M395 vs M395X (2 GB vs 4 GB) – Is it even noticeable?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Toxe, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. Toxe, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015

    Toxe macrumors newbie

    Toxe

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    #1
    Greetings,

    I am about to buy one of the new shiny Retina 27" iMacs (model iMac17,1) and among other things I want to use it to play some non-AAA and non-multi-platform games on it. (I use consoles for those.) I want to play mostly strategy games like the Paradox games (EU4, CK2), Civ V, RPGs like Pillars of Eternity or older ones like KoTOR, smaller Indie games and the occasional Dosbox game (e.g. Master of Magic). (As I said, I use mostly consoles for gaming nowadays.)

    The differences between the M395 and M395X seem to be that the M395X has (obviously) +2 GB of VRAM and is probably a tiny bit faster.

    My question is: Outside of AAA games (which I won't play on this Mac) would the +2 GB VRAM of the M395X even matter? Would you even notice a difference between the M395 and M395X?

    At the moment I can't justify before myself buying the more expensive M395X. That seems like a waste of money.

    I would be grateful for any input on this.
     
  2. TechZeke macrumors 68020

    TechZeke

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    Rialto, CA
    #2
    The M395 should be more than enough. I can play Civ V on max settings on my now relatively crappy 6770M. Extra VRAM only helps if the game is actually going use it. For example, if a game uses 1GB of VRAM at your desired settings, then you could have a 1TB of VRAM and it wouldn't matter. If you aren't playing those demanding AAA titles, then I doubt you would benefit from more VRAM. You'll probably notice the higher framerate from the M395X simply being a faster graphics processor.
     
  3. Toxe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Toxe

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    Oct 26, 2015
    #3
    Yes, you are right, that is exactly the point. I don't plan on playing very VRAM-demanding games on my Mac so I would assume that the 2GB of VRAM of the M395 should be enough.
     
  4. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

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    Oct 31, 2015
    #4
    Unless you're doing 3d heavy modern games, you don't need the 395x. I have it and I can run homeworld remastered at full max settings at 5k and keep 60fps just fine. It's overkill for the kinda games you're going to want to do, heck, I can play civ on near max settings on my 6 year old imac lol. If you never ever plan on doing something like Fallout4 on your imac, then you would be fine without the X.
     
  5. magbarn, Nov 1, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015

    magbarn macrumors 68000

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #5
    That's what I've been saying all along. Since the m395 or m395x don't have the horsepower to run high requirement games(AAA titles released in the last 2-3 years) at max/ultra where the extra 2gb of vram would come into play the m395x would be a waste for gaming. For example the gtx960 and the Radeon 285 do fine with 2gb of vram as they don't have the power to run games at settings like their higher end siblings such as the gtx970/290 can do.
     
  6. desmond2046 macrumors regular

    desmond2046

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    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #6
    I totally agree. I just installed GTA V on my iMac w/ i5 6600 and R9 M395. The benchmark is roughly as following:
    Normal Settings No MSAA
    1080p 60fps; 2560*1440 45fps
    I prefer to run under 1440p since everything looks crispier. It is perfectly playable.
    If you want to play 4K, you would need 4Gb of Vram. However, R9 M395X still cannot handle 4K due to the lack of computing units (not the lack of Vram).
     
  7. OSB macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #7
    http://barefeats.com/imac5k15.html

    The 395X is measurably faster, about 10-15% in these benchmarks. While it comes at a significant premium, that's generally how performance works at the margins (the last couple of notches in performance are typically the most expensive).

    Note too that's it's not just a difference in VRAM - the 395 has less shader units (1792 v. 2048).

    The 395X is the better chip, and putting aside whether there are better mobile GPUs out there, at the higher end the relative premium being charged isn't, in my experience, too crazy. The question is whether you need or want to pay for that last 10%.

    If you're not doing a lot of FCP or PS work, anything GPU-compute heavy, or don't foresee playing a lot of graphics-heavy games (I have to think EU4 is mostly CPU-bound), I can't imagine you'd see much difference between the 395 and 395X.
     
  8. magbarn macrumors 68000

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #8
    That's the thing you're paying $300 more for hardly any performance increase. It would be reasonable at $100 more. For $300 we should be getting a 980M or a Fury Nano. That 10% isn't going to make a difference if a title is playable or not. It's just like the fools (like me) who wasted the $300+ difference between the Titan X vs 980ti. For most real world situations and gaming that extra 6gb of vram and shaders are essentially useless. Even FCPX won't take advantage of the extra vram as Apple seems to code it for the lower end gpus they now use. It seems only apps like adobe Premiere would take advantage of the full 4gb.
     
  9. OSB, Nov 1, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015

    OSB macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #9
    I think we're saying more or less the same thing: it's a question of value. The Titan X / 980ti situation *is* instructive; there aren't really any situations where the performance delta of the Titan X means the difference between "playable" and "unplayable", but there are still people buying the X - and not just because they're rubes. On a $/FPS basis it's no where near as good value as the 980ti. But if the goal is "price no object" performance, than in most cases it's the winner.

    I'd love to have seen a Mobile 980 or the Fury in this iteration, too - I thought the latter had a good chance of happening, actually. But we don't have that. What we have is the 395 and the 395X. Short of spending substantially more money on a Mac Pro+27" 5K screen, the 395X is the fastest GPU you can get in a Mac from Apple. There are undoubtedly workflows for which the 10-15% performance increase in Photoshop or FCP will matter - even possibly workflows for which the difference will pay for itself over the life of the hardware. And there are people who will be willing to pay the $300 premium for a few more FPS in a game. They're not wrong, and they're not necessarily wasting their money, but it's important to understand that the last 10% of performance is coming at a considerable hit to relative value, and buyers should carefully weigh that against what they have and are willing to spend.

    Edit: spelling
     
  10. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #10
    I found something interesting with regard to the VRAM and virtual machines. I'm coming from a MacBook Pro that had a graphics card with 512 MB of memory. I didn't even realize that Parallels had a slider for the amount of video graphics memory that could be allocated to the virtual machine; maybe with that model of computer there wasn't one. Either way, I loaded my virtual machine on my new iMac and was disappointed when Windows wouldn't make use of the full screen. I thought it was some other setting or an issue with Parallels until I found the graphics memory slider. It was set at 256 MB; I slid it from that to 1 GB, and then Windows took the entire screen without an issue.

    The reason why it matters (to me, anyway) is because I don't use BootCamp for my games. Performance would be better, but it's more convenient for me to just play in a virtual machine. I don't really play any games that are demanding enough to require BootCamp, either. I went with the 395X; if I had bought the 395, I'd be stuck at allocating 1 GB of graphical memory to the virtual machine. Because I have 4 GB of graphics memory to work with, I can boost the virtual machine to 2 GB of graphics memory (the limit Parallels will allow, at least under this configuration).
     
  11. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

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    Manchester, UK
    #11
    You can bet 4gig of VRAM will be the MINIMUM for games in 5 years time.
     
  12. Toxe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Toxe

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    Oct 26, 2015
    #12
    Sure but then the M395X would probably be too slow as well.

    And in any case I would want to play those games on consoles anyways.
     
  13. TechZeke macrumors 68020

    TechZeke

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    Rialto, CA
    #13
    Indeed, the GPU is first thing to go out of date simply because of the rapidly increasing demand from games. Sorry AlexisV, 4GB is not going to help the M395X in 5 years. For example, my 6770M in my iMac could have had 10GB of VRAM, but its not like I will all of a sudden be able to run Crysis at half-decent settings.

    Also, for high end GPUs 4GB is pretty much the minimum right now, and the high end AMD desktop cards each come with 8GB. By 2020 we should be seeing cards with 12-16GB of VRAM especially if VR takes off.
     
  14. roaltar, Nov 4, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015

    roaltar macrumors newbie

    roaltar

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    Oct 29, 2015
    #14

    Thanks for the link to the bare feats benchmarks. Very helpful!

    However, one thing to note - difference between m395 and m395x machines that are used for these tests are also:

    1) faster processor - m395x benchmarked machine had a 4.0 Ghz processor versus 3.3 on the m395 machine
    2) double the RAM - m395x machine had 16 gigs instead of 8 on the m395 machine
    3) faster storage - 1 tb flash ssd vs 2tb fusion drive.

    So, when 2 separate m395x and m395 machines are equipped with the same processor, memory and storage, the difference in fps and performance could be even lower.

    Just something to think about.
     
  15. DaakuMaujii macrumors member

    DaakuMaujii

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    #15
    My thoughts exactly. For the premium you pay to get the m395x you can buy yourself a video game console to play the AAA games.

    Although I did end up buying the m395x because some games are better played with keyboard and mouse while sitting behind a desk and I want to be able to play those games released three years from now.
     
  16. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604

    MacsRgr8

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    Sep 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #16
    X-Plane 10 at high settings loading highly-detaild scenery (photoscenery) will exceed 2 GB VRAM.
    For the rest...?
    Doom 4?
     
  17. DaakuMaujii, Nov 4, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015

    DaakuMaujii macrumors member

    DaakuMaujii

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    #17
    I did some measurements on my windows PC using GPU-Z to get an estimate of the amount of VRAM used by games I play today. Below is the table. It's an old computer (one of the first core2duo generation, 3.5GB RAM) with a GTX 750 Ti 2GB video card that surprisingly let me play relatively new games like Elder Scrolls Online at (almost) highest settings with decent frame rate on a 1680x1050 screen. The values reported for games are the peak amount of VRAM used by the game, in addition to the amount of VRAM used by Windows 10 when idle (about 200MB). After playing each game for five minutes, I checked the baseline again to make sure there were no memory leaks or anything else consuming additional VRAM when performing the measurement on the next game.

    Windows 10 idle ~200MB
    Chrome +60MB
    Sims 4 +580MB
    Civilization 5 +930MB
    Simcity +740MB
    Skyrim +800MB
    Torchlight +100MB
    Torchlight 2 +220MB
    Banished +250MB
    Elder Scrolls Online +1260MB
    Left 4 Dead 2 +230MB

    I also checked the VRAM used on my Macbook Pro 15" Retina to check the effect of OS & Retina resolution, and noticed Mac OS X uses the GPU quite more intensively than Windows (maybe that's what gives Mac OS X such a smoother UI experience). Compare these numbers to 'Windows 10 idle' and 'Chrome' from the previous table.

    Mac OS X idle ~350MB
    4K youtube video ~600MB
    Working / browsing peaks up to 900MB

    I'd say that 2GB VRAM would be enough to play these (or similar) games, even at 1440p and/or on Mac OS X. Although no guarantee for future games, you might have to drop the quality of the texture to what will then be defined as 'medium quality' to make it fit in 2GB VRAM.
     
  18. Toxe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Toxe

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    Oct 26, 2015
  19. OSB macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #19
    You're correct that the tests aren't perfect. Ideally we'd have identical machines to compare, and run the tests many times. Having said that, a well-chosen benchmark is well-chosen precisely because it targets the meat of the question: which GPU is faster. I wouldn't expect to see any meaningful difference arising from RAM or Fusion/SSD configurations; unless you have a million other things running - which you don't when you're benchmarking - 8GB RAM is plenty for Bare Feats tests. Similarly once the app or game is loaded, GPU-centric tasks aren't likely to thrash the disk. But you overall point is valid.

    More significant might be the difference in processors, true. But then we have this thread and post:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads...y-benchmarks-to-be-ran.1934589/#post-22189180

    That user's Cinebench scores on a 395/i7/1TB SSD/16 have him pushing 97fps. Compare that with about 107fps that people with 395x/i7/SSD are seeing. Or again, about +10% improvement.

    Similarly he saw 18.9fps in Heaven, compared to 21.2fps that I (and others, see the "definitive riMac" thread") benched on a 395x/i7/SSD. Which is about a 12% increase.

    The 395 has fewer shaders and runs at a lower clock than the 395X. Your point about standardizing benchmarks is well-founded. And if you want to argue whether the 10-12% performance gap is worth another $300 that's a totally valid avenue for debate. But to suggest an empirically lower spec'ed card will run similarly in similar hardware simply because some of the posted benchmarks weren't run on completely identical machines is an over-extension of your position.
     
  20. xmichaelp macrumors 68000

    xmichaelp

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    Jul 10, 2012
    #20
    Does extra VRAM benefit for video editing and rendering and stuff?
     
  21. xmichaelp macrumors 68000

    xmichaelp

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    Jul 10, 2012
    #21
    Huh? I'm pretty sure FCP X wasn't designed to take advantage off all you can use. Why would they not code FCP to take advantage of all the RAM in the Mac Pro?
     
  22. roaltar macrumors newbie

    roaltar

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    Oct 29, 2015
    #22
    I agree. I shouldn't have suggested that lower spec'ed card will run similarly with the same hardware. But, it would have been nice to see the tests done on the same spec'ed machines. Edited my original post :) Cheers.
     
  23. CF7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2016
    #23
    Big hello to the experts,
    i need for 4k video production a new imac, i want to buy the i7 4Ghz model but im not sure to take the 395 or the 395x. Is there a great difference between the 395 and 395x with Apple Final Cut and Logic Pro X. What would you guys recommend ?

    Best regards
    cf
     
  24. Saimurai macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2012
    #24
    Hey bud, did you get an answer for this elsewhere? I'm in the same boat as you. Also, have you looked into external Graphics Cards?
     
  25. apppen1 macrumors regular

    apppen1

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2016
    #25
    I used FCP with the M395 and had no issues, everything was smooth, but in LPX I had to use the non-retina setting or Logic would lag as hell just by scrolling through the UI. I'm not sure if the M395X has this issue.
     

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