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External monitors and memory/CPU/graphics card questions

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
24
3
Hi all, forgive the long winded windup and question... 😬

My current setup is a 2015 15" MBP connected to a pair of apple thunderbolt displays. As I understand it, the MBP does not have a separate graphics card/processor, so the work of connecting to the external displays falls onto the CPU.

My physical setup is such that the MBP is not in an air conditioned space (although the external monitors are) - this is a small home recording studio. The MBP is outside the room to decrease the fan noise while recording.

On hot days, and even some medium days, which are frequent here in LA, the MBP is slow, sometimes to the point of not being usable. The internal fans are spinning like crazy. If I unplug one of the monitors, this seems to help. Occasionally I also get green flashes in OBS studio while streaming live video, which I understand is also a CPU limitation issue. In this case, unplugging one of the monitors seems to help too, but it's not night and day.

I normally have the MBP clamshelled so that it's processor doesn't have to think about graphics for its built in display. (although I imagine the cooling might be better if it were open...)

Now, all that being said, I have two questions:

1. Is my assumption right, that MBP doesn't' have a separate graphics processor, and the external monitors are working the CPU harder? Is there anything else I can do to alleviate this? (I'm already using a circular fan blowing across the MBP to help get the air moving...)
2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?

Thanks all :)

Geoff
 
Last edited:

markiv810

macrumors 6502
Sep 27, 2002
276
46
India
Hi all, forgive the long winded windup and question... 😬

My current setup is a 2015 MBP connected to a pair of apple thunderbolt displays. As I understand it, the MBP does not have a separate graphics card/processor, so the work of connecting to the external displays falls onto the CPU.

My physical setup is such that the MBP is not in an air conditioned space (although the external monitors are) - this is a small home recording studio. The MBP is outside the room to decrease the fan noise while recording.

On hot days, and even some medium days, which are frequent here in LA, the MBP is slow, sometimes to the point of not being usable. The internal fans are spinning like crazy. If I unplug one of the monitors, this seems to help. Occasionally I also get green flashes in OBS studio while streaming live video, which I understand is also a CPU limitation issue. In this case, unplugging one of the monitors seems to help too, but it's not night and day.

I normally have the MBP clamshelled so that it's processor doesn't have to think about graphics for its built in display. (although I imagine the cooling might be better if it were open...)

Now, all that being said, I have two questions:

1. Is my assumption right, that MBP doesn't' have a separate graphics processor, and the external monitors are working the CPU harder? Is there anything else I can do to alleviate this? (I'm already using a circular fan blowing across the MBP to help get the air moving...)
2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?

Thanks all :)

Geoff

Apple laptops have been having issues related to heating, I have two laptops MacBook 2015 and MacBook Air 2017. Many a times the MacBook shuts down abruptly while playing music or sometimes compiling Macports applications installed. That is nothing new. The 13 inch MBP does not have a dedicated graphics processor.

1. Using a cooling pad might be a better option. You can look for it on Amazon, I don't know if I can post the links but cooling pads are available and are quite a game changer.

You can also check if your MBP is overheating under normal operations too, like browsing etc, working on documentation normal task that are not CPU intensive; in that case you can get your MBP checked at Apple Service centre.

2. I think iMac i9 are also having heating issues, hopefully someone who owns an iMac i9 answers your query.

You can very well wait for the new arm based Macs to be released to find if Apple Silicon based Macs also have heating issues. So when OBS studio is released native for arm based Mac buying arm based Mac Computer would be viable

If I were you I would buy a compatible cooling pad, that solution does not cost much and anyhow would undoubtedly improve the performance of MBP.
 
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Fomalhaut

macrumors 6502
Oct 6, 2020
280
238
Hi all, forgive the long winded windup and question... 😬

My current setup is a 2015 15" MBP connected to a pair of apple thunderbolt displays. As I understand it, the MBP does not have a separate graphics card/processor, so the work of connecting to the external displays falls onto the CPU.

My physical setup is such that the MBP is not in an air conditioned space (although the external monitors are) - this is a small home recording studio. The MBP is outside the room to decrease the fan noise while recording.

On hot days, and even some medium days, which are frequent here in LA, the MBP is slow, sometimes to the point of not being usable. The internal fans are spinning like crazy. If I unplug one of the monitors, this seems to help. Occasionally I also get green flashes in OBS studio while streaming live video, which I understand is also a CPU limitation issue. In this case, unplugging one of the monitors seems to help too, but it's not night and day.

I normally have the MBP clamshelled so that it's processor doesn't have to think about graphics for its built in display. (although I imagine the cooling might be better if it were open...)

Now, all that being said, I have two questions:

1. Is my assumption right, that MBP doesn't' have a separate graphics processor, and the external monitors are working the CPU harder? Is there anything else I can do to alleviate this? (I'm already using a circular fan blowing across the MBP to help get the air moving...)
2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?

Thanks all :)

Geoff

There were some MBP 15" models that didn't have a discrete GPU. You can check yours via the Apple menu at the top-left of the screen (Apple->About This Mac -> System Report ->Hardware -> Graphics / Displays -> Video Card. If you have a separate dGPU, it will show two video cards: the Intel integrated GPU (e.g. "Intel UHD Graphics", and "Nvidia ..."). (Assuming 2015 MBP 15 still used NVidia?)
 
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Kostask

macrumors regular
Jul 4, 2020
216
97
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
.......

I normally have the MBP clamshelled so that it's processor doesn't have to think about graphics for its built in display. (although I imagine the cooling might be better if it were open...)

Now, all that being said, I have two questions:

1. Is my assumption right, that MBP doesn't' have a separate graphics processor, and the external monitors are working the CPU harder? Is there anything else I can do to alleviate this? (I'm already using a circular fan blowing across the MBP to help get the air moving...)
2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?

Thanks all :)

Geoff

Just go to the Apple in the top left corner, and click on About This Mac. There will be a window that pops up that has a line that shows Graphics. If it has only the Intel Graphics XXXX shown, you only have the Intel GPU built into the Intel CPU. If it has anything that has AMD or Radeon in it, then you have a separate graphics processor. You don't provide a lot of information on your MBP configuration, so it is hard to say whether you have a separate GPU or not.

Yes, you are limiting your MBP's ability to cool itself by keeping the lid closed.

That being said, it may be worth seeing if the heat sinks and/or fans are clogged with dust, and if the system fans are turning at the right speed. if the heatsinks are clogged, or the fans are turning very slowly or not at all, it doesn't matter if you use a cooling pad or not, the MBP will still overheat.

For longer term uses, i9s are very prone to overheating and throttling. It may be best for you to wait for the Apple Silicon Macs to show up, if you are not running applications that need an Intel CPU. The Apple Silicon Macs will most likely run a lot cooler.
 
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Erehy Dobon

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2018
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1,465
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2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?
This may sound a little strange but based on your usage case, you should look into a Mac mini 2018 paired with an eGPU. The latter will isolate the discrete GPU from the CPU and alleviate much of the heat concentration.

Have the graphics card in the eGPU drive your monitors thus leaving your Apple's integrated GPU idle.

From my experience, this also frees up system RAM, up to 1.5GB on the Mac mini 2018. The additional free RAM may reduce the frequency of your system paging memory. I am using a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 card in a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650 running on an i7 Mac mini 2018 with 16GB RAM (Mojave).

While I'm not doing digital audio production, I have observed better graphics performance with less Mac fan noise when I use the eGPU. For mundane tasks the iGPU is adequate.

I made one mod: I replaced the Sonnet's cheap 120mm fan (which didn't even have anti-vibration pads) with a Noctua NF-S12A PWM chroma.black.Swap fan.

Even at full GPU load, the Sapphire card's fans aren't as grating as a typical notebook computer fan.
 
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ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,734
502
Redondo Beach, California
2. I'm looking at a new machine in the near future. 2020 iMac i9 most likely, but I'm thinking about what I want to do with the graphics card. Will one of the upgrade options on the graphics card help with this problem?

The iMac has fan noise. It can get slightly loud. A used Mac Pro would be the same price and work well for driving a pair of remote monitors. I've seen 6-core Xeon MP for $1,800, That would be a dramatic upgrade from a Macbook. he MP has good cooling

Today you can do this: Stand the notebook on edge and aim a desktop fan at the MacBook and blow lots of air over both sides of the case.
 
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Fomalhaut

macrumors 6502
Oct 6, 2020
280
238
Just go to the Apple in the top left corner, and click on About This Mac. There will be a window that pops up that has a line that shows Graphics. If it has only the Intel Graphics XXXX shown, you only have the Intel GPU built into the Intel CPU. If it has anything that has AMD or Radeon in it, then you have a separate graphics processor. You don't provide a lot of information on your MBP configuration, so it is hard to say whether you have a separate GPU or not.

Yes, you are limiting your MBP's ability to cool itself by keeping the lid closed.

That being said, it may be worth seeing if the heat sinks and/or fans are clogged with dust, and if the system fans are turning at the right speed. if the heatsinks are clogged, or the fans are turning very slowly or not at all, it doesn't matter if you use a cooling pad or not, the MBP will still overheat.

For longer term uses, i9s are very prone to overheating and throttling. It may be best for you to wait for the Apple Silicon Macs to show up, if you are not running applications that need an Intel CPU. The Apple Silicon Macs will most likely run a lot cooler.

Just showing "About This Mac" won't give you the details of both iGPU and dGPU, only the active GPU. e.g. on my 2019 MBP 16:

1602244140488.png


The computer obviously has an AMD Radeon Pro dGPU as well...but this isn't shown unless it's active, or you go into the system report and check "video cards".

I haven't seen any evidence of overheating & throttling on my i9 MacBook Pro, even when doing video renders, but I do keep it open and on a stand when connected to external monitors.
 
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ght56

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2020
456
307
For your usage scenario, the iMac Pro sounds like an ideal candidate, IMHO. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it is still an extremely capable machine with a very efficient graphics card, and current rumors suggest it will be updated in the near term. You can find the base model refurbs currently for around $3,500-ish. The iMac Pro is extremely quiet, and will have no issues with your additional displays.
 
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gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
24
3
For your usage scenario, the iMac Pro sounds like an ideal candidate, IMHO. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it is still an extremely capable machine with a very efficient graphics card, and current rumors suggest it will be updated in the near term. You can find the base model refurbs currently for around $3,500-ish. The iMac Pro is extremely quiet, and will have no issues with your additional displays.
Thanks, was hoping i didn't have to bump to the pro haha. I'd of course prefer it, but rather not drop the change if I don't have to. But I do need silence if I'm going to have the computer in the same room as the instruments, so I suppose it's better to err on the side of caution.

The nice thing about the regular iMac is that the RAM is still user upgradable, so I could spend <3k and still upgrade to 64GB or even 128 a few hundred dollars rather than spend apple RAM prices...
 
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gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
24
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gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
24
3
This may sound a little strange but based on your usage case, you should look into a Mac mini 2018 paired with an eGPU. The latter will isolate the discrete GPU from the CPU and alleviate much of the heat concentration.

Have the graphics card in the eGPU drive your monitors thus leaving your Apple's integrated GPU idle.

From my experience, this also frees up system RAM, up to 1.5GB on the Mac mini 2018. The additional free RAM may reduce the frequency of your system paging memory. I am using a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 card in a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650 running on an i7 Mac mini 2018 with 16GB RAM (Mojave).

While I'm not doing digital audio production, I have observed better graphics performance with less Mac fan noise when I use the eGPU. For mundane tasks the iGPU is adequate.

I made one mod: I replaced the Sonnet's cheap 120mm fan (which didn't even have anti-vibration pads) with a Noctua NF-S12A PWM chroma.black.Swap fan.

Even at full GPU load, the Sapphire card's fans aren't as grating as a typical notebook computer fan.
Was looking at a mac mini too, but kind of got turned off when I realized there wasn't a separate graphics processor. The other thing is you cant get a mac mini in anything heftier than an i7, which is what I've got in my MBP. That's working fine, but if I'm upgrading, well, you know...haha

Any recs for an eGPU? I've never used one, might think about trying it with my MBP first!
 
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pshufd

macrumors 68030
Oct 24, 2013
2,727
8,425
New Hampshire
I have a 2014 MacBook Pro with 2.2 Ghz CPU and IGPU and a 2015 MacBook Pro with 2.5 Ghz CPU and AMD Radeon Discrete GPU. I have gotten artifacts with multiple external monitors on the 2014 and I chalk it up to insufficient memory bandwidth with running applications and the IGPU using system RAM.

I do not have these problems with the 2015 with the Discrete GPU. However, I can run into heating issues. I'm running in a basement in New Hampshire so the temperatures are not as extreme as where you are but the fans can spin up with my main application. I have a dual 160 CFM fan setup blowing air into the laptop bottom in clamshell mode and that cools it down somewhat but it's pretty loud. My solution has been to move the application to a Windows desktop which has better cooling capability. I am currently building a new PC which is designed to run cool and quiet for my main applications.

I just do not see good options for cool and quiet operations on Apple products outside of the Mac Pro.

Here's the case for my new build. It comes with three case fans and will take up to seven. The case is huge too.

Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 9.29.05 PM.png
 
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