New MBP: 256MB VRAM vs 512MB VRAM

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by shaner2000, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. shaner2000 macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    I've been reading almost non-stop on these forums trying to decide which MBP to buy (last Mac was Titanium G4 - switched to PC when I got one free at work in 2004 - want to go back to Mac - was waiting for an update to purchase to try to minimize obsolescence)...

    In an attempt to clarify one point in my mind and not ask a question that's been answered 20 different ways's my situation:

    --The most "intense" stuff I can think that my laptop will see would be:

    -photo editing in Photoshop (amateur, for kicks)
    -video editing (probably just in the include iMovie - rendering video from my Sony VIXIA HD camcorder - again, mostly home videos)
    -running a version of Windows (either VM or dual-boot - I think VM would be preferable) so I can run my work software (I'm a healthcare professional - need to be able to work with a PC-only electronic medical record) via remote desktop

    --I will not be:
    -playing intense game
    -making the next Toy Story

    So....after much reading I've come to the following conclusions about my main questions:
    -i5 is about equal to i7
    -buy a 7200 RPM HD for now and upgrade to SSD later

    The biggest remaining question I can't settle in my mind is:

    Will I "need" either
    -upgrade to 8GB RAM
    -the 512MB VRAM in the i7 15" model

    Thanks for your input!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Just get the low-end 15", it's fine for you. Save the money towards SSD and RAM though 4GB is still enough for you, maybe worth to get 8GB when CS5 is out
  3. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
  4. bluetick macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2010
    Um-m, didn't really get you here. In case you just need to connect to remote Windoze computer which hosts all your medical apps via RDP, there's a Mac version of Remote Desktop Connector directly from Billy. And yes, it's free.
  5. shaner2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    #5 the mac world....did not know this....this is good to know.

    and, yes, the application is run from the remote server.

    my guess, then, if i'm to use this remote desktop connector, that RAM would be more important than VRAM in this instance?
  6. shaner2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    thanks. did read that thread. it regressed to mostly "what a crappy video card for a $2k computer" discussion. or it talked mostly of gaming, which is not what i need to know about...

    I think in the end I'm going to fall victim to the "buy the best you can at the time" mentality, knowing it will be less than the best in a few weeks....because I've been spending too much time worrying what the best thing for me to do is regarding what in the end is just a $200 question.
  7. vasuba macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    More and more programs are unloading onto GPUs now for increased application performance. With the MBP already using a weaker gpu I think the last thing anyone serious about their work would want to do is gimp the GPU even further by sticking with the 256MB version.

    The future of many programs like CAD,Photoshop etc is even more heavily gpu based so thats important to keep in mind.
  8. shaner2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Thanks. Haven't heard that point yet...
  9. vasuba macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    That has really been a big point of contention with alot of people unhappy by the gpu selection. It feels like Apple is abandoning the professional nature of their products in order to pursue the hipsters. Far better gpus were available that actually used less power and generated less heat but they cost more so it would eat into Apples profit margin.
  10. bluetick macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2010
    You shouldn't really worry about RAM amount for Remote Desktop, since the only resource RDP's dependent on is your Internet/LAN connection speed. Basically, any 8 year old computer may be successfully used as a terminal machine :)

    Now on the VRAM. It's used for two things: storing image of your screen (the higher VRAM amount is, the higher screen resolution your GPU can handle) and it's also used in games to work with textures and models. Every mac's gpu is obviously tuned to hold its own screen res, so the only thing you may need more VRAM for is gaming.
  11. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Haha, I guess all threads regress to garbage over time here. That one started off as a good discussion :D

    For your needs, there's no reason to get more than 256mb VRAM. Processor is really a personal choice, but your tasks don't sound extremely processor intensive. With RAM, i would suggest upgrading it yourself, but if you don't feel comfortable doing that, and have the money, I would say go for the 8gb.

    As for buying the best now, i wouldn't worry too much about it being less than the best in a few weeks. Several PC manufacturer's are already using more up to date components to Apple, so this new wave of MBPs is already outdated in terms of physical hardware, but...Apple's refresh cycles seem to be getting longer, so it will be the best Apple laptop for the better part of a year at least.
  12. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    I wanted to comment on this specifically because it's right, but a little misleading. Many applications are offloading to the GPU, which is one of the reasons people are so unhappy with the new macbook pros. But the VRAM will make almost no difference in anything but gaming and intensive 3D applications.

    The people who are upset about the actual GPU (not the amount of VRAM) are upset because it is just a subpar GPU in general. The number & speed of the cores, number of pipelines, memory speed and bus width are all much more important than the amount of RAM. In these categories, the 330m graphics are lacking compared to the offerings in other "professional" notebook computers.

    So for the TLDR people, the amount of RAM isn't what's gimping the GPU :)
  13. shaner2000 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010

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