MacBook Pro vs System Requirements. (Gaming)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Dark Void, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011

    I have been searching around to compare the Processor, RAM and GPU in my MacBook Pro to the recommended system requirements of a game in detail. This is a very general statement as what I am specifically trying to determine is whether or not I will have a smooth time running it on my MacBook Pro in Boot Camp. Allow me to say that I do not use my MacBook Pro to game primarily, and I do not attempt to play recent games on it. I game casually and the game that I am attempting to play is from 2008.

    I am running a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 Processor and the the system requirements recommends a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Processor or equivalent. I looked up both of these processors and the E6600 has 1MB of L2 Cache on the P8600. I searched L2 Cache in reference to gaming and I found a lot of outdated posts and articles claiming its importance, but I would like to know of it's importance today. How will this impact my experience?

    I have 4 GB of 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM. The system requirements lists 2048 MB of dual-channel DDR2 RAM. I immediately figured that I wouldn't have a problem but when searching I read that dual-channel is not the same as double data rate, so I looked it up in detail and it's a lot of complex stuff. However, what I got from it was that it simply means that your RAM is in two slots, which I certainly have of course. Is that correct? Also, does the fact that I have 4 GB of DDR3 over ~2.05 GB of DDR2 mean that I will see even slight increased performance?

    I am also running the NVIDIA GeForce 320M with 256 MB of Total VRAM. The recommended system requirements suggests an NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX or equivalent. I almost didn't even bother looking it up as the 7900 is from a very old series, but it's a GTX so I figured it would preform better than my GPU. The NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX scored a 4678.2 on 3DMark06, and the NVIDIA GeForce 320M scored a 4346.5, according to Notebook Check. The 7900 GTX has 512 MB VRAM, while the 320M has 256 MB as stated. How much of a preformance loss am I looking at here considering the VRAM difference, roughly? I figure that I will be alright considering that the 3DMark06 scores are so close.

    Thank you.
  2. 2hvy4grvty macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2011
    RAM is hardly an indicator for better performance. What it generally means is that in order to play in higher resolutions, games have to "cache" the maps/level/whatever it is your game needs in RAM to have it readily available for access.

    The 7900m GTX is a VERY old piece of hardware, but it was the best of the best in its day. The 320m, on the other hand, is very new, but also pretty damn low on the graphics hierarchy. That said, the clock speed/memory speeds of gfx cards are quite complicated to understand. There's memory bus width; you can imagine this being the # of lanes on a high way. The 7900m has 256 bit bus width to the 320m's 128, which theoretically is a huge difference, but isn't in real world practice. I'll get to that later. Then there's memory type, but luckily the two both use GDDR3. Then there's VRAM, which like normal RAM, is basically the part of the card storing textures and whatnot. This is equivalent to the number of cars on a highway. Given 320m's almost sad 256 MB VRAM, it won't really get a chance to max a 256 bit bus width if it theoretically could have one, so that's why it wasn't a big deal. The amount of VRAM required is highly dependent on screen resolution. There's no chance of a 256 MB card driving 4096 x 1024 displays or anything. Regardless, most recent games demand at least 512, preferably 1 GB+ VRAM. And then there's clock speeds. Like the phrase would imply, this is the speed of the cars in the highway analogy. The 320m is clocked much higher than the 7900m GTX, which is its only redeeming point. Specifically, it's the shader clock speeds that make all the difference. What are shaders? Shaders are a specialized set of instructions tasked with specific graphical functions (e.g. finding the position in 3d space). Think of these as trains that are able to transport more people to their destinations, and at speeds that are independent of the flow of traffic. The 320m has not only shaders that are twice as fast, but more of them.

    Basically, when there's a bottleneck, there could be several factors. The bus width could be one of them; a 128 bit bus with with 2GB of VRAM would be utterly useless. You would never be able to use 2 GB without the 128 bit limiting transfers. High clock speeds are nice, but if you're constantly having to re-cache/load textures because of low VRAM, then that'll bottleneck as well.

    Anyway, "recommended settings" generally imply med-high settings, so you should be able to run it no less. And the verdict: 7900m GTX is better than your 320m GT for the most part.
  3. Simmity macrumors newbie


    May 9, 2010

    The game will probably run well, but it might be worth to mention the particulair game you want to play on your mbp.
  4. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    @2hvy4grvty: thanks for all of the great information. the analogy was cool too, didn't quite expect that sort of response. :] i had concluded myself that the 7900 gtx is better than the 320m, but your reassurance is appreciated...not that i am happy about that considering i have the 320m of course. i plan on playing on 1280x800 resolution and have no desire to use an external display. the game requires 512mb, well, a card that has 512mb so i am assuming so, but i think i can get away with the 256mb, especially considering the fact that I am willing to deal with low settings. i am looking for smooth gameplay at 60+ fps without too significant of dips. i realize that nobody can tell me that without having tested it themselves but i thought i would make that information available for anyone else that may post. which leads me to...

    @Simmity: it's age of conan. admittedly a horrible game, it's sort of a sentimental game for me as i have met people there that i am still friends w/ today and i still have friends that play. plus it's going f2p soon (sorta) so i'm hoping for the player base to build back up. i haven't played in a while but have kept up with it.

    thanks guys.
  5. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    to compare video cards, use 3dmark06 or 3dmark vantage scores. Gives you a general idea.

    CPU speeds - try looking for pcmark benchmarks

    in general, though, it sounds like you meet the minimum system requirements, but expect ~30 fps rather than 60 fps
  6. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    yeah, i posted the 3dmark06 scores for each gpu. those aren't the minimum requirements, they are the recommended requirements. how do you figure ~30 fps? i was expecting around 50, hoping for 60+ with custom settings, mainly low-med. thanks for your reply, i will check out pcmark cpu benches.
  7. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    CPU speed isn't the bottle neck for gaming, I would not bother. RAM helps some, but the graphics card is where you should concentrate your efforts.

    If you have the latest nVidia drivers(not the old outdated ones from bootcamp) and set your card to "performance" rather than "quality", you'll do just fine.
  8. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    maybe 60 fps if you did low and cut the resolution down
  9. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    @snaky69: i realize that gpu is more important than cpu in gaming but it doesn't hurt to check some cpu scores. good thing you mentioned drivers, i thought i would be getting away with simply the os x disc in boot camp. i will search the nvidia site come the time. what exactly do you mean by setting it to performance instead of quality? thanks for your post.

    @Freyqq: i will be playing at 1280x800.

    ^ i was thinking about this, actually. does a lower resolution mean that i should expect to see more frames considering that the game has less to display, theoretically? what kind of impact does resolution or screen size have on fps, if any at all?

    thanks guys. this is all great information.
  10. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Why don't you just tell us which game and or look up some gaming benchmarks on the web, there are millions of those with all kinds of configs.
    Your 2.4Ghz ist more or less the same only slightly better than a E6600 but if it is min requirements it is quite poor.
    If a 512MB card is recom. req. you can expect to run only low/med settings because the game probably needs the VRAM for higher settings. Most games let you only enable certain settings depending on how much VRAM you have. This is one reason why some people here think they are running CoD on high settings on their 256MB GPUs.

    lower res always means more speed unless the CPU limits, which hardly ever does. How much impact it shows depends on many factors. CPU limit, VRAM capacity and the game engine.
  11. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    i did list the game (post #4), there is no information about it running on the 320m, and it has been stated numerous times that these are the recommended system requirements. anyway, thanks for your input, especially the bit on resolution. game engine is something that i have had in the back of my mind as well, and i will look that up and try to find as much information on it as possible. thanks again.

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