gaming on latest air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Chopper read, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Chopper read macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #1
    Hello people.

    Bit of a newb question. But just looking at games i could play on my air. For certain games it says it needs a gcard with recommended amount of ram. I checked my about this mac and it shows Intel HD Graphics 5000 1536 MB. So is this classed as a gcard with 1.5gig of ram?

    Thanks
     
  2. ABC5S Suspended

    ABC5S

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2013
    Location:
    Florida
    #2
    It's Intels integrated, not a dedicated card. You can play some games, at some level of graphic eye candy, but it will not play the more intensive games with settings up high. You will have to play with the game settings to find the sweet spot.

    List your games and someone will weigh in on how it will play on the system you have
     
  3. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #3
    First of all, we have to distinguish RAM from VRAM (video RAM). The term VRAM is used to describe RAM specifically used for a dedicated graphics card, which is not included in the MacBook Air. The MBA uses an integrated graphics card, so it allocates the system RAM in place of VRAM. Now that we have that cleared up, it is important to realize that VRAM is a very small aspect of graphics performance, and it is not the basis for the functioning of the GPU. VRAM is to the GPU as RAM is to the CPU. The shader cores do most of the brute work, and the VRAM is used to store and retrieve equations, which reduces the load on the processing unit itself.

    The HD 5000 is a decent card, and you should be able to play most games on medium-low settings at reasonable frame rates, but 1.5GB of allocated memory doesn't mean much, and Apple could change that at any point in time with a software update. The HD 5000 only has a small amount of dedicated RAM, and the rest of it is shared with the system. On top of that, it uses LPDDR3 vs DDR5 RAM used in most modern graphics cards. Again, that doesn't mean much, because the 3D compute power of the HD 5000 is kind of abysmal, and the GPU itself will bottleneck before it starts hurting for RAM.

    The bottom line is that the MBA is fine for most games. If you want a good computer for gaming, make sure to check out 3D benchmarks for the graphics card, as VRAM isn't going to tell you nearly anything about gaming performance. I would also look into getting a desktop instead of a laptop if you want to go heavily into gaming. You can build a reliable $800 desktop with the power of a $3000 laptop. If you aren't looking to play AAA games, then a baseline MBA will suit you just fine (the maxed out model won't perform any better btw).

    Best,
    Matt
     
  4. blesscheese, Sep 26, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014

    blesscheese macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #4
    ^ what he said.

    As a rule of thumb, I wouldn't bother trying to play anything released in the last year or two, unless you can tolerate low quality graphics and jerky frame rates.

    You could probably play most games 2-3 years old on medium settings. Games 4-5 years old or older, you could probably play on high settings.

    As pointed out, GPU's are highly specialized chips with memory. The Intel integrated chips are *not* as sophisticated as dedicated chips by Nvidia or AMD, and have to share system memory...

    My experience has been that I could play Skyrim, jerkily but kinda ok, on my 2009 MBA. My 2010 Mac Mini, with the same graphics chip as the 2010 MBA could play Skyrim at medium settings, with frame rates in the 30's (very playable). When the MBA switched to integrated Intel chips, the reports where that the HD3000 were a step backwards from the 2010 MBA, the HD 4000 graphics were slightly better than the 2010 MBA, and the HD 5000 were definitely better...but this is all relative...ymmv.
     
  5. oklaonion macrumors member

    oklaonion

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    #5
    That's a little extreme. All the games I play on my Air are less than one year old and my 2013 MacBook Air plays them on high with good frame rate. Granted, I don't play the most graphic intensive games, but Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is pretty intense and runs perfectly on high.

    But of course, I may be in the minority in not expecting ultimate graphics at 60 fps from what is essentially my writing machine. Everyone's different.
     
  6. Chopper read thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #6
    thanks for all the in depth replies. Really interesting to learn. I obviously didn't buy it for gaming and have an xbox but like to play some less intensive games.

    I have been looking at football manager 2014 ( http://macgames.co.uk/280-football-manager-2014.html ) and under system requirements it says this for gcard

    Graphics: NVidia GeForce 7300 GT, ATI Radeon X1600, Intel GMA X3100: 128MB VRAM

    This is what started my query.
     
  7. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #7
    Some inaccuracies here that should be cleared up because it came up in another thread recently too.

    True, the CPU and GPU in a MacBook Air are all on the same piece of silicon and VRAM and RAM are just different virtual "sections" of the same physical memory chips, but all the same concepts apply as if you had a dedicated graphics card with its own dedicated RAM.

    The amount of VRAM you have (virtual or not) is important... it's not only used to store the screen buffer and various shader programs (the "equations" you mention), it's also used to store textures when it's drawing a 3-D scene.

    If you don't have enough VRAM allocated for the GPU, you can end up with "texture thrashing" where the GPU keeps having to load textures from main memory into its own memory space over and over because there's not enough room to keep them there, and that can be disastrous for performance (as was mentioned in the other thread).

    So it is important to know how much memory Apple dedicates to the GPU. But I don't know how to find that out. I don't think it can be 1.5GB because that would be way more RAM than most dedicated cards and it would be a huge waste of RAM unless you're a video game fanatic. Maybe there's some kind of 3rd party utility you can download to figure this out?
     
  8. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #8
    While I will admit that I know very little about the minutiae of GPU architecture, I still stand by my statement. The HD 5000 will not have any issue with RAM, specifically for gaming at least. I was not saying that VRAM isn't important. I was saying that VRAM is not important in this scenario.

    I agree with you that VRAM is very important, and with too little the GPU will be essentially useless, but the HD 5000 will not use more than 1/3 the allocated amount in a game before the other parts of the card bottleneck. Many people base their purchase off of the amount of VRAM the card has, so I was stressing that at least in this scenario, the VRAM was not that important.

    Professional GPU work is a whole different topic, and if he were talking about anything other than gaming, I wouldn't have given the advice I did. VRAM is important, but some people only consider that when purchasing a card, and I think 3D benchmarks are much more important to consider for gaming.

    Best,
    Matt
     
  9. blesscheese macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #9
    Facepalm...first thing, always ask people what they are trying to run...

    That games sounds very low intensity...FYI, the Intel GMA X3100 was an old, old (we're talking 2008...as in, it is now 42 dog years old, already) integrated chip that is really poor compared to something like the HD5000. I wouldn't think you would have any problems running something with min. specs like that!
     
  10. Chopper read thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #10
    haha I should of said straight away. Wicked I will buy it.

    Thanks again for the responses
     
  11. ha1o2surfer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    #11
    yup, also it's been proven that faster ram helps integrated graphics in games. Google ram speed and Intel HD 4000/5000. Just to give an idea. Just to clear that up. Doesn't matter on the MacBook since thats impossible to change. also I know you didn't bring that up. It was the other poster lol
     
  12. MacBH928 macrumors 68020

    MacBH928

    Joined:
    May 17, 2008
    #12
    Correct me if I am wrong but, even the MBP do not have dedicated cards.They have the same Intel chip except for the high end model which costs like $800 over the top of the line 13 inches model
     
  13. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #13
    The 13" rMBP and the 15" baseline rMBP do not come with dGPUs, but they don't come with the same GPU as the MBA. The 13" rMBP uses the HD 5100 Iris, and the 15" uses the HD 5200 Iris Pro.
     
  14. MacBH928 macrumors 68020

    MacBH928

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    May 17, 2008
    #14
    Is it any better or is it just slightly different?
     
  15. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #15
    They are definitely different. This is a 3D benchmark sourced from notebookcheck.net.

    HD 5000: 1039.5
    HD 5100: 1221.5
    HD 5200: 1957

    So with the 5000 as a baseline, the 5100 is 20% faster, and the 5200 is 100% faster. The 5200 is about 7% slower than the gtx 650m by the way.
     
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #16
    I believe the higher end Haswells with "Iris Pro" graphics have their own separate, dedicated memory chip in the CPU package for higher performance. Partially explains the difference.
     
  17. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #17
    Yeah, it comes with a moderate 128MB of eDRAM. For an iGPU, that is unprecedented.
     
  18. MacBH928 macrumors 68020

    MacBH928

    Joined:
    May 17, 2008
    #18
    hmmm... there is significant jump between 5100 and 5200 , unlike the 5000 and 5100
     

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