330M in the New 15 & 17in MBP Lineup...

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by neowillendit, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. neowillendit macrumors member


    Oct 7, 2009
    Can anyone answer the question (courteously please) about why Apple chose not to update their new lineup of MacBook Pros with the 330M to have 1024MB VRAM? It's absolutely ridiculous not to offer the option for up to 1024MB when the card's architecture supports it!! I get anywhere from 10-20FPS with Crysis, Fallout 3, and GTAIV, all of which I still play to this day nearly everyday. That is barely enjoyable yet I still play them anyway on my mid-2009 MBP. I have to use a notebook for gaming cuz I am an Active Duty Soldier so that means I need a balance between performance and mobility, and there are others asking this same question all over the forums for Crysis and GTAIV. Apple is just SO ignorant sometimes.

    Please help me understand my fellow friends. Please no wise cracks, or "I don't know"...if you don't know anymore than I do, than don't say anything at all, thank you all!! :)
  2. StEvEnGtR macrumors member


    Feb 27, 2010
  3. GeorgeCWB macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Because I read on the 'gaming benchmarks' thread, that 1024MB VRAM would make absolutely no difference to having 512MB VRAM.

    256MB to 512MB VRAM will though.

    I can't remember why, but there was an intensive discussion about it and this guy seemed to know what he was talking about. Other forumers chimed in and agreed.

    Do you know enough about GPU's to justify why it would need this extra MB?
  4. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Apple only has room for 2 VRAM modules, and the max size of their modules is 256mb, so 512mb is the max possible on a Macbook Pro.

    I'm assuming you're referring to this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=895792 where the guy claimed that 512 makes a huge difference over 256? Well no forum folks agreed with him because he was totally wrong, and was even using benchmarks from the wrong video cards.

    The bottom line: more VRAM lets you use higher res textures in game. The problem: the 330m is too weak to render scenes at those high detail setting anyway. This is a generalization of course, as one poster pointed out: you could come up with a situation where there are a ton of textures and very low geometry & shader usage (making the 512mb much faster) but this situation generally won't ever happen in a game, especially since shaders are used so much these days.
  5. therealseebs macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2010
    Again, that's a vast oversimplification.

    You can come up with a rendering load where the chip can't keep up even though only a few MB of VRAM are in use, and you can come up with a rendering load where the chip could easily keep up but would need >1GB of VRAM.

    In the most common cases, you usually find that slower chips don't need all that much VRAM. However, it is absolutely possible to write a hunk of OpenGL and a data set such that the 330M would render much faster with 1GB of VRAM than it would with 512MB of VRAM.

    The normal argument is like this: The 330M isn't very fast, so one of the first things you have to do when trying to run it is adopt "lower settings", which usually implies smaller textures.

    That's true, but:

    1. Not every game reduces texture sizes for lower settings -- precisely because most systems provide plenty of VRAM, so why bother?
    2. Imagine that you do have something the 330 isn't really fast enough for. It might run at 5fps. Now imagine that, in addition, this scene needs more VRAM than it has. Now you'll be lucky to get 1fps.

    In short, while the most common use cases won't be affected, it's easy to see real-world cases where it might well matter.

    It's true that the guy showing benchmarks showed them from a different card, but they're reasonably representative of the general pattern -- a lot of things will run horribly in 256MB, and a fair number will run much worse in 512MB than they would in 1GB. Whether they'd run well even with 1GB, well, maybe not. But they'd run better, in many cases.
  6. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    I guess I'm just applying it to the 330m in particular. I mean sure, you're right, there are definitely scenarios out there, even if they aren't common. You could also say different things about different cards, especially desktop cards which have the possibility of some serious overclocking. But we're talking about the 330m here, and like you've alluded to, high end gaming isn't possible at all on the 330m regardless of whether it has 256 or 512mb VRAM.

    I think your low framerate analysis might be the simplest way to explain this. We could claim that on any game and settings where the 330m provides playable framerates (~30+ fps), the memory amount factors only very slightly (Think World of Warcraft, MW2 or Bioshock). On more intensive games, which the card can barely handle, there may be a larger difference...but the game is unplayable without really dropping the graphics settings down, no matter how much VRAM the GPU has access to (Bad Company 2, pretty much any modern racing game).

    An interesting side note, since most gaming is done on Windows, the video card technically has a much larger store of RAM to draw from. Windows will dedicate some portion of RAM to the video card if it detects that it is needed. This serves to reduce the hitching experienced when textures are loading on GPUs with less VRAM. I believe the "overflow" data is loaded into this dedicated section of RAM, and then swapped into the VRAM when necessary. This is many many times faster than swapping the data to and from the hard drive. This could also be a reason why the amount of VRAM doesn't have that huge of an impact even when the texture buffer is overflowing.
  7. neowillendit thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 7, 2009
    OK Friends,

    Thank you for replies, you've convinced me that the difference in VRAM makes little difference in most scenarios but what about GTAIV...I can't turn the textures to "High" because I don't have the VRAM to store them...sure the VRAM wouldn't help me much more for Fallout 3 and Crysis, but I think it would help at least to be able to raise the textures and increase the max amount of (Example) cars or people that are on screen at one time. Am I wrong friends?
  8. neowillendit thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 7, 2009
  9. neondrgns macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2010
    I am not 100% sure, but I heard that a game like GTAIV is much more of a drain on the processor...but I am curious as to why no one talks about heat degradation when they run these games on a mbp, from my experience when your system gets overheated your system starts slowing down. On my old dell xps 1210 with a nvidia 7400go, I could run bioshock for like 2 minutes before the game would just lock up and shut down, but if I put a laptop cooler under it and a desk fan on the side, it would run okay for maybe 30 minutes.
  10. cmaier macrumors G4

    Jul 25, 2007
    Unlike Windows laptops I've had, I've found that my MBP's do a fine job of keeping the fan running fast enough to prevent overheating without needing to throttle the clocks.

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