rMBP impressions: 2015 vs. 2012

leman

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
10,660
5,179
So, I got my 2015 this morning (2.5Ghz i7, M370X) and could spend some time setting it up and doing some benchmarks. Specifically, I could compare it side to side to my first-gen 2012 rMBP (2.3Ghz i7, 16GB, 256GB SSD, 650M). There might be some people who also own the 2012 model and are considering to upgrade, and I hope that this mini-review could help them.

First of all, it should be clear that the 2015 15" refresh is, in many regards, a compromise. It still uses the same CPUs as the 2014 model (due to lack of new CPU releases) and besides that, Apple has decided to use a GPU which is not a leader in performance/watt category. So a popular opinion on the forum is to skip this model and wait until Skylake-based rMBP will be available.

My opinion on this, after getting my 2015: if you have a Haswell-based Mac, don't bother; if you have the 2012 rMBP, the 2015 one is a very nice upgrade.

Point by point:

  • First thing I noticed: the screen. Its just so much better. Blacks are darker and contrast is amazing.
  • CPU performance: I have measured around 25-30% speed increases in impressionistic benchmarks using realistic statistical workflows (Monte-Carlo methods) in R. This is a huge thing for me personally, because that is what I do on a day-to-day basis.
  • SSD: you have all seen the benchmarks, so I am not going to repeat them. This thing is scary. It is 4-5x faster then my 2012 model and that is definitely noticeable in normal operation (opening apps and files, reading in datasets)
  • OpenCL compute: in Luxmark, the M370X scores 3406 vs. 941 (650M). This is a 360% increase. Iris Pro actually benchmarks faster, but the result is incorrect, so I am not including the results (there is probably a driver bug). Anyway, if you are doing video/image editing, and your application uses OpenCL, there are very good chances that M370X will fly for you.
  • GPU performance under OS X: I have measured a 30% improvement in the Unigine Valley benchmark (1680x1050, Ultra settings) and 20% improvement in Unigine Heaven benchmark (1680x1050, Ultra settings, tessellation off). With tessellation on, the difference is very small, which is most likely a driver issue. Subjectively, the benchmarks ran much more fluently on the M370X. For people who play games occasionally this is a nice upgrade, even though not an earth-shattering one. I will also report some Windows benchmarks for the M370X once I get bootcamp up and running.
  • (by popular demand) UI performance under OS X. From what I have seen, Iris Pro does an outstanding job. The interface appears more fluid than on my 2012 model (which is already quite fluid); I couldn't see any difference in UI performance comparing to a D700 MacPro with a full HD display (again, side by side). The most striking difference is Mission Control: it is clearly more smooth with the 2015 model. Of course, resizing App Store still lags as hell, but that is the issue with the application itself, not OS X.
  • Windows gaming: so far, the only game I tried, due to lack of time and also some unexpected personal matters, is GTA V. It runs great at 1680x1050, with FXAA. The in-game FPS (impressionistic figure, based on the in-game Steam FPS counter) is around 40-50 for most scenes. Sometimes it drops to around 30. The gameplay is very smooth and the game looks stunning. A hardcore gamer would maybe complain about some jagged lines in the distance, but it doesn't bother me.

If you have some request for benchmarks and they do not involve buying games that I do not own, leave them here :) I will try to do my best. I will also try to find more about the GPU once I am in Windows. Interesting fact: the latest 10.4 beta reports that GPU as Venus XT prototype OpenCL engine, which again shows clearly we deal with an 8870M rebrand here.
 
Last edited:

pendragon1984

macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2013
368
103
I want to know why we didn't get this AMD GPU to begin with. It's been available forever. I thought we got the 650/750m because they were the best for the macbook pro's power and cooling requirements. Confusing!
 

leman

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
10,660
5,179
I want to know why we didn't get this AMD GPU to begin with. It's been available forever. I thought we got the 650/750m because they were the best for the macbook pro's power and cooling requirements. Confusing!
It was released half a year after the rMBP first became available, so, no, it hasn't been available forever. One could ask of course why Apple did not use it in 2013 refresh, but I guess that changing the GPU supplier every year is not very economical. They usually have a deal with GPU vendors for 2-3 years, after which they switch to another one.
 

magbarn

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2008
2,279
1,385
It was released half a year after the rMBP first became available, so, no, it hasn't been available forever. One could ask of course why Apple did not use it in 2013 refresh, but I guess that changing the GPU supplier every year is not very economical. They usually have a deal with GPU vendors for 2-3 years, after which they switch to another one.
Considering the 750m is a drop in replacement of a re-badged 650m, it seems instead of the 'best', Apple now goes for the 'cheapest' solution. Thanks for the update and testing. Instead of upgrading this year, I ended up using my upgrade money on a Sachtler to replace my cheap Chinese tripod....
 

vladzaharia

macrumors regular
Jul 5, 2010
213
29
Considering the 750m is a drop in replacement of a re-badged 650m, it seems instead of the 'best', Apple now goes for the 'cheapest' solution. Thanks for the update and testing. Instead of upgrading this year, I ended up using my upgrade money on a Sachtler to replace my cheap Chinese tripod....
Of course they go with the cheapest, they always have. They're a corporation after all, it's in the best interest to get the biggest return for the most value. If they could get people to buy it and spend less making it, they'll do it. And people will see a higher number and assume it's a lot better, so that was a good solution business-wise.
 

dagamer34

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2007
1,359
101
Houston, TX
It was released half a year after the rMBP first became available, so, no, it hasn't been available forever. One could ask of course why Apple did not use it in 2013 refresh, but I guess that changing the GPU supplier every year is not very economical. They usually have a deal with GPU vendors for 2-3 years, after which they switch to another one.
Selective binning is also a thing, where you pick the best performing chips to use in a product that use the least power. Usually only an option when a manufacturing process is pretty mature (no idea if that's happening here or not, but it's not something that could have been done earlier in the 28nm process lifecycle).

But ultimately, if you want a real leap in GPU performance, going to have to wait for 14nm FinFET GPUs next year, hopefully with HBM.
 

Kulfon

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2013
522
480
I am thinking about getting this one. I currently use the 3-4 year old Samsung Chronos 7 laptop and I am completely into photo editing. I am also thinking this or the Skylake, so not sure what to do
 

TechGod

macrumors 68040
Feb 25, 2014
3,177
914
New Zealand
I am thinking about getting this one. I currently use the 3-4 year old Samsung Chronos 7 laptop and I am completely into photo editing. I am also thinking this or the Skylake, so not sure what to do
If you can wait, definitely wait for skylake.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
10,660
5,179
I am thinking about getting this one. I currently use the 3-4 year old Samsung Chronos 7 laptop and I am completely into photo editing. I am also thinking this or the Skylake, so not sure what to do
If you can wait, definitely wait for skylake.
Its how TechGod says, if you can wait, then wait. But this is always true in the world of computers :) If you are working with photos professionally, then I'd say go for it, because you will get more productivity out of the machine now than if waiting for a year or so for a new one.
 

TechGod

macrumors 68040
Feb 25, 2014
3,177
914
New Zealand
Its how TechGod says, if you can wait, then wait. But this is always true in the world of computers :) If you are working with photos professionally, then I'd say go for it, because you will get more productivity out of the machine now than if waiting for a year or so for a new one.
The reason for my reply is that the Skylake architecture is a huge jump. DDR4 and wireless charging to name a few. These are two major changes.
 

mgmusicman94

macrumors 6502a
Nov 16, 2008
866
238
OP, I made the same upgrade as you (from the same 2012 model to the same 2015 model) and I'm very happy with it as well. Definitely notice the better colors on the screen and the faster SSD. I haven't been able to push it to its limits in terms of graphics yet but I will soon.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
10,660
5,179
Update: added some impressionistic GTA V experience to the original post.
 

johannnn

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2009
1,575
1,070
Sweden
The reason for my reply is that the Skylake architecture is a huge jump. DDR4 and wireless charging to name a few. These are two major changes.
I'd be shocked if the 2016 rMBP 15" supported wireless charging. Maybe the 12" MB, but not a beefy computer like this.
 

zerophreak

macrumors newbie
May 30, 2015
21
0
How did you get Windows working on your Mac? I installed everything but my Bootcamp drivers didn't make Windows detect the M370X... Or do you play GTA V on a Virtual Machine?
 

leman

macrumors G4
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
10,660
5,179
How did you get Windows working on your Mac? I installed everything but my Bootcamp drivers didn't make Windows detect the M370X... Or do you play GTA V on a Virtual Machine?
Bootcamp drivers worked for me without a hitch. It just auto installed during windows installation process. I used an official iso of 8.1 pro x64 and Bootcamp Assistant to prepare an install USB stick. It also downloaded the drivers. Everything just worked from there.

However, there are many people reporting issues with the same thing. I can't really help you here, because I didn't encounter any issues. But maybe you can look around in the other threads, someone must have posted a solution.
 

fat jez

macrumors 68000
Jun 24, 2010
1,660
208
Glasgow, UK
The reason for my reply is that the Skylake architecture is a huge jump. DDR4 and wireless charging to name a few. These are two major changes.
I think DDR4 is only going to be available in the desktop or quad core laptop versions of Skylark. So I wouldn't bet on Apple using DDR4 in any machine when DDR3 is readily available and can be bought in bulk. They'd only be able to use DDR4 in the 15" MBPs, so I can't see them doing that when every other laptop will be using DDR3 still.
 

TechGod

macrumors 68040
Feb 25, 2014
3,177
914
New Zealand
I think DDR4 is only going to be available in the desktop or quad core laptop versions of Skylark. So I wouldn't bet on Apple using DDR4 in any machine when DDR3 is readily available and can be bought in bulk. They'd only be able to use DDR4 in the 15" MBPs, so I can't see them doing that when every other laptop will be using DDR3 still.
Really? I'm certain all SKU's of Skylake support DDR4. Do you have a link to your source?
 

jffluis

macrumors regular
Aug 28, 2012
145
25
I have an rMBP 2012 1st gen that is in my signature and for my job (Programming), I think I will not see any worth improvements. I think that spending again 3000 € for just a bump in SSD and graphics it is not worth. I'll just wait for the next refresh.
 

Kulfon

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2013
522
480
The reason for my reply is that the Skylake architecture is a huge jump. DDR4 and wireless charging to name a few. These are two major changes.
My problem is how long to wait? I can barely edit my photos now and the colors are off on my screen. I actually waited for 6 months or so for a new MBP 15 and now need to wait maybe another year. I do not know, I think I will simply get this one now and see to upgrade 2-3 years from now.
 

TechGod

macrumors 68040
Feb 25, 2014
3,177
914
New Zealand
My problem is how long to wait? I can barely edit my photos now and the colors are off on my screen. I actually waited for 6 months or so for a new MBP 15 and now need to wait maybe another year. I do not know, I think I will simply get this one now and see to upgrade 2-3 years from now.
Go for it. You seem to need it now. Just go for the newly updated models.
 
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