AMD Radeon HD is it worth it?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MichaelCory, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. MichaelCory macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Sorry if this has been asked...searching through millions of posts on here can be frustrating.

    I am in the market for a new macbook pro. I have been debating between the 13 or 15 pro. So while I am leaning towards the 13 incher, my question is when would the AMD Radeon HD card be used if I were to purchase the 15inch macbook pro? Can you give some senarios.

    My main concern is portability as I will be taking it to and from work. At work it will be connected via DVI to an external monitor and at home, I hope to purchase a larger monitor and connect the same way.

    I do not play games on my computer or watch movies, or do any video editing I tend to use the following Adobe Cs5.5 applications (photoshop, fireworks, Illustrator, lightroom etc)
     
  2. mgartner0622 macrumors 65816

    mgartner0622

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    #2
    I'd say it depends on how heavily you use the Adobe apps. While the better graphics card is always useful for it's increased performance for gaming, if you're just doing light work, you probably only need the Intel card.

    However, if you are using photoshop and lightroom, you may benefit from the increased screen resolution of the 15" (1440x900 or 1680x1050 vs 1200x800)
     
  3. Xcallibur, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

    Xcallibur macrumors 6502a

    Xcallibur

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    #3
    Bear in mind that the 13" will only allow one external screen to run at the same time as the laptop screen, whereas the 15" (due to the dedicted graphics card) will allow at least two external screens to run at the same time as the laptop screen.

    Scenarios where you would see a difference in performance (in addition to what the previous poster said), would be an increase in speed in graphical renders whilst using the Adobe Design applications on the 15". But to be fair the 13" would probably be adequate; although Apple should really have increased the power output of the 13" and put in a dedicated graphics card, especialliy at the price they ask for the damn thing!
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

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    #4
    DEDICATED, not integrated, as an integrated graphics processor (IGP) is integrated into the chipset, and a dedicated GPU is an extra chip on the logic board.
     
  5. bill-p macrumors 68000

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    #5
    There are more benefits to the 15" than just the AMD Radeon HD. You also get twice the processor cores or twice the performance of the 13", the ability to slot in 16GB RAM, and a higher resolution. Not to mention a bigger battery.

    Photoshop and Lightroom alone will definitely benefit more from more RAM and faster processor.

    As far as the Radeon HD goes, it helps with zooming in and out, rotation, panning, and pretty much anything to do with displaying in Photoshop. The Intel HD also helps, but not to the extent of the Radeon HD, and it's a lot choppier.
     
  6. jeremyshaw macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Yeah, suprisingly, the big hulk of a laptop is capable of getting a slightly longer battery life (for web/office work, that is) :eek:
     
  7. bill-p macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Prior to the 2011 era, Coolbook could still be used on C2D Macs to reduce their power consumption, and thus on some levels, the 13" 2010 Pro had better battery life than the 15", which had a Core i.

    But it's simple physics when Coolbook is not in the picture, really. 78WHr (on the 15") is bigger than 63WHr (on the 13"), so it should last longer.
     
  8. jeremyshaw macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Yeah, on windows laptops, there is still lament over the lack of C2D era CPU tools (in particular, can no longer adjust CPU voltage without going into BIOS/UEFI level - if the vendor allows it).
     
  9. Xcallibur macrumors 6502a

    Xcallibur

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    #9
    Yes I know what an integrated graphics processor is! It was a typo which I have now rendered correct!
     
  10. simsaladimbamba

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    #10
    I didn't know that.
     
  11. dlimes13 macrumors 6502a

    dlimes13

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    #11
    The 13" will take 16GB RAM. Source: Personal experience w/ the Corsair kit.
     
  12. MichaelCory thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    I'm confused about one thing. The automatic switching between the graphic cards. Is that on an application basis or does it depend on heavy processor usage. Say if there is something that needs to be rendered or zoomed in, is there a delay as it switches to the dedicated gfx card?

    ----------

    You bring up an interesting point. Maybe instead of buying new I should just buy an older 13inch macbook pro with NVidia card?
     
  13. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

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    #13
    There isn't really any actual automatic switching. Forget it you need to do it manually using gfxCardStatus. The switching of Apple is ridiculous and basically switches on the dedicated GPU as soon as you launch anything beyond native apps or texteditors. If you have Safari and iTunes open it stays on Intel. If you use any other browser or just skype or whatever ridiculous app that really doesn't need a fast GPU. It switches to the dGPU and stays there until all apps are closed that would cause it to switch.

    One can only hope they use a more sophisticated system like Nvidia's Optimus or AMD's ADS. Those proxy drivers would actually be able to be a bit smarter about the switching, they can properly switch even with a running application and they could potentially use load based algorithms too (but that is impractical).
    With Apple it lets you switch while an Apps is running and won't crash but it doesn't really do it properly. In some apps that one starts with Intel GPu forced it is slower after you switch to the dGPU and vice versa. Only Safari and some native apps can handle that properly.
    That system seems as if a bunch of amateurs cooked it out and don't care about fixing it at least partially because all the bugs would show. One just has to do it manually and live with the problem that some apps need a restart to get proper acceleration after you switch.
    I just keep it at Intel unless I use an external screen in OSX. Never missed the speed of the dGPU in OSX. I only like having it when I want to play games in Windows bootcamp.
    Unless you want to save money and do not care so much about speed that would be a stupid idea. The Intel HD 3000 may not be a true equal in gaming but in 2D and all the stuff you mentioned it is. Loosing all the CPU speed would make a huge difference. The new Sandy Bridge CPUs are a .. lot faster than the C2D. GPU difference is definitely rather minimal and Cuda has so few use cases and does so little that I would take the faser CPU over it any day. The CPU is a lot faster in just about anything. Something where the 320M with Cuda can make up for anything much less surpass the 2011 model will be really hard to find.
     
  14. bill-p macrumors 68000

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    #14
    Thanks for the information.

    No, there is no delay.

    Automatic switching happens just as pointed out: as soon as anything demands a high load, it switches automatically. It doesn't happen on a per application basis.

    What it all comes down to is whether the app developer would signal that the load has lightened up so that Apple would dial it down, or if they absolutely must demand the most performance.

    Personally, I think that if you are bothered more about heat or fan noise or low battery life, there is still the option of getting a base Early 2011 MBP 15" (which I did). It has a dGPU that is more battery-friendly, puts out a lot less heat, and it's still faster than Intel.
     
  15. ShoG macrumors member

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    Dec 6, 2011
    #15
    I agree with dusck007, you do really need the gfxcardstatus app. I find that just going into my movies folder will switch the dgpu on just to load the small title picture that you find next to movies in the cover flow view. Thats the only bug I found in lion, even if I force integrated graphics and go into the movies folder it still switches to dedicated. Kind of annoying.
     
  16. MichaelCory thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    thanks for the info, I am still a little unsure, but i gather that the consensus is to get the 15 with the dedicated video card, even if the performance isn't all that grand!
     
  17. AppleWarMachine macrumors 65816

    AppleWarMachine

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  18. bill-p macrumors 68000

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    #18
    It's not all that grand for you for sure (given the tasks you mentioned). The main difference is with the CPU, where the 15" outright trounces the 13" (at least for the 2011 model) with Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and so on... It's noticeable.

    If you can afford either a 15" or 13", I'd recommend 15. But if you are tight on budget, then 13 it is. You won't notice the GPU.
     
  19. MichaelCory thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    think i'll take a trip down to my local apple store to play around with both models.
     
  20. ZZ Bottom macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Just thought I'd share:

    I have the early 2011 13" i5 with Ram upgraded to 8gb and a Crucial M4 SSD. I use the system for the following:
    -Final Cut Pro 7
    -Adobe After Effects CS5
    -Photoshop CS5
    -Maya 2011
    And a bunch of others that are significantly lighter apps.

    IMO the 13" can handle these applications. I suspect many of these posters don't so much believe a 13" can't handle it, but rather it is below their standards of acceptable. The BIGGEST downfall imo is the screen resolution. I however connect to my 24" ACD for After Effects and Maya (and I use a small magnet to trick the macbook to thinking its in clamshell mode to reduce any resources the LCD would take up).

    Price/portability is what lead me to the 13". However if money is not an issue I would really asses whether the weight difference is that much of a problem. They are both heavy compared to the Airs. If the gap between the two were closer I would have sacrificed the portability to have a machine with more power.
     

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