Retina MBP UI performance - with video


macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 1, 2012
I stopped by the Apple Store near my office and managed to get a short video... just to see with my own eyes. :D

Initial impressions - the screen looks damn good, but if you own an iPad3, it's nothing you haven't seen before-- just larger. Retina really raises the bar for how a screen should look!

Now, I played around with the scaling a bit, and each of the scaled modes looked equally as good, no visual degradation at normal viewing distance. I could tell the GPU was struggling a bit around screen transitions. So I reset it to "optimum for retina" mode and did some tests... mainly just toggling between full-screen and windowed mode with iPhoto, and Expose a couple of times.

So, uh.... yeah.

This is (presumably) with the HD4000 chip driving it, I'm sure the nVidia would've done much better, but my initial impressions are that the new screen technology is a couple steps ahead of the latest Intel GPU's. Not good news for people like me waiting for a 13" retina machine which might not have a discrete graphics chip.


macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2010
That looks pretty crappy. Definitely makes me think twice about it, until they get it fixed.


macrumors regular
May 22, 2010
maaan, this video hold me on buying retina MBP. Apple please fix this thing! I don't want a $2199 Mac perform like this :(


macrumors member
May 1, 2008
So, to avoid UI lag, you need to be using the discrete GPU at all times? That's gonna kill battery life and increase heat. Looks like the RMBP is a dud.

88 King

macrumors 6502
Jun 18, 2011
London, UK
This is what I'm afraid of, having to use the discrete graphic card for normal laptop use will kill battery life. Together with the screen can only display 1900X1200 work area makes me reconsider my order.

I'm thinking just get a high resolution 15 mbp, since I already have a 2.5" ssd, I can move the hd into optical bay and add 8GB ram for £40.

Going to wait till this weekend to play with the new mbp in store before making a decision.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 5, 2012
Starting to look good that I didn't give Apple my credit card on impulse. Waiting for anandtech's full review to see if this thing is going to be plagued with issues.

Screen lag and proper scaling performance are what it's coming down to for me.


macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2008
Wow, really? That's bad :\

You're saying this test is made in the "Best for Retina" mode? Or is it in simulated 1680x1050 mode?

You really should have tried repeating this test with the discrete GPU enabled (I think you just go to Energy Saver panel to do so)


macrumors newbie
Feb 10, 2011
I wonder if this will be a non-issue when Mountain Lion comes out next month. I'll be throwing Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 on my Retina MBP when it comes next week.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2007
my initial impressions are that the new screen technology is a couple steps ahead of the latest Intel GPU's
Yup. I'm so pumped about retina, but the resolution this thing is operating at is going to bring graphics based apps to its knees. Just the nature of the beast. Throw in the added overhead of all the scaling and I'm skeptical. I really want one of these, no question, but this is the first Apple product where I feel like the term "early adopter" means more than just being the first to buy into new hardware. It's a change in computing for a lot of reasons.


macrumors 68030
May 13, 2010
Either Intel or Apple fix this thing or I am not interested. I have no interest in being first gen customer.

Waiting for Haswell...


macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2008
That is interesting.

I didn't notice any such lag on the machine I played with today. Of course, I kept the display settings on the default retina setting.

It seems like the scaling is what really screws things up.


macrumors member
Aug 16, 2007
Well I don't even use Mission control... don't really care :), if I can get more code on the screen and the fonts render better is a win/win for me.


macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2008
Definitely would like to know if this is just a 1400x900 "best for retina" mode. It looks like it is based on UI element sizes though.

Also, it could mean that after switching the size slider back and forth Lion bugs out and you lose the smooth performance that was there before? would explain why some people didn't notice it. I don't know if Lion forces Discrete GPU rendering for things like these transitions, and maybe the bug is that it fails to do so after switching screen resolutions.


macrumors 68020
Sep 30, 2003
The scaling preferences say you may experience reduced performance, and it looks like it's true. But, one would imagine this will be tweaked in 10.7.5. or Mountain Lion


macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2008
The scaling preferences say you may experience reduced performance, and it looks like it's true. But, one would imagine this will be tweaked in 10.7.5. or Mountain Lion
Yeah, but his video doesn't look like scaled mode. He even said that he switched it back to "Best for Retina", unscaled mode when making this video.

Dammit Cubs

macrumors 68000
Jul 31, 2007
This is pretty interesting considering that Engadget (The review is out) has not mentioned this issue.


macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2011
This is one of the problem that hold me back and skeptic about the Retina Display.

The raw performance will be heavily degraded...
There is no way around that unless you ran at 1440*900 without scaling
I have already seen this with my New iPad, which some app ran on native resolution starting to lag badly.

Glad I hold myself back on Retina, going to grab the legacy instead.


macrumors 68020
Jun 7, 2008
Also want to confirm that they aren't all like that.

The model I played around with today was silky smooth and I was opening up multiple apps, messing with Aperture and at one point loaded up a 1080p video to see if there was any lag (there wasn't).

Whether or not the discrete graphics were being used or not I'm not sure. But it seems unlikely that Apple would overlook such a huge flaw in their new flagship notebook :confused:


macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2005
I was just in an Apple store today and noticed the same type of thing when scrolling in a web site that had a lot of images. It seemed jerky and jumpy. Almost like it would stop scrolling until it could render the entire image, then caught up with where it should have been.

Just to check myself, I went over to a regular MBP and didn't notice this same behavior, so it's definitely something with retina.

Unfortunately, I also tried switching to the discrete graphics and noticed no difference.

I think I'll be holding off...


macrumors 6502
Nov 22, 2010
were these display models running the latest software fix? were they rebooted prior to the test? a lot of factors can cause jumpy UI. do you guys really think apple would ship a product that didn't have a smooth interface?
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