Resizing windows performance comparison: MBP 2012 vs MBP 2016

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by oldhomemovie, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. oldhomemovie, Jul 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017

    oldhomemovie macrumors newbie


    May 24, 2016
    I was given a shiny new MBP 2016 with Touchbar at work. It was immediately shelved, the main reason being: performance when resizing windows is so frustrating that I just could not get over it.

    In 2012 I bought an MBP, the latest one before Retina regeneration. I'm surprised to say that after all these years it is working perfectly fine and much more smoothly UI-wise than the MBP 2016 I got.

    I'm now trying to force myself to use the new MBP. This time I decided to share my pain and ask around if I am the only one seeing these issues.

    These are the MBPs I have:
    On each MBP I've recorded 3 short videos around 10 seconds each, with same scenario. All 6 videos are here:

    To showcase the problem in this post, here are two of those vids:
    • Resizing iTunes window on MBP 2012:
    • Resizing iTunes window on MBP 2016:
    It's easy to see how ridiculously smooth the 2012 here in comparison with the 2016. Yes, I understand it's more pixels to draw, as 2016 one is retina. I also understand some programs redraw their contents faster than other.

    After googling around it does not seem like everyone universally agrees there's an issue, with a few exceptions:
    This troubles me. Either the issue is intermittent and only affects me & some other very few MBPs / macOS installations (I doubt it, though), or everyone else just learned to live with these window resizing lags.

    I've also stumbled upon this topic, Is WindowServer smoother (now on Metal)?, but it contains no direct evidence that switching to newest macOS with Metal will fix resizing problems.

    So my questions are:
    • am I the only one seeing this? While I was using my work horse 2012 MBP for 5 years, I didn't keep track of issues people might have been having with Retina MBPs. Were the lags bad like that all this time, making them a new "normal"?
    • how can this windows resizing lags can be fixed?
    I'm still hopeful this could be fixed on existing macOS via some hidden configuration tuning.
  2. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    You shelved a new computer for this? Did you even need it?

    Honestly have no idea what the problem here is, the 2012 looks like it lags on responsive design flow, 2016 doesn't do anything.

    Really not sure how you're using a computer that you're constantly resizing windows like that anyway? Very odd.
  3. oldhomemovie thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 24, 2016
    @New_Mac_Smell believe it or now, I shelved it, yes. I didn't really need the new computer. We were all given new computers at work as a part of company "inventory refresh". I did not immediately gave it back because I had hopes for the situation to change (e.g. a software update would fix the issue).

    > the 2012 looks like it lags on responsive design flow

    I don't know... To me it looks like 2012 renders at 60fps, while 2016 is constantly at 30 or less.

    > Really not sure how you're using a computer that you're constantly resizing windows like that anyway? Very odd.

    I can't say I'm resizing windows all the time. It's just an essential little thing I do every now and then. I could not stand the accumulating frustration that lags were giving me.
  4. dof250 macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2014
    I see what you mean and I see this too... It all has to do with the Retina rendering. When I use the MacBook Air of my girlfriend I can see it is smoother on some operations then my 2017 MacBook Pro. It is ridiculous, but the Retina models need to push out 4x more pixels thats what creates the lag...
  5. caramelpolice macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    There's a few things in play here.

    The first is that the 15" Pro switches between dedicated and integrated Intel graphics to save power, and the integrated GPU on the current 15" is not really all that more powerful than the integrated GPU in the 2012 model while having to push 4x (or more than 4x, if you're using one of the higher scaling modes) the pixels. The dedicated GPU handles this stuff dramatically better.

    Metal will very likely help, because all WindowServer operations will be moved to a much higher performance API. Apple's OpenGL implementation is old and slow relative to, say, Windows's. Metal 2 for all window operations should be a huge boon to performance. I can't personally vouch for this, though, just speaking in hypotheticals - I hear the High Sierra beta is pretty buggy right now, so I haven't put it on my own systems.

    iTunes is also a special case because it uses a lot of custom UI, on account of being one of Apple's only cross-platform apps. It renders a lot of stuff with non-native UI frameworks and controls that don't perform as well as native Cocoa implementations and consequently the UI runs poorly compared to other apps.
  6. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    I believe this has to do in part with the retina screen.

    When connected to a 1080p display, if I click on a folder icon in the Dock, the drop-down list opens the moment I hear the audible click of the mouse when clicking as rapidly as I possibly can. If I move my Dock to the built-in retina display and repeat this process, the drop-down list opens a few milliseconds after hearing the audible click of the mouse. The delay is very minor, and you have to seriously focus on it to notice it, but it is there. It's not something that's ever bothered me or interfered with productivity, because it is so minor (and I mean minor.)

    In terms of the delay when resizing, all of my computers (Windows, Mac, retina, no retina) have some delay to them. It appears you are moving the window on the 2016 faster than with the 2012 - at least playing with my 2010 MBA, 2011 MBP, 2014 MBP, and 2016 MBP, all seem to be less smooth when the speed of the resizing is faster.

    Some Users who have noted issues with more noticeable lag have reported improvement by disabling automatic brightness. I've never experimented with this myself tho, because it is so minor. If this does bother you, High Sierra might be the silver bullet to your woes.
  7. iregret macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2012
    Check out Moom. Easily worth $10 to me. So good, it should be baked into macOS.
  8. Ries macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2007
    FunFact: The iGPU in the 2016 model is almost 50% slower than the one in the 2012 (441 vs 832 gflops/s) and it has 4x the pixel to push.
  9. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    Is that a fun fact?

    Doesn't seem much of a fact when looking at the data at least, can a 5 year old GPU beat a 1 year old GPU?

    Everywhere I am looking suggests the fun fact is that newer = better.

    I'm going to guess you got the 530 Gflops from here?
    Struggling to find anything on the Gflops of the 4000 but this is close enough

    So based on all that...

    HD530 is 883 G/flops theoretical max performance.
    HD4000 is 333 G/flops theoretical max performance.

    So no, the 2016 iGPU is over 200% faster than the 2012 model, and based on all the other architectural changes to the chip design, it makes it a significantly better iGPU. FunFact!
  10. iregret macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2012
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    It is a surprise to me that people buy laptops primarily to resize windows. I wonder how well that job pays. Jokes aside, yes, the retina desktop will — under certain conditions — require more processing power. Especially when we talk about apps like iTunes which perform continuous layouting in real time when the window is resized. Whether its the GPU or the CPU that takes bigger hit here, I am not sure. But sometimes just a 10-20% increase in processing demand can visibly disrupt animation smoothness. You should check how things with High Sierra are — it includes a rewritten window manager from what I understand and could fix some of the problems you are talking about.

    At any rate, animation smoothness here or there, the new machines are significantly faster than the old ones and if all you care about is window resize animation, then probably you don't need a fast computer to begin with.

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