rMBP 15" 2015: not disappointed but surprised...

Saru-san

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 30, 2016
1
0
Japan
Finally upgraded my ageing MacBook Air mid-2011 to a brand new rMBP 2015 15", the higher-end 2.5ghz model with AMD discrete graphics (gave up on waiting for the 2016 rMBP refresh/redesign and have always been a bit circumspect about buying first-generation new models anyway).

Totally satisfied with my choice but a couple of things I've run into after using the machine for a month have surprised me:

I was under the impression that, with automatic graphics switching selected in system prefs, only graphically demanding applications such as Photoshop and Final Cut would cause the AMD to kick in. However, and this happens only occasionally rather than consistently, Safari will cause the AMD GPU to activate (a look at 'Energy' in Activity Monitor confirms this). I've also seen Reeder activate the AMD on one occasion. This is a little bit of a pain when running on battery power and I can't think why this might be... anyone have any ideas? Flash isn't installed on the rMBP incidentally.

And then something that presents no problem at all yet did surprise me: given that I have the highest spec'ed MBP currently available (with the exception of BT0 upgrading the CPU slightly to 2.8ghz) I was very surprised to see Illustrator (CS6) beachballing for a couple of seconds when saving an AI file of rather moderate size (80mb). I had one or two other apps open at this point but nothing demanding; just Safari and Mail iirc. Is this to be expected despite having a highly-spec'ed machine (no carping about my new purchase containing outdated hardware please!)

Any thoughts appreciated, cheers.

Saru-san

EDIT: it appears that Safari is causing the AMD GPU to kick in when I have a tab open showing Google Maps; the minute I close that tab the rMBP switches back to internal graphics. That doesn't explain what caused Reeder to use AMD though since I've never once accessed Google Maps via Reeder.

I'd hoped that by choosing Safari over Chrome I would avoid the memory and energy over-hungriness that Google's apps/services seem to be infamous for! Unfortunately though I need Google Maps in my workflow since my work requires me to look up the longitude/latitude of locations; this functionality isn't offered by Apple's Maps application AFAIK.
 
Last edited:

Aomin3

macrumors member
May 30, 2016
58
83
Hi Saru-san, I'm glad to hear you enjoy your purchase. The rMbp 15 is an amazing machine and I'm sure you will enjoy using it for a long time.
You asked about beachballing in Illustrator, I was wondering the same thing while using Adobe CC apps on my rMbp 13" (early 2015). Would love to hear opinions from other members,do you experience some sort of lag/beachballing while using Adobe software?
 

grahamperrin

macrumors 601
Jun 8, 2007
4,942
642
Illustrator (CS6) beachballing for a couple of seconds when saving an AI file of rather moderate size (80mb)
https://diigo.com/0xcp0 for highlights from Brendan's blog » Top 10 DTrace scripts for Mac OS X – iosnoop will show disk activity. Viewing HFS Plus file system activity is less easy, but is covered in the article.

To focus instead on an application, use dtruss to launch the app and then observe Terminal output whilst the app performs an operation.

dtruss(1m) Mac OS X Manual Page
 

Donka

macrumors 68030
May 3, 2011
2,779
1,399
Scotland
Check out gfxCardStatus. That handy little app will let you switch between iGPU and dGPU.
This, you can force the integrated graphics only to be used so save battery power. The reason the likes of Safari will use the discrete graphics card is due to it being enabled for hardware acceleration. This may affect Reeder too depending on which web viewer it uses. Do you see the same behaviour under Chrome?
 

Hieveryone

macrumors 601
Apr 11, 2014
4,933
1,845
USA
Finally upgraded my ageing MacBook Air mid-2011 to a brand new rMBP 2015 15", the higher-end 2.5ghz model with AMD discrete graphics (gave up on waiting for the 2016 rMBP refresh/redesign and have always been a bit circumspect about buying first-generation new models anyway).

Totally satisfied with my choice but a couple of things I've run into after using the machine for a month have surprised me:

I was under the impression that, with automatic graphics switching selected in system prefs, only graphically demanding applications such as Photoshop and Final Cut would cause the AMD to kick in. However, and this happens only occasionally rather than consistently, Safari will cause the AMD GPU to activate (a look at 'Energy' in Activity Monitor confirms this). I've also seen Reeder activate the AMD on one occasion. This is a little bit of a pain when running on battery power and I can't think why this might be... anyone have any ideas? Flash isn't installed on the rMBP incidentally.

And then something that presents no problem at all yet did surprise me: given that I have the highest spec'ed MBP currently available (with the exception of BT0 upgrading the CPU slightly to 2.8ghz) I was very surprised to see Illustrator (CS6) beachballing for a couple of seconds when saving an AI file of rather moderate size (80mb). I had one or two other apps open at this point but nothing demanding; just Safari and Mail iirc. Is this to be expected despite having a highly-spec'ed machine (no carping about my new purchase containing outdated hardware please!)

Any thoughts appreciated, cheers.

Saru-san

EDIT: it appears that Safari is causing the AMD GPU to kick in when I have a tab open showing Google Maps; the minute I close that tab the rMBP switches back to internal graphics. That doesn't explain what caused Reeder to use AMD though since I've never once accessed Google Maps via Reeder.

I'd hoped that by choosing Safari over Chrome I would avoid the memory and energy over-hungriness that Google's apps/services seem to be infamous for! Unfortunately though I need Google Maps in my workflow since my work requires me to look up the longitude/latitude of locations; this functionality isn't offered by Apple's Maps application AFAIK.
Saru-San, I understand your concern.

I would recommend not checking these things. Apple has a way of doing whatever it has to do to get the job done, and it usually gets the job done well.

The beach ball things happens to most of us from time to time, it could be just software and not because your machine isn't capable.

Cheers from America my Japanese friend.
 

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