512MB VRAM- What is the definitive answer?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by JWest, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. JWest macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #1
    The general consensus seems to be that the MBP can't use all 512MB of it's VRAM. However, some have argued that because it uses GDDR3 Memory, it can utilize most (if not all) of it's memory. Some also say that it can't use all 512, but it can use more than 256. My question is, what is the definitive answer?
     
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    Mar 23, 2005
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    Indianapolis
    #2
    From a purely gaming standpoint the 8600M GT doesn't have enough shader cores to effectively use 512 MB of texture space beyond low resolutions.

    I have a Radeon 3850 (256 MB) and it's just powerful enough to need 512 MB. Now compare it to the HD2600 XT.

    JWest is that you?
     
  3. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

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    Sep 4, 2006
    #3
    I'm confused on this issue as well... but I think under gaming you might see a very very slight improvement. But if say your driving a 23" external monitor, it might drive it better than a 256vram mbp.
     
  4. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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  5. burningrave101 macrumors 6502

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    Mar 4, 2008
    #5
    If you're talking about gaming at a high resolution on that 23" then the 8600M GT might possibly use a little more than 256MB such as like 350MB or something but it definitely can't use 512MB and outside of gaming that extra VRAM has no impact whatsoever on you driving that 23" display. The only thing that would have an effect on running a larger 24"+ external display is whether or not the DVI port is dual link and it is regardless of the MBP model.

    The point of the matter is this between the 256MB and 512MB VRAM. The only time you need larger amounts of VRAM in the range of 512MB or more is when you're playing specific high detail games at higher resolutions like 1680x1050 to 1920x1200 and above. At low resolutions you're not going to need it even if it's capable of using it because of the fact fps are high enough that even more fps are of no use. Because the 8600M GT is limited by a 128-bit memory bus and the fact the card isn't all that fast gaming wise period compared to high-end graphics cards you don't need to worry about the VRAM for higher resolutions either because you're simply not going to be running them in any GPU heavy game that would use that VRAM.
     
  6. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #6
    So, it seems the 512MB card is still better, but not by much. I'm curious as to what kind of gaming performance I'm gonna get on this thing. Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is what I'm most worried about.
     
  7. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #7
    Playable if you enjoy 1024 x 768. The 512 MB isn't going to be significant over the 256 MB.

    I strongly suggest taking a look at burningrave101's post.
     
  8. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #8
    Should be playable at 1280x800 on high settings actually. As long as I'm getting 15+ FPS. It currently runs (medium~ish settings) at 8~12 FPS on my iMac at 1280x800, which only has a 128MB Radeon x1600. It drops to the unplayable 4-6 FPS level late game though, so I'm not really playing it until I get my MBP.

    (BTW, what did you mean by "is that you"?)
     
  9. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #9
    The 8600M GT is going to be an improvement over the X1600 in the iMac. I'd be wary of Anti-aliasing more then anything else and then texture quality.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=458455

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=456720

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=453029

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=445403

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=439800

    If you want to continue this conversation I suggest sending me an IM and not wasting anymore of MacRumors' server space and bandwidth with personal posts.
     
  10. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #10
    Just because I actively take part in discussions regarding the next video card for the MBP doesn't mean I'm "wasting MacRumors' server space and bandwidth with personal posts". Not really sure what you mean by that, as I've never posted anything that would be considered a "waste" of space/bandwidth. I try to keep my posts as informative and intelligent as possible (ok, so I did make an angry rant about why there will never be an 8800 in the MBP, so what :p)
     
  11. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #11
    I was happy to see you in a new thread. :p

    I didn't mean to come off as unfriendly. You're on my buddy list! I'm active in video card discussions as well and I was interested in your 9650M GS news.
     
  12. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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  13. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #13
    Shoot me an IM if you need anything else. I'll only reply to this thread again if someone brings something new to the discussion.
     
  14. thinkband macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2007
    #14
    Does the 256 card play Wow relatively well? Anyone have any experience?
     
  15. bobbleheadbob macrumors 6502a

    bobbleheadbob

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    Feb 6, 2007
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    Massachusetts
    #15
    128 vs. 512

    What about compared to the Radeon x1600 I've currently got in my 15" MBP? I'm thinking about getting the new 17" MBP with the hi-res display. Will I notice a big difference with the 512 VRAM in that?

    Thanks for any insight.
     
  16. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #16
    You could probably play WoW on a $0.99 calculator, I think you should be fine :p
    Seriously though, WoW's system requirements are very very low, and it'll run fantastically on any MBP.

    The 8600 is quite an improvement over the x1600, and considering we'll likely just be getting a 9500 or 9650 in the next MBP, it's hardly worth waiting for the "next best thing", but it's your call. But it'll be much better than the radeon.
     
  17. Azmordean macrumors 6502

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    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #17
    I agree with the others here - I think the benefit of the extra VRAM is minimal. In my opinion, I think its dubious even at higher resolutions. The bottom line is that if you start to get into a situation where 512 would be helpful, the memory bandwidth and other limitations of the 8600M are going to choke off your FPS so much its not gonna matter.

    In my view, if you are doing "standard" computer uses and gaming you should either get the base model (with the 7200RPM HDD if you want it) or the 17". I see very little that the high end 15" offers to make it worth $500 bucks, including the VRAM.
     
  18. akm3 macrumors 68020

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    Nov 15, 2007
    #18
    I. Love. Supreme. Commander.
     
  19. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    CA
    #19
    I think that the 8600's 128 bit memory interface also hinders it from utilizing that amount of memory.
     
  20. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #20
    The high end 15" has double the cache memory, a larger HDD, and (however useless it might be) double the VRAM. It's almost worth it in my opinion. A little over priced, but worth it. I'm getting it so that I have the most future-proof machine I can get.
     
  21. burningrave101 macrumors 6502

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    Mar 4, 2008
    #21
    The T9300 only has a marginal performance advantage over the T8300 and that's mostly in cache limited applications. Overall the performance difference will not be noticeable at all by you the user unless you're doing something that takes a large amount of CPU performance to accomplish during a period of time. Most CPU computing tasks are completed within a matter of seconds and so you simply aren't going to even notice an average 5-10% performance increase from the CPU. And like I said, the 8600M GT can't use 512MB of VRAM. The card isn't fast enough even without the 128-bit memory bus limitation. For that extra $500 you're spending to "future-proof" yourself you could buy the largest hard drive available, 4 gigs of RAM, and some accessories which would be much more of an upgrade.

    Better yet what I'll do is keep that extra $500 you're spending on the 2.5Ghz model by going with the cheaper 2.4Ghz base model and then I'll turn around and buy another MBP as soon as the Montevina update is released this summer. I can sell my current one for far less than a <$500 loss off what I paid and end up with a new Montevina MBP that's faster and more "future-proof" than that 2.5Ghz upgrade ever was :). It's smarter to be more froogle in purchases and not overpay for tiny performance increases because then you can afford to upgrade everytime something new comes out for only a minimal price. I rarely ever pay full price for anything and i rarely ever keep something for more than a year.
     
  22. Alpinism macrumors regular

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    Oct 28, 2005
    #22
    If you solely use a pro machine used to play 'video games', surf web, itunes, then maybe 512 vram gpu wont give you no advantage.
     
  23. JWest thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 1, 2007
    #23
    Actually, I'm waiting for montevina as well (if I can). I also play a fair amount of games on the side, and games like Supreme Commander need that extra cache memory. Hopefully I can wait for montevina though.
     
  24. pionata macrumors 6502

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    Oct 12, 2005
    Location:
    Montreal
    #24
    I just got the MBP 15" lower model with 4 gig of ram.

    It runs most games in 1920x1200 on my 23" ACD as long as you dont use AA at that res. I've tried Quake 4 (coudnt get dual core to work with that game), Prey demo and Heroes of M&M V, all are playable at almost max settings in 1920x1200 and with plenty of stuff running in the background (Im not installing windows on my nice new computer).

    The computer is still a beast no matter which system you end up getting.
     
  25. duykur macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    #25
    you guys must be high to say that 512mb vram doesn't do anything. thats like saying the computer can't use 4 gigs of ram rather than 2. if the motherboard can support 4 gigs then why wouldn't it help. same thing with the gpu
     

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