How good is Intel Iris graphics in MBP Retina?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Yashraj, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. Yashraj macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2012
    So my desktop PC broke and lately I most of the time on the move so I have decided to get a high power MBP Retina to also be my gaming computer.
    This is what I'm planning to buy:

    13 inch MBP Retina
    3.0 Ghz i7
    512GB SSD
    16GB Ram

    Now those things there are perfect for a gaming PC, but another major component for gaming is Graphic card. Apple says it has Intel Iris Graphics, so I need to know how good it it. Most of the Nvidia and ATI ones are in GB and have detailed specifications to give a good idea about the card, but not with this one.
    I plan to play games like Assassins creed, Call of duty, GTA ON WINDOWS installed via Vmware fusion or Bootcamp. So will this graphic card be any use?
    Now I can understand extrememly hard core games won't play since the MBP is not designed to exactly compete with Alienware, but I do need a decent config.
    (Please don't ask me to get Windows laptop, I need OSX)

    So how good is the Intel iris graphics?
  2. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    Early iterations of these franchises, or modern iterations? If you talking about AC1, Call of Duty 4, and GTA San Andreas, then the Iris should be more than enough. If you are talking about AC Unity or Black Flag, CoD Ghosts, and GTA V, forget it.

    Don't expect this to be anywhere close to your gaming PC. I know you said you really want(or need, rather) OSX, so I would fork out the cash for the $2500 15" 750M model.
    With that said, I've been fairly impressed with the performance of the Iris Pro, so the low end 15" is also an option as well if you don't have the cash.
  3. rmackner macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2014
    About as good as onboard graphics can get at the moment. It shares the same memory bus as the CPU (takes a bit of your useable RAM) and won't run most newer games very well. Thought most online games like wow, diablo and all the valve games run pretty well on low end systems anyway.
  4. blooperz, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014

    blooperz macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2013
    your really just wasting your money if your maxing out everything for gaming. That is a dual core processor so the performance difference between the i5 and the i7 is going to be negligible. At the end of the day its still an underpowered processor for that price point. Even the base model 15" is going to outperform the 13 inch. Also keep in mind that the 13 inch uses Iris vs Iris Pro found in the 15". It goes without saying that if you want to do any level of even semi-serious gaming you need the 15 inch with the 750m. Even tho ugh the Iris series are the best integrated graphics available now they have to push all those extra pixels on the retina screen so it sort of balances out.

    Now with all that being said, The 750m is middle class GPU at the end of its lifecycle and will struggle to keep up with most upcoming games. If your planning on getting a model without the dedicated GPU (i.e one with only iris graphics) then its going to be even worse.

    Also keep in mind that very few games can utilize more than 4g gigs of ram and certainly not 16. 8 gigs is the sweet spot for a gaming machine and will be for some time. Anything more and you probably won't see any performance increase.
  5. Eduardo Forneck macrumors regular

    Eduardo Forneck

    Jul 23, 2014
    Gaming is OK, the problem is simple task, like scrolling on itunes or a large PDF, or zooming on iphoto, it's just laggy. i did this video showing the difference between using the native retina resolution (2560X1600) and the original res. for the Macbook Pro (1280x800). take a look

    PS: i did the video using Mavericks, but trust me, nothing changed on this in Yosemite.
  6. severage macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2013
    This isn't a gaming computer. It can run, in the most basic sense, practically any game out there. However, running games well and without turning the graphics settings down is a much more difficult challenge.

    One thing I will say, the iris graphics on this thing have impressed me. COD 4 runs at or above 60 FPS, as does TF2, Minecraft, and other low-intensity games. BF:BC2 usually runs well above 60 FPS, but on crowded, hectic conquest maps it can occasionally dip below that.

    Civ 5 runs well without looking like garbage. One thing to note is that running it in Windows is a far better experience than in OS X (though that usually is the case with these things). Choppy panning and scrolling along with slow late-game animations on OS X, while it runs very well on Windows.

    Even Battlefield 3 will run on this thing. At low graphics and 1280x800 resolution, I'm guessing that I get a fairly steady 35-45 FPS.

    Long story short, if you want actual gaming on high(er) settings and with high(er) frame rates, you should bump up to the 15" with a dedicated GPU. However, if you don't get unrealistically high expectations of the 13" model, it can run things better than I imagined a machine with this size and integrated graphics could.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Long story short

    If you want to get good frame rates at high settings the only Apple laptop for you is the 15 inch with discrete graphics card, and in the destops it'll be the maxed out 27 inch iMac with the 780M (although this is still a mobile graphics card) maybe a Mac pro with d500's or D700's. Macs just aren't gaming machines it is not what they are optimised for.

    If I was you i'd get the 13 inch and a PS4.
  8. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Here are benchmarks with Iris of the 13".

    Iris Pro of the 15" is about 70% faster. 750M is about twice as fast as Iris.

    Neither Mac is good if you want a notebook for gaming. The Maxwell 800M, 900M are much better than the 750M. 750M is much better than Iris but still quite weak and too weak for many newer games like a shadows of mordor even on low settings.

    If you want gaming on a notebook stay away from Macs they are just poor.
    Depending on how much mobility you want a MSI GS60 or GS70 (newest version with 970M Maxwell) are much better and also fairly slim and mobile.
    Just compare a 970M to an Iris. It is not even funny how big the difference is. It is 8 times faster than the 13" MBP and gets close to desktop class performance. That is also almost 5 times faster than a 750m.
  9. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Thanks for this. Some folks lump all the Iris chips together, when there's actually a huge jump between the Iris (13" rMBP) and Iris Pro (15" rMBP).
  10. savagewatts macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2014
    Vancouver, BC
    It's great

    I have mid 2014 rMBP 15" upgraded to 1 TB storage. I run Civilization V with the top graphics selected. Other than a bit of lag when first starting out it runs as smooth as can be. This is apparently 4K. COD couldn't run any smoother. I had a Mac in one form or another for the past 25 years and this is the most impressive yet.
  11. capuzino macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2013
    I wonder with what kind of settings they do those gaming tests. In few games (Borderlands 2 and GRID 2) I can play the game easily with high settings but they can't, where Bioshock Infinite works with the same settings they have.
    And then they find Tomb Raider playable with low settings with amazing 60fps score where I can't get it past 25fps unless I go for really low resolutions.

    And I have the 13" rMBP with 8GB ram and 2.4Ghz CPU (late 2013).
  12. rekhyt macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2008
    Part of the old MR guard.
    I was under the impression that all the UX stuff was fixed with the third version (2014?) version of the rMBP 15" (with discrete graphics).
  13. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    If you click on the game you find yourself on a page that describes that game and if you scroll a little screenshots of the exact settings used.
    Usually they use benchmark sequences if available and those usually try to demonstrate the more strenuous scenes in the game. Also somtimes newer drivers can fix issues on some gpus later on.
    In case of Tomb Raider the difference might be the TressFX hair, which notebookcheck have disabled even on Ultra settings and that cuts 30-50% into the FPS alone on nvidia GPUs. The first TressFX was just really resource hungry and they didn't upate it afaik, it is also not a feature available on all GPUs so that is why they probably disabled such special settings.
    Anyway the least those benchmarks do is give a good indication of the general difference in performance one can expect from different GPUs. Usually there are better setting optimizations than the low res ones standard low/high/med they used but they try to use the same ones for each gpu.

    Iris is almost unusable for newer more demanding games. Iris Pro and 750M is still very poor compared even to just a 850M. A 970M is really good and plays in a similar price range and one can have it in fairly slim notebooks like the MBPs.
  14. Eduardo Forneck macrumors regular

    Eduardo Forneck

    Jul 23, 2014
    IDK but i don't think so, mine is the Late 2013 version, but the 2014 has the same CPU (just some MHz faster) and same GPU.
  15. pendragon1984 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    I like to do some gaming on the weekends, wanted a mac, required portability, and didn't want to buy a dedicated gaming machine, so I went for the 750m retina macbook pro. I'm sure it'll struggle going into the future but for most games out today you can play them on high settings. I have to prop it up so as to get some air under the computer or it gets too hot. Other than that it works as a semi-serious gaming laptop, albeit a very freaking expensive one. For my somewhat unusual needs its great though.

    I imagine trying to game on a iris pro, which is about about half the speed of the 750m, would be pushing it for modern games. You could probably get by though on low settings. Some games don't look much different to me changing to settings and others, well for others it's like a different game.


    I'd like to add though that an idea really worth considering is to buy a 13" or low end 15" and then build a gaming PC. Probably get a 13" and a gaming PC with a relatively beefy GPU for the price of the high end 15".

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