Macbook Pro Retina 15 Native Resolution Gaming

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by imnotkleenex, Aug 25, 2015.

  1. imnotkleenex macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2014
    My wife will be due for a new computer next year as she is s till on a 2010 iMac which will be 6 years old next year and she wants something new and portable, so most likely a Macbook Pro Retina 15. She does some light gaming mostly Blizzard games as well as some League of Legends / DOTA2.

    I usually see a lot of benchmarks at lower resolutions which I don't like since I think you should always play at a display's native resolution. Anyone has any benchmarks of those games being played at native resolution (no matter the settings) to know if it is at least playable? She is thinking of going Windows 10 with a Razer Blade considering the more powerful GPU for gaming as she plays a lot of WOW, but she likes Mac OS. Since we'll be buying the next revision they might have something much better by then, but for now if anyone has any benchmarks I'd appreciate it to give me an idea. I keep searching online but can't find any, or if I find youtube videos they are often playing in Bootcamp instead :S
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Basically nothing will play at the retina resolution very well even on a massive gaming laptop with top of the range mobile GPU's. What you want is just not feasible with current tech.
  3. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    The whole point of a retina screen is to be able to have a crisp image no matter the resolution.

    I don't think you should look at it the way you do. Just play at what's comfortable. Playing at native resolution will render all GUI items extremely tiny.
  4. imnotkleenex thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2014
    Razer Blade 14 2015 runs at native res (3200x1800) at great framerates, running games like Diablo 3 at pretty much 60fps the whole time almost maxed out with the GTX970m, so what you are saying is untrue. My wife loves Mac OS although she is leaning more towards PCs now because of the lackluster gpu in the Macbook Pro. Was just wondering if stuff was still kind of playable at native res or if there was such a huge disparity as she would like to stick to a Mac if she can.
  5. IanKelleigh macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2015
    Playing at the native resolution in games like LoL or DoTA2 won't gain much more real estate. In fact a lot of the UI elements may be much smaller. Those games tend to have fixed FoV (Field of view) so you won't see more of the map or anything. Most games aren't optimized for retina size resolutions. You will gain more power to run higher render settings but honestly neither of those examples need super high-end machines to play anyway.

    I have one of the new rMBP 15" and boot in either Mac OS X or Win 10 and play games in either OS depending on availability. Windows 10 tends to have better drivers so some games play with higher settings even though it's the same hardware. But I stick with 1080p resolutions mostly because, like previously mentioned, some UI elements become too tiny at native.
  6. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    The GTX 970M is orders of magnitude more powerful than the AMD R9 in the current rMBP.
  7. Toutou macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2015
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Forget it. Native is just too much and a rMBP is not a gaming machine.
  8. RoboWarriorSr macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2013
    Diablo 3 isn't that intensive now a day. The 2012 model can play it at retina around 30 FPS and drops to 20 FPS on heavy scenes. If you're trying to play games like Battlefield 4 or Far Cry 4 then even the Razer Blade will not play the game well at 3200x1800 (Having high resolution and low graphic fidelity would be a waste, assuming the 970m can handle that in the first place). So for a simple answer to your question, no the 15" will not do what you're asking. I would recommend your wife to just buy a gaming laptop as Apple will disappoint you in their choice of GPUs for years to come unless gaming is not a priority/ or willing to purchase an entirely separate computer.
  9. zlogs macrumors member

    Dec 27, 2013
    She would be able to play games at the native resolution on the macbook pro if she had an external graphics card enclosure. You don't know what you are missing until you are playing games on such a pixel dense 15" display at native resolution. I have a gtx 970 hooked up to my 13" late 2013 rMBP and games including witcher 3, battlefield 4, and even dota 2/ counterstrike look incredible. I currently use a 600 watt power supply (way overkill), a sonnet SEL dock, and an EVGA gtx 970. The only caveat to this whole setup is it is very unorganized unless you make an enclosure yourself. The gpu is too big to fit inside the dock, so you can only use the pcie port on the dock.

    The tech inferno egpu forum is a great place if you are more curious. Another thing to keep in mind, if you want to use the built in display on the macbook to game with an external graphics card, you have to buy one with the integrated graphics. Nvidia optimus on the dedicated gpu models prevent using the built in display, so you would have to hook up an external monitor.
  10. MacMusician33 macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2015
    I can't quite understand why Apple hasn't decided to implement the GTX series of graphics cards in its Retina MBP range. If the 2014 Razer (which has similar design and even smaller screen than the 15" MBP) can fit the GTX 970M then surely Apple must have the capability to fit a similarly powerful GPU in its next refresh.

    To the people saying that having a powerful GPU is not feasible for battery life, CPU/GPU intensive tasks never fared greatly for my MBP in terms of battery and this is the reason as to why graphics switching technology exists.
  11. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    It's more of a heat matter. The GTX series outputs a whole lot more heat. The heatsinks would not be able to cope with it.
  12. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2013
    That's not what retina is. Retina is Apples term for "At normal viewing distance for this size screen, the resolution will be high enough so that your eye can not tell the difference between individual pixels offering a perfectly clear image." However, this only works if you are viewing the content at the native resolution.

    Retina on the 15in MBP Retina = 2880 x 1800. Anything viewed lower than that resolution is not Retina as Retina only refers to a resolution of 2880 x 1800 on a 15in screen.

    The sad thing about Retina and gaming is 1) Any MBP does not offer enough power to play the latest games at Retina. 2) No matter what display you are using, running at a non-native resolution will result in a less clear image as its not the resolution indented for that display. This is why GTA V for example if I try to run it at Retina on my 2015 15in MBP with AMD it looks crisp and beautiful, but only runs at about 10 FPS lol. If I shoot it down to 1080p I can hit about 25FPS average still looks good but not as good. If I go one step below 1080p it looks a little less but I can pull a consistent 30+FPS. If I go down to 720p it is noticeably not that great but I can run it at about 60FPS.

    While 720p didn't look that grate on my MBPs 15in display, if I played the same game on my native 720p 32in at the same distance it looked better. No its not the screen size as a smaller screen should always look sharper as the pixels are closer together. its because that's what the screen was made to do. its the same reason why if you Hooked up a Nintendo to a tube TV it looks ok but then you hook it up to a flat screen and its garbage lol.

    You can use a MBP for light gaming. Heck if 720p does not bother you, you can play the latest games all day. LOL, DOTA and Blizzard games are not that demanding so you could get away with good frame rates at 1080p and decent settings. but you would have to play some older games to hit retina. If mobile gaming at UHD resolutions is important to you, the Razer Blade has a 4k Display (higher than Retina) and has a much better GPU (970m). BUT lol, its still not going to be powerful enough to play the latest games at 4K and run smooth. you would need a 4k laptop with a 980m to really consider UHD mobile gaming on todays titles and that's even a little underpowered for 4K. 4K is so demanding my Rig with Dual 780TI's has a ruff time in GTA at 4K. It does it but I'm not hitting over 40FPS.

    If you need Gaming laptop and can do without Mac, the ASUS RoG with 970m or 980m is your best bet. It only has 1080p but the screen is very nice. It can run GTA V at that resolution at over 60FPS. It runs cool so no hot legs. But this, as with the Razer will have the GPU throttled if your not plugged into power. The MBP does not throttle as its GPU does not use as much power, so it does not need to be plugged in to hit Max levels, but at the same time its Max levels are still lower than a throttled 980m lol. I hope this rambling has helped in some way lol :)
  13. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2011
    Ridgewood, NJ
    The chances of the next revision having the equivalent, or better, of the GTX 970m are very slim. If gaming is important to you/your wife, and you want the more playable frame rates at native resolution, go with the Blade. It also has a 1080p option as well.
  14. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    I'm not trying to be an ass or pedantic, but I know what retina is. What I quoted above tells me you do not. Retina is just marketing vocabulary for "high pixel density", but that's another discussion entirely.

    If things followed you logic, the second one zooms in on an iPhone(which also has a retina screen), the retina screen suddenly stops being retina. I think we both agree this is not the case.

    The screen is always at native resolution, it's the graphics card that is rendering it at different resolutions. If you use the "best for retina" mode, that simply means everything is pixel doubled. The screen is at native resolution, but the effective resolution is half that(1440X900). Changing the screen resolution via software is does not change the physical number of pixels, thus the screen is always retina. Even if you set it to 800X600, it's still retina, as in, you still cannot distinguish the individual PHYSICAL pixels in the screen.

    So long as you keep the same aspect ratio as the screen (720p is 16:9, your screen is 16:10, which is why you said it didn't look that "grate" (sic)), the image should look just fine.

    If you were to run a 15's retina screen at ACTUAL native resolution, all icons and text would be laughably small, and most people would be unable to read them.

    Which is exactly why I said that (if it were actually possible), gaming at native resolution on a retina MBP would render every GUI item extremely tiny. It's safe to assume it would render most games unplayable.

    Thus, I think OP should not look at a retina screen the way he does.
  15. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2013
    Before I get started, I don't want this to become an argument. Maybe I didn't word something well before so I'm going to try and re-word it now. I am very familiar with how retina works, not only from personal use but as I worked for AppleCare for 5 years.

    I honestly didn't say anything about it not using all the pixels. Its always going to use all the pixels but at lower resolutions it uses more pixels to produce what a single pixels does. Example, a pixel in a 1920x1080 image on a 1080p screen only uses one pixel, but that same image on a 4k screen now uses 4 pixles to display the same result that took only one pixel before.

    Zooming in on an iPhone is not the same things as changing resolutions its still retina just zoomed in, its still at the same pixel density.

    What I was saying, and this was right from Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace), is that Retina is Apples term for "At normal viewing distance for this size screen, the resolution (pixel density) will be high enough so that your eye can not tell the difference between individual pixels offering a perfectly clear image." At any distance its still going to be a Retina screen or a screen capable of displaying "Retina". However, if you follow the formula for what Retina actually is, its only truly a retina image at a certain distance and only at that native displayed resolution.

    Also, saying that if the screen was at Native text and application icons would be small is no longer a true statement. For years Apple has been making high resolution icons so the icons are only as big as their rendered size or as small as you want to shrink them to. In the system preferences Apples display settings can be misleading, as you have Best for this display which for the 15in mimics how we are used to things looking on a 1440x900 display at that size while the scaled options are just that, scaled versions that make the screen appear as how your accustom to seeing it at those resolutions, but its all native retina.

    Detailed Description of Retina:
    When introducing the iPhone 4, Steve Jobs said the number of pixels needed for a Retina Display is about 300 PPI for a device held 10 to 12 inches from the eye. One way of expressing this as a unit is pixels-per-degree (PPD) which takes into account both the screen resolution and the distance from which the device is viewed. Based on Jobs' predicted number of 300, the threshold for a Retina Display starts at the PPD value of 57 PPD. 57 PPD means that a tall skinny triangle with a height equal to the viewing distance and a top angle of one degree will have a base on the device's screen that covers 57 pixels. Any display's viewing quality (from phone displays to huge projectors) can be described with this size-independent universal parameter. Note that the PPD parameter is not an intrinsic parameter of the display itself, unlike absolute pixel resolution (e.g. 1920×1080 pixels) or relative pixel density (e.g. 401 PPI), but is dependent on the distance between the display and the eye of the person (or lens of the device) viewing the display; moving the eye closer to the display reduces the PPD, and moving away from it increases the PPD in proportion to the distance.

    It can be calculated by the formula "2dr tan(0.5°)" where "d" is the distance to the screen and "r" is the resolution of the screen in pixels per unit length.

    In practice, thus far Apple has converted a device's display to Retina by doubling the number of pixels in each direction, quadrupling the total resolution. This increase creates a sharper interface at the same physical dimensions. The sole exception to this has been the iPhone 6 Plus, which renders its display at triple the number of pixels in each direction, before down-sampling to a 1080p resolution.
  16. MacMusician33 macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2015
    I suppose so, but I still believe that Apple's engineers could find a way to work around this or even implement a custom chip. Who knows really.

    Nonetheless my 2011 MBP with the 256mb 6490m is starting to show its age for graphics purposes so I think I will wait and see what Apple offers with its next MBP revision. If it doesn't come close to a 950m or 960m then I may actually consider purchasing a Razer.
  17. Geniva macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2011
    I play the Sims 4 at native resolution on a maxed out 2015 15" rMBP just fine. I imagine games like DOTA2 and WoW will have no problems.
  18. imnotkleenex thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2014
    Thanks for the reply! She almost exclusively play Blizzard games and we're probably gonna be waiting for the next revision before making the decision anyway so things can still improve a bit on the graphics side!
  19. imnotkleenex thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2014
    I've already looked into it a bit in the past, but thanks for the info!
  20. hfletcher macrumors 6502


    Oct 10, 2008
    One thing with Blizzard games (well, WoW at least) is that you can independently set the UI and game render resolution. So you can play with native resolution text and UI objects, but the actual world can be rendered at half that, or any % of the native resolution you like.

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