256 vs 512 MB VRAM on GT330M

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dusk007, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    I was hoping for something faster than a 330M with the upgrade but expecting the this card. What I was also expecting was an increase in VRAM as even some low end office cards are today usually shipped with 512MB.

    I hope in this thread for some people that could test some settings and how useful a 256MB 330M actually is. I know some people say 512 you hardly ever need. That was true a while back with slower cards but the 330M is fast enough and when playing on a higher res screen (1680x1050 or a external 24") 256MB definitely forces the system to store data in system memory that should be in the VRAM. One article that compares it with not too old games.
    And they compare a 7800GT which is slower than a 330M. But they don't customize settings which might change the quality not too much but the VRAM usage a lot.

    The only reason why I can imagine Apple would go for 256/512 instead of 512/1024 is that they thought people know 1024 is not worth the upgrade and they want to push people to the highend 15" because they don't want crippled performance. The additional GDDR3 doesn't cost a lot of money and it would definitely be worth it.

    I like gaming on one monitor and using another to display normal desktop stuff. My idea of casual gaming. I don't play the newest ones but it sucks to play some old ones with low texture settings and disable AA if the GPU could handle it but the framerates stutter because data has to be moved back and forth from system memory because VRAM can't hold enough. I think and older game you can play on higher settings generally looks better than new ones on low or middle and is usually more fun too. Like usually the difference between ultra textures and high ain't that noticeable.

    Anybody here with one of the new 15" or also the old one who would be willing to test some setups to see how well the 256 mb version can handle maybe some gameplay on a 22-24" external with diff. settings. Also how playable is a game if you run it next to other stuff. 2 monitors.
    I don't care about 10% difference in performance. I am no hardcore gamer or else I would spend my money on a desktop gaming rig which would always crush those MBPs performance. What I want is that I can just start up a game in the middle of work with decent settings play a little bit and not having to try to tweak every setting and shut down every process. I don't want too annoying stutter. Btw the deal with playing on 22 to 24" is that it is just nice in strategy games.
    The high end 15" is too expensive. If the low end 15" doesn't cut it I get something else or the 13".
  2. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    The VRAM only matters for texture resolution. 512 mb will show a performance improvement if you play a game that: isn't bottlenecked by the GPU's processing power AND have texture quality set to a high level.

    When gaming, VRAM is used to store mostly textures & geometry. A higher screen resolution doesn't effect the size of these elements.

    Otherwise you'll notice virtually no improvement. There have been several discussions, but basically what was true for the 9600m gt in the previous macbooks, is still true for the 330m. (256 vs 512 shows very minimal gains for what the card is capable of)

    Some benchmarks would be nice to see. We would have to be careful though, since the faster processor which comes with the 512mb card could influence benchmarks as well.
  3. dusk007 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
  4. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    AA and AF artificially inflate texture size (up to 4) so they are in essence using larger textures. This is why the additional VRAM helps in that case. But what I said holds true, VRAM only matters for texture detail, and even then, doesn't matter much with the 330m because it's not fast enough to render at high detail settings anyway.

    Do a bit more reading. I understand what you're trying to say, but just break it down in the most basic sense and you'll be able to understand it better. VRAM alone has very little influence on what resolution a game can be played at, and how it performs at any given resolution.

    VRAM is going to be mostly filled with textures. If the texture size increases beyond 256mb in this scenario, then you will benefit from more VRAM.

    But screen resolution has nothing to do with this. If a game is using a 800x800 texture weighing in at 1mb, then that texture is going to take 1mb of vram whether you're playing at 640x480 resolution or 1280x1024 resolution.
  5. therealseebs macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2010
    Again, it's quite easy to design a scenario in which the machine needs >256MB for textures and buffers, but isn't pushing very many polygons, just as it's easy to design a scenario in which the machine is pushing a ridiculous number of polygons, but needs almost no memory for textures and buffers. (Consider something like Katamari Damacy, which had virtually no texturing but huge polygon count.)

    On most games, on medium to low settings, 256MB is "enough", so it won't matter. However, there are certainly workloads where the 330M will be much faster with 512MB than it would be with 256MB, and even workloads where it will be much faster with 1G than it would be with 512MB. They aren't necessarily very common cases, though.
  6. Wehrwolf macrumors 6502


    May 21, 2009
    The amount of VRAM isn't something only gamers should worry about:


    Seeing as how much of OS X relies on the GPU and its associated RAM, it's not necessarily a waste to get as much VRAM as you can.
  7. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

    Jan 6, 2004
    United Kingdom
    is 512mb VRam useful when using Aperture, or is it jsut gpu speed that matters there? i can never figure that one out.

  8. dusk007 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    I doubt you need too much VRAM for Aperture. Also if the OS runs out of VRAM because of too many open Windows that probably doesn't have such a big effect on Performance as the System will use main memory for all the stuff that is way in the back ground. Switching speed between some windows will decrease. Not that big of a deal. With 40 Windows open I guess I can expect that.

    I would still really like to see somebody run a few games and test the frame rates. In Medium and Low almost any game will probably fit without a problem but there are quite a few 2-4 year old games that will run on high with a 330M but might want more VRAM in these settings.
  9. EBH macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2009
    Forgive my stupidity on this matter, but what games exactly will only run at medium to low settings with a 330M 256mb? Would FIFA10 run at the highest settings on a 15" hi-res?

Share This Page