Purchase advice for 15 inch retina, graphics or no graphics

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jkim13, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. jkim13, Jan 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014

    jkim13 macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    I'm currently debating between the 2 15-inch retina models, the base model with a few upgrades that prices it at the same price as the high end model with the dedicated graphics card. I don't do anything very graphic intensive so I know I don't need the dedicated graphics card, but it's the same price so it is nice to have for the extra boost when available. However, I'm hearing all these stories about application issues when the graphic cards switch back and forth (even with gfxcardstatus) and I don't want to be troubled with issues that forces me to restart applications.

    So from what I read, here are the potential problem areas I can run into with the graphics card and please tell me if I'm wrong or if the issues have been resolved. Most of the things I could find on this topic are like 4+ months old so it may have been resolved with updates.

    • I use 2 external monitors and a docking station (Caldigit) at work, but constantly connecting and disconnecting every hour or so to take my laptop to and from meetings. I've read the external monitors forces the dedicated to run? If so, will the applications be able to handle the switching back and forth without restarting? Last thing I want is go into a meeting and not have my computer working right.
    • I use Parallels 9 to keep Windows running 100% of the time, but only to run Excel. May run into issues with the constant disconnecting of the external monitor.
    • I fly about 8 times a month and battery life is crucial for me, so I don't want an application overriding gfxcardstatus and turning on the dedicated. Also concerned that it may crash an application, losing some of my work and wasting time with troubleshooting.

    Are there any other potential problems or am I reading too much into these threads? Thanks
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    1. Using an external display will force the discrete GT750M to be used. It's the way it's physically wired on the logic board.
    2. Not sure about this.
    3. GFXcardstatus is a little quirky. Upon startup, you have to select Integrated once. This will remain at Dynamic. Then, select Integrated once more. This will force the entire setup into Integrated only and an app will not override it. If you connect an external display to it, then the external display will remain black.

    However, if you match the processor, RAM and SSD capacity of the base rMBP to the high-end rMBP (i.e. both having 2.3/2.6, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD), you will find that they are both priced identically. So the GT750M is a free add-on.
  3. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Applications that would not force the dGPU if there was no external are fine with switching back an forth but all those that require gfxCardStatus to force the Intel GPU because they would force the dGPU otherwise will cause you problems.
    I don't know if the newer VM programs support graphics switching but I guess not. With my old Fusion VM I am basically stuck on the GPU that I booted the app with. It sill works to switch to the dGPU but does often lag, the other way (dGPU to Intel) gfxCardStatus won't let you anyway without quitting the VM.
    I never had any App overriding gfxCardStatus. If it is set to force Intel, that is what it does. I doubt Apps can override that. It would be a bug.
    I had VLC crash on me repeatedly. Kernel panics that sometimes show up after an hour of watching video files. Very random and sometimes not for a long time (seems to be some very odd memory coding error). Ever only happened (3 times in total) to me on Iris and never the dGPU.
    VLC does not force the dGPU so even with out gfxCardStatus it would run Iris unless some other program forces the dGPU. Not really a GPU switching bug, just a bug that seems to only affect Intel.

    Graphics switching never crashed anything for me. App with problems as explained above just perform horribly or show odd graphical errors. They don't just crash or quit. Usually you can still hit save and quit it then.

    For that use of often disconnecting from your desk, Iris is better suited. But on the dGPU it would still last for a while. Battery life is worse but it is still good enough for a couple of hours. If you recharge frequently, all you do is rack up a couple extra battery cycles but it would still work out.
    Problematic are only those apps that you need to force to use Intel on the go the rest are fine.
  4. jkim13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013

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