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Retina MacBook Pro Pushes the Limits of its Graphics Capabilities

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Just after the launch of the Retina MacBook Pro earlier this month, AnandTech provided a first glimpse of the machine's display performance, noting the various resolution options available to users and examining how its color and contrast compares to other notebooks.

After having more time to analyze the new machine, AnandTech last week published its full review of the Retina MacBook Pro, bringing its thorough and technically-detailed perspective to the report. While the whole review is definitely worth a read, the section on graphics performance bears special attention.

With the integrated Intel HD 4000 and discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics units responsible for driving 2880x1800 pixels in standard Retina mode and as many as 3840x2400 pixels before downscaling to display 1920x1200 at its highest non-Retina resolution, Apple is clearly pushing the limits of the machine's graphics capabilities.
At the default setting, either Intel's HD 4000 or NVIDIA's GeForce GT 650M already have to render and display far more pixels than either GPU was ever intended to. At the 1680 and 1920 settings however the GPUs are doing more work than even their high-end desktop counterparts are used to.
AnandTech goes on to assess this graphics performance, noting that the Retina MacBook Pro at times struggles to maintain a "consistently smooth experience".
At 2880 x 1800 most interactions are smooth but things like zooming windows or scrolling on certain web pages is clearly sub-30fps. At the higher scaled resolutions, since the GPU has to render as much as 9.2MP, even UI performance can be sluggish. There's simply nothing that can be done at this point - Apple is pushing the limits of the hardware we have available today, far beyond what any other OEM has done.
Focusing on browser scrolling behavior, which also involves substantial CPU load, AnandTech notes that the resource-intensive Facebook news feed pages can display at over 50 frames per second on a 2011 MacBook Pro, but that the new Retina MacBook Pro struggles to hit 20 frames per second as it pushes so many more pixels.




Retina MacBook Pro at 21 frames per second while scrolling (See meter at top left)
The report notes that OS X Mountain Lion will help address some of these issues by leveraging Core Animation, but in AnandTech's testing it was still only able to achieve 20-30 frames per second under Mountain Lion. Further improvements in performance will have to wait for hardware capabilities to catch up with demands imposed by these new ultra-high resolution displays.

Article Link: Retina MacBook Pro Pushes the Limits of its Graphics Capabilities
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,097
303
Indianapolis
On the desktop front you are looking at a GTX 670/680 for this kind of power in 3D. I know this is on the 2D/desktop rendering side but going from 1356 shaders down to 384 and at lower clocks is going have a large impact.

1440 x 900 or 900p is going to be the native turf for a GT 640/650M
 
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Andy-V

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2007
401
399
This is why I feel like waiting for the 2nd revision really is a good idea.
 
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wickerman1893

macrumors 6502
Dec 16, 2008
468
0
I hope in a couple years every tablet/phone/computer maker puts these high res screens on them. After using the iPad 3 and rMBP it's impossible to go back to something not retina.
 
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derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
4,092
30
Pretty much what I thought would happen. Ouch! Apple needs to nitrous cool a GTX680m or something. Can't have both extra super thin and extra super fast. I'm sticking with the phatty 0.9" Ivy Pro.

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I'm really curious to see when external GPUS via thunderbolt will become available.

Why? They wont help.
 
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tomtom2234

macrumors member
Oct 16, 2010
80
0
New Orleans
Hmm... This is a little bit frustrating. I NEED a laptop for college this year (current is a 08 MBP on its last legs). I'm most likely going for the MBPR simply because it's barely cheaper to get the MBP with the specs I want. Frustrating knowing Apple decided to ship with hardware that isn't ready./sigh.
 
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GREEN4U

macrumors 6502a
Mar 24, 2010
673
384
Hmm... This is a little bit frustrating. I NEED a laptop for college this year (current is a 08 MBP on its last legs). I'm most likely going for the MBPR simply because it's barely cheaper to get the MBP with the specs I want. Frustrating knowing Apple decided to ship with hardware that isn't ready./sigh.

Get the Air.
 
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hobo.hopkins

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2008
568
0
At least they're pushing the envelope, although doing so at the expense of user experience isn't very Apple-like. Fortunately it seems as though it isn't that large an issue for most users.
 
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DustinT

macrumors 68000
Feb 26, 2011
1,556
0
I'm just trying to figure out why MR is posting a week old review from Anandtech. This isn't news... or rumors...
 
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Konrad9

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2012
567
44
Maybe this will shut up the people clamoring for retina on the new iMac.

Why? A larger device will be able to suck up more power, have a more powerful CPU, GPU, and RAM. It will also be able to more efficiently cool everything.
 
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Peace

Cancelled
Apr 1, 2005
19,546
4,553
Space The Only Frontier
"Whereas I would consider the rMBP experience under Lion to be borderline unacceptable, everything is significantly better under Mountain Lion. Don’t expect buttery smoothness across the board, you’re still asking a lot of the CPU and GPU, but it’s a lot better."

ML is very important when it comes to this.
 
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musicpenguy

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2006
1,674
610
Hmm... This is a little bit frustrating. I NEED a laptop for college this year (current is a 08 MBP on its last legs). I'm most likely going for the MBPR simply because it's barely cheaper to get the MBP with the specs I want. Frustrating knowing Apple decided to ship with hardware that isn't ready./sigh.

I wouldn't worry about it too much - actual users aren't complaining just people that are trying to get all analytical about it - none of the reviews I recall mention a bad experience due to lag - reviews mention Diablo 3 runs at native resolution lag free - many have mentioned you can run 2 thunderbolt displays without any noticeable lag - this is not a problem :)
 
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Mundty

macrumors member
May 7, 2012
96
0
Give the new Mac Pro a 27" Thunderbolt Retina Display, and a killer graphics card to power it. I'll buy that in a heart beat.
 
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wiz329

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2010
509
96
Pretty much what I thought would happen. Ouch! Apple needs to nitrous cool a GTX680m or something. Can't have both extra super thin and extra super fast. I'm sticking with the phatty 0.9" Ivy Pro.

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Why? They wont help.


Why not?
 
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Fynd

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2010
436
253
There's no reason to believe this couldn't be sorted out through software.
 
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Patriot24

macrumors 68030
Dec 29, 2010
2,811
794
California
"Whereas I would consider the rMBP experience under Lion to be borderline unacceptable, everything is significantly better under Mountain Lion. Don’t expect buttery smoothness across the board, you’re still asking a lot of the CPU and GPU, but it’s a lot better."

ML is very important when it comes to this.

My thoughts from another thread on this very issue

I tested a rMBP today in the store for the first time. Having read nothing at all about these issues, I noticed the unit having a hard time keeping up with many animations (swiping between spaces seemed to be the worst).

Minor issue due to fixes present in Mountain Lion? Perhaps to us folks that are in the know. To a general consumer, they could see this and think, "gee, for $2200 you'd think it would be smoother than my POS Dell at home."

I don't get why Apple didn't just hold onto the rMBP until ML is ready if it is that big of a difference. It would've been easy to say, "Available July 20th" (or whatever the date is for ML) and move on. Instead they sacrificed user experience to meet an artificial demand that they manufactured. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...

-https://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=15117606#post15117606
 
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