Which video card, 9600m vs. 9400m

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Traeger2591, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. Traeger2591 macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009
    Ok, so I am pretty new to macs and have decided to buy a 15" MBP after the conference updates.

    I am very pleased with the updates and the price cuts they have made but I can't decide whether I should get the 2.53ghz or the 2.66ghz. The reason I am debating this is because of the video card. I doubt the speed with the processors will be much different but I have seen a few posts mentioning that once snow leopard comes out, having the dedicated gpu will help. I was wondering if this was true. If so, how much of a difference will it make.

    On another note, I will be studying music business in college and plan on using my macbook for recording purposes so I don't think the video card will make too much of a difference. I also don't play any computer games whatsoever. Thanks for all replies.
  2. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Honestly, I don't think the answer you want is known just yet. Audio apps won't benefit much from the GPU as it stands today, and the processor difference is minimal. Were things to stay this way, I'd recommend you get the lower end one and spend some of your $300 on 4GB of RAM, and pocket the rest.

    However, Snow Leopard will be adding the ability to use the GPU for a lot of non-graphic things, and audio apps could stand to benefit quite a lot of from this, as they tend to be processor intensive (when run "native") and be made up of a lot of small tasks. An OpenCL capable Logic is probably not that far away, to be honest. Other apps could follow in the future. The 9600 has about double the performance of the 9400, and could come in handy when you are stacking up a lot of tracks and plugins. It's honestly hard to say.

    In a nutshell: You will be spending $300 for a substantial performance boost that is not available today, but probably will be in the future, who knows when.

    Personally, I'd say skip it. You'll probably find yourself craving a Mac Pro before long (I am) and between that and the decay of time, the MBP may not be your main machine a few years from now. I don't know what your financial situation is like, but money doesn't grow on trees when you are in school. You WILL find uses for $300, even if your parents/the govt/some scholarships are covering a lot of your expenses.
  3. msmth928 macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Get the one with the better video card, honestly I don't know how they can call the ones that don't have the 9600M 'pro' models because the onboard 9400M is basic.

    For example, with google earth when you scroll across an area the animation is really quite fuzzy. Least that's what I get when I turn the 9600M card off on my MBP.
  4. pik. macrumors 6502


    Feb 4, 2008
    that is trange.....:confused:
  5. ..........? macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2005
    It has been well known knowledge that the word "pro" on apple computer has no actual meaning to the computer being a pro machine for a while(it has been this case for the last few years). The only reason apple has kept the word pro on the computer is marketing purpose since it contribute to selling more computer. The average consumer thinks the word pro means the machine is a pro machine and infer that the computer must be superior in performance since they been told even the "professional uses it".
  6. Feng Shui macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2008
  7. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
  8. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    Is there any evidence that shows Open CL will even use the 9600? Its discrete so its supposed to be turned off pretty much all the time. Open CL supports the 9400 which is what I imagine it will be using instead of the 9600 to save battery life.
  9. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Straight from http://www.apple.com/macosx/specs.html

    * NVIDIA Geforce 8600M GT, GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 8800 GTS, Geforce 9400M, GeForce 9600M GT, GeForce GT 120, GeForce GT 130.
    * ATI Radeon 4850, Radeon 4870

    It does support the 9600, and it will be a whole lot faster on it compared to the 9400. Of course, it remains to be seen what kinds of programs will be written with OpenCL.
  10. Traeger2591 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009
    First off, thanks for the replies, but reading them I became a little confused as to what this OpenCL is. I googled it, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it is something that is coming with snow leopard to help improve computing speeds by sharing the cpu and gpu from what I have gathered.

    But it does say that this program will be able to use the 9400M so I don't see a real huge reason as to why to get the 9600.

    People say it is worth it, but don't really see why it is worth it. It's obviously better, but for what I'll be doing, I don't think it is necessary. It'd be more of a hassle as it would just drain the battery life for me.

    Right now I'm leaning away from it, but if someone gives me a good reason that I'd need it, I might go ahead and get the 2.66 MBP over the 2.53. Thanks again.
  11. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

    May 25, 2009
    I returned the Macbook I got recently and have store credit to go back in tomorrow and get one of the new MBP's. This graphics card decision is killing me. The laptop is for school so size matters, but I like to have systems with some power (old laptop was a dell 17 inch gaming machine) and I really need this system to be "future proof". I'd also love to feel safe doing a bit of gaming on the system.

    Of course price and heat are also concerns...

    Don't know whether to get the 13 or 15!
  12. zalves macrumors member

    Dec 23, 2008
    go for the 9600GT, when snow leopard comes out and future OS X versions come out you'll benefit from it. Its just more future proof. Unless you can buy a new laptop every year... but even though.. a PRO machine using system memory? its like a being 40 and still live off your parents.
  13. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000


    Nov 14, 2008
    dont worry about future proof, your pro will be outdated within 6 months just like the last ones
  14. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
    On another note, I will be studying music business in college and plan on using my macbook for recording purposes so I don't think the video card will make too much of a difference. I also don't play any computer games whatsoever. Thanks for all replies.[/QUOTE]

    If you can afford it, go with the 9600M in the 2.66GHz. It'll make a difference. Bear in mind the previous figures Apple showed of the 9400M vs 9600M GT. From the outset it'll make a difference, and as the software takes the GPU into account, it'll make more of a difference. Seeing as Apple will be pushing the OS and their applications to use the GPU, you'll benefit all the time you're running the OS and also any Apple apps.
  15. comedine macrumors member

    May 25, 2009
    What's confusing me is the RAM - the 2.66 has 256MB whereas my 2yr old MBP has a GeForce 8600M GT with 512 of RAM.

    So it feels like I'll be getting 0.16GHz of extra CPU and 256MB less graphics RAM.

    Seems like a bit of a cheat to me! Or am I missing something?
  16. Traeger2591 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009
    So if I don't go with the 9600 can't OpenCL still use the 9400? It's known that this video card will be compatible with OpenCL in SL. Or will OpenCL work faster/better with the 9600?

    One more question, if I do go with the 9600, will it take that card into account even if I don't have it activated? By activated I mean that I would be using the 9400 to conserve battery life. If it will still use the card to speed up the system when it is not activated then this would be great.
  17. Pommy macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009

    • There is a model w/ 512MB of vram, but it's the next level up (read: more expensive). Yay for sneaky Apple pricing ;) [that being said the pre-WWDC 15" MBP w/ the 512MB version of the 9600M GT is going for $1449 in the refurb store]
    • vram isn't as important a determinant of video card performance as other things (like # of stream processors, clock speed, blah)

    According to Gizmodo it is compatible w/ the 9400M.

    It probably won't, but we dunno for sure(?) It would sorta negate the whole power-saving thing.
  18. RiCEADDiCTBOY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2007
  19. Gen macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2008
    Go with the 9600. Hands down. I can easily notice a difference between the two cards, especially since one is integrated while the other is discrete, even when I do the same tasks - the 9600 is worth the extra money.

    Straight from Apple;
    "The 17-inch MacBook Pro and select 15-inch models have an advanced graphics architecture that employs both the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated and NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT discrete graphics processors. When you need turbocharged performance for the most graphically intensive tasks, the discrete graphics processor delivers up to 2.5x faster performance than the integrated graphics. Experience the fastest, smoothest, and clearest graphics yet for pro applications like Aperture and Motion, productivity tools such as Keynote, and intensive 3D games. Depending on how much performance or battery life you need, it’s easy to switch between the two processors."

    "Get up to 2.5x faster performance with discrete graphics over integrated graphics."

    It is worth the money, and you will regret not getting it later on.
  20. RiCEADDiCTBOY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2007
    the cost penalty is too high for the performance difference imo.

    programs like adobe are more cpu intensive then gpu dependent. games also run marginally better with 10 extra frames at best. for the amount EXTRA that i would pay to go from a 13" mbp to a mbp with a dedicated graphics card - i could buy the 13" mbp...and have a REALLY good gaming rig or another laptop dedicated for gaming with the money you saved...

    i know the poster wasn't inquiring about gaming...but, the money you throw down isn't worthwhile - and the 13" mbp or the cheaper 15" mbp if thats the screen size you want is well worth the dough if you want. however, with the money you saved you could get a solid desktop or another laptop with a seriously better graphics card with the mbp 13" or baseline 15"
  21. John89 macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008
    If your not going to use it in your line of work, and you dont plan on using it for gaming, why waste your money? The 9400m is a very capable chip. I found this from appleinsider

  22. Bubba Satori Suspended

    Bubba Satori

    Feb 15, 2008
    No, it sucks and once you've got it you're stuck with it for as long as you have the computer. 9600 is the much better choice.
  23. Techhie macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2008
    The hub of stupidity
    When I owned my UNi 2.4, there was about a 10% difference in speed between them. IMO, you shouldn't bother unless you need it and plan to go to the 512 MB variant.
  24. John89 macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008
    And I know you dont plan on using it for gaming, but this shows how good the 9400m is. Call of Duty is quite a demanding game.

    With the money you could save, I would stick 4gigs of ram in, then your sorted.
  25. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    And since the OP said he'll be using those applications, this is all completely relevant! :rolleyes: For the OP's uses, the better graphics card will make no difference. The only place he might make use of it is in Keynote, but $300 to make Keynote animations render a tiny bit quicker seems like poor financial planning to me.

    The 9400M is a very capable chip, and more than sufficient for 99% of what most users will be doing. Your money is better spent on RAM and storage upgrades.

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