How important is the graphics card?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mms, May 15, 2007.

  1. mms macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2003
    I know that the only thing holding back potential MB buyers is the graphics card. But really, how big is the actual difference between the GMA950, the GMAX3000 (the one expected in SR), and ATI's X1600?

    I doubt that the GMA950 will hold me back at all on day-to-day tasks but how about in the future? In two, three years from now, will it be too slow to keep up with new OS fetures? Or in a year or so, will it not be enough for newer games? I'm not sure if that difference is going to be enough to justify the jump in cost from a MBP to a MB or waiting until the end of summer(?) for a possible MB update.
  2. Schroedinger macrumors regular


    Feb 12, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    My general rule of thumb for people is if you have to ask if it's important, it isn't important for you. I don't mean that to be flippant, but if you are doing anything graphics intensive you'd know what you need.

    In regards to future proofing, it's not worth the effort. It may be the case that by 10.6 or 10.7 you won't be able to get some kind of fancy eye candy effects, but that's not a really big deal. All your everyday stuff that works today will continue to work for the life of the computer.

    Good luck.
  3. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    That's not entirely true. I'm a graphic designer (ok, art director, but...) and my understanding is that my work makes little use of the graphics card. I consider myself pretty computer and mac savvy, and would have thought that an abundant amount of work in photoshop, illustrator, and in design would benefit from a higher end graphics card. Hey, I It's card...right? But not so much.

    Anyway, not trying to knock your answer, but sometimes it isn't as simple as it would seem.
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
  5. jordygreen macrumors 6502


    Dec 26, 2006
    London, UK
    Sorry do a little hijack but if i were to buy a macbook instead of MBP and it has the new intel graphics i would be able to use photoshop and illustrator and all CS3 without it been slower or would i need the better graphics card??
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Will the GMA 950 hold me back in 3 years? Maybe, but I don't plan on having a 4 year old MacBook, and will probably sell this and get something newer before then.

    Will the GMA 950 work perfectly for Mac OS 10.6 or whatever version will be out in 3 years? Yes.

    Will it work with the newest games released 3 years in the future? Maybe, but no way on high or medium settings.

    Will it matter for Photoshop, iPhoto, InDesign, Lightroom, and other such programs? No.

    Will it matter for 3D modelling and other 3D apps? Yes, and it always has.

    I enjoy my MacBook, and consider myself well beyond the needs of the average user. I don't game, but apparently, the opinion of non-gaming, non-3D application using part of the consumer market always get trampled by the sound of the minority complaining about the MacBook's graphics.

    I wish it had Santa Rosa and 3000 rather than the GMA 950, but hey, I personally wouldn't see a performance improvement from the improved graphics, and I'm sure most other people wouldn't, either.
  7. TraceyS/FL macrumors 601

    Jan 11, 2007
    North Central Florida
    Aperture is the main non-game program that uses it at the moment (i'm not into video, there is something over on that side that does too I think). The better the graphics card, the better it runs.

    I"ve heard/read rumors that Photoshop CS3 also uses it for certain things, but haven't seen more on that.
  8. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    We need a definitive list of what programs do what with the graphics card. That way we/people who are questioning could just look up what programs they use primarily and see exactly what benefits they'd get from a higher graphics card.

    Sticky anyone? Mods?
  9. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    I use photoshop extended CS3 and i can assure you that once i turned 3D acceleration things got a lot faster and smoother on my mac mini and that is with only a GMA 950, i would love to see it with a real GPU and get rid of the the little niggles(itunes) the poor performing GMA 950 produces. Game performance is ok ish on the GMA 950 but its lack of shaders means your limited to playing at DX7 to early DX8 level games.
  10. SiliconDioxide macrumors member

    May 15, 2007
    I am wondering the same thing. But I don't really care about games. My concern will be when Leopard comes out. Will the macbook run horribly on Leopard, with out a real graphics card?
  11. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    If we are referring to the most recent update, I doubt apple would release a new computer that couldn't run its newest OS 5 months later. That would be so PC of them. :p
  12. SiliconDioxide macrumors member

    May 15, 2007
    I know, but thats what I am afraid of happening. Or they will update the macbooks again at the end of the summer/early fall.

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