Video game performance on MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by therealseebs, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #1
    Back in 2010, I was curious about video game performance on the MBP. I got two categories of answers:

    1. You are a bad person for wanting to play video games. Macs are for sleek professionals who don't care about games. Stop liking Apple.
    2. The nVidia 330M is an incredible chip and will perform great.

    So I thought, heck, I get a lot of use out of my Mac either way, might as well, and got a MBP 17".

    The gaming performance was atrocious. Without third-party apps to increase fan speed, the machine overheated and crashed badly running WoW. With the third-party fan speed increase, it performed about as well as a two-year-old machine had under Linux, which is to say, poorly.

    Well, long story short, I do not learn from my mistakes. My spouse wants a laptop. We'd prefer a Mac. We'd also like to be able to run games on it (specifically RIFT). By preference, we'd be using Crossover Games rather than Bootcamp, because I don't want to spend an extra $100 on a Windows license and have to deal with viruses and malware. Obviously, it would be suicidally stupid to try to get this to work on the Intel HD Graphics. Questions:

    1. How much difference is there between the 6750 and 6770?
    2. Can the machine actually run both CPU and GPU without overheating?
    3. No, really. The goal here is not to prove the ultimate superiority of Apple.

    Basically, if it's not going to be remotely practical, we can save a lot of money by not getting the extra video hardware. It doesn't have to be able to run the game at ultra settings at 60fps or anything; I'm just looking for, say, the ability to run with the regular renderer and play decently.

    I am aware that games "run better under bootcamp". I don't necessarily care; if the one game we care about runs acceptably under Crossover, we'll be fine with that. I am aware that I can get a better video game machine for less. Heck, I am aware that, for the price difference of buying a Mac that can run games at all, I could get a faster PC laptop that could run games better. The goal is just to not have to have two separate machines or have to deal with Windows if I can possibly avoid it.

    Anyone have concrete information about performance, especially of Rift in particular? I know I've seen some threads claiming overheating problems with some of the early 2011 MBPs, but I haven't found that much, and not that many people are playing games on them for some completely mysterious reason.
     
  2. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #2
    You are a bad person for wanting to play video games. Macs are for sleek professionals who don't care about games. Stop liking Apple.




    OK, a few points here:

    If your machine crashed from overheating, then it had/has a technical defect and you should have had it repaired by Apple.

    I played WoW for several years on a 2008 MBP with Nvidia 8600 GT graphics... I didn't have performance issues. Note however that this was a dedicated graphics card. If you buy a mac that only has integrated graphics (e.g. the 13'' MBP), then you will have bad performance.

    Screw crossover and other ports. I tried Rift, it's not a pleasant experience. For each game that runs decently using a crossover/cider/wineskin port, there are 100 that just don't work, or have a lot of bugs and inconveniences. It's better to spend $100 for a windows license than $40 on crossover.
    Or, just play games that run natively.


    Your questions:
    1. The performance difference is small. However if you are serious about gaming, I would go with the faster model - 1 GB of video ram might be useful in the future.
    2. Yes. Both my 2008 and 2011 run demanding games for extended periods of time without any instabilities.
    3. :D :D :D
     
  3. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #3
    Huh. That's a thought. I'd seen enough other complaints about the machine just tending to do that under load, with the response being "so run a fan program like smcfancontrol", that I assumed it was just a side effect of having too little heat sink.

    Yeah, but the 330M was nominally a dedicated video card.

    Maybe, but... It's not just the $60 difference. It's the large hunks of extra disk space lost (the machine I'm working with right now is SSD-based), the inability to run any of your normal apps while a game is up, the malware and virus software hassles...

    In this case, it's this game or no game. I'd love it if everyone worked natively on macs, I'll settle for a company that actively works to make sure wine and crossover work. But the goal here is for Beloved Spouse to be able to play games with me, and I am not currently planning to hop games anytime soon. So rift it is.

    I've been a little concerned about bootcamp and thermal management; it seems as though this would be an area where it would be easy for Windows not to know as much about the system as the OS X native stuff does.

    That's encouraging. My 8600-based MBP was always prone to overheating, and indeed, we did get that one repaired a month before applecare ran out. I could try taking the 330M-based machine in for them to look at; it could be that this is unusual, but I sure do see a lot of forum threads from people saying they needed to increase fan speed for it to be stable.
     
  4. mzjin macrumors 6502

    mzjin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    #4
    Bootcamp is Mac coded for windows, meaning the basics like chipset drivers and thermal management won't have any issues.

    Windows runs games 20% to 100% faster, same games just drivers I guess.

    Games will be toasty for sure, 100c on the CPU is not uncommon with intense games.
     
  5. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #5
    I got the Nvidia GPUs mixed up. Yes, the 330m is a dedicated GPU. I don't know why your WoW performance was so bad. On the 8600 GT I played with 1920x1200 resolution and probably some medium graphics settings. I don't remember anymore, it was TBC and WotLK times mostly. I did some serious raiding and never had the feeling that the machine's performance was holding me back.

    Both crossover and Rift have free trials, so you can test before you buy. I tried and didn't like it. There are some small annoying things, like not being able to switch between fullscreen and windowed mode with Cmd+M, the Dock coming up when touching the bottom of the screen with the mouse, stuff like that. Possible that all of this can be fixed with appropriate settings, but it was too much of a hassle for me.
    And then there's a chance that hardware graphics acceleration doesn't work - which would set your performance back to that of a 6 years old machine.

    The other option would be to run Win7 + Rift in a virtual machine. This will probably occupy the same amount of space, but with a quad core and 8 gb of RAM, performance should be fine, and you don't have to boot around.


    Ok, I don't know why I'm writing so much:
    - the 15'' MBP can run most games with decent performance
    - heat related crashes do not happen on machines without defects
    - Bootcamp vs. crossover is your choice. Rift might run poorly on crossover, I know it will work fine with Windows + bootcamp - after all, it runs on my 2008 machine with 1920x1200 and low settings
     
  6. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #6
    I am now completely mystified as to why there are so many threads recommending smcfancontrol to keep MBPs from overheating while playing games. Anyway, I'll look into that, and possibly get my 330M machine looked at; it doesn't seem to generally have much trouble, and it's totally possible that the changes in behavior I saw were either placebo effect or merely performance-related race conditions which got better when, with the fan running faster, less throttling was needed. But it's also possible it's broken, and the complete lack of using 3D on it these days is the reason it seems stable.

    Thanks for the feedback. Next time someone sends me a ton of money for no apparent reason I'll get one of the 6770 machines. :)
     
  7. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #7
    You're welcome.

    Just to point out the possible issues:

    1) There are reports of MBPs throttling under extreme load in order to keep the temperature under control. The only well documented occurrences of this are from some reviews - throttling was only observed under artificial conditions (running two separate benchmarks that maximally load the CPU and GPU at the same time), not during normal use. In particular playing hardware intensive games did not cause throttling in most cases. Anandtech and notebookcheck have some MBP reviews that look into this.

    2) Under full load, the 2011 MBPs use more power than the 85 W power supply can provide. This leads to a very slow draining of the battery e.g. when gaming... it shouldn't be an issue unless you plan to have 24 hour nonstop gaming parties.
     
  8. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Nowhere
    #8
    This is complete bollocks. It's your machine, you paid for it. You may do as you please.

    Obviously, you will need to have Windows installed if you want to play all games, if Steam and a few select games for Macs don't suffice.

    The latest MBP's have good dedicated graphic cards (for laptops, it's good) so the performance should be fine even for very recent games if you tone down the quality.

    I personally do not game much anymore but I do occasionally run a few steam games once in a while on my MBP (2011 Early) such as Portal 2.

    Don't worry about the Mac zealots telling you that you can't do certain things with your own private property.

    One thing that does bother me is...if you're investing in such an expensive machine and all you're going to be doing on it is game and/or browse the web/visit facebook, then I would reconsider my priorities. You could also do that on a cheap PC. I just think that your hard earned money could have been used somewhere else instead of following trends. This is why the average American (or an average citizen in a Western society) is in debt...it's because they buy things that they can't really afford. Anyway, enough with the lecture :)
     
  9. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #9
    The power supply thing should be livable, but it's worth knowing. We'll see. We have a lot of conflicting requirements for machines right now (size, screen type, cost, etcetera), and I'm not at all sure I can actually come up with a good solution, but it's worth a try.
     
  10. squirrelking101 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    #10
    WoW MBP

    The only game I have played on my 2011 MBP 15" has been WoW. It is weird at first because it does switch from integrated to dedicated, but it only does this when it needs the extra 'oomph' it felt like.

    Then, once the dedicated graphics card kicks in, all fans go straight to high. But I've actually been getting 40 constant FPS with very little fan action, with all graphics to high other than shadows and water. The key is to limit and tune the game to the card and OS.

    Commands like /console maxfps ## and /console maxbk ## help to save resources.

    Why use these commands? Can you really tell the difference between 50 and 80 fps? If you were playing Counter-Strike or the like, it isn't a matter of seeing it but feeling it. With WoW, anything above 50 fps is unnoticeable because of the type of game. Experiment in high active areas, go into an LFR group where there is a lot of stuff going on and keep fine tuning.

    These types of commands are great in keeping machines running better, less crashing, and prolonging your Mac's life.
     
  11. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Terra
    #11
    It's not "Mac coded for Windows" (which doesn't even make sense), it's a Mac booting into Windows. Exactly like a PC. Really, the only difference between a Mac and a PC is the OS that a Mac runs.

    And poor ports. That has a lot to do with it, as well as Apple's implementation of OpenGL is not great and DirectX is even better for gaming.

    OP, if you want to any relatively serious gaming, you're going to have to resign yourself to purchasing a copy of Windows. If you don't want to deal with the viruses, don't connect it to the internet when running Windows. But the performance difference between games in OS X and Windows can be anywhere from slight to staggering. On my MacBook (not MBP), I can't run even Half-Life 2 in OS X (I get about 3 fps on 640x480 and messed up sound) but it runs perfectly well at 720p under Windows (32-bit Windows that only sees half the RAM at that). On my MBP, there's no significant difference (but the game is pretty old for my MBP hardware).
     
  12. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    Apr 14, 2010
    #12
    The machine will be used mostly for writing and art, the video game thing is less crucial.
     
  13. mzjin macrumors 6502

    mzjin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    #13
    It means Bootcamp is mac developed drivers and software for windows that windows does not provide by default, so yes, it's Mac coded ... For running windows. It also means you don't have to worry about some basic function of your mac like thermal management not working properly while running windows.
     
  14. malman89 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Michigan
    #14
    Pretty much second that. What's the point in using an inferior port/wrap or crummy drivers? Same with iTinker, I can only run a distorted and sluggish Portal in OSX, but totally smooth in XP. I can run a laggy ported League of Legends in OSX, or flawlessly in XP. Then there's games that just don't have OSX ports that I want to play.

    And OP, you whine about malware like a child. I've got a WinXP Bootcamp partition and use it solely for gaming, works great. What virus is going to infiltrate your fantasy MMO? Microsoft Security Essentials seems fine. They don't have it in XP, I just use AVG Free. If you're super paranoid and think you can't browse the web in Windows without stumbling over a virus, get Firefox and extensions AdBlock Plus and NoScript.
     
  15. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #15
    Not having to reboot, and being able to, say, continue running a preferred IM app and mail client? That's pretty useful.

    If I got paid for the time I've spent in the last year fixing or replacing Windows machines due to malware, I wouldn't bother posting questions, I'd just buy a 17" MBP with all the highest-cost features. Because it would cost less than that.

    I am really happy with the idea of running a system that, in practice, does not seem to ever get malware, and does not need me to load multiple extra programs on it to protect it.
     
  16. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Terra
    #16
    I think you're confusing "Mac" with "Apple"... "Mac coded" is a very awkward phrase that doesn't make a lot of sense... "Apple coded" is a bit better, but still a bit odd.

    Most games don't let you cmd-tab out of them to check. Besides, when gaming, you want to quit everything else for optimal resources.

    I ran Win7 in bootcamp just for gaming, installed MS Security Essentials, and NEVER had a problem. I also didn't do anything but game on Windows. You can't get a virus/malware in Windows simply by running it.
     
  17. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #17
    I don't think I've played any games that don't let me do other stuff. I have run MMOs in a window while working or playing music or whatever, no problem.

    And... here's the thing. This is not about the Ideal Gaming Experience. It's about a good user-friendly Mac experience which could allow for playing a game. If the choice is between playing the game, and having access to stuff like an IM client, the answer will be that the game does not get played. If the game can be played, but suboptimally, that'll be fine -- and unless it's really, really, awful, preferable to having to reboot.

    I did a test on my nVidia 330M machine, which is indubitably quite a bit slower, and even under crossover it could be induced to run Rift at low settings at a slow-but-playable frame rate. So unless there's some catastrophic failure with the 6750, that would probably be plenty adequate.

    Now all I have to do is figure out how to get someone to send me a couple thousand dollars I have no other use for...
     
  18. saberahul macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #18
    I usually run video chat in the background while playing GTA and have no problems whatsoever. Fans kick in full speed and my room heats up but its normal.
     
  19. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    #19
    WoW crashing because of heat? I think you must have blocked the vents or something. I play WoW on Ultra with a 330m, no problem at all.

    But if heat is a concern to you, don't buy any of the 2011 MBP. Wait for the 2012 MBP. Both the CPU and GPU will be more efficient.
     
  20. lolwut89 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2012
    #20
    The 6750 and 6770 both have 480 stream processors. The only difference is that the 6770 is clocked slightly higher in terms of GPU and RAM speeds.

    We're talking less than a 100MHz difference, so it's not worth it to go from a 6750 to a 6770.

    However.... my Radeon HD 5770 showed signs of aging in playing games that were just recently released. So, you will probably get about half the performance I was getting. You will probably be able to play RIFT and other games, just don't expect them to run at ultra-high settings and at max resolution.

    I can't speak for overheating, but my MacBook air sure didn't like it when I ran Starcraft II on it. But the MBP 15" has two fans on it. So more than likely it probably won't overheat.
     
  21. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    Apr 14, 2010
    #21
    Not entirely crashing, just lots of random triangles. When I asked on the WoW forums, several people said that they had that problem and it was heat-related. (Note: 1920x1200, and resolution does seem to matter quite a bit for that.) It certainly went away as soon as I nudged the fans up another 1000RPM or so.

    I mean, it's totally possible that my machine just happens to be buggy in a way which only shows up under heavy load, but if so, it's a bug that was reported by many other people with the same model, and which all of us found went away if we set the fans to run a little more aggressively under load.

    My big worry would just be that they'll pick something more efficient but not actually as good; the 330M was a pretty definite disappointment to me. The 67x0 are at least pretty reasonable. And the thing is... We want the antiglare screen, so we can't just pick one up on clearance when the new models show, because that's special-order. I dunno; I have only sometimes found it rewarding to wait for a new model.
     
  22. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    May 29, 2011
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    Michigan
    #22
    I can't think of a single game, ever, that will not let background programs run. I think it was meant more of an issue where sometimes those keys are programmed to do something in-game and you can't switch out (at least conveniently or without changing key mapping) or games that don't really do it well and lag/bug out graphically, which happens fairly often (especially if full screen and not able to run in a window).

    There's a couple anti-glare options on clearance (here and here) and in the refurb section, so I guess you never know what might be there.
     
  23. ayeying macrumors 601

    ayeying

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    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #23
    I never have any graphics corruption due to temperature issues on my 15" with 512MB 330M. My GPU temperatures usually stay about 5-10 deg C cooler than the CPU, which maxes out about 85 deg C w/ max fans.

    This is all under bootcamp without third party fan control.
     
  24. therealseebs thread starter macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #24
    It's totally possible there will be some, but it's also possible that there won't, or that they won't be the model we'd like.

    So my current slight inclination is to favor getting one of the current models soonish, unless something changes.
     
  25. natejohnstone@g, Jan 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012

    natejohnstone@g macrumors regular

    natejohnstone@g

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    #25
    --Yes a MBP can run games well. You can easily spec out a PC laptop to the same exact equipment, and in such cases the MBP should perform as well or better.

    --For Windows games, you will want to run it in Windows (bootcamp), not XOvr or Parallels (unless you're just doing character maintenance, auction house, etc).

    --Keep your drivers updated in Windows

    --Buy an active (fan-powered) cooling mat/pad. This is a must for anyone gaming on any laptop, period! Your MBP should not overheat while playing games. Either something is wrong with the machine or you're putting the computer on a pillow on your lap or something like that. Get a fan-powered mat and you'll be amazed at how much cooler the machine stays!

    --If you're going to game for very long periods, try to give your computer a break for 15-min every couple hours or so (you'll take breaks anyway--so just put it to sleep during those breaks instead of letting the computer run!)

    --As to anit-glare there are some 3-rd party stick-on options. There used to be a great magnetic antiglare screen cover for MBPs, but I'm not sure if those are around anymore. It was great because they just slapped on and pulled-off, so you could keep glossy for indoors and anti-glare for when you went outside.
     

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