General historical question about Apple and GPUs

Discussion in 'iMac' started by CycloneX, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. CycloneX macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I have been using Macs since the early 90s and they have always been behind in the GPU options with PCs. Why is this? If you look at the options for GPUs for iMacs and Pro Towers for the last 10 years Apple has been offering 32, 64 and 128 MB cards for the majority of the decade -- 2000-2006. Look at the pro towers ... a 64MB card was standard for years for a 3k computer. In 2002 32 MB and 64 MB cards were what Apple offered but PCs were already at 256. And today, though not as bad, Apple is still not offering high end GPUs ... the high end GPU on the most expensive 2012 iMac is ranked #20 among MGPUs. Is this a choice by Apple or a result of they must take what AMD, etc., will offer Apple?
  2. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    I can't answer why they always skimp on the VRAM, but its their own decision. The GPUs they use typically have more VRAM standard.

    Your last claim appears to be false. When you remove SLI and other multi-GPU solutions, the stock 27" 675MX should be around #3 and the BTO 680MX #1 among MGPUs, and give equivalent performance to midrange or better desktop cards.
  3. Isengardtom macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2009
    I have no idea but in the last 2-3 years they closed the gap somewhat
  4. nasabaer macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2009
    There is no need for High End Cards in PC Gaming at the moment. Actually in my Win PC i have a GTX570 - and absolutely no need for an upgrade.
    Maybe the reason is the "old" gaming console generation. This maybe change in end 2013 - 2014...
    The 680 (mobile) that apple uses in the new 27" as BTO is fine for the average gamer.
    maybe we get better desktop gpu´s with the release of the next Mac Pro - but this rig is just too expensive (for gaming)
  5. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Aug 9, 2007
    Yeah they did spend a good period of time in the Intel era of skimping on VRAM, now it seems that Apple is being less anal about it, but in the end, all the VRAM in the world won't help a crap GU [my 8 year old PowerPC ATI card has more performance than a modern Macbook Air, Ivy Bridge spec, with twice the VRAM on an integrated Intel HD 4000 chip.
  6. CoolSpot macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2004
    I think yhere are a few factors at play.

    First, I think apple doesn't really care a lot about gaming. If you don't have cutting edge games on your platform, cheaper GPUs are more than adequate and free up more funds for the specs that consumers are able to easily compare (mhz, RAM, HDD). Nice graphics cards are typically the most expensive single component other that the CPU.

    Second, for all apple computers except the Mac Pro, Apple is integrating the GPUs into space and heat limited form-factors. They CAN'T go with the best because there isn't the space or thermal room.

    Lastly, I think Apple faces the internal two-promged attack of high margins and inefficient design. Apple wants to maintain high margins and at the same time do a lot of custom design. When you couple that pressure with the other factors I mentioned above you can see why graphics hardware often comes up short.
  7. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I doubt that claim
  8. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    ATI Radeon 9800XT 3DMark06: 815

    Intel HD4000 3DMark06: 6790
  9. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    I think....

    a) Apple is constrained by the design in most of their computers. Not too much room for heat dissipation/powerful fans

    b) High end graphics cards appeal only to professional/hardcore gamers. And for gamers, I dont think so the Mac Pro is a cheap alternative, being the choice for pro/high end users.

    c) Maybe Apple has to factor things as OEM pricing and assembly costs when they choose the GPU that will go in their machines?

  10. CycloneX thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    That may be true, but my question is why not offer the higher end GPUs as a BTO option the customer pays for, so no loss of profit for Apple --- especially in the towers where space and cooling is not an issue. Go back and look at the GPU options for the towers over the last ten years ... stuck at 64 and 128 for years.

    The most recent high-end iMacs prolly have enough GPU to play most any game at the "high" settings, which is honestly a first for Apple with the iMac since it's inception. So, I applaud that. The iMacs since 2010 are really great machines and are good bang for the buck ... these are the best iMacs Apple has ever offered ... except for the loss of the CD/DVD drive in the latest.

    Gaming seems to have moved to the console for the most part, so the days of me playing MMOLRPGs like Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of Honor, and World War II Online on my iMac are long gone ... so be it .. just wish I could have had better GPU options in those days.
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    They wouldn't put a gaming GPU in there (675MX, 680MX) if they didn't care about gaming.

    I have no idea why they usually are so stingly with VRAM (although, to their defence we must admit that they are using exclusively the faster GDDR5 VRAM). I think the main reason would be sales strategy - they want you to buy the more expensive machine if you need more VRAM.
  12. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you're talking about MacBook Pros and iMacs, your answer is simply that Apple feels the need to make the machines so thin, that they are literally using the fastest GPU that will fit inside such a thin thermal envelope. If the MacBook Pro were to have the GPUs found in high-end 27" iMacs, it would have to be twice as thick as the non-retina models were before the unibody switch. Similarly, if a 27" iMac were to have the cards that desktop PC users are enjoying now, it would have to be twice as thick at the very least. Apple doesn't like thickness. As far as the MacBook Pro is concerned, that's a good thing as gaming laptop PCs are often unreliable and the last thing I want my MacBook Pro to be is unreliable. But for desktops, thinness shouldn't be the overriding factor.

    If you're talking about Mac minis and MacBook Airs, the answer is pretty much "that's what Intel was able to fit on the CPU die". And if you're talking about Mac Pros, well the answer is a two-part. Part one is that Apple is not really updating them until the supposed 2013 update. Part two is that even if they were updating them regularly, Apple doesn't see too many customers really needing more than something in the Radeon HD 5870 (or modern equivalent) range, and for those that do, you can special order an NVIDIA Quadro that will get the job done. I imagine there's little demand for an AMD/ATI FireGL card comparable to the demand for the Quadro.
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Fun thing is, the new HD4000 has 90% of the transistors working on ripple, fog, lighting, anisotrophic filtering, hardware skinning etc. The old 9800 just did simple 3D texels and wire frame stuff, and it is still faster with that than any new card. If you do 3-D wireframe modelling, the old cards often work much Snappier. So the experience is not represented by the 3D mark score.
  14. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    Why should they put anything better in there? Apple and everyone else already knows that you don't buy a Mac if gaming is that important to you. If it's not about gaming and you really want a good GPU, then chances are you're a professional and looking at a Mac Pro.
  15. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Whether wireframe is efficient depends on the driver implementation. And I have to disappoint you: there are no such things as fog, hardware skinning etc. for a couple of years now. Modern GPUs are mostly general computation units, and all things you describe are done in 'software' eg by programming these units.
  16. Dahkot, Nov 5, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012

    Dahkot macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2011
    I'm not sure if you are talking about the Imac you only order today and not the one that comes out in approx a month , because in one swoop Apple ends any such deficiencies in the mobile GPU market.

    The 680mx is the fastest single card mobile solution out there , it's a beast and googling any reviews of it show it. I have one in my MSI GE70 and it honestly keeps pace good enough with my desktop PC with a 580gtx.

    The 27" Imac with a 680mx will be quite a capable gaming machine , and again will have the fastest single card mobile gpu solution available.

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