Does the RMBP's Retina Screen Detract from its Processing Power?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Slivortal, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Slivortal macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hello,

    I'm currently writing this from a 2009 13" MBP 2.53 Ghz 4GB RAM (that's been through a fair share of wear and tear to begin with - drops, water damage, replaced logic boards, the whole 9 yards). It's been three years, and I want to upgrade my computer - it simply can't stand up to the processing load I'm presenting it with. I was considering waiting for Haswell before, but if my computer just isn't pulling its weight any more, it's not going to be worth suffering through another year. However, I'm hesitant to upgrade to an RMBP.

    I am in love looking at the RMBP's specs - 16GB RAM (upgrade), dedicated 1GB VRAM graphics card, 2.3Ghz i7 Quad Core, SSD w/new controller. Normally, I'd buy it just for the specs in a heartbeat.

    However, I'm worried, and my worries ironically lie with the fact that Apple updated the thing most people (and I would be)spending $ on - the screen. I've heard various reports that the Retina display may be taxing the GPU and CPU by simply being on - something to definitely be worried about if I want to get the performance that could be offered by any computer with these specs (and this OS).

    My uses revolve around the use of multiple OSs to write and experiment with programs/shell code. Additionally, I'd like to use the sandbox aspect of virtual machines to try and experiment with processes I'd normally consider too dangerous to use on my regular computer. I like to tinker a lot with multiple (virtual) computers, and I'd like to have a computer that could handle (almost) everything that I could throw at it.

    I'm rather new to this (I'm a student), but I know what I'm working off of right now certainly isn't handling it well (speed issues, heating problems, etc).

    I know also that simply getting a 15" regular MBP would be a choice, but I honestly like the new form factor and new screen, dedicated HDMI port, etc - not to mention that 3rd-party upgrading SSD and RAM would probably still take me to the same price either way (and the screen is admittedly nice).
     
  2. Auzburner macrumors 65816

    Auzburner

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    #2
    The graphically oriented components will inherently be impacted by a higher resolution display. Logically, the computer must send instructions to 4 times the number of pixels compared to the standard MBP. With that said, the components are built to power this higher resolution display. Additionally, Apple has written the retina features of Lion to optimize performance through scaling and other methods.

    Either way, the processor, chipset and GPU of the Retina MBP are astounding. Comparing to the standard MBP to retina, the components will certainly be taxed more when idle.

    If reparability is not a HUGE concern for you and you want the latest a greatest, go for the retina. Plus, it will retain resale value better because it's a newer, better product.
     
  3. Slivortal thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Resale value is never something I worry about on MBPs, as I try to use them until they no longer perform their tasks in the manner in which I need them to (as is coming into play on my '09 model). I like having the latest and greatest, but if it works the same, I like having the spare cash in my bank account more.

    I guess my question is if I'm trying to run OSX, Ubuntu, and Windows, as well as terminal commands, shell scripts, text editors, and web browsers in each (maybe even iTunes or a small game or two if I'm feeling adventurous ;) ), would I see a severe drop in performance simply because I have a Retina screen?
     
  4. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #4
    It wouldn't be a severe drop in performance but it'd certainly be noticeable.
     
  5. Tritons macrumors 6502

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    #5
  6. Slivortal thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I guess the question would be whether it would be noticeable enough to cause me significant time/lag issues - but I guess that's more of a relative term than anything (in which case, I'd need to get one, test it, and send it back if it doesn't work the way I want - irritating for a custom).

    Yeah, I saw that review, and it's actually what got me starting to think - but honestly, I'm not worried about something as graphically intense as Facebook as I am about text editing and shell code (iTunes + small games could cause issues however). Facebook was also somewhat of an outlier in terms of his graphical testing as well. However, considering that pretty much every other OS could have its own GUI, things could go bad, though I'm not quite yet the OS expert that I hope to one day be.

    So I guess I'm not as much worried about the increased GPU usage effecting GPU performance as much as CPU performance, maybe? :confused: But I'm new to all this (partially because I can't do it well on my current computer), so maybe someone could help me out.
     
  7. Tritons macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Actually this review got me thinking as well since this is a lot of money for something that runs worse then year old MBP. But portability of retina mac compared to 15'' non-retina and this amazing IPS screen makes me want to go for retina even throught I have to wait like a month or so for it to arrive to Latvia.
     
  8. jsnuff1 macrumors 6502a

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    NY
    #8
    You will definitely not see any performance issues with the retina screen using terminal commands and shell scripts.

    Anything that involves a lot of pixel drawing on the screen you will see a performance hit.
     
  9. watchthisspace macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    If your tasks are just having multiple OSes running, shells, terminals, etc.. A RMPB will be fine. Just remember by default, your screen estate will be the same as a non-retina mbp at 1400x900 or something.
     
  10. Slivortal thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Yeah, both of those reasons are very tempting - performance is a big issue for me, though.

    Like, what sort of images would cause issues? Would simply the borders of browsers/applications cause a performance hit (if the contents of those browsers/applications are mainly text)?

    What do you mean by that? Even though the screen estate is still 1400x900, there's still extra processing done to make it viewable by a 2800x1800 screen, isn't there?

    Or do you mean in terms of screen space? In which case, 15" is already an upgrade from 13", and I'm not really that worried.
     
  11. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Honestly, unless you're gonna actually use the retina screen for something you might as well get the regular 15". It'll save you the headache of all this contemplation and I doubt the screen will help in any way with vm/shell scripting etc.
     
  12. Slivortal thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Maybe if I'd be saving money, but paying more money for what comes out to a worse screen seems like a losing proposition.
     
  13. CUsurfer macrumors member

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    Aug 29, 2010
    #13
    No offense, but I think that's a preposterous position. Because you always interact with the display, regardless of function, the retina display is usable by everyone. It's an absolute joy and a pleasure to use. I mean there's nothing wrong with the HiRes, it's just not nearly as spectacular as the Retina display (disregarding performance issues). Do you wear glasses? It's kind of like when your glasses prescription is a year or two out of date, you get a new prescription and you put your new glasses on for the first time. Your old glasses were just fine for the most part--really, you didn't even know what you were missing. That is, until to you put your new glasses on. Now everything just pops and is so incredibly crisp. It's quite enlightening.

    Anands review seem to allude to the fact that the CPU still handles some aspects of drawing what's onscreen. I'm unclear on this behavior specifically and how it may impact performance. I wish we could get some clarification with regards to what operations are offloaded to the GPU, what exactly is handled by the CPU, and how does this compare to the non-retina MBP. It sounds like Mountain Lion will leverage the GPU more heavily than Lion currently does to mitigate some of the UI sluggishness, but I still think CPU usage should be a concern to the power user who may require maximum CPU performance from a specific application.

    Disclaimer: Not an engineer, thus speculation:
    I think if you are compiling an extremely complex or large codebase or running some other CPU intensive task, it may be unwise to simultaneously utilize Safari or other UI-exhaustive applications/functions if performance is your primary concern. I think the key word there is simultaneously. I doubt it takes much power to display a few terminal windows or a static IDE window. It's when you toggle Expose or switch over to Safari and browse Facebook or Engadget that it appears performance may not be equal to that of the non-retina MBP, which is a bit disconcerting. Thus is the price for early adoption, I suppose.
     
  14. Auzburner macrumors 65816

    Auzburner

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    #14
    At this point, I'd say take the rMBP for a 14 day test drive. See if it can handle the work you plan to do. And see if you like the display and its daily level of performance.

    I think it will work just fine for you. And if not, just swap is out for the regular MacBook Pro within 14 days.
     
  15. DrJohnZoidberg macrumors member

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    Mar 16, 2012
    #15
    The Retina display actually has worse color accuracy and a smaller (by about 7%) color gamut than the HiRes screen [link]. It's also about 15% dimmer than the HiRes screen. However, the Retina screen has considerably higher resolution and dramatically improved contrast (over HiRes), which are the two things that people first notice when they see the screen. Not everybody cares about color gamut and accuracy (generally only photographers), but don't drink the Kool-Aid and believe the Retina is "better" on all metrics.
     
  16. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #16
    not really. the 'worse screen' doesn't eat up 100% cpu of a single core when scrolling up and down in a browser. i imagine if you're doing heavy workloads or compiling/rendering something, you'll probably want to do something else on the machine while thats happening. in this case, the screen seems like it would be detrimental to your workflow.
     
  17. Auzburner macrumors 65816

    Auzburner

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    #17
  18. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #18
    this doesn't help with the fact that the hardware still can't keep up with the retina display taking up more resources than it really should.
     
  19. Auzburner macrumors 65816

    Auzburner

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    #19
    It absolutely should use those resources powering a nicer display.

    To say that it will be more taxing than the original MBP despite the overclocking is true, but only very slight according to MacWorld's benchmarks. It's certainly a reason to lean towards to retina model than before.
     
  20. Sambo110 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Which is fixed in Mountain Lion.
     
  21. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #21
    thats if you're constantly using the discrete gpu then. what about the hd4000 which would be the one thats generally always in use?
     
  22. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #22
    If you really cared about colour accuracy, then you wouldn't be using a laptop screen in the first place.
     
  23. eba macrumors regular

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    #23
    Maybe. We'll see.
     
  24. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #24
    i dont see any confirmation that this is fixed in ML. anandtech said its improved in ML but definitely still not smooth. will further iterations of ML fix it more? who knows. i hope so but according to anandtech, he said the hardware was already pushed to the max and theres nothing that can be done about it.
     
  25. Aodhan macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2012
    #25
    I really felt like the resolution of the Retina would be a liability for an otherwise respectable graphics processor. This is why I went with the 1GB 650M version of the non-Retina MBP. It has a quarter of the work to do that is required of the Retina. I hook it up to my 1920x1080 monitor and play World of Warcraft on high settings at 60FPS. In my opinion, the 2880x1800 display asks too much of contemporary, practical notebook hardware.
     

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