Macbook Pro 15" w/ dGPU: First Impressions

Zakzilla

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2015
82
167
I've been on here pretty religiously the past week or so reading thoughts and reviews on the new dGPU 15" MBP model, and today decided to pull the trigger. I initially ordered it online last night, but heard on these forums that many stores had some (secretly?) in stock, so I drove 35 minutes to the nearest store here in LA and guess what...they had "a few" in stock. They helped me cancel my online order and I'm writing this review from the new model. If you're in the same boat, I recommend checking out a store. I also recommend unboxing it in front of rep to check it for issues.

Anyway, if you're like me, you've read the benchmarks and seen the numbers. I thought I would let you know my first impressions with it in real-world use, because numbers only go so far.

Disclaimer: I'm upgrading from a 2010 MBP (non-retina), so this is quite a leap for me. I've also used 2013 and 2014 models in my office briefly, but this is my first purchase of a new computer in 5 years, and first time using the new Force Touch trackpad. My initial impressions:

1) SSD: This thing is FAST. Apps open before the icon can bounce. It starts up in a few seconds. When I open the lid, it's ready. Saving photoshop files is fast. Safari is incredibly snappy. I've never used an SSD this fast, it's quite nice.

2) GPU: Sliding between Spaces is buttery smooth, even using the iGPU (Iris Pro 5200). Mission Control is smooth as well. I've downloaded gfxCardStatus to allow me to choose which GPU to use, and the difference between the iGPU and dGPU seems indistinguishable for common tasks (both are solid). Only when I open After Effects / Final Cut Pro does it make a difference. I'm downloading Steam right now and will update later on gaming performance. I've heard many complaints here on the forums about Apple not choosing the top-of-the-line GPU etc, and I understand the frustration, but this thing is doing quite well so far. I'm editing HD video and only heard the fans kick on for a few seconds in the last couple hours.

3) The Force Touch trackpad is wonderful. I've read a few reviews that didn't like it, but I honestly love it. The ability to choose how the click feels is great (I have it on the 'firm' setting which feels just like a button), and I've found myself already using the Force Click on words to grab definitions etc. I also love the quiet sound it makes, and how much faster clicking seems now. I feel like I can fly around more with my trackpad.

4) The speakers are much improved compared to my 2010. Maybe that goes without saying, but I thought my 2010 was just fine. The speakers on this sound more 'full' and powerful.

5) Display: Retina. What can I say? Anyone who has used retina knows. I won't go back to non-retina. Absolutely stunning display on this thing. People in my office gathered around to look at it, and they also have retina displays. I'm not sure if it was my background, or because it was new, or what. But it looks fantastic.

Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to know. It's a huge purchase and I know it helps to read the experience from others.

Cheers
 

ppone

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2011
178
0
Can you run xbench (all the tests) http://www.xbench.com and post the screenshot of the results. If you could set gfx to the discrete GPU or disable automatic graphic switching in the energy saver before you run the xbench.

Thanks again

I've been on here pretty religiously the past week or so reading thoughts and reviews on the new dGPU 15" MBP model, and today decided to pull the trigger. I initially ordered it online last night, but heard on these forums that many stores had some (secretly?) in stock, so I drove 35 minutes to the nearest store here in LA and guess what...they had "a few" in stock. They helped me cancel my online order and I'm writing this review from the new model. If you're in the same boat, I recommend checking out a store. I also recommend unboxing it in front of rep to check it for issues.

Anyway, if you're like me, you've read the benchmarks and seen the numbers. I thought I would let you know my first impressions with it in real-world use, because numbers only go so far.

Disclaimer: I'm upgrading from a 2010 MBP (non-retina), so this is quite a leap for me. I've also used 2013 and 2014 models in my office briefly, but this is my first purchase of a new computer in 5 years, and first time using the new Force Touch trackpad. My initial impressions:

1) SSD: This thing is FAST. Apps open before the icon can bounce. It starts up in a few seconds. When I open the lid, it's ready. Saving photoshop files is fast. Safari is incredibly snappy. I've never used an SSD this fast, it's quite nice.

2) GPU: Sliding between Spaces is buttery smooth, even using the iGPU (Iris Pro 5200). Mission Control is smooth as well. I've downloaded gfxCardStatus to allow me to choose which GPU to use, and the difference between the iGPU and dGPU seems indistinguishable for common tasks (both are solid). Only when I open After Effects / Final Cut Pro does it make a difference. I'm downloading Steam right now and will update later on gaming performance. I've heard many complaints here on the forums about Apple not choosing the top-of-the-line GPU etc, and I understand the frustration, but this thing is doing quite well so far. I'm editing HD video and only heard the fans kick on for a few seconds in the last couple hours.

3) The Force Touch trackpad is wonderful. I've read a few reviews that didn't like it, but I honestly love it. The ability to choose how the click feels is great (I have it on the 'firm' setting which feels just like a button), and I've found myself already using the Force Click on words to grab definitions etc. I also love the quiet sound it makes, and how much faster clicking seems now. I feel like I can fly around more with my trackpad.

4) The speakers are much improved compared to my 2010. Maybe that goes without saying, but I thought my 2010 was just fine. The speakers on this sound more 'full' and powerful.

5) Display: Retina. What can I say? Anyone who has used retina knows. I won't go back to non-retina. Absolutely stunning display on this thing. People in my office gathered around to look at it, and they also have retina displays. I'm not sure if it was my background, or because it was new, or what. But it looks fantastic.

Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to know. It's a huge purchase and I know it helps to read the experience from others.

Cheers
 

Kal-037

macrumors 68000
Best way to get actual good results are to use the GPU while gaming or doing intensive video, photo, and audio work. (note the upload, render time, fps, etc etc.) Benchmarks are not accurate, they give a number but many times I've seen machines do much more than the numbers certain programs or Apps give out.

Thanks for the review BTW, I just got this guy today and now I feel a bit better about actually opening it tonight. :)



Kal.
 
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sebseb

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2014
322
16
Thanks for the detailed review. I won't be doing any video editing or at least not as Pro as some do here but I will be running CAD software time to time on parallels and I couldn't decide if I should get the dGPU or one without. But after reading your review, I think I'll grab the one with dGPU and just force it iGPU to get more battery power and then when I need graphics have it kick in.
 

gordian

macrumors member
May 3, 2010
71
11
I'm upgrading from a 2010 MBP (non-retina), so this is quite a leap for me...
I'm coming from the exact same machine and just received mine today too. Typing this on it now and it is quite a leap indeed. I agree with pretty much everything you said (although I did upgrade my 2010 with an SSD so the speed difference is not *quite* as jarring; it's impressively smooth nonetheless). The one big difference I've noticed is the keyboard. I expect I'll become accustomed to the different spacing and the shorter keys, but it feels a bit strange initially.

The only real let downs I'm encountering are with Yosemite. Some native Apple apps have changed the way they do things and that will take some getting used to, but overall it's pretty slick.

One issue I just encountered is that I let my battery run all the way down to 3% and there was no low battery popup/sound. The menu indicator worked as expected but I assumed the popup/sound would alert me as it did in Mavericks. I'm Googling this issue now and not finding much.
 

Woch

macrumors newbie
May 26, 2015
13
0
Thanks a lot for the detailed review! Is the difference between iGPU and dGPU in general UI smoothness still indistinguishable when you have lots of windows open and/or use the higher desktop resolutions?
 

tadziak

macrumors regular
Jan 4, 2011
147
1
Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to know. It's a huge purchase and I know it helps to read the experience from others.

Cheers
Nice review, thanks a lot. So do I understand, that even when doing some intensive tasks like compressing video in HD - the fans are not loud?
 

dingdong

macrumors regular
Apr 10, 2007
161
66
Thanks for the review. Will be getting one after WWDC.

Looking to get the base model w/ dGPU.. Can anyone justify paying for the 2.8GHz boost?
 

tadziak

macrumors regular
Jan 4, 2011
147
1
And one more thing - out of curiosity - could you run this command:
ioreg -lw0 | grep "EDID" | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6

and see what screen model do you have? I wonder if it's still both LG and Samsung mounted. What are your impressions about the screen - is it nice, even and bright?
 

Kal-037

macrumors 68000
Thanks for the review. Will be getting one after WWDC.

Looking to get the base model w/ dGPU.. Can anyone justify paying for the 2.8GHz boost?
I did the 2.8GHz as I'll be heading to back to school for animation and film and wanted as much power as I could get, plus I got the student discount, though.

I'd say it's worth it with a discount or sale, otherwise maybe not as much.
I got mine in today and opened it up a few hours ago. I almost forgot how gorgeous the display is and how powerful this machine is. The SSD speeds are insane. And The Force Trackpad is boss, (yes I didn't say it's real name as The Force Trackpad sounds way cooler) ;)


Kal.
 

Hypnosizz

macrumors newbie
May 25, 2015
13
0
I'm downloading Steam right now and will update later on gaming performance. I've heard many complaints here on the forums about Apple not choosing the top-of-the-line GPU etc, and I understand the frustration, but this thing is doing quite well so far. I'm editing HD video and only heard the fans kick on for a few seconds in the last couple hours.
Nice review, Thank you for useful information.

Are you playing Dota2 on steam. Could you test this game?

I want to know about the performance of this dGPU. Can it run Dota2 well in full retina resolution? (2880x1800)

And the temperature also, is its surface or keyboard becoming hot when you are rendering video or the MBP is full loaded?


p.s. sorry for my grammar, thank you.
 
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jdetraz

macrumors newbie
May 26, 2015
7
0
London
Nice review, Thank you for useful information.

Are you playing Dota2 on steam. Could you test this game?
I can play Dota 2 with my old 2011 Macbook Air, so with the new Macbook pro you will be able to play it with max settings on 1080 (and 1800 but you will lose some frames per sec).

If anyone can test Witcher 3 it would be great. Wondering if it can runs with medium/high settings
 
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Zakzilla

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2015
82
167
Thanks a lot for the detailed review! Is the difference between iGPU and dGPU in general UI smoothness still indistinguishable when you have lots of windows open and/or use the higher desktop resolutions?
As I open up more and more 'Spaces' with fullscreen apps like Spotify, Mail, Notes, Messages, Slack, etc, the difference does start to appear. This happens around 5 spaces. The integrated GPU will struggle a bit switching between the Spaces (probably 15-25fps), whereas the dGPU keeps things pretty smooth (~60fps). I've noticed the dynamic switching really does work well, and when OS X notices I'm using a lot of these apps, it switches over for me.

I'm pleased with the performance of this machine, and with the rumored updates to OS X @ WWDC around performance and bug fixing, I'm willing to bet we'll see increased performance soon. OS X needs it
 
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Zakzilla

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2015
82
167
I agree with other posters here that OS X Yosemite is not what it should be yet.

While the hardware on this new Macbook Pro is stunning, the OS is not at the same level. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Apple focuses on performance and stability for the next release instead of new things. Everyone I've talked to feels the sluggishness of OS X Yosemite, and many have even 'reduced transparency' in accessibility settings to help a bit. I think it is embarrassing that even brand new models Apple is selling can't run the OS at smooth frame rates. That being said, this dGPU 15" model does run it as smooth as I've ever seen, so I'm happy with it but I still do see occasional slowdowns and room for improvement. Please Apple, fix your transparency algorithm and smooth this OS out. PLEASE

Side note: having used PCs for many years, I'm confident saying this is both the best Mac laptop and PC laptop you can buy. I'm planning on installing Bootcamp and Windows 10 when it's released (I won't dare install the horrendous mistake Microsoft calls "Windows 8", and Windows 7 is out because the new MacBooks don't support it)
 
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