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3D GAME SHOOTOUT:
17" MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa"
versus Others

Originally posted June 6th, 2007 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated June 8th, 2007, with "up-clocking" info on 8600M Core and Memory
Updated June 12th, 2007, with 17" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz results

We're very excited about the new MacBook Pro with the "Santa Rosa" chipset (faster 800MHz frontside bus), faster GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor, greater main memory capacity (4GB), and bigger 7200rpm hard drive option (160GB). We'll be posting a series of test results during the next few days. We're starting with a page comparing the 3D Gaming Speed of the 15" and 17" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz C2D "Rosa" to various other Macs.

We even included the newest 13" MacBook 2.16GHz C2D in the first two graphs.

GRAPH LEGEND (Red is fastest; Orange is the featured model)
Mac Pro 3.0 "4C" = 4-core Mac Pro 3GHz Xeon (8GB memory)
iMac C2D 2.33 = 24" iMac 2.33GHz C2D (2GB memory)
17" MBP C2D 2.4 = 17" MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa" 2.4GHz C2D (4GB memory)
15" MBP C2D 2.4 = 15" MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa" 2.4GHz C2D (4GB memory)
17" MBP C2D 2.33 = 17" MacBook Pro "Late 2006" 2.33GHz C2D (3GB memory)
17" MBP CD 2.16 = 17" MacBook Pro "xxx" 2.16GHz CD (2GB memory)
MacBook 2.16 = 13" MacBook "Early 2007" 2.16GHz C2D (3GB memory)
R1900 = Radeon X1900 XT (512M) - Mac Pro option
G7300 = GeForce 7300 GT (256M) - Mac Pro standard card
G7600 = Geforce 7600 GT (256M) - 24" iMac C2D option
G8600 = GeForce 8600M GT (256M) - MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa" GPU
R1600 = Mobility Radeon X1600 - MacBook Pro "late 2006" GPU
G950 = GMA 950 integrated graphics - MacBook 13" GPU

INSIGHTS
The new MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa" with the GeForce 8600M runs 3D accelerated games significantly faster than the previous 2.33GHz model with the Mobility Radeon X1600. For example, the 15" "Rosa" ran Prey ran 55% faster than the fastest previous MacBook Pro model. The 17" "Rosa" ran Prey 72% faster.

Both the 15" and 17" MacBook Pro "Rosa" beat the 4-Core Mac Pro desktop with a "stock" GeForce 7300 GT in 5 out of 6 game tests.

Of course, the 24" iMac C2D with the GeForce 7600 GT and the 4-core Mac Pro with the Radeon X1900 XT were faster, as expected. But the improved 3D OpenGL performance of the new Macbook Pro "Rosa" is welcome to avid gamers. Nobody argues that the "hard core" gamer wanting the Mac with the most frames per second possible will choose the Mac Pro tower with the Radeon X1900 XT -- still the "Top Gun." But if he/she wants good gaming performance on the road, the newest MacBook Pro is the way to go.

The NEW 13" MacBook 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo ran Quake 4 and Doom 3 so slow, we didn't bother to test it with the other 3D games. It is totally un-kewl for 3D Gaming. Why? The integrated GMA 950 graphics chip may work great for QuickTime or DVD playback, but it is "un-optimized" for 3D Gaming.

We even upgraded the 13" MacBook with two 2GB SO-DIMMS. Both Quake 4 and Doom 3 reported using 256MB for video memory but that didn't make any difference. If you often play 3D accelerated games on your laptop, you would be better served by a refurbished or used 15" MacBook Pro Core Duo or Core 2 Duo with the Mobility Radeon X1600 if you can't afford the newest MacBook Pro "Rosa."

CORE CLOCK and MEMORY CLOCK SPEEDS of 8600M vs X1600
In case you weren't aware, the core and memory clock speeds of the MacBook Pro's GPU are variable, depending on what you are doing. Though there is currently no Mac OS X utility to measure this on the newest laptops, we were able to confirm the frequencies of the newest MacBook Pros using ATITool under Windows XP Pro:

17" MBP 2.33GHz
Radeon X1600
15" MBP 2.4GHz
GeForce 8600M
17" MBP 2.4GHz
GeForce 8600M
Core Clock idle
169MHz
169MHz
Core Clock normal
311MHz
375MHz
470MHz
Core Clock max
472MHz
470MHz
520MHz
Memory Clock idle
100MHz*
100MHz*
Memory Clock normal
297MHz*
502MHz*
650MHz*
Memory Clock max
477MHz*
635MHz*
650MHz*

* Video memory is double data rate so you multiply the speed times 2. In the case of the 8600M GT in the 17" MacBook Pro, the top memory speed is 650 x 2 = 1300MHz

We were pleasantly surprised to see the 17" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz ran as much as 11% faster than the 15" model. Though they have the same GeForce 8600M GT, you can see by the table above that the 17" model clocks up to higher frequencies than the 15" model.

RELATED ARTICLES
We compared the 2.2GHz to the 2.4GHz MacBook Pro -- 128MB vs 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM.

See our "CPU Crunching" article comparing the "Santa Rosa" MacBook Pro to other Apple laptops running Photoshop CS3, After Effects CS3, Compressor 3, and Motion 3.

COMING SOON
We'll be posting a full report on the speed and battery use rate of the optional Seagate 160GB 7200rpm Momentus 7200.2 notebook drive for the MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa." We'll compare it to the 5400rpm standard drive as well as the newest high-end notebook drive, the Hitachi 200GB 7200rpm Travelstar 7K200 -- which is giving us 71MB/s READS and 68MB/s WRITES. Eeeeha!

Custom Order your Dream 'Book from the Apple Store

WHERE TO BUY YOUR MACBOOK PRO "Santa Rosa"
If you live in the USA and plan to purchase an APPLE product, please CLICK THIS LINK or any APPLE DISPLAY AD to help us earn our affiliate commission. It's a great way to support Bare Feats.

DON'T LIVE in USA?
Readers in Canada should visit Apple Store, Canada.
Readers in France should visit Apple Store - France.
Readers in Germany should visit Apple Store - Germany.
Readers in Italy should visit Apple Store -Italy.
Readers in the United Kingdom should visit Apple Store - UK.

You can also purchase Apple systems and accessories from Small Dog Electronics. You can custom order from them just like with the Apple Store.

WHERE TO BUY MEMORY FOR MAC LAPTOPS
We have tested the memory from the following third party companies in our MacBook Pro "Rosa" and MacBook. We can recommend them wholeheartedly:

TransIntl.com is selling kits to take your "Rosa" MacBook Pro to 4GB. They also have kits to take your 13" MacBook to 3GB.

Other World Computing sells various kits for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. They have done extensive testing with the 13" MacBook to see what gain is made from matching pairs -- including dual 2GB modules.

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1995 - 2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist