Comparing CPU / GPU Performance Numbers - nTB vs TB. What Are We Paying For ?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jozero, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. jozero, Dec 5, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016

    jozero macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    Well this is surprising. I went thru all the performance charts on ARSTECHNICA review, who are typically known for excellent reviews.

    1st entry on the charts, the Touchbar Model
    3rd entry on the charts, the non Touchbar Model

    There are two sets of charts. One is graphical performance. It uses GFXBench, Cinebench, and Geekbench metrics. We are comparing the Intel 540 in the non-touchbar model, and the 550 in the touchbar model.

    Then we look at the CPU. This really stands out when you look at the raw numbers. The non-touchbar has 15W 2.0 GHz Intel i5 (i5-6360U). Macbook pro TB 28W 2.9GHz Intel i5 (i5-6267U). Oh wow, right ? 28W vs 15W. ~ 3.0 GHz vs 2.0 GHz. But look at the actual performance numbers.

    The 2.0 GHz / 540 is consistently within 5% of the 2.9 GHz / 550 touch bar model. On virtually all of the CPU & GPU tests. The worst one I could find was a 10% difference.

    The non touchbar is getting tremendous battery life according to all reports. I get maybe 6 hours out of my touchbar model.

    I've now had my MacBook Touchbar since the middle of last month. It is ridiculously choppy, so now I think I need to pay more to get 16GB RAM. And trust me I've tried, I find the Touch Bar worse than physical buttons. I don't write off innovations Apple quickly, usually they are mocked and then everyone else starts copying them. So likely one day the touchbar will be grand, it sure doesn't feel like it now. Looking down at keys doesn't seem like a win to me thus far.

    So, what are we paying the $400 difference for ? 2 ports ?
  2. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    You mean you didn't read the reviews before you made your purchase choice? :)

    Yes, there only appears to be a 5-10% performance difference between the two models for most tasks, although the ArsTechnica review did say that the 15W CPU does start to throttle under GPU load, which may or may not be an issue for you depending on the software you use.

    Personally, I wouldn't be inclined to pay the extra money (AU$500 where I am) for the touchbar, and I wasn't that impressed when I tried one in the Apple store. Others may love it, or have a particular use for it (e.g. video editing) that makes it worth it - it's a personal thing.

    Sure, I would prefer 4 x TB3 ports, but given the possibility of using a docking station, it's not a deal-breaker to have only 2.

    I think the non-TB is the "sweet spot" for price-performance in the 2016 MBPs, but I would upgrade it to 16GB for my own use. Storage may be upgradeable later (via 3rd party SSD), but RAM is a once-only decision.
  3. mrex macrumors 68030


    Jul 16, 2014
    - 4 ports is more than two.
    - the base model have to run in the turbo mode to achieve the same speed as tb mbp.
    - Ram is slower in the base model.
    - The base model has also slower wifi
    - the base model does not have touchID

    Some scores in tests isnt everything. Some other reviewer said that when editing a 4K vid with the base model, fcp was lagging and that didnt happened with a tb version.
  4. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011
    I went and checked them out side by side yesterday. I favored the nTB just from reviews and personal thoughts. But when I seen and worked with the TB I thought this is really impressive. I don't use the function keys much now and I would not use the TB a lot either, but I like the idea its there and would pay the $300 to have it, along with the the 4 ports which is a big plus for me.

    Thinking of waiting for the next refresh and pick up a re-furb down the road.
  5. jozero, Dec 6, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016

    jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    I have the touchbar model and it's laggy as all hell. Going into mission control is so lousy I often think it's missed the gesture so I do it again, which then cancels the finally started first gesture.

    Your points 2,3,4 you made is exactly the mistake I made. Yes if you look at those it should be much faster, but nothing is baring that out. Can you point to real world tests showing the gains in performance with fast CPU and better GPU ? I'd really like to see some.
  6. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Notebook check shows the gap widening significantly when CPU and GPU are under load. The gap widens to about 15% then. Gaming is the obvious area where this most likely happens, but other professional apps that really tax the GPU would also see gains like this. If you're not going to be doing either, then the performance difference is negligible at best.
  7. vmflapem macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2013
    Ram, Wifi, CPU speed differences are all unnoticeable.
  8. mrex macrumors 68030


    Jul 16, 2014
    Could you please open this abit more? Based on what?
  9. jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    Note sure what you are referring to. It shows the same 10% or less performance gain.

    I am saying from real world this thing is right in front of me while I type this the TB is really choppy. So, when I get the nTB sometime next week, I'll report back. The nTB should be, at the very least, far more choppy yes? That is a real world test. Yes it will have 16GB vs 8GB, but since the CPU/GPU is claimed to much better, I should notice it being slower. I can also test it with compile times and what not.

    As an aside, thank goodness for Apple extended return times. Since the machines are locked down you basically have 2 weeks to set up your complete environment and run it thru any future scenario you can dream up.
  10. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Not sure what you're referring to, looks like you barely glanced at the article.
    Glad you raised your claim from 5 to 10% though.
    If you'd actually done the comparison though, there are tons of scenarios where the TB outdoes the nTB by significantly more than 10%.

    TB: 86fps - 21% increase
    nTB: 68fps

    Deus Ex:
    TB: 26fps - 23% increase
    nTB: 20fps

    TB: 48fps - 16% increase
    nTB: 40fps

    Tomb Raider:
    TB: 22fps - 23% increase
    nTB: 17fps

    Far Cry:
    TB: 27fps - 15% increase
    nTB: 23fps

    TB: 50fps - 14% increase
    nTB: 43fps

    Farming Sim
    TB: 93fps - 18% increase
    nTB: 76fps -

    TB: 65fps - 15% increase
    nTB: 55fps

    Look, prefer whatever laptop you want, but don't make stuff up.
  11. jozero, Dec 6, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016

    jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    You only listed games. Who buys a MacBook with a 540 or 550 Intel integrated GPU to play games? You are right though, I didn't even factor gaming in my equation. To me thats like buying a Tesla to use as a farm tractor.

    I didn't wait years, then go out and buy a MacBook Pro touchbar, spend hours setting it up, give it 2.5 weeks, all so I could complain on internet forum. This thing I am literally typing on right now is performing surprisingly poorly. The touchbar for me is proving worse than useless (though touchID rocks), and apparently there is little difference in performance with the mid level 13" vs the low end one. So, I asked the question, what are we paying for ?
  12. Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015
    Since specs suck already when compared to windows alternatives, I would say the touch bar version has better resale value.

    These Skylake chips are a year old already, prices will drop fast during next refresh.
  13. hiddenmarkov macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2014
    Bigger question is why buy a mac to be in windows a lot...most of those have no mac client.

    But that's me...I go for steam games that have mac ports...or steadily the xbone library of games grow. Bethesda letting mods in fallout 4 and skyrim SE happen...(and not locked down like PS 4, feel bad them for them since they miss out on so much) has me not missing pc master race much these days.

    Also the FPS drop not that bad for some. 86 vs 68 for overwatch...68 still playable in a pinch. Not winning tourneys with that...but you aren't exactly competition level for even CS:GO on a mac anyway either.

    And where TB is below 30...we can argue its like arguing its less crippled. 22 vs 17 for tombraider....that's bad frame rate regardless.
  14. jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    See I am betting the opposite. I don't think Apple will be able, or wants to maintain the $400 premium on the touchbar models. It also seems like Kaby Lake is less than a spectacular update, only offering minor gains.

    So my plan is now to get the base MacBook Pro 13" (I need a new computer, I simply waited too long. My mistake). 16 GB though because its clear 8 GB isn't cutting it. 256 just to keep the price down. I will use some of the money saved to buy a networked drive. Then instead of flipping my machine in 3 to 4 years, I'll cut it down to 2 years. Hopefully by then Intel has made some real progress, Apples makes real solid improvements are made to the touchbar, and the "Apple made something new lets make our customers pay for the R&D" touchbar tax is gone.

    Apple machines always have a "floor" on their cost. They don't like going below certain price points. So while I am sure they want the base 13" to get to $1500, I think the touch bar models will fall further down in resale price. Specially since the touch bar sure could use things like haptics.

    The big question is going to be when I get the nTB is how will it perform. I am running mostly coding tools.
  15. Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015
    Demand may rise once touch bar and touch ID are utilized by more and more apps, ditching specs and every other common things that the 2 machines share (form factor, speaker, display), I hardly see how nTB 2nd hand demand could rise once its specs are fairly outdated. Plus you are thinking about selling yours in a relatively short time, I suppose there are many people thinking the same, which in turn will create more supply for nTB 2nd hand market, hence affects its value even more.
  16. iKrivetko macrumors 6502a

    May 28, 2010
    Your calculations are off.

    86/68=1.26 26%
    26/20=1.3 30%
    48/40=1.2 20%
    22/17=1.29 29%
    27/23=1.17 17%
    50/43=1.16 16%
    93/76=1.22 22%
    65/55=1.18 18%
  17. Antairez, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016

    Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015


    I would also like to point out that you are paying for a $300 difference, not $400.
    nTB is a MacBook Air replacement, its a 15W TDP CPU just like the one used in Air. For $300 you are getting 28W TDP CPU, a better iGPU, 2 Fans instead of 1, 4 thunderbolt 3 ports, higher clocked memory, 1 more microphone, 30% faster Wifi transmission speed (, touch bar and touch ID.
  18. NickPhamUK, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016

    NickPhamUK macrumors 6502


    May 6, 2013
    Let's be honest for a moment here:

    15W CPU is enough for the majority (90%) of users. In my class alone there are 9 Mac users out of 20 students; of which 6 use Air 13", 1 MB 12", 1 a MBP 13" (2012-2015 form factor), and I'm the only one with 2016 nTB. It can run most things the 28W can run, the speed difference is minimal. Throttles? Yes, if you do CPU-intensive tasks such as video editing. Then you might as well get the 15"? Quad core with 47W TDP.

    Intel 550 is like 10-15% faster than the 540. If you want gaming, again, might as well get the 15" with Radeon Pro 460 or get a gaming laptop.

    What do you use all 4 ports for? It may make sense if you plug in a mouse, a charger, an SD card adapter/an external SSD, and an external monitor at the same time. Then again, just buy an adapter that has multiple ports on them.

    Faster wifi. Please. Do you use 653MBit/s? 99% chance ares, you don't. It's like arguing that one car is better because it has a maximum speed of 360 km/h and the other 320km/h.

    2 fans because the 28W chip uses more heat. In my defense, the lack of 1 extra fan gives more space to the 54.5W battery vs. 49W you got on the TB. And let's not begin on the battery life because we all know how nTB can get 10, up to 12 hours of battery life. The TB can get up to 8 if you're lucky.

    TouchBar is a gimmick and actually slows your productivity, read from TheVerge and Ars Technica.

    The only useful thing is TouchID, I give you that. Does it worth $300? Hell no.

    Need portability? Get the nTB. Need power? Get 15". The 13" TB is in an extremely awkward position.
  19. Trixs macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2008
    When does it lag? If I buy a new macbook pro and it lags with normal use, it's going back..
  20. mikeo007, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016

    mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Nice straw man argument, but my original claim was that it was a significant performance boost in activities like games that utilize CPU and GPU. You disagreed, I proved you wrong.
  21. Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015
    To each his own. You keep saying just get the 15", 15" is a whole new laptop which is larger and heavier and much more expensive. 15" is ridiculously expensive with Radeon 460, thats like NV 965m performance, I would just get a Razer at that point. What do I use 4 ports for? I can charge in on either side of the laptop, and I love that. TouchBar may not be so useful right now, but that's where Apple is pushing forward and I wouldn't be surprised if all their major product lines come with touch bar over the next few years. But I do see how this machine doesn't make sense to you judging by how you describe your use cases, I agree that you should stick with the non touch bar version.
  22. jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    I am in Canada, the difference after tax is $400 (I should of mentioned that).

    Again, you are doing exactly what I did. You just listed a bunch of specs, but the metrics and actual use shows barely any difference. Yes the microphone and 2 extra ports could be nice. WIFI never matters to me, my internet will always be slower than it.

    ( Except for that one person on this thread who buys $2500 (CDN) integrated gpu MacBooks to play games a $600 PC could run circles around. Each their own I guess. No snark intended, if you buy MacBooks to pay games kudos. )

    Crazy lags going between spaces or to Mission Control. Weird hiccups in Xcode or Simulator. Strange artifacts when switching between spaces. Apparently 10.2.2 address some of these issues, they all seem to centre around the GPU. I can be doing work between some apps, try to go to mission control, and it will just sit there for about 3 seconds and then suddenly jump into mission control, however since the key it on the TouchBar I can't tell if its not registering, so I hit it again. So it jumps into mission control, then cancels it.


    So if the specs on my use are a wash between the nTB and TB, the price difference hinges on the TouchBar. I personally am not finding it of any use. In fact its distracting because you are looking at the screen and in your peripheral vision this thing keeps flashing a different set of icons.

    I was going to return this MacBook for a 16GB regardless, why pay for the touchbar ? Why not save $400 (CDN) and put it aside for the 2 years away model ? We are essentially paying for Apple R&D on the touchbar, they are doing well enough without my financial help thank you very much.

    I could completely reverse my stance after testing out the nTB. Should prove interesting.


    By the way I don't think the touchbar was created for Macs. It would do wonders for the iPad Pro usability however. I think it was thrown on the Mac as a testbed and a few iterations later put it in the Smart Keyboard.
  23. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    I ordered a nearly maxed out 13" TB MBP that I'm supposed to pick up this weekend. I'm OK with the extra cost over the nTB computer, but only if it delivers decent battery life in addition to its other features. I don't expect it to do as well as the TB version because of the processor and battery difference, but I do want something north of 8 hours for the work that I do. What people here are reporting for the TB MBP is all over the place, and it's still unclear whether an OS update will make a meaningful difference. But I've yet to read a comment from anyone who's unhappy with the nTB MBP. If the battery issue isn't resolved quickly, I'm going to return the computer and get the nTB version.

    (As I posted this, I got an email saying my computer is ready for pick up, so I guess I'll see how it does sooner than I thought.)
  24. jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    I went from a 13" touchbar 8/512 to a non-touchbar 16/256 after 3 weeks. I was able to put 10.2.2 on the touchbar model before I returned it, which did fix many of the graphical glitches I was experiencing.

    I, personally, did not like the touchbar. I tried for 3 weeks to get used to it and not once was I glad I had it. I didn't experience a single delightful "oh now I get what Apple is going for" moment - Calendar month jumps came the closest. However every time I returned to my external keyboard I was happy it had keys I could hit without looking.

    I understand the 16GB on the non touchbar might be skewing results, however it does have a stat-wise step down in processor, and step down in GPU.

    PROS going from touchbar to non-touchbar:
    - I simply am not noticing a difference in speed overall. I have 8 apps open, 3 which are considered "professional" (Xcode, Coda, Sketch). I can dive into mission control, or space over, and start using the apps without any concern.
    - physical keys are nice. As I can do real work and not constantly stare down at my keyboard. What a bizarre user interaction. Seriously, who the hell looks at their keyboard constantly as a positive experience to get work done ?
    - I saved over $400CDN (I'll use half of this on a wifi connected 4TB storage solution. The other half ? Filet Minion perhaps? )
    - Personally, I have yet to miss the two extra ports. SIRI works fine even though apparently it has one less microphone. Not noticing any WIFI slowdown either.

    CONS :
    - There is definite drop down in performance when compiling or starting the iPhone simulator thru Xcode. Nothing I won't get used to, but it is slower. To me this says it all, folks doing sustained processor / GPU work will likely notice a difference.

    Overall I am happy with my decision. This time I did not jump into generation one apple tech (looking at you still slow Apple Watch). I DO hope the touchbar starts to shine, but I get it will be for multi-touch gesture when it expands in size a bit, or gets haptic feedback, or "rises" to act as a button. In a few generations, also hoping Intel gets its act together, I'll jump in then. For now, I have ridiculously solid machine.
  25. sn0warmy, Dec 19, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016

    sn0warmy macrumors 6502a


    Mar 26, 2009
    Denver, CO
    I returned my 2.9GHz i5/8GB/Intel Iris 550 13" tMBP due to the lag. I was coming from a mid-2015 15" MBP with 2.2GHz i7/16GB RAM/Intel Iris Pro (6100). Within just a few days of usage I was finding the new 13" to become extremely choppy/laggy when switching between apps and workspaces.

    Granted I'm a pretty heavy multi-tasker and I tend to run the following apps simultaneously:

    Microsoft Excel (large files with millions of data points split between 8+ sheets)
    Microsoft OneNote
    Microsoft Outlook
    Spark Email for other email accounts
    Chrome (with 8+ tabs)
    Safari (with 8+ tabs)
    Adwords desktop Editor
    Bing Ads desktop editor
    Parallels + Windows 10 + 3 proprietary work apps that only run on Windows)
    Skype for business
    Google Play Music desktop player

    I normally have those apps split up between 3 or 4 workspaces. On the 13" this usage made the computer noticeably laggy/choppy when swapping between apps and workspaces. Much more so than my mid-2015 15".

    I ended up exchanging it for the 2.6GHz i7/16GB 15" tMBP. The new 15" has been blazing fast without a single hiccup, even while using a secondary 34" external monitor and the same app usage.

    Since I much prefer the smaller footprint of the 13", I've considered going round two with another 13" and configuring it for 16GB RAM and either the 3.1GHz i5 or 3.3GHz i7. However, I've read that those processor upgrades provide minimal bumps in true performance. And in my use case, having the larger 8MB shared L3 cache in the quad core (vs 4MB in the dual core options on the 13") seems to be of real benefit.

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