How to consider "Turbo Boost"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Rootkitty, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. Rootkitty macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2014
    Hello all. Longtime lurker, first-time poster here.

    Currently I have a 15-inch "Early 2011" macbook pro, 2.2 GHz, 4 GB ram, 700 GB hard drive, running snow leopard. I've been thinking about upgrading to one of the newest 15-inch macbooks, but I'm a little confused as to this whole "turbo boost" thing they're pitching. Like, the $1999 USD 15-inch is marked as having a 2.0 GHz processor, which appears even worse than what I have now, but with the designation of "Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHZ." So should I think of it as a 3.2 GHZ processor or a 2.0 GHz processor as I'm weighing my decision?

    Specs are important to me because I do a lot of gaming on my Mac (sometimes on the native Mac OS, but usually on a Win 7 Bootcamp partition). I know a Mac isn't really cut out to be a gaming platform like some other machines are, but I'd still like to maximize my gaming potential nonetheless, within my budget at least.

    Thanks much in advance for your help.
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Turbo Boost means that the processor will automatically overclock if the conditions permit, which is almost all the time.

    For instance, an i7-4960HQ has a base speed of 2.6GHz on all 4 cores, but can operate at 3.6GHz (4 active cores), 3.7GHz (2 active cores) and 3.8GHz (1 active core).

    That said, a 2.0GHz Haswell is still pretty much faster than the 2.2GHz Sandy Bridge in your 2011 MBP. Look up the scores in Geekbench to get what I mean.

    If you want to play games on an rMBP, go for the model with GT750M.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I wouldn't over think the turbo boost topic. As mentioned, the clock rate will increase for a short period of time, if the computer sees the demand is high.

    Personally, I've all but forgotten about it, and just use my computer as I need too.

    I recommend you configure the laptop to meet your needs, SSD, ram etc and then enjoy it :)
  4. raptor402 macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2011

    Just a word of advise: a CPU's clock speed is never the representative of its actual performance. As already mentioned above, the 2.0GHz quad core Haswell can easily outperform your 2.2GHz quad core Sandy Bridge.

    Secondly, in terms of gaming, the CPU won't matter much. For most games, the GPU is the bottleneck, not the CPU. So, as advised above, if you want the system for gaming, try to go for the GT750M, 16GB RAM (won't make that much of a difference for a few years though) and a large SSD for your bootcamp partition and game installs. Without the GT750M, your laptop's gaming potential, something you want to keep at the maximum, will be severely limited.

    Best of luck.

  5. ha1o2surfer, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014

    ha1o2surfer macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2013
    Apple first classifies a CPU's non turbo speed first because of the heat generated. Throttling occurs much more often so the CPU will not reach rated tubro speeds as often. This can vary between models and even between notebooks of similar models.

    In terms of other laptops, advertised turbo speeds are reached 99.9 percent of the time. Because of this, in fact, I consider a CPU that is not turbo boosting to have a faulty heatsink or is misconfigured
  6. MoodyM macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2008
    Don't hate me, but you're paragraph:

    "Specs are important to me because I do a lot of gaming on my Mac (sometimes on the native Mac OS, but usually on a Win 7 Bootcamp partition). I know a Mac isn't really cut out to be a gaming platform like some other machines are, but I'd still like to maximize my gaming potential nonetheless, within my budget at least."

    kinda suggests to me that you do a lot of gaming, are on a budget, and specs are important. Which also suggests you might get a better gaming machine for the same money by buying a Windows machine?
  7. stevemiller macrumors 68000

    Oct 27, 2008
    My experience is more towards productivity processing rather than games, but I have compared the two laptops in question for motion graphics and 3d rendering tasks, and in real world use, the 2ghz haswell appears about 50% faster than the 2.2ghz sandy bridge.
  8. Dovahkiing macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2013
    Agreed. Had the new Razer Blade 14 been out back in October I would have gotten that instead of a 15" rMBP. That thing has an 870M, which is a lot better than the 750M.

    If gaming under windows with bootcamp is something you'll be doing regularly, these are definitely things worth considering. Actually debating selling my rMBP myself.
  9. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    Never been a fan of gaming plus laptops, seen too many cooked notebooks with blown GPU's plus mobile versions are nowhere near as good as the desktop versions.

    Easily the best gaming mac is the Mac Pro - my old 2008 8 core twin CPU 32gb ram with GTX 680 card has run every game I've thrown at it at 1920x1200 maxed out. Though I haven't tried the GPU killer bf4 yet!

    I would worry about gaming on a 2011 MBP 15 inch, the AMD GPU has a habit of breaking down cos they get really hot inside..
  10. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    You are aware that your existing machine also has Turbo? Up to 3.3GHZ for a single core if the CPU temperature is OK ramping down to 3GHz for all 4 cores.

    To be honest I'd keep the 2011 and stick an SSD in it.
  11. Gav Mack, Mar 19, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    If you want your 2011 CPU to clock higher and for longer if you are capable I recommend repasting with AS-5 and lapping the 2011 heatsink. I got 20 degree drops at idle on the CPU and GPU on OSX and windows the other day. This video is for the 17 but it's pretty similar inside. The apple hardware maintenance manual for your model you can find quite easily in PDF, can't post links..

    May also prolong the life of your GPU as many over a couple of years now are starting to fail needing a reball or better still a replacement AMD chip re soldered with lead.
  12. Rootkitty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2014
    Thanks for all the replies thus far. Went on vacation for a week and came back to some sound reading material in this thread.

    That would be the easiest solution, wouldn't it? :p Unfortunately, as relatively weak as macs are for gaming, I absolutely adore them for everything else (you know, everything Justin Long could do that John Hodgman couldn't). At the end of the day, gaming is ultimately secondary to my computer's other uses (work and school). All that said, since gaming is one of my biggest recreational activities, I'd still like to get as much bang for my buck as I can without spending an egregious amount of cash.

    Speaking of which, I think my OP might be a little misleading, sorry about that. By "within a budget at least" I don't mean that I'm unwilling to spend some money. The newest 15-inch rMBP at $2500 is on the very high end of what I'd be willing and able to pay, but I'd rather not pay it if all I'm getting for my money is that new "r" in "rMBP."

    I do worry about gaming on my MBP, particularly that it's been subjected to so many years of strenuous gaming as it already has. Believe it or not I run BF4 on my win7 partition regularly and haven't had any problems with gameplay (as long as I turn the graphics down a bit), although the machine does approach 100°C from time to time. A few other games have been rougher, though, including those PS2 games I try to emulate once in a while (those are the real killers, I've found), so I know I'm hitting my limit.

    I had no idea that my current machine has turbo up to 3.3 GHz, I thought that was, like, a new thing. Back when I bought this machine I wasn't so concerned with what was on the inside so I guess I just looked over it. According to System Profiler my graphics card is an AMD Radeon HD 6750M, but I'm not quite savvy enough to know what that entails (which is why I'm soliciting the MacRumors forums for advice ;)).
  13. thundersteele, Mar 23, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014

    thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    It has been said already, but just to make it clear: The processor frequency (i.e. the GHz) says very little about the performance. In particular you can not compare them across generations, a newer CPU will in most cases be faster, even with a lower GHz rating.

    Now, I have a late 2011 15'' MBP, 6750M GPU, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD, high-res anti-glare screen. Besides work, I did a lot of gaming on it.

    Very recently I have up(down)graded to a 13'' rMBP, 8/256. Clearly this was not a performance upgrade, since I moved from a quad core to a dual core, and gaming will still happen on the old machine. However I am totally happy with the new machine:
    - amazing screen. Been watching a few 4K movie trailers recently, it is just awesome!
    - form factor, weight and battery: Much more convenient, I can use a smaller bag, don't have to carry the charger since it lasts a day, etc
    - system feels more responsive, although there is more graphics lag
    - it is very quiet even under load. My 2011 sounds like a hair dryer instead

    Why do you consider upgrading? If it is only to improve gaming performance, I feel that it is not worth it coming from the high-end 2011 model. In my opinion, the main improvements of the rMBPs are the screen, form factor, weight & battery life, in the SSD technology, and connectivity (TB2, USB3, AC WiFi), and fan/cooling design. If these points are not important to you, I would suggest that you should wait for more performance upgrades, or consider alternative gaming solutions.

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