An honest assessment of the lags and stutters in the Retina Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by blow45, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. blow45 macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    I am opening this thread up as a place that users of the rmbp can share the experiences with the now well established issues with driving the retina display (see thread from front page as a primer: ).

    These kinds of threads are always a minefield and people resort to a lot of bashing and counter bashing since, a. people that buy something want to rationalize away any problems to justify their purchase, and b. a lot of people here feel it's their duty to defend apple against any perceived "attack".

    Let's try to keep this thread clear of that please. So it can be useful to any prospective buyers (I am one) who have been alarmed with the reporting on these issues and are having second thoughts on purchasing an rmbp.

    The rMBP is a pushing the limits of technology, apple are to be commended for that. Maybe some will argue that their obsession with thinness has brought a big cost to performance and the slimming down was premature, when a thicker model could have afforded a better graphics card, or that maybe their rushing it to market to have first release bragging rights was too early. Whatever the case might be the notebook is out and it's in user hands now and can be evaluated.

    Any polite feedback is appreciated: positive, negative and neutral.

    Any specific problems with certain applications and lack thereof with others.

    Any technical discussions are more than welcome.

    Any experiences running ml dp and soon the ml official release to see if it's possible for software developments to make up for the hardware shotcomings.

    Let's keep this clean and informative guys so everyone can read the feedback and assess the issues or lack thereof for themselves. :):apple:
  2. daleski75 macrumors 68000


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northampton, UK
    Let me start off by saying fingers crossed for keeping this thread clean and now onto my thoughts after seeing a rMBP in action for the first time in my local apple store.

    1. under best for retina it's as smooth as silk running safari in a window and full screen even on heavy sites like or and

    2. under 1680x1050 it stutters a little bit under the same sites with safari running in a window or full screen

    3. under 1920x1200 it stutters more under the same sites with safari running in a window or full screen.

    Checked for updates and noticed the 1.13gb update was not applied but unsure how much of a difference this makes.

    Even with points 2 and 3 I ordered a rMBP this morning because the display is simply stunning and I did not notice any lag when scrolling just choppy/stuttering scrolling.
  3. JohnDoe98 macrumors 68020

    May 1, 2009
    From reading through all the different threads on this topic, and from using the machine myself, I think a lot of it, the problem, boils down to what you are used to and what you expect from the machine.

    I am someone who came from a very old system when I upgraded to the RMBP, so maybe I haven't been trained to see the lag and jitteriness that people are reporting. I guess this computer is in every way better than what I had before, so I find it hard to relate with the complaints. But I don't doubt that they are there and I don't doubt they are highly problematic for some people.

    I just wanted to post to re-echo what is often said. Your milage may vary. What this really means, to me, is anyone seriously considering purchasing this machine should avail themselves of the no question money back guarantee that is given for the first 14 days after purchase. Buy the machine, test it out for a couple of days doing your regular work since that gives you a better idea than a quick test in an Apple store. If it doesn't meet your expectations, bring it back. Screw what anyone tells you on these forums, as Blow45 makes clear, there is just so much hate/love driving what most are posting, you can't trust it. You will be the best judge/critic of this machine, no one can do it for you.
  4. prfrma macrumors regular

    May 29, 2010
    All browsing problems go away when you use chrome anyway.

    I think if your the type of person who handed on their iphone 4 because of the death grip issue, then don't get a rMBP.
  5. eric44 macrumors member

    May 18, 2008
    This thread is a good idea, keeping it factual and emotion free will help a lot.
    I too have just ordered a base rMBP.
    I did not think that Safari was very smooth in store and walked away.
    However, I went back and it did not seem as bad.
    I was looked at Facebook and The Verge.
    Trouble is that I did not check what resolution setting I was on.
    I am expecting that ML will make things a whole lot better anyway.
    Also worth saying that when I use my 2008 imac scrolling isnt very smooth either!
  6. robotkiller macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2009
    With all due respect - I completely disagree. Death grip was a completely overblown issue that had minimal practical impact. The stutter/lag stares you in the face every day. It's the single reason why I haven't bought an rMBP. It's not just Safari either - browsing around the System Preferences brought it out as well. It just makes the computer seem slow - which it definitely is not.

    Some people don't care - and that's fine. But, for me, having a $2800 cutting edge MacBook Pro that has worse scrolling and UI performance than my 2011 MacBook Air or 2009 iMac would drive me nuts.

    I'm hoping ML fixes this - I'll be first in line to buy one if it does.
  7. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I've been running the 'best for retina' resolution for the last couple weeks. I really haven't noticed any lag and had to go looking for it to see what people were talking about. If I went to mentioned websites and looked for the lag very carefully, I could find some mild stutter. It wasn't something that was obvious to me at first.

    Last night, I was playing around with the 1920x1200 and had a ton of programs running on my system. I was then at a website that had an embedded video. I was scrolling on the page when the scroll just stopped. It was the first time it happened to me. At first, I thought I had lifted my fingers too soon but then it happened again.

    I haven't seen any lag anywhere else other than Safari and again, I had to go looking for the lag on the 'Best for Retina' resolution and only saw it in Safari while in 1920x1200 resolution while having a bunch of programs opened.
  8. prfrma macrumors regular

    May 29, 2010
    Sounds exactly the same to me.

    The first gen of premium product with a quasi hardware issue that some people had severe issues with but on the whole most customers were wildly satisfied with.

    The lack of support currently from software devs, in particular Abode, is a far greater issue IMO.
  9. robotkiller macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2009
    Difference of opinion then. Death grip didn't prevent me from buying an iPhone 4 after replicating the problem. Lag, in the other hand, has. But then I'm very picky about UI smoothness - its one of the reasons I hate Android.

    It's definitely something that prospective buyers need to experience before buying the rMBP.
  10. daleski75 macrumors 68000


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northampton, UK
    I think anyone thinking about purchasing the rMBP should see one in the flesh first and then make an informed decision as what is bad for someone maybe perfectly fine for someone else.
  11. Newfiejudd macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm using Mountain Lion and haven't noticed any of the so called lag issue.

    I am using the 2.6 rMBP version.
  12. portishead macrumors 65816

    Apr 4, 2007
    los angeles
    Mountain Lion - No lag.

    I used Lion in the store, and I noticed a lot of lag as well. But seriously, in another month ML will render this thread useless.
  13. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    That will be the best outcome. :)
  14. TheMacBookPro macrumors 68020


    May 9, 2008
  15. PaulAtkinson macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2012
    San Francisco
    Stutter? Lag?

    I have a new off-the-shelf base model rMBP -- bought on a whim when struggling between the cMBP hi-res and the base rMBP. I am coming from a 6.5 year old MBP, so I am comparing a lump of coal with a diamond.

    I don't think any web browsing is "butter smooth," but I don't remember what it was like on my old machine. I can't see a difference between the "best for retina" and the 1680x1050 emulated resolution -- in terms of the smoothness of scrolling in Safari. I can't see ANY difference with Chrome.

    If the high-res cMBP were "lag and stutter-free," I still think I would prefer the display of the rMBP. I think.

    I have only been using the rMBP for two days -- just a few hours of time at the most (internet and Aperture 3).

    I think it will be very difficult to give up this screen. Very.
  16. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I also did some more or less extensive testing in the Apple store. As far as I could tell, the rMBP update was already applied. I didn't notice any lag in the browser at any resolution. Mission control with many windows was extremely laggy, though (I opened around 30 safari windows to test this). With just a few windows, I couldn't notice any lag. BTW, images do look somehow blurry in contrast to the crisp text. This blurriness fades away when increasing the resolution (as expected). I couldn't detect any blur in the videos.

    This all, if course, is very subjective. I also admit that I am not very picky about these things, as I can play 3d games at 25-30 fps and it feels smooth to me.
  17. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    What we are comparing it against could be a factor here to watch for.

    Some devs in the other thread have reported this laginess in ui events. To me that's the most troubling aspect, because if it's only the browser you can put it down to lack of optimization for it, if it's system wide it means the system itself is somehow struggling.
  18. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Could you link this post? I would be very interested in reading it.

    In regards to the system itself, there are two possibilities. Either the hardware is not fast enough to deal with these things, or (which is more likely), the Cocoa (which is the OS X library responsible for the UI) can be further optimized. In the later case, there is no principal difference between browser lag and UI lag - once Apple fixes the Cocoa problems, the lag should be reduced.
  19. mzjin macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2011
    Ugh. This is just false.

    I have a Retina Macbook Pro and have used others in stores, and browser performance, in ANY website, is not "smooth as silk". It's about 30 FPS off from "smooth as silk".

    This is under ANY resolution, and gets WORSE when resolution increases.


    I consider the browser performance issue to be a non-issue. It is annoying and laggy for sure, but it doesn't really impede in the way of getting things done.

    I treat my $2K Macbook Pro Retina as a 15" Macbook Air that can play games, decode and run things like a Macbook Air can't hope to do. And the screen of course, it worth 5x crappy Macbook Air screens.
  20. testcss macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2011
    If you haven't bought one, how do you know what the UI performance is like. Don't base it off the inshore-machines as the information software on them is really buggy and drags performance. My rMBP has almost no perceptible lags!
  21. mzjin macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2011
    And that is where there is a discerning property here. If 25 FPS in 3d games feels smooth to you, then you could probably handle 10FPS web content.
  22. Office Hours macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Use Chrome Dev Channel and enable all GPU acceleration options under "chrome://flags". Silky smooth web browsing in 90% of the sites you'll probably visit. It still has problems rendering a lot of CSS3 effects but it's the same in almost any computer I use albeit on a much smaller scale.
  23. KingArthurVI macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    Agree. From

    Some sites still do register a slight scroll lag after enabling those GPU acceleration options but it's tons better than Safari and Chrome on stock settings. ;)
  24. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Death grip was a MAJOR issue one that forced Apple to give away cases to make their phones work properly.

    How could you conclude otherwise ?



    So, you accepted the loss of signal from holding the phone and rejected rMBP because of slight lag that mostly occurs when using scaled video modes?

    You can put a case on the phone....solved.
    Run at retina resolutions until Apple further addresses the issue.....solved
  25. radu.valeriu macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2008
    Bucharest, Romania
    Second thoughts


    I’ve placed about a week ago an order for a 2.7/16 GB/512SSD MBPr but after reading all this and watching the demo videos I’m starting to have second thoughts. Unfortunately the local store doesn’t have one on display and due to time constraints I have to make a decision rather quickly. As a result I spent the better part of the last days reading on forums and watching YouTube.

    What I can deduce up until now is that there is definitely a “relative” lag. By relative I mean if you compare the smoothness of the interface with another rather new high performance Mac and you are more or less a perfectionist (as I am) you will definitely fill a little sluggishness in the interface. If you come from an older machine or you are not as keen on looking at every detail, it’s something you can skip altogether and don’t give much attention to (I mean this as an average as I seen both extremes – no lag at all or very high lag but only on particular cases).

    From what I saw ML may or may not fix some of the problems (and I mean specially the interface as the web page scrolling doesn’t seem such a big issue)
    However I feel reluctant to pay over $3000 on the hope that software updates may or may not fix an issue that seems to be there. I don’t deny that the screen seems to be amazing and certainly it’s a joy to look at. But can it compensate the annoyance created by the interface remaining a little behind….not much but just enough to get you on the nerves? For me, I don’t think so.

    Initially I planned for a i7 Air to complement my 2011 27” iMac as portability does matter. Just as I was ready to order, the retina showed up and thought…ok, I’ll give up on some of the portability but the display and performance will more than compensate. It turns out the performance seems to be…. almost there, but still not yet complete. And what to expect from compatible software when not even Apple managed to upgrade their entire line of software for retina display?

    And what I don’t understand is why Apple released it in such a hurry. I mean I’m sure in their tests they notice the difference in performance. If ML will completely fix that, why not launch them together? Present them at WWDC, create the hype and make them available starting with August 1st. Would have also reduced the 3-4 weeks waiting list.

    My worry is that ML will solve some of the issues but will not render everything perfectly. I fear it will be just…good enough. Something I don’t think I want to pay a premium for. I am an Apple fan and also a big “early adopter” but right now… I really think I’ll cancel the retina until it’s more mature. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the MBPr it’s a great example of engineering but the user experience…seems to lag a little behind.

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