What's a fast GPU good for?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by vanderlay, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. vanderlay macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2008
    Sorry for the dumb question. I know what a GPU is, but I'm unsure on what tasks a mac really benefits from having a dedicated GPU as opposed to the HD3000 found on new MBA and MPB?

    Obviously gaming, but what else? (I never play games)


    I'm currently using 2009 13" MPB with 27" cinema display and considering what to upgrade my computer to.

    Does the dedicated GPU mean that running the hi-res external display takes less power from the CPU, or is this insignificant?

    Would I be just as happy with a 13" macbook air?

    I would like a computer that can do more things at once without getting sluggish. Especially, when I sometimes run a windows program in VMware Fusion = very sluggish
  2. mklnz macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2007
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Sounds like you don't really need a faster GPU. You'll be fine with the new air with SSD and 4GB of ram
  3. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    The more RAM you have, the better your virtualization experience will be.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Generally speaking when people mention that the GPUs are faster/slower its in the realm of 3D rendering which for the most part is games. Other factors that will impact user experience in other apps include the type of VRAM, and the speed of the memory.

    The current version of Photoshop does rely on the GPU more for rendering then prior versions as does Aperture. So you will notice an impact with those two apps.

    As for VMWare, that's more constrained by ram and disk speed. IMO, you need at least 4gb of ram for VMware not to feel sluggish and provide the guest OS with enough ram so that its not swapping to the swap file.

    I have a 2010 13" MBP with 4gb and I'm quite content with the performance of Aperture and VMware even though I'm using an integrated GPU.
  5. vanderlay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2008
    Thanks for info

    I just assumed that powerful GPU would be better at handling the hi-res cinema display, but I guess it depends on the task.

    Maybe I'd be better off getting MBP with 8GB ram and SSD.

    Already have 4GB ram and VMware is still quite slow.

    I assume more 'cores' is also better when you're using virtualization software like VMWare?
  6. MKang25 macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2010
    I think for VMware you need 8 gigs of ram for it to run smoothly just as if you were running only OS X. I originally had 4 gigs and while running VMWare i would notice some of applications were sluggish. So I upgraded to 8gigs and as soon I did I could multitask with the VMWare running and not realize it was running.
  7. riptideMBP macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2011
    I had the same experience with parallels... Once I went from 4GB to 8Gb, parallels went from getting the job done to a near flawless virtualization (still cant game in VMs).
  8. orangepeel macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2010
    Programs like motion use the gpu, in this case to preview a clip without rendering. As you can see the intel 3000 is terrible and motion users would need to get a mac with a dedicated GPU.


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