Graphics on MacMini and MacBooks

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by overcoat, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. overcoat macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2005
    I was looking at buying a MacMini recently but was really put off by the integrated graphics chip (Intel GMA 950) which dumps a lot of the load of processing graphics onto the cpu. Looking around I see that Intel are currently pushing their new integrated chip (Intel GMA X3000), could this be the replacement?

    What are peoples experiences of using the current integrated chip?

    And does anyone have a guess what the chip will next be upgraded to and when that might happen?
  2. taliz macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2006
    The GMA 950 works fine for normal desktop usage.
    Needless to say its not very good for games, but does handle for example WoW at lower resolutions.
    I doubt it will be replaced by the 3000 until mid 2007, or whenever Leopard gets released.
  3. junkster macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    If you're planning on running high-end 3D games (which is more than just "any 3D games") or doing high-end 3D modelling (which, again, is more than just "any 3D modelling"), then you don't want the integrated chip. Otherwise, the integrated graphics are fine. They're fast, all graphics are still accelerated, and you've still got graphics happening in parallel with normal CPU processing. Also note that the integrated graphics chipset in the MBs is lots faster than the typical integrated chipset from a few years ago.

    The downside to the dedicated video card in the MBPs is that you have higher power requirements (and thus shorter batter life).
  4. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    Under the benchmarks the GMA 950 is faster than the GMA 3000 chips that are in the 965 chipset. The GMA3000 also has texture issuses.
  5. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    I have a Mac mini at work w/1.25 GB of RAM. There's some occasional slow down using Quartz & Core Image when there's a lot of on screen activity. (Lots of windows and video.)

    Get lots of RAM and make sure it's matched. The GMA950 is FINE for just using OS X.

    The same tired old news. Find me some GOOD GMA X3000 drivers and get back to me.
  6. overcoat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2005
    Thanks everyone for the info.

    I do want to play games on it but not in ultra-high resolution at uber-speeds. I'm after good enough performance to run the vast majority of games at decent framerates and detail levels i.e. a decent all-round machine.

    I'm just worried that if it doesn't perform well now, what's its performance going to be like in the future when it's strained even more, and upgrading just won't be an option as it's integrated?

    I guess it's more a case of I'm not sure where Apple are trying to position the MacMini. Is it an entry level machine, fast enough to run Mac OS X comfortably but not fantastic at anything else? Or is it a valid alternative for switchers to enable them to dump their all-round PC completely?
  7. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    If you really want the games then I suggest looking at a refurbished MacBook Pro. The X1600, screen, and ExpressCard slot really make a big difference for a little more.
  8. juanm Suspended


    May 1, 2006
    I'm currently working on a tv animation series emitted internationally.
    I'm one of the graphists. And guess what? I'm doing it on my 2Ghz white MacBook.
    With Photoshop CS2 and 2Gb of RAM it works quite well (under Rosetta!)... It could probably be better, but I'm really happy with its results.

    Just be sure to put the 2Gb... no less.
  9. Ninja_Turtle macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2004
    Fullerton, California
    mac minis are bad investments. period.
    if youre a more experienced mac user, mac mini is kinda lame.
    it has 1slot for ram so youll have to buy 1g ram stick and that can come out pricey, no audio in, no way of upgrading ur cpu or that video card
    mac minis were made for old people who are new to this thing called 'the internet' , its good for checking email, surfing the web, and the occasionnal 2d chess game haha, but honestly it wont do you any good

    its better to get an old mac g4 desktop and just pwn the mac mini
    an old powermac g4 will cost you around 350$ USD but you can always upgrade video cards, tons of room for expansion and what not and not to mention its cheaper and will run games waaaaay better than any mac mini.

    so think about it
    mac minis are for old people. nuff said.:D
  10. erikamsterdam macrumors regular


    Apr 21, 2006
    I know a young journalist/weblogger that is very happy with his mini. Not everybody plays games or want a huge noisy box on his desk.
  11. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Have you even LOOKED at a Mini in the store? You apparently know nothing about them. A G4 won't even keep up with a CD Mini, certainly won't "pwn" it. With certain 3rd party cards, it may beat the Mini in 3D graphics, but the OP wasn't asking about that.

    Mini has 2 RAM slots, 2GB max. It has the same audio in as any other Mac without 3rd party hardware, analog/optical combo. There are many threads at this very site about upgrading the cpu. Are you sure you even know what a Mini is?
  12. taliz macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2006
    It's obvious you have no idea of what you're talking about.
    The mini has two memoryslots, and unlike the laptops the cpu is replacable.
    It also has audio in(even optical).
    As a side note, checking email & surfing the web covers a lot of users needs. :)
  13. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    It depends on what you want it for I suppose. As an all-rounder, assuming you've got some games usage in mind as well as more advanced 3D stuff (which occurs with more regularity these days) the GMA950 isn't quite up to it.

    But if it's 'just using OS X' as the other poster said, regular office automation and browsing / 2D work, etc then it's not a bad graphics chip at all, even on larger screens. No problems as far as I could see for Home theater use either (although Front Row isn't up to the TV/video side yet)

    Integrated graphics are always going to *relatively* blow though, and it will only be found on entry-level gear. The low-powered / efficient graphics chip does have a place in the notebook market (My Sony has two chips - the GMA950 which kicks in when in battery-save mode, and a Geforce when in power mode) but it has no particular advantage on a desktop beyond low heat output and cost. That and for what you'd pay for a Mini these days you could get an Athlon X2 (or even a low-end Core 2 Duo) Windows machine with a better graphics chip, which does everything a Mac does not that much worse in most cases, and better in some. But it would be fuglier of course.

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