Macbook graphics card powerful enough for new games?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by dabills80, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. dabills80 macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2008
    I'm looking at the Blackbook and I was wondering if it it has a strong enough graphics card that can support the newer games.
  2. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Nope. It's great for 2D stuff but definitely not a gaming machine.
  3. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    For 3D, you're talking older games. UT2004 with detail turned low, or Intel-ready Id Tech 3 games (like Alice, World of Padman, Urban Terror, Tremulous) at medium-to-high detail would be your likely maximum. I think Halo might be OK--but it's out of print.
  4. dabills80 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2008
    so games like diablo 3 coming out and call of duty 4 would most likely not run too well?
  5. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    If the run, they will run really bad.

    The lowend MacBookPro is only slight more expensive than the BlackBook and its much faster in terms of gaming, we're talking ten times the FPS in some cases.
  6. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Also look at refurb pricing (see bottom left of Apple store page) or student discounts. You might be able to get a Pro for not much more than you planned to spend on a regular MacBook.
  7. Yaboze macrumors 6502a


    May 31, 2007
    The Garden State
    If you want to run the latest games, you'll need a Macbook Pro with the dedicated Nvidia GPU's in them or an iMac. The Macbook has an Intel integrated X3100 GPU which is designed to be inexpensive, good on battery life and good for 2D and video playback. It can do 3D, but not very well.

    It plays some older games well, I have Quake 3 running on it and it will play Diablo II and Starcraft, as well as Warcraft III. It will also play WoW, just not at 60FPS, more like 30 FPS or less.

    As for the latest games, IF they run at all, they won't be playable, we're talking <15 FPS. Not playable.

    The Spore demo works well on the Macbook, but I think the X3100 is the lowest card it supports.

    I have a PC and Xbox 360 that I use for gaming.
  8. mikeyPotg macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2006
    Sadly, I'd have to agree. A Macbook wouldn't be what you want if you wanted to play Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and all those sweet new games coming.
    I'm very interested to see the newest update on the MBP's though.
    Wishlist - updated video card, bluray drive.
  9. dabills80 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2008
    I'm a little skeptical about the refurb macbook pro, my budget is tight so i guess that would be the only option if i wanted to be able to play games.
  10. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I know what you mean--I like the idea of "brand new" myself. But Apple refurbs have full warranty and packaging--they're very much like new. I know people who only EVER buy Apple refurbs. If my budget was tight, I'd take a refurb Pro over a "new" MacBook, especially the black one (which is not a great deal compared to white). And the Pro will give you more than just better speed and graphics: it has a bigger screen, backlit keys, an internal expansion slot, Firewire 800, a metal shell, etc.
  11. dabills80 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2008
    im surprised that I'll be spending 1300 on a computer that isnt capable of running games that are soon to be released. Gaming isn't a priority for me. If I do go through with the macbook im assuming its going to be easy to install an aftermarket graphics card?
  12. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Many laptops--especially thin ones--don't have upgradable graphics cards. Apple laptops are in that category. You WILL NOT be able to upgrade the graphics. If you can afford Pro, even refurb, I'd do it.

    The MacBook (like other Macs) is priced well--when looking at ALL of its specs and bundle--compared to other name-brand PC makers. But a MacBook is not the machine for serious 3D gamers. You're paying for features other than the GPU: WiFi N, DVI output, fast Core 2 Duo/Santa Rosa, a nice software bundle, built-in camera, etc.

    (I just read that the average price people pay for a laptop is about $1300--and that Apple's $1300 MacBook is actually faster than average. That's the CPU--not 3D power for games.)
  13. savvos macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2007
    Very few notebook enable you to install an aftermarket graphics card, Macs included, because the graphics card tends to be soldered into the mother board.

    I would love to see a list of notebooks that enable users to install an aftermarket graphics card because I can't think of any off the top of my head. Anyone out there who can name some?
  14. mosx macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2007
    There are $1300 notebook PCs out there with GeForce 8800M GTS GPUs!

    If you head over to Gateway you can get a system with the same 2.4GHz C2D thats in the MacBook, 3GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD2600 (equivalent to the GeForce 8600M GT in the $2,5000 MacBook Pro), 160GB HDD, DVD writer, HDMI output, memory card reader, webcam, etc. for less than the entry level MacBook.

    OP, you should be looking at PCs if you want dedicated graphics. I know you said gaming isn't a priority, but dedicated graphics makes a very huge difference in terms of video playback and overall life of the machine too.

    Check out Gateway or HP's latest dv5z.

    Look at this too:

    It is a little on the heavy side. But a 16" 16x9 screen (instead of 16x10, so DVDs will actually look right!), 2.2GHz C2D, 3GB of RAM, 250GB HDD, 512MB GeForce 8600M GT, DVD writer, full size ExpressCard slot, memory card reader, fingerprint reader, 8 cell battery, HDMI output, for $949. Sure the processor is "slower" than a MacBook at $1299 or the MBP, but look how much money you're saving and how much MORE you're getting for your money.
  15. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    If you decided to wait around for the next generation of MacBook, there might be a chance of them including the newer GMA X4500 which is supposed to offer 3x the performance of the current GMA X3100. Still, not sure if the newer card would support all your games, but at least it is an improvement.
    It will supposedly support Direct X 10 (for gaming in Windows) and "Shader Model 4.0 Features".

    Let's hope.
  16. dabills80 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Well i guess i will just wait for the new one to come out anyways, although it will be no fun having a desktop at college. Luckily, i have an xbox 360 for gaming so i suppose that will do.
  17. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Yes, you can find PCs of ANY brand that have something some other model lacks, and vice versa. You can find a Dell with something a certain HP doesn't have, etc.. You can certainly find a name-brand, decent PC with a GPU that beats the MacBook, for similar price, as long as you don't mind that it gets beaten BY the MacBook in other areas.

    But Gateway/Acer/eMachines and the like are cheap for a reason. Macs are priced like Dells and HPs, not like Gateways. It's not that Dells and HPs and Macs are a rip-off. They're better made on average than Gateways, with better components.

    You can get lucky with one of those budget brands--or, like I did, you can get a lemon and poor service, leaving you holding the bag :eek:

    In any case, Gateways aren't cheap because they run Windows, they're cheap even compared to decent Windows PC brands. I'd consider one if I could afford nothing else... but I would keep my fingers crossed.
  18. KurtangleTN macrumors 6502a

    Apr 2, 2007
    So where does that $950 get beat by the base Macbook? 802.11n? OS X and small weight.

    In comparison you get a faster processor, great graphics card, bigger HD, a bigger screen.

    Poor service is arbitrary, Apple's has been just as poor as Dell's support for me, if not more poor.

    Apple's hardware is no more reliable than a Gateway, it's a myth. Look at the massive failures of iBooks, look at the overheating and freezing aluminum iMacs, reports of massive amount of bad hard drives in the Macbook, the list goes on. I wouldn't buy either of them without a warranty, it's what happens when instead of paying a bit extra you pay less and have stuff built in China.

    I'm seriously considering going PC with my next laptop just because Apple's laptops are both underpowered and overpriced. The lack of choice sucks ass.

    What kind of company gets away with having no dvd burner in a $1,100 laptop?
  19. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    You're correct, weight, faster WiFi and a better OS are some typical benefits of a Mac--benefits which have monetary value.

    I won't be researching that Gateway until I'm next laptop-shopping, but in case it helps you, some other common Mac benefits that many cheap PCs lack include: 6-pin firewire (NOT the cheap 4-pin kind that requires every device to also have wall power), DVI video out, Gigabit ethernet (not just 10/100), multi-screen spanning, slot-load instead of tray optical drive, Bluetooth, camera/mic, thin/compact physical size, quiet operation, ambient light sensor, Core 2 Duo processor, Santa Rosa chipset, optical audio in/out, a very compact power supply (seriously--look at some cheap PC laptop chargers!), latchless lid, remote control, magnetic power attachment, and a nice home media software bundle. (And on the pro end: lighted keys, Firewire 800, ExpressCard/34 and an aluminum shell.)

    A cheap laptop will likely have SOME of those. Not all. That doesn't make it a bad deal--it's cheap after all! But the Mac costs more for a reason too.

    Some things to look at before calling a Mac overpriced. It may be a different config from what you wish for, and more choices would be nice, but they're fairly priced these days.

    The "list" comes from looking on forums where people come to report problems... and then noticing lots of problems :eek: Look in a Gateway forum and you'll see problems too. Or a Dell forum. Or any forum. Human beings have low motivation to make posts that say "BTW my computer still works great, how about yours?" Problems get the attention in a forum--which is how it should be.

    You're right, Apple laptops are no longer in the lead for reliability like their desktops still are--they're about the same as anyone else these days. But their SUPPORT is in the lead by a lot. Now that's an average, and there are always exceptions, and I do believe you when you say you've had a bad Apple support experience.

    Just be sure, when you compare two models, to look at ALL specs, not just selected ones, before you call something overpriced. You'd do that if comparing a Dell to an HP, after all. A different brand than Apple may best meet your needs, especially if OS and ease of use aren't as important. Maybe you want a GPU and DVD burner most, and are willing to give up other features. But that doesn't mean the other features aren't worth money as well.

    Now there is the key. If none of Apple's configs match your goals--which is often true for gamers--then there's a real problem. More choices will come as the Mac market grows, but the lack of choice isn't so much that "Macs suck," it's that only one company makes Macs. You have more models to choose from in Windows land, among all the makers, for sure.
  20. mosx macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2007
    Good job Kurtangle ;) Saved me some posting time.

    Heh, exactly. The only notebook you'll find at Walmart without a DVD writer is $398. The rest all can all write DVDs, some with "Lightscribe".

    Weight? Well, not much. The MacBook is quite hefty for a 13.3" system. Most 15.4" PC notebooks are about a pound heavier. Not much difference.

    Faster WiFi? Hmm. Maybe. Most people still have 802.11g routers and most people still buy 802.11g routers because you can get one for $35 brand new not on sale at most stores that sell them. Where 802.11n tends to cost at least twice that much.

    Better OS? Thats subjective. Vista does a lot of things OS X doesn't. Like system wide hardware acceleration for video. As I've said before, the difference in quality between Vista and OS X on dedicated graphics is night and day. Absolutely no contest, Vista blows away OS X's video (and DVD) playback.

    How many devices use Firewire though? Everything now, even DV cams, is USB 2.0 based. A lot of things are moving towards eSATA and HP and others are already including eSATA ports. Thanks to the vast majority of PC notebooks including ExpressCard slots, everyone can have eSATA.

    HDMI output is part of the Santa Rosa spec on Windows notebooks. You'd be very hard pressed to find a system these days that does not have HDMI output.

    Gigabit ethernet is standard these days. But its a lot like 802.11n, the routers that support it cost more so most people don't benefit from it because they simply don't buy the hardware with it.

    Uh.. what? Any notebook that has VGA, S-Video, or HDMI/DVI output can handle multiple monitors. You can "mirror" like in OS X, you can extend your desktop across the various displays. Or, unlike OS X, you can actually disable the built-in display (without closing the lid and waking the system) and XP/Vista will properly detect and use your external monitor and its optimal/native resolution.

    Thats one thing I do quite often. I connect my HP dv6500t to my HDTV with an HDMI cable. I connect the cable, Vista kills the built-in display and turns on the HD display with the native resolution set. I don't have to have an external keyboard and mouse connected. Then I can control Media Center with my Logitech Harmony remote.

    With the MacBook I have to have the DVI to VGA adapter and an optical audio cable. I connect it and OS X automatically mirrors the display. The only way I can get it to kill the built-in display is by hooking up a keyboard and mouse, closing the lid, then moving the mouse. Then I can use my Harmony remote. Or I just have to kill the brightness until the display is "off". Rather annoying. Why can't OS X handle multiple displays the same way Windows has since the 9x days?

    That is NOT a benefit. The optical drive is user serviceable in nearly all notebook PCs. Not only that, it is user upgradeable. There are standard height blu-ray drives available now for notebooks. Loosen one screw, pull the drive out, push the new one in, tighten the screw and you're good to go. It also means that when your DVD drive dies you don't either have to pay hundreds to get a replacement and tear yoru system apart, or pay hundreds for someone else to do it. All you have to do is order one from newegg for $50 and a day later you're back in business.

    You also don't have to worry about discs getting jammed. Tray won't open? Needle in hole and it pops right out. Good luck getting that jammed disc out of your slot loader.

    I've had Bluetooth for years. Even with Bluetooth enabled phones, I have only ever used Bluetooth for wireless keyboards and mice. Bluetooth is also becoming standard on sub $1000 notebooks.

    You'd be hard pressed to find a notebook PC above $600 that doesn't include those AND a fingerprint reader.

  21. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    You'd never have thought!

    But yea, I'm planning on buying either a Macbook or an EEE for some gaming. Either system is more than capable than my 12" PowerBook. So long as I can run San Andreas, HL2 (no later Source engine games of course) and maybe some smaller indie games I'll be a happy bunny.
  22. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    In short, you're hand picking features YOU want. That's exactly what you SHOULD do in deciding what to buy. But you can't take the next step and say the features you don't want (like WiFi N) have no value. Not if you're attempting to truly prove that Macs are still overpriced.

    You're also doing a lot of bait-and-switch: sometimes you are using cheapie brands to show that PCs cost less. Other times you are using "real" brands to show how good they are. But you can't actually have both at the same time. (You're even mixing in discussion of brand-new PCs with comparisons from your older MacBook, rather than current models: for instance, current MacBooks ARE Santa Rosa based. Apple's not behind on that.)

    I have not and will not tell you not to get a cheap Gateway if it's what meets your goals and you don't see the value of OS X over Windows. Nor would I try to tell anyone that Apple has a full line of gamer-centric configs. That would be extreme and unreasonable.

    The other extreme is equally unreasonable. You have to try very hard to make a Mac today look overpriced, compared to other name-brand PCs out there, for what you get. Why do people want that to be true so much? It's not--Macs are now right in the same ballpark as other quality brands. Meanwhile, there are very valid anti-Apple points they could be focusing on instead, such as:

    * A Mac today doesn't do what they need a computer to do! (Cheap + games, for instance. Which means, cut some corners but include a better GPU. A useful mix of low-end and high-end that Apple doesn't offer.)

    * Macs don't come in low-end models, only mid- and -high.

    * No computer or OS is perfect.

    * If you're used to Windows, it can be good enough for some.
  23. Aegelward macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2005
    Sooo. i just wanted too say, blizzard's new games stand a chance of being playable on the macbook.

    After all starcraft 2 uses a modified version of the WC3 engine, and its doubtful that blizzard won't optimize at least a bit for the intel graphics on macbooks
  24. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    ^ I'd seriously doubt it.

    Many modern engines (Source, Id tech) are all based on old engines. Doesn't mean a computer capable of Quake 2 will be able to run Quake Wars.

    Going off what I've seen from both games I'd say a MacBook won't be running Blizzard's upcoming bunch.
  25. mosx macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2007
    Theres no way the EEE would be able to run those games.

    The MacBook can on the absolute lowest settings.

    If you're going to spend that much money, just get a PC with dedicated graphics. Or an Xbox360.

    If your PowerBook has the Radeon 9700 in it, it is more powerful than any of the MacBooks and EEE PCs out there. It just can't run the games because of the G4.

    Heh, no, I'm pointing out the fact that PCs have all of those features I mentioned standard above $600.

    802.11n is generally a $15 upgrade on custom built PCs that don't include it. But it is still "draft N" on all hardware. I'd prefer finalized hardware.

    So instead of that $800 HP with dedicated graphics, HDMI, fingerprint reader, webcam, mic, expresscard, memory card reader, etc. costing $800, it costs $815 with 802.11n.

    Uh.. what? I've mentioned Dell, HP/Compaq, and Gateway. Theres nothing "cheapie" about Gateway. Compaq is to HP as the MacBook is to the MacBook Pro, and built by HP.

    You do realize that Apple, HP, Gateway, Acer, just about every major player contracts out the building to the exact same chinese manufacturers, right? The case design and logo might be different, but they're all using the same parts and being built by the same hands.

    Don't try to say that "Acer" is a cheapie brand either. They might not be Dell or HP in the US, but outside of the US (particularly in Asia) they're a huge player. Gateway's systems are also every bit as "quality" as HP and Dell.

    Good way to deliberately misinterpret what I was saying.

    I was comparing systems from the same time-frame/generation and my own experience with Apple and another PC manufacturer. My HP was around $900. My MacBook was $1406 after taxes. The MacBook came in in September. The HP a couple of weeks later.

    Its no different now, just the specs have changed. Now you're still getting awful Intel integrated graphics and 2GB of RAM. Now HP and others are offering 3GB of RAM and integrated GPUs that outperform Intel's future IGPs as well as the previous generation of dedicated graphics.

    Apple is still charging $1299 and HP and others are still charging less than $1,000 for more hardware.

    Cheap Gateway? Theres nothing cheap about it except for the price.

    Anyway, there is no value in OS X over Windows. Let's look at things realistically for a minute here. One thing the Apple fanboys LOVE to make fun of Vista for is the UAC prompts. But you know, in all of the time I've had Vista, I have only seen UAC prompts as often as I've seen password prompts in OS X.

    There has also been reports/studies/whatever done that show that UAC captures all malware that might infect the system and stops it.

    On top of that, IE7 and Firefox 2/3 don't anything to download and install without the users specific permission and action.

    In fact, the last major security risk for Windows was caused by Safari!

    When it comes to other things, Windows is better than OS X. Again, system wide hardware acceleration for video. If you've been a Mac user all your life or haven't used Windows in the last 3 generations of GPUs, you cannot even begin to understand how important this is and just how much it improves the image quality of video playback and how it cuts down on CPU use, system heat, etc.

    Thanks to that, a $599 HP with the Radeon 3200 IGP can and will play blu-ray video (with the drive of course). Something no Mac can currently do.

    You have to try very hard to make a Mac look overpriced? HAH!

    Not at all. Again, go to Gateway. $1049 gets you a 2.4GHz C2D, 3GB of RAM, 160GB 7200 RPM! (missed that before) HDD, DVD writer, Radeon HD 2600 512MB, fingerprint reader, bluetooth, memory card reader, full size ExpressCard, HDMI, VGA, S-Video, draft-n, and a FULL 1 year warranty. No $60 phone calls to resolve software issues after 90 days. Their 3 year AT HOME SERVICE warranty is $40 less than AppleCare. For an extra $99 you get accidental damage coverage.

    HP is similar. Trading off for a SLIGHTLY slower processor (not even 5%) you get a MUCH better GLASS screen and graphics that will put the $2,499 and $2,799 MBPs to shame, as well as blu-ray.

    rofl, uh.. excuse me? The GMA 950, X3100, and X4500? Yeah they're all at the bottom of the barrel. They're so low end that they're below the bottom of their class. The MacBook, Mac mini, and MacBook Air are all prime examples of "mixing high end and low end hardware". You get a high end CPU but the GPU is so low end that its still generations behind others in its class.

    The AMD Turion Ultra processors keep pace with the Core 2 Duos without a sweat. That $1,000 HP dv5z with the 1680x1050 glass screen and dedicated graphics will put any of the MacBook Pros to shame when it comes to 3D apps, gaming, and video performance. Another $200 and you get blu-ray. That $1049 Gateway will be equal to any of the MacBook Pros for roughly half the cost of the entry level MacBook Pro.

    You want to talk about cutting corners then you need to look no further than Apple. Look at the Matsushita drives in the Macs that tend to live up to the last few letters of the name. They drop dead like flies. Look at the build quality of the units. MacBook Pros are known to warp from heat, bend under regular use, dent, scratch and in very rare cases, rust. The MacBooks are known to crack on the top case and on the bottom/back due to heat. The MagSafe adapters are known fire hazards. Any other manufacturer would have recalled them by now. The MacBook Air can rarely operate at full speed due to heat and design issues. The Mac mini has been intentionally gimped and sold at lower speeds and features than the original G4 minis for years now. The first batch of iPod touches had bad screens due to Apple using lower cost screens and now they all use them just with firmware to correct the issues. Even the first batch of iPhones had better screens than all current ones. The 3G iPod nano has tilted screen issues that Apple has neither resolved nor admits to.

    The $599 Mac mini has a combo drive, a GMA 950, and a 1.8GHz C2D. That is low end.

    The $1099 MacBook is also low end.

    The GPU in all MacBooks, the MacBook Air, and Mac mini are all the lowest of low end.

    So yes, Macs are essentially low end computers. Processor speed isn't everything. In fact, a fast processor doesn't mean jack when the GPU can't even keep up with it and allow the system to be used in real world situations.

    If you're used to Windows, then OS X isn't good enough. If you're used to OS X, you'll be overwhelmed by the choices, options, and features of Windows, as well as all of the things Windows can do that OS X can't (like system wide hardware acceleration for video).


    And why should Blizzard optimize their NEW games for Intel GPUs? What self respecting PC gamer doesn't have dedicated graphics? And other IGPs, like those from nvidia and ATI/AMD are capable of playing games. Theres no reason for Blizzard or anyone to even think about Intel's GPUs. Especially not when nVidia and especially AMDs new IGPs outperform the last generation of low end dedicated graphics. Where even Intel's new GPU's cant even keep up with generations old dedicated graphics...

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