Macbook pro 15 inch without or with AMD graphics

Assuming money is not an issue, would you future-proof your rMBP with AMD graphics?

  • No AMD graphics

    Votes: 17 28.8%
  • AMD graphics

    Votes: 42 71.2%

  • Total voters
    59

andy123456

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2015
5
0
Hi,

I am in need of a 15 inch macbook pro. I would like to purchase a maxed out macbook pro that is "future-proof".

Assuming money is not an issue, should I get the one with the AMD graphics? I understand that Apple has an unimpressive track record of dGFU issues. Is it worth the risk?

I currently have absolutely no use for a dGPU. My uses are simple web browsing, microsoft office, light photoshop. Apps that may use 3D graphics.

But perhaps in the future, I may want to connect my macbook pro to a 5K monitor, or use software that might benefit from a dGPU.

What do you guys think? Is it worth getting the AMD graphics version just for future proofing considering the risk of failure in a few years?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
465
Money is always an issue. It runs the world and tears friends and families apart.

If you currently have absolutely no use for a dGPU, don't purchase a laptop with a dGPU. Only you can answer if you may want one in the future. Unless you need to run something specific, the iGPU should generally suffice for average things like connecting to a high quality external display or using production applications.

I hope this helps.
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
I have the one with the dedicated M370X and it's nice but it does make the laptop a lot hotter when it's active. So there is a trade off there. I use a program called gfxCardStatus (it's free) which can show you which GPU is in use and force one GPU or the other or use dynamic switching.

This really helps as I can force integrated until I want the extra GPU power for example driving two external displays simultaneously with lots of applications in use. I find with dynamic switching enabled some webpages will enable the dedicated GPU when it isn't really needed causing unnecessary heat and noise so I like being able to disable it myself manually.

I bought my 15" rMBP knowing I wouldn't really need the dedicated GPU that often but it's nice to have it when I do need it and to disable it when I don't. Perhaps you fall into this same camp which is why I've written this from the perspective of my own experience and I think our usage is quite similar so perhaps it's applicable to your situation.
 

Sully

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2007
149
108
I added more RAM and memory to the base 15in. By the time I was done, it was $100 more to get the model with the AMD card. Is there any reason not to get it at that point?
 

andy123456

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2015
5
0
Thanks very much for your replies.

As mentioned in my original post, I don't want to have to deal with dGPU failures in a year or two.
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
None of us can really say if the GPU's will begin failing in a year or two or three. No crystal ball in that regard I'm afraid. Just make sure you get Apple Care and plan to replace it after that runs out. But you should be thinking about doing that even without the dedicated GPU. Other parts can fail too.
 

MBHockey

macrumors 68040
Oct 4, 2003
3,927
161
New York
I have the one with the dedicated M370X and it's nice but it does make the laptop a lot hotter when it's active. So there is a trade off there. I use a program called gfxCardStatus (it's free) which can show you which GPU is in use and force one GPU or the other or use dynamic switching.

This really helps as I can force integrated until I want the extra GPU power for example driving two external displays simultaneously with lots of applications in use. I find with dynamic switching enabled some webpages will enable the dedicated GPU when it isn't really needed causing unnecessary heat and noise so I like being able to disable it myself manually.

I bought my 15" rMBP knowing I wouldn't really need the dedicated GPU that often but it's nice to have it when I do need it and to disable it when I don't. Perhaps you fall into this same camp which is why I've written this from the perspective of my own experience and I think our usage is quite similar so perhaps it's applicable to your situation.
Do you also have a model with only the Iris Pro that you are using to compare temps?
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
Do you also have a model with only the Iris Pro that you are using to compare temps?
No I don't. As I said in my original post, it gets hotter when the AMD gpu is active (I can see which one is being used with the program I mentioned in my earlier post). When the AMD gpu is disabled the laptop is very cool to the touch even at the top near the exhaust events.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Do you also have a model with only the Iris Pro that you are using to compare temps?
I do (colleague's Iris Pro-only 15" rMBP), I ran some stress tests (look for the macoh stress test around GitHub) and found that the Iris Pro variant generally ran hotter (by about 7-8ºC) than the NVIDIA variant under stress tests, because heat was concentrated in one spot on the iGPU-only model, while tasks were spread out more evenly in the dGPU model, hence improving heat dissipation.

However when idling, the iGPU-only model generally tends to run cooler than the dGPU model (with the dGPU active). When only the iGPU is active on both models, the idle temps are identical.
 
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andy123456

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2015
5
0
For the same graphics-intensive task, will the AMD dGPU generate more heat, or will the Iris Pro iGPU generate more heat (assuming force iGPU selected with gfxcardstatus)?
 

RoboWarriorSr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2013
882
45
Quick question can the 5200 iris pro play H.265 smoothly? I presume the 370X can play it since it is significantly faster (doesn't mean efficiently or effectively). Haven't found any source that has tested the 5200 and H.265 performance.
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
I tried a 4K 60 FPS video on it. CPU load is about 50% on every core and the video frame rate is nowhere near 60 FPS, or even 30 FPS, more like 15 FPS slideshow.

That's with Iris or AMD. Neither GPU is accelerating H.265 video at all. It's all done on the CPU.

Next I tried 1080p @ 60 FPS video, that played fine, about 35% CPU usage on each core while playing it but no stuttering.

The players I tried were VLC (couldn't play the 4K 60 FPS at all, just frozen video while audio played, it was the latest VLC for Mac and Windows that I tried, both same thing). Movist however (App Store video player) was able to play both video clips however the 4K @ 60 FPS was unwatchable due to the low frame rate on playback.

GPU changing doesn't make any difference to the H.265 playback performance due to it not being accelerated like how H.264 is.
 
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RoboWarriorSr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2013
882
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I tried a 4K 60 FPS video on it. CPU load is about 50% on every core and the video frame rate is nowhere near 60 FPS, or even 30 FPS, more like 15 FPS slideshow.

That's with Iris or AMD. Neither GPU is accelerating H.265 video at all. It's all done on the CPU.

Next I tried 1080p @ 60 FPS video, that played fine, about 35% CPU usage on each core while playing it but no stuttering.

The players I tried were VLC (couldn't play the 4K 60 FPS at all, just frozen video while audio played, it was the latest VLC for Mac and Windows that I tried, both same thing). Movist however (App Store video player) was able to play both video clips however the 4K @ 60 FPS was unwatchable due to the low frame rate on playback.

GPU changing doesn't make any difference to the H.265 playback performance due to it not being accelerated like how H.264 is.
Thanks for the test, perhaps later updates can push some of the processing to the GPU? I remember seeing some windows drivers for iris pro enabling a "hybrid" playback. Have you use mpv video player for Mac? Apparently it utilizes the GPU for better performance.
http://mpv.io
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
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Thanks for the test, perhaps later updates can push some of the processing to the GPU? I remember seeing some windows drivers for iris pro enabling a "hybrid" playback. Have you use mpv video player for Mac? Apparently it utilizes the GPU for better performance.
http://mpv.io
Okay I just installed mpv and it is able to play the 4K @ 60 FPS with full frames per second, however it pegs all cores to 100%. All four. MacBook Pro sounds like it's about to take off.

This is on the Iris and AMD, no difference.
 

RoboWarriorSr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2013
882
45
Okay I just installed mpv and it is able to play the 4K @ 60 FPS with full frames per second, however it pegs all cores to 100%. All four. MacBook Pro sounds like it's about to take off.

This is on the Iris and AMD, no difference.
Well at least its nice to know it "works". Sounds more intensive than playing games. Hopefully this is due to optimization issues (unlikely as that is).
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
Well at least its nice to know it "works". Sounds more intensive than playing games. Hopefully this is due to optimization issues (unlikely as that is).
I'm sure Apple will move to h.265 for their own video content in future so we'll probably see them write an OpenCL compatible decoder for OS X and iOS in the future that developers will be able to leverage in their own players.

For example I use Movist, when I play h.264 it uses the quicktime decoder on my Mac instead of ffmpeg as it knows the Mac decoder provided by Apple is more efficient.

Of course when I tested h.265 just now I went for a large 4K file with a very high frame rate. I think most of us will be using h.265 with only 1080p @ 29.9 FPS. And for that the laptop plays fine with low enough CPU usage that the fans don't rev up to full speed.
 
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RoboWarriorSr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2013
882
45
I'm sure Apple will move to h.265 for their own video content in future so we'll probably see them write an OpenCL compatible decoder for OS X and iOS in the future that developers will be able to leverage in their own players.

For example I use Movist, when I play h.264 it uses the quicktime decoder on my Mac instead of ffmpeg as it knows the Mac decoder provided by Apple is more efficient.

Of course when I tested h.265 just now I went for a large 4K file with a very high frame rate. I think most of us will be using h.265 with only 1080p @ 29.9 FPS. And for that the laptop plays fine with low enough CPU usage that the fans don't rev up to full speed.
I was mainly wondering if 4K 60 FPS would work because if that does then almost anything else would work as well. And like you said I doubt we'll be seeing the file you tested anytime soon in the States as least as long as those internet providers keep holding back the bandwidth.
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
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I was mainly wondering if 4K 60 FPS would work because if that does then almost anything else would work as well. And like you said I doubt we'll be seeing the file you tested anytime soon in the States as least as long as those internet providers keep holding back the bandwidth.
If anyone is curious this is the 4K @ 60 FPS test file I used:

In the description for that video is a link which contains the actual video file in its original h.265 encoding. The file is 703MB in size and the length is 3 Minutes and 5 Seconds.

Seems like a good test as it's very strenuous, lots of colour and movement.

EDIT:// I'm sure this doesn't need to be said, but the youtube embedded video has been transcoded by Google to WebM or h.264, so you actually need to get the raw file to test h.265 on your own computers.
 
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yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
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For the same graphics-intensive task, will the AMD dGPU generate more heat, or will the Iris Pro iGPU generate more heat (assuming force iGPU selected with gfxcardstatus)?
Tested using macoh by using a task that could stress the dGPU (GPGPU tasks), the Iris Pro model ran about 7-8ºC hotter compared to the one with the dGPU, because with just the Iris Pro, tasks are consolidated all to a single die and hence heat dissipation is worse. Spreading out tasks to the dGPU improves dissipation and spreads out the heat better.
 

Quu

macrumors 68030
Apr 2, 2007
2,659
4,186
Tested using macoh by using a task that could stress the dGPU (GPGPU tasks), the Iris Pro model ran about 7-8ºC hotter compared to the one with the dGPU, because with just the Iris Pro, tasks are consolidated all to a single die and hence heat dissipation is worse. Spreading out tasks to the dGPU improves dissipation and spreads out the heat better.
When you say the Iris Pro model ran hotter, do you mean it physically felt hotter around the keyboard or above or on the bottom of the laptop or do you just mean the CPU temperature was reported as higher in the operating system?
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
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GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
When you say the Iris Pro model ran hotter, do you mean it physically felt hotter around the keyboard or above or on the bottom of the laptop or do you just mean the CPU temperature was reported as higher in the operating system?
Measured using iStat Menus, CPU proximity sensor and Intel Power Gadget when the tests were running.
 

macjunk(ie)

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2009
906
504
Statistically, the ones with the dedicated graphic card fail. I have lost three macbooks before to this... I have never heard of the integrated graphic card failing...
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Statistically, the ones with the dedicated graphic card fail. I have lost three macbooks before to this... I have never heard of the integrated graphic card failing...
I lost my early-2011 to Radeongate as well, but I'm more confident with the dGPUs in the rMBPs since the rMBPs have way better ventilation and thermal design compared to the cMBP.
 
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steve23094

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Apr 23, 2013
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I'm sure Apple will move to h.265 for their own video content in future so we'll probably see them write an OpenCL compatible decoder for OS X and iOS in the future that developers will be able to leverage in their own players.
Probably Metal.
 
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