53GHz with GeForce GT 330M (512MB VRAM)
MBP i5 2.53 (256MV) = 15" MacBook Pro Core i5 2.53GHz with GeForce GT 330M (256MB VRAM)

WHAT DID WE LEARN?
At least when it comes to 3D accelerated games, unless you are connecting your MacBook Pro to an external 30" Cinema display running at 2560x1600, the model with 256MB of video memory will run GPU intensives apps just as fast as the model with 512MB of video memory.

Other graphics intensive apps we tried included Motion 4, OpenGL Extensions Viewer, and SmallLuxGPU OpenCL Benchmark. None of them indicated an advantage for the 512MB VRAM over the 256MB VRAM.

But before you reject the idea of paying the extra $200 for the top model, remember that you are not just paying for the extra video memory. In the case of the Core i7 MacBook Pro 15" model, you are also getting a 5% higher Core i7 clock speed and 33% more L3 cache which translates to 9% faster running of CPU intensive apps, as we showed HERE and HERE.

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
and Amazon
and NewEgg

WHERE TO BUY ADOBE 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"
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