Onboard vs Dedicated Graphics and Battery

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BayouTiger, May 16, 2014.

  1. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    I currently have a TOTL 2012 rMPB. It has served me well, but frankly I am tired of lugging it around as I work in the field a lot. I use Autocad LT and VMWare pretty much all the time when working. I have resisted moving to the 13" rMBP as I am always worried about going backwards in performance.

    The problem with the 15" is that whenever AutoCad LT or Fusion is opened it reverts to the discrete graphics and the battery life suffers greatly.

    I had a 13" MBA before the 15, but used 17" MBP's before that Air. I just bought a 13" for a coworker and so far he is fine. It does bug me that none of the local B&M Apple stores carry any of the 13" rMBPs in 16GB. Though I originally thought that I was having issues with memory affecting battery life, I think it's more related to the video card switching. I find it goes to the discrete more often than I thought.

    I'm just curious what folks experience is going backwards in performance.
  2. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2012
    "Backwards in performance" is a relative term - it will be forwards in performance as far as battery life goes, which seems to be your primary concern.

    You could also try certain third party apps that can force your dedicated GPU to stay turned off to improve battery life. Try this and see if you can live with the app performance before you buy a 13".
  3. willsoriano macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2011
    I too hate that it automatically switches to the Nvidia card for stupid things like netflix so I use an app called gfxcardstatus which allows me to choose integrated only.

    Heres the link and its free! http://gfx.io
  4. BayouTiger thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    I use that as well, but it still gets goofy with certain apps and as soon as I plug in an external display it'll override my settings.
  5. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    You can get the base 15" of 2013. In that case the external wouldn't be an issue as the integrated is the only GPU and also the one powering external screens.
    GPU switching in OSX is a bit of a mess because of the amount software developers have to account for each GPU and if they don't it just reverts to dGPU always until the application is shut down. Which obviously means that all apps that would normaly force the dGPU get messed up if you started them with iGP forced and then plug in the external. No idea why Apple only wires the dGPU to the external display. Especially for presentation duty it is a waste of power and harms battery life.

    You can get the quad core with integrated only. Iris Pro is also faster than the 13" onboard GPU for stuff like AutoCAD (if needed; no idea how big the stuff is you do in there).
  6. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    That would be because the integrated card is in no way shape or form connected to any of the video outputs of your computer.

    AutoCAD really isn't all that demanding unless you're working in very large files (30MB +), you wouldn't notice much if any difference between the 13 and 15 inch.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think for your stated needs a 13" MBP is too small and underpowered. There's a reason why the rMBP is switching to the dGPU in those apps, they're fairly demanding.

    I found the 13" model to small for photoshop due to the lack of screen real estate. The size/weight difference between the two is not all that much and I think you're giving up too much for a single pound

    the 13" model weighs in at 3.46 and the 15" is 4.46 lbs.

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