how drastic is the difference between 128 and 256VRAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by theprizefight, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. theprizefight macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2006
    I'm trying to decide between the base macbook pro model (2.16, 128vram, 1gb) and midrange (2.33, 256vram, 2gb).

    Frankly I dont think i'd be able to notice the difference in CPU speed too much, so i dont think thats really an issue. also, I'd probably add a gig of ram myself later on if I got the 1gb version.

    My biggest concern in the video ram. In an application like Google Earth, is there a big difference between using it with 128 vs. 256? what about basic video editing in iMovie?

    I'm not really a gamer, but since I'd eventually install XP i might play a few games from time to time. so my question is, based on my situation, would you go for the 256, knowing that its a few hundred $ more (and cash is fairly tight)? or will 128 be enough?
  2. EvryDayImShufln macrumors 65816


    Sep 18, 2006
    I really don't think it would make a difference, or would it be worth the extra amount of money for it (quite a bit if you ask me). If you plan on gaming once in awhile, I'm sure the 128 will be fine, the difference is small anyway and if needed (which I doubt) you can just turn down the graphics abit to make the game run better.

    As for google earth and such, it won't make a difference which card you have, or at least not even close to a significant one.
  3. dansgil macrumors regular


    Aug 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Before I got my MBP, I was making the same decision between the two models. I went for the 128MB VRAM. iMovie works flawlessly and so does Google Earth. Get the cheaper model and use the money you saves on goodies.
  4. prism macrumors 6502a

    Dec 6, 2006
    I got a score of 3800 on 3DM05 with my 128mb vram and from what I have read, the 256vram version is only a couple of hundred points more so you wont see a big improvement with the higher end model!
  5. arcobb macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2005
    I got a MacBook CD with the integrated card. I am also a graphics designer that mainly works in the print world and I do some web design. I have found nothing my book can't handle or wishit was better at. I don't run cames except for tetris, Luxor AR, Chess, and Mahjong ... so I'm hardly one to test gaming performance. But I'll say Google Earth rocks on my computer. The one thing I recommend especially if your using rossetta apps is the 2G of ram. Cheers!
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    google earth and imovie both work great on my core duo macbook with integrated graphics, so I'd say that a core 2 duo macbook pro with even 128 VRAM would chew them up and spit them out.
  7. MarkF786 macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2006
    I went with the 128MB myself. I think you'd only see a difference with a huge external monitor.

  8. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Video editing, rendering, encoding etc is processor dependent. The areas you'll see improvements in with a larger VRAM are UI performance on large monitors, games and possibly compositing.

    So for general use you should focus on RAM and storage above processor speed and processor speed over VRAM.
  9. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    i went with the 2.33 model initially and then downgraded to the 2.16 model the second time around and its been great so far. Handles everything i throw at it and drives my 20" display easy. However, if your buying this for long term use, get the high end version but if you upgrade laptops often then just get the low end version.
  10. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    if a game ask for 256Mb VRAM, your 128MB won't handle it.
  11. YS2003 macrumors 68020


    Dec 24, 2004
    Finally I have arrived.....
    Since you are asking this specific question, I think you might regret it if you don't get 256 MB model. I was in the same boat when I was going through the purchasing decision. But, I wanted to make sure my Mac will have the sufficient video memory, I decided to go with a better model as I though I would regret it if I don't get that model. VRAM is not upgradable. So, whatever you get will what you will get stuck with as long as you own that Mac.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Video RAM's biggest use is to cache texture maps. These are the little raster images that get stuck on the side of 3D wire frames. Games and 3D modeling software uses this.

    However the true cost of a computer is the purchase price minus the resale price. You may be able to get 1/2 the price difference back when you eBay the machine in three or four years. Even if you are not into booting Windows XP on the macbook and playing video games. For most people this is a big deal so the resale market may be larger if the machine is better suited to 3D games.

    What would be nice to have is a utility that shows how much VRAM is in use. then peool;e could monitor usage and develop a feel for how much VRAM they need. My gues is that unless you are are doing 3D stull 128MB is overkill and 64 would be fine
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, do the math. Let's say you have a monitor that can do 3000 x 2000 resolution and you buy two of these monsters. That's still only a total of 12 mega pixels. If you assume 32 bits per pixel we are only up to 48MB of RAM required to back up the display. which on a 128MB card leaves plenty for things like "save unders" and for core image to load buffers.
  14. MarkF786 macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2006
    IMHO, Apple is playing on human psychology to up-sell people. Many people might first consider a MacBook for a laptop - but if they are a little tech savy and realize it doesn't have dedicated video memory, they then think, "I should pay the extra money to get the MacBook Pro." Now they're thinking of the MBP, but then ask themselves, "what if 128MB is not enough? I should spend the extra money and buy the model with more video memory." Then, the next step is for them to think, "it's not too much more money to buy the 17" model." They've up-sold a customer from a $1000 laptop to a $3000 laptop.

    For small bumps in features or specs, Apple charges a HUGE increase in price. If the MB included dedicated video memory, I think the MBP would take a hit in sales. And if the low-end MBP included 256MB of video memory, the next model would suffer in sales.

    I went for the bait; I wanted a minimum of 128MB to cover my bases, and with the new upgrades in the C2D MBP it justified the price difference for now. I could not justify another $500 for a small bump in video memory and processor speed, and I cannot ever foresee regretting it. So far, all of the rationalization I've seen regarding video memory has been theoretical; I haven't seen anyone say, "I can run application XYZ with 128MB."

  15. Kendall015 macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2006
    I personally went with the 2.16 MBP, and I bought another 1GB of ram from newegg. Total cost, after student discount and including tax: $2,025. If I were to get the 2.33 MBP from Apple, with student discount and tax, it would cost $2,442.69. So, for a 128MB upgrade for the same video card, and for 170MHz upgrade to the CPU, I would pay an extra $417.69.

    I don't think it is worth it.
  16. theprizefight thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2006
    Thanks for all the responses. ill most likely stick to the 128.

    Next question: if I wait till Jan 9 (macworld) will i be able to get it shipped with iLife 07? or would i have to wait much longer for that?
  17. uv23 macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2003
    Calgary, AB
    If it's not a financial issue, get the best that's available for future proofing. I got the 256 and am very happy for it.
  18. brad.c macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2004
    50.813669°, -2.474796°
    Holy Crup! Out of curiosity I went to the Applestore and compared the two 15"s. $600 CDN diff between the two models and THATs the only difference? I was almost going to recommend 256 to avoid post-purchase regret, but I think you're making the right decision. Spend the cash on the RAM, and feel good about it.
  19. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    iLife 07 will most likely be ready right away, if announced..
  20. lu0s3r322 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 28, 2005
    Illinois, USA
    i have the base model with the 128mb and i play battlefield 2 alot and it runs flawlessly with medium settings and highest resolution and 100% draw distance i was really pleased.

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