More machine RAM or more video RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by daleremote, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. daleremote macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I do video editing and post FX (mostly Final Cut and After Effects) with a little 3D animation (Cinema 4D). I do not play games, but often need to play full screen HD videos.

    I'm trying to decide between the two new MacBook Pros. For $1799 you get 256MB video RAM, for $2199 you get 1GB video RAM. Is this worth the extra $400?

    I think I read somewhere that more RAM on the video card is good for super high resolution displays (like 30" monitors), and not so important for non-realtime rendering processes (like final outputs from AE or FCP).

    I'm leaning toward getting the cheaper model (with 256MB) and upgrading machine RAM to 8GB.

    Any help / confirmation / recommendations appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    It's not just the VRAM in AMD 6750M. It offers much more raw processing power which may speed up rendering. You can always upgrade the system RAM down the road but you will be stuck with the GPU you choose now for good. I would get the more expensive machine and upgrade the RAM to 8GB from aftermarket (only ~80$).
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    You can buy more RAM and install it later on. But you cannot get more VRAM. Go VRAM.
  4. Tonepoet macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2010
    I think your scope of interest might be too narrow, as when the Graphical Processing Unit isn't helping you, I would imagine that work has to be deferred tot he Central Processing Unit.

    200 megahertz of extra power might not seem like that much when comparing these models to prior generations but you have three primary considerations to consider:

    1. Sandy Bridge clocking is more efficient than that of prior generations, so those 200 megahertz count for a whole lot more.

    2. Extra cores exponentially increases the importance of extra clock speed, possibly even for single threaded applications thanks to turboboost. This generation of 15" Macbook Pros has twice as many cores as the last generation's.

    3. Extra RAM doesn't really speed up performance, so much as prevent it from being bogged down by oversaturation. It can be important but only when you're using more than stock to begin with. You might see further gains from the processing power, especially as your system may flush out individual tasks faster allowing you to free up more RAM for other uses. You'll only really know if you need the RAM once you see how much you use up normally.

    Aside from that I agree with the others: You should go with the higher end model since you won't be able to upgrade the performance of the CPU or GPU if you need to later on but you can always buy install more third party RAM if you notice you're running short. The procedure outlined on page 45 of the user manual is relatively simple if you're steady with a screwdriver to undo the bottom plate and somewhat familiar with loading cartridges into a Nintendo Entertainment system. Unloading the original stuff is is a little finicky but not much more difficult.
  5. mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    tell me more
  6. daleremote thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Thanks everyone.

    On my current machine (2.16 GHz Macbook Pro, 3GB RAM, 128MB VRAM) it's basically impossible to run Final Cut and After Effects simultaneously. After Effects (CS5) is a resource hog. That's why I was thinking more machine RAM would be better, if I had to pick decide between RAM and VRAM. Also...thanks for pointing that there's more to the video card differences than VRAM.

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