Major difference between 256 and 512 MB of graphics RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Reaktor5, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Reaktor5 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2007
    New Hampshire, USA
    Hey everyone, I just have a quick question. I'm ordering a Macbook Pro this weekend and saw that one had a little beefier 512 MB of RAM instead of 256 dedicated for the graphics card.

    Where would I notice this performance boost? Mostly gaming and video editing?

    I really hope Starcraft 2 isn't too graphic intensive and that the 256 would be enough to handle it. That's really the only game I plan on buying to play on here.
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    What are the min requirements for your game? That's what you want to focus on and make sure your computer matches those specs ... if that if what is most important to you.
  3. ..........? macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2005
    According to what I know the difference between both is not a significant increase.
  4. raremage macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2005
    Orlando, Florida
    Well, since it hasn't been released yet, it's a bit tough to say what the requirements are.

    The bottom line is for most games out today, a 256 MB card will work just fine. In the near future - next couple years - the majority of games will work fine, though they may require you to turn the detail levels down for better performance. In general, more VRAM means you can turn up the details with little degradation in performance.
  5. entity macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2008
    Detroit, MI
    From what I read, the 256MB -> 512MB offers roughly a ~10% FPS increase, and that most games would max the card out before it could even utilize the extra 256MB. It's kind of like cameras and mega pixels. Manufacturers slap on 12MP but if the optics are shoddy, it's pretty much useless. Or if you goto the store and see a Nvidia 9400 with 1GB of memory, you already know how that card performs. That, and it's only 128bit.

    My 2c after much research.
  6. Reaktor5 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2007
    New Hampshire, USA
    So it looks like I should go with the $1999 model.

    Also, would the 2.66GHz to 2.8GHz processor be much difference either? I'm on a 2.2GHz white Macbook right now, I think any higher would feel speedier.
  7. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I wouldn't spend any extra money for it. You will be fine with 256. I would use the extra money for just about any other upgrade first. I don't know if you are looking refurbished, but I have seen the 2.53 GHz MBP with 4 GB RAM and 512 MB graphics for $1449. While the 2.4 with 2 GB RAM with 256 graphics was $1349. I would pay the extra $100 in that scenario for all three of the upgrades for $100 (HDD is larger too). Those both max at 4 GB RAM, but for those prices, you get an amazing MBP for a huge discount.

    Maybe you are looking at new ones though, and I wouldn't spend $300 more for just the desire to get more VRAM.

    I have read that performance is less than 10% unless running a game or something that needs 512... not many.

    Good luck with your decision.
  8. Reaktor5 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2007
    New Hampshire, USA
    I am looking to buy refurbished with extra AppleCare. So I think I'm best off buying the $1349 one and surfing Newegg to max out the RAM. I have three 500GB externals and only have 120GB hard drive on my Macbook right now, so double that will be just fine for me.
  9. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009

    This is the Refurbished 2.53GHz Macbook Pro that has the 9600M GT with 512MB of VRAM. It's out of stock now, but keep checking as it becomes in stock through the day.
  10. ButtUglyJeff macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2008
    New York. The state, not the toilet.
  11. rj-300zx macrumors regular


    Feb 2, 2009
    Well provided its the same card, it really depends. If the card is fast enough and has a 128bit or higher memory throughput, you would see maybe a 20% increase.

    If this were say a 9400m or GMA, you wouldn't see really any improvement. Ill use the ATi Mobility 9700 benchmarks in my Powerbooks to just give an example. Both the machines were exactly the same other than vram.
    Unreal Tournament 2004 Highest Settings @ 1024x768

    64mb: 18.87fps

    128mb: 24.49fps

    Halo Highest Settings, Vertex Shaders Only @ 1280x854

    64mb: 25fps

    128mb: 32fps

    Colin McRae Rally, Mid Graphics Detail, 1280x854

    64mb: 14fps

    128mb: 20fps

    Doom 3, Lowest Settings, 1024x768

    64mb: 15fps

    128mb: 20fps
    Now other cards will react differently and will have different traits that may or may not make it less of a difference. Such as the ATI x300 in a couple of my laptops there is no difference in graphics operation due to the 64bit memory bus.

    Anyway the 256mb will more than likely be fine for Starcraft 2, as a general rule RTS's usually aren't as intensive as say FPS's.
  12. Signal-11 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    2nd Star to the Right
    OTOH, RAM and HD are user upgradable any time after purchase, be it that day or two years later. When you purchase that laptop, the amount of VRAM will stay constant until the day the the machine dies or the user decides to dump it.

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