Retina scaling for games? How does it look?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by sofakng, May 13, 2014.

  1. sofakng macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    #1
    I was able to test a Retina MacBook Pro for a couple of days but I didn't have enough time to really test everything. However, when I tried several games it seemed like the scaling didn't work that great and the UI elements were tiny and changing the resolution didn't always fix it.

    For example, Source engine games (Half-Life) always displayed tiny UI elements and if I decreased the resolution then it was extremely fuzzy/blurry. Lots of other games had this same problem.

    Am I better off with a Macbook Air using native resolution for light gaming?

    I'm really torn between the two machines because Retina with text look AMAZING, but graphics/gaming suffer quite a bit with older applications and non-retina applications and games.
     
  2. Himynamesnoah macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    #2
    If you're going to decrease the resolution, change it to exactly have of the native resolution. For example, you would change the resolution on the 15" to 1440x900. Then the 13" would be 1280x800.
    I play CounterStrike: GO on my 13" Retina Macbook and it looks fine at half native resolution.
     
  3. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #3
    Well, the way it works is that the OS presents the game the logical display resolution (e.g. if you are in best for retina on the 15", the game will see the display as 1440x900) and will then pixel-double the final graphical output so that it matches the physical screen (in other resolution modes also some additional rescaling is applied). Essentially (and as Himynamesnoah mentions above), the games will look almost the same as they would look on a display of the corresponding native resolution (in our example, 1440x900). The UI will look more blurry to you because it is a sharp contrast to the much more clear OS X UI on the retina screen. However, in some games all the applied scaling might result in overly blurry result, as the game might apply some sort of pixel-correct rendering, which is no longer appropriate under these circumstances. The best thing would be to compare the game side-to-side with an appropriate (non-retina) laptop.

    Now, it would be actually quite easy to code the game in a way that it treats the retina display correctly — i.e. rendering the actually game at lower resolution (for performance reasons), but rendering the text/UI at native retina resolution. So far, I am not aware of any game that would do that. Plenty of games are advertised as 'compatible with retina display', which is simply a lie if they are unable to use the retina display properly. That said, there majority of games are completely abusing the OS X graphical subsystem and using APIs which have been obsoleted half a decade ago.
     
  4. tredstone macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    #4
    Is there a performance penalty to this process? I get similar framerates on Left4Dead on my 13" MBA as I do with my 13" rMBP at the same resolution, and presumably the Intel Iris 5100 should be chugging along better than the the HD 4000....
     
  5. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #5
    Sure, there is a performance penalty, and how noticeable it is will depend on the game and it's needs. I also guess it depends on whether the game is already bandwidth-limited (and games played at an IGP often are). In principle, rescaling can be done while the game already started to render the next frame, so measuring the real performance impact is difficult. That said, I have no idea how Apple does all this things on practice and what kind of optimisations they use.
     
  6. VanillaCracker macrumors 68030

    VanillaCracker

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    Washington D.C.
    #6
    Lol that blows.

    Is that native resolution (on the 13" rMBP), or half-native? (2560-by-1600, or 1280-by-800)
     
  7. tredstone macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    #7
    1280x800 on both.
     
  8. VanillaCracker macrumors 68030

    VanillaCracker

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    Washington D.C.
    #8
    Then I don't see how it could possibly have the same FPS while it is running at exactly the same settings??? The Iris 5100 is much more powerful then Intel 4000?
     

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