List of programs that use discrete graphics in i5/i7 MacBook Pros

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Tegeril, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Tegeril macrumors member

    May 12, 2004
    I've written an menulet application that will notify you of which GPU is currently in use. I've tested it on my 17" MBP with success, and put in some fallbacks in case people try to run it on unsupported systems (there are ATI/Unknown icons). You can set it to run at startup, and it will also auto update.


    ...also works with other GPUs (9600GT/9400m switching laptop):


    Download Here
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    I thought it might be useful to compile some information about applications that trigger the use of the discrete gpu, either as a means of being able to alert developers/Apple via bug reports, or to know which applications to stay away from when on battery. I ran into one in particular that motivated me here...

    Drive Genius 3. Even when the main application is not running, it, by default, turns on DrivePulse which is a menulet to monitor your disks and defragment when possible. Just having the menulet running and -no other applications- the laptop toggles the 330m on. I have notified Prosoft Engineering about this as a bug.


    • 1Password
    • Ableton Live 8
    • Acrobat Pro
    • Adobe Media Encoder
    • Aperture 3
    • Camtwist
    • Chess
    • Choosy
    • Cinch - Maybe? Some people say yes, some say no
    • CloudApp
    • Coverscout 3
    • Delicious Library 2
    • Djay 3.0
    • Drive Genius 3 (disable DrivePulse to stop it from using discrete 24/7)
    • Espresso - sometimes...not sure what is triggering it
    • Evernote
    • Ez7z
    • ForeverSave
    • ForeverSkin
    • Garageband
    • Gmail
    • Google Chrome - depends on web content
    • Hyperspaces
    • iChat - video
    • iDVD
    • iPhone Simulator
    • iPhoto
    • iSale 5
    • iTunes Visualizers - Specifically Lathe and Stix, not the others
    • iWeb
    • Keynote
    • Lightroom 1.4 (but only when you start a slideshow. Doesn't switch back though, until you close the program)
    • LittleSnapper (LittleSnapper's menu item does not trigger the GPU)
    • NetNewsWire
    • MagicPrefs
    • Matlab
    • Mathematica
    • MercuryMover
    • Microsoft Office 2011 Office Communicator
    • MSN Messenger
    • Nambu Twitter Client
    • Papers
    • Parallels 5
    • PathFinder
    • Photoshop CS4
    • Plex
    • Pod to Mac
    • Powerpoint
    • Quicksilver - Showcase
    • Rapidweaver
    • RipIt
    • Sandvox
    • Screenflow
    • Screen Sharing - either direction
    • Shovebox
    • Skim - after a specific search use case
    • Skitch
    • Skype
    • Snapz Pro - Even sitting idle in the background :(
    • Socialite
    • The Hit List
    • Times
    • Toast Titanium 10
    • Transmit 4
    • Tweetie
    • VLC
    • VMWare Fusion
    • uTorrent
    • X11-based Applications
    • Xee
    • XCode - I am finding that after opening Developer Documentation, XCode uses Nvidia until it is relaunched.
    • Yahoo Messenger
    • Zooom 2
  2. DuaneDibbley macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nambu Twitter Client.

    Just to name a few off the top of my head.
  3. Cyth macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2010
    What about iTunes, WLM, Pages & Safari in 32 bit mode?
  4. jpefjr macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2008
  5. DuaneDibbley macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    iTunes never kicks in the GPU for me. Nor does Safari. Don't know which mode im running them, though... 64Bit I would assume since I've not changed anything.
  6. Tegeril thread starter macrumors member

    May 12, 2004
    More importantly, why would you be running those applications in 32 bit mode?
  7. wandrer2 macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    Lightroom 1.4, but only when you start a slideshow. Doesn't switch back though, until you close the program.

    Coverscout 3
  8. csnplt macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2008
    Chicago Area
  9. tekmoe macrumors 68000

    Feb 12, 2005
    Aperture 3 is definitely using the Nvidia gfx.
  10. Benjones-KY macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2010
    Anyone in the steam beta? I'd be really upset if steam started up the 330 without any games running.
  11. La-vida227 macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2009
  12. Tegeril thread starter macrumors member

    May 12, 2004
  13. BrianMR macrumors regular


    Apr 3, 2007
  14. ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030


    Apr 15, 2010
    I can't tell.....

    Right now, the ONLY apps I'm running are iTunes, Firefox, Mail and iCal. Discrete graphics are running full bore. It was plugged into an external monitor a day ago (and not rebooted after I disconnected) so I think once you've plugged into an external, the discrete graphics "stays put" until a reboot. Because right now I should be running on Intel only.
  15. tann macrumors 68000

    Apr 15, 2010
    Nottingham, England
  16. andrew086 macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2009
    I don't understand why everyone likes Google Chrome so much... it's pretty much just Safari that takes more RAM and doesn't have a menu bar.
  17. anarchron macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2004
    Chrome on Windows is an amazing browser. It has the speed of Safari coupled with the extensibility of Firefox.

    It's still quite buggy on Mac right now. Hence, I still prefer Safari over it for added stability right now. I will however be swapping to Chrome when they bring its stability up to par with the Windows version.
  18. paintballswimgu macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010
    i have a feeling that screen savers kick the 330 on. Whenever i come back from a screensaver session, the 330 is always on.
  19. cyclical macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2010
    They should have designed it to allow the user to manually toggle it. I was skeptical when I first heard about this feature, and I still am.
  20. chopper dave macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2007

    Matlab, and any other X11 driven programs

    TeXShop uses Intel graphics
  21. pumpkinwhite macrumors member

    Sep 3, 2006
    Path Finder.

    This one is the most irritating, as I have gotten used to Path Finder so much in the last few years. It is on my startup list and is on permanently (as would be the case with most Path Finder users, i am sure). So if I wish to use my laptop as I want to, I need to have to forget about the intel graphics.

    Coming back to list of applications -
    Any flash video in full screen mode (tried with youtube and hulu), kicks in the nvidia.
  22. agwilson macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2008
    I have tried preview and it doesn't pop the 330m for me. It stays on the Intel graphics chip. Someone else may want to do some more testing. There may be something in there that toggles it based on what it is displaying.

    Cinch causes the 330m to be loaded almost instantly. Sad, because it is a handy program and I wouldn't think it would take that much video resources.

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