getting a new Macbook pro - question about graphics cards

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Tazzydnc, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. Tazzydnc, Jan 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012

    Tazzydnc macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    I'm getting a new macbook pro in a few days, and I've narrowed it down two either the 2.8ghz dual core 13" or the 2.2ghz quad core 15". I used to have an early 2010 model 2.4ghz 13" but it was stolen last week :(

    One of the sales reps showed me a face-off between the two compressing some video, and wow the quad core was fast! That said however, I probably won't be doing a lot of video/sound editing on my comp.

    I use my comp for pretty basic things - MS office, internet browsing, iTunes, and watching movies, so I don't think I need a particularly high powered machine. However, I'm concerned that the Intel HD 3000 graphics card in the 13" is gonna let me down, despite the fact that I don't game.

    I had an Nvidia geforce 320m (I think) and though it worked pretty well, high-quality streaming videos were often choppy, and it was not to do with the internet connection. I watch a lot of ESPN 3 (watch espn) and there were often problems.

    Is the Intel HD 3000 a step up from the 320, or a step down? Or were my problems software related? (adobe flash for example). Another concern of mine is that the HD 3000 won't stand the test of time - it might suffice now, but in 2 years when I'm streaming/playing even higher quality video, will it still perform well?

    Let me know what y'all think.

    EDIT: I'm not considering the airs b/c they don't have firewire 800 or a DVD drive


    So I got the 15" and I have to say, wow the screen is gorgeous and video conversion takes way less time and seems to have no effect on the other programs. However, this laptop feels HUGE & heavy. I don't mind the weight honestly, but for air travel I don't think it's gonna do well on those tray tables, and in grad school I feel like the desks/tables will feel cramped.

    As much as I love it, I'm left feeling like I bought way more computer than I need. My inclination is to exchange for the higher end 13", but I'm still worried the HD3000 won't cut it...
  2. prisstratton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2011
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    I always tell people to go with as much computer as they can afford so that they don't end up being disappointed. Go for the higher graphics + quad core !!
  3. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030


    Mar 22, 2011
    Tokyo, Japan
    I have to say that the Intel 3000 is a crappy graphic card.
    It does its job but not too well...

    Id prefer the AMD Radeon HD.
    The Intel HD 3000 have shared memory so 4GB RAM and 384MB VRAM.
    8GB and 512MB VRAM.
    Still in my opinion, it weak.
    If I am connected a power source I always use my AMD.

    I would be more than happy to have GT320M over my HD 3000
  4. ShoG macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2011
    HD 3000 isn't that bad. I upgraded to 8gb of RAM and now I can play Left4Dead2 on low settings and I get equal frames (90-95ish) compared to when Im using the AMD card. When you upgrade memory from 4gb to 8gb the HD3000 will increase its memory from 384mb to 512mb, which is a nice 2for1.

    I have the machine forced to integrated about 95% of the time, that included preview, espn3, quicktime youtube, and movies all run without a hitch using it. Gaming, I use the AMD but thats only a small fraction of the time for the occasional L4D2/aperture.
  5. pscraig macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2008
    The Intel 3000 is fine for decoding video, even HD video-it has an onboard H.264 hardware decoding engine. Rendering speed for internet and office type apps is fine-even iPhoto runs great. It falls flat for many games, but it was never designed for that. Keep in mind the Radeon HD discrete GPU draws quite a bit of power and generates a lot of heat. For this reason I use a utility to keep my 15" MBP set on the Intel 3000 until I really need the discrete GPU.

    For your needs the 13" sounds like it's very adequate. Go to 8GB to give the Intel 3000 512MB to play with, that will help.

    Some light reading:
  6. systole macrumors member


    Mar 24, 2011
    Data throughput

    Ill through out a slightly different idea Tazzydnc: I would do the 13" and spend your money on a SSD.

    The real bottleneck in laptops these days is the throughput and latency of your HDD. IF you wanted better performance for the every day tasks you listed, a SSD would increase performance across the board.On the other hand, the better graphics card would give you a noticeable speed bump, but only for a fraction of the tasks you listed.
  7. HippieMagic macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2011
    Regardless of what version you get the majority of your time will be spent using the integrated graphics anyway so you won't notice a performance difference unless you specifically need the discrete graphics for something like gaming or some editing programs.

    I would never personally go with a computer with less than a quad core at this point though.
  8. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I use a high-end 24" display with my base model 13" MBP with the Intel HD3000 and it works just fine. But I'm not gaming on the computer.

    And once again an SSD is being touted when it doesn't have anything to do with the original question... Man, the SSD fad has hit the Macrumors forum Big Time. :rolleyes:
  9. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    Buy one and understand! ;)
  10. Tazzydnc thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    yeah that alone might do it for me. I imagine software is only gonna get more CPU/GPU intensive as time goes by.
  11. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I understand very well, thank you. :rolleyes:
  12. Tazzydnc thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Thanks. As you may see in the update, I got the 15". Doesn't it automatically only use the AMD when necessary? I'm having some buyer's remorse, and thinking maybe the 13" with the HD3000 really would be fine. 8gb sounds excessive, but if it helps the GP I don't see why not, especially given how inexpensive RAM can be

  13. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    Unless you're dead set on screen space (which can actually be fixed with an external monitor), you'd most likely be happier with the 13".

    Is there a specific reason that you MUST have Firewire? If you can find a workaround, I honestly think an Air would suit you the best. The external DVD drive is so tiny that it's not inconvenient at all.
  14. soupersmart macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2008
    13" vs 15"

    I'm in kind of the same boat, laptop got stolen and insurance is buying a replacement. I'm going to be doing some video editing with FCP and is that the difference alone as to why I should get the lower model 15" rather than the upper scale 13"?
  15. Tazzydnc thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    yeah leaning more and more to the 13"... lol
    Yeah I absolutely want firewire, and if not that I want more than 2 ports. If I'm ripping a dvd, 1 port will be occupied by the CD drive, and another will be occupied by the external HD, leaving me no space to plug in a printer or flash drive. As much as I use the optical drive, I'd really prefer not to have to hookup an external drive every time and carry it around.


    From everything I've heard, if you want to do video editing, especially on final cut, you should definitely get the 15". The quad core will be much appreciated, as well as the screen space. I had to do some video editing projects on my 13" a couple times and it felt kinda cramped.
  16. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I sold my 15" MBP and got a 13" MBP primarily because of the size issue. Two inches and 1.5 pounds less weight do make a difference... I slapped a Power Support anti-glare film on the 13" MBP display and it transformed it into a reflection-free screen.
  17. Beezzy macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2011
    I would go for the 2.4 i7 15'' much better graphics card that will last you longer. Bigger HD and its blazing fast!
  18. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    Nothing an external monitor can't fix.
  19. Tazzydnc thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    ...unless you sometimes edit away from home
  20. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    Keyword: sometimes. It's a tradeoff for portability.
  21. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Step down, but the faster CPU should even things out a bit.


    Well, I use my MBP 15" on planes and in class all the time, and I never had an issue. Personal preference I guess.
  22. GuitarG20 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2011
    ahahaha. Try carrying a 17" everywhere with you; that's what I do, and it doesn't cause any problems for me. xD
  23. NZed macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2011
    Canada, Eh?
    Agree. One of my friends has a laptop with 1.5gb (i know it doesnt matter much when coming down to the HD3000 but worth mentioning) shared memory on the HD3000 and it wont even run skyrim at lowest setting. And it has a quad i5.
    Also with the new macbook pro 13". Tried skyrim on low and lag.

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