Why are the iMac video cards so weak?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by appleater, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. appleater macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #1
    When it comes to a notebook, I understand why apple chooses 'performance' from ATI's lineup (for those who don't know what I'm talking about, ATI's cards can be divided into four sections: Mainstream, Performance, High-end, & their flagship Ultra High-End 6970). Apple usually puts the Performance/High-end cards in their Macbook Pros which makes sense because they are portable notebooks and battery life, heat, & over all performance has to be considered.

    But when it comes to a desktop like the iMac, why are they not putting a high-end or ultra high end ATI? After all it is a desktop so there is no performance constraints to worry about like battery life, heat etc.

    So whats going on at Apple? Why are the copping out on the iMacs?
     
  2. JoeG4 macrumors 68030

    JoeG4

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    #2
    Well, it's sorta complicated but here goes:

    Apple wants to make the iMac as thin as possible, because despite the thing being on an 8" deep stand that can't get any thinner without being unstable, a thinner slab seems to really impress people.

    I won't disagree, the original G5 iMac was really fat and didn't look nearly as nice as the current ones do - that's probably what you'd be seeing if they stuck a higher end card in there.
     
  3. appleater thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    I dont buy it, they are Apple I'm sure they could pull off a 6970, or a 6870 at least. Compared to a MBP the iMac is huge, I don't see space being the issue as to why they won't support a more power hungry GPU.
     
  4. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816

    Nightarchaon

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #4
    compared to the new macbooks just released, the imac video cards are now out of date old cards,

    in general, you have to remember the iMac is just an oversized macbook pro without a hinged screen, expect the iMac refresh to basically be the new macbook pro models strapped behind a larger screen.

    if you want "performance" video cards, you will need a PC where you can upgrade every 3 months to keep on the bleeding edge, if you want serviceable, the iMac should be fine (though i wouldn't buy now until they refresh them this year)
     
  5. canucksfan88 macrumors 6502a

    canucksfan88

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    #5
    i would wait until the next iMac refresh before you claim they are copping out on the iMacs.

    the iMacs right now still have i3 for goodness sake
     
  6. appleater thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #6
    Your probably right and thats where I have to disagree with Apple, they want the the MBP to be a desktop replacement, more specifically the iMac replacement, and how could it replace the iMac if the iMac was better? IMO thats kind of stupid because people buy a desktop to get some more power for a good bargain, and if they want a powerful notebook on par with a desktop is a little bit unrealistic expectation.

    Basically they are just watering down the iMac so it is a "a macbook pro with a hinged screen' like you said. That is pretty weak, they might aswell take out the option to have 16Gb of RAM because the MBP doesn't support it!?

    Were talking about a 27" screen here, don't you want a powerful video-card under the hood backing up the beautiful display?
     
  7. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #7
    Apple doesn't put performance cards in their macbook pros, they put the mainstream cards. The mobility 6490 and 6750 are far from performance.

    Neither does apple NOT put the high end cards in the iMacs. The top iMacs use mobility 5850, and the 800 line is high end, while 700 is mainstream (for 5000 series). Apple will most likely put mobility 6950 (direct replacement to mobility 5850) in their highest iMacs come the refresh.

    The biggest gripe about the apple iMacs is not about apple using incompetent gpus, but about them using mobile gpus. The tdp of high end desktop cards are more than the whole iMac puts out as a computer though, so you can get a pretty good picture of why apple wouldn't put the monstrous desktop 5800 or desktop 6900 cards in their iMacs. Those are reserved for the mac pros.
     
  8. appleater thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #8
    Pretty sure its:

    6330-6570 is Mainstream
    6630-6770 is performance
    6830-6870 is high-end
    6950 & 6970 Ultra high-end

    Right now the top iMac uses a 5750 which would put it under the performance category like the MBP 6750.
     
  9. flipster macrumors 6502a

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    Boston
    #9
    New cards in the imac will most likely be the ATI Radeon 6950. Yeah its high end in the mobile world, and it will give a 20% increase in performance over the 5750.

    It's no 6970, if it was I'd upgrade.
     
  10. appleater thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #10
    Hopefully its not limited to the 27"
     
  11. TMRaven, Feb 25, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011

    TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #11
    No, the "5750" in the iMac is the mobility 5850, which is a high end card (by desktop standards it's a mainstream card because it's based on the 5700 gpu from desktops). The branding of the amd 6000 series will be 100 higher than the 5000 series for comparing direct successors in gpus. For example, the successor to 5650 will be 6750, the direct successor to 5850 will be 5950, etc.

    If apple were to directly replace the mobility 5850 in the iMac, they will be doing so with a mobility 6950. According to your definition, that is an ultra high end card, so there shouldn't be anything for you to complain about ;)
     
  12. appleater thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #12
    Confused the Mobility series with the desktop standards, my bad. Thanks for clearing that up for me TMRaven.
     
  13. nkd macrumors newbie

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    Feb 25, 2011
    #13
    I didnt buy the imac until I found out that 5750 is actually at 5850 mobility card. 800 shaders are nothing to sneeze at in an all in one machine. ofcourse it wont run at that high of a resolution but should be plenty of power for 1080p with most games at high settings.

    This card actually runs at 625 on the core which is faster then most mobility radeon 5850, they almost all run at 550 or 600 max. HP envy has the same card and it runs at 500 on the core.
     
  14. flipster macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    the 5850 in the top specced imac has a 128mbit bandwidth --at 2560x1440, thats a no, no, lol. It needs to be atleast 256mbit for games
     
  15. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #15
    128bit bus and 64gbps bandwidth, which is decent. It runs games with decent competency even at those high resolutions. Anti Aliasing pushes it over the limit though.

    The possible mobility 6950 will have over 128gbps bandwidth with a 256bit bus and gddr5. Should make for a nice upgrade for people who want to run with high textures and anti aliasing at those high resolutions.
     
  16. flipster macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Yes, it would :D!

    Basically, if your playing say, Starcraft 2 and your getting 40 fps with maxed settings on the 5750 (mobility 5850) you will see that 40 fps jump to 60 fps with the 6950M and 80 fps with the 6970 (which we will never see :()
     
  17. JoeG4 macrumors 68030

    JoeG4

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    #17
    The iMac is not an oversized MacBook Pro with a fixed screen. It uses higher-voltage desktop processors and a desktop video chipset (I THINK!)

    The difference used to be a lot more pronounced, but those new sandy bridge chips are monsters!
     
  18. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #18
    Makes you salivate for the new iMacs doesn't it.
     
  19. asears08 macrumors newbie

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    Jan 25, 2010
    #19
    It might have something to do with the fact that the imac is a good computer tucked inside a monitor casing. High End GPUs these days range from big to enormous in size. For example the Nvidia GTX 580 (current top of the line PC GPU) is 10.5" long x 4.38" thick. That is a lot of card and a lot of heat to put in that tight of a space.
     
  20. flipster macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    They use mobile graphics processors to keep heat down and size.
     
  21. mattk3650 macrumors member

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    Apr 5, 2010
    #21
    The only thing about iMac that appeals to me is that it's basically a 27" monitor with a high end computer thrown in for an extra $400-$700. I want to see something backing that up. I want a high end graphics card or I'm just sticking to PC.
     
  22. Chris5488 macrumors regular

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    Feb 26, 2011
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    Belgium
    #22
    It's really a shame they use x850m GPU's to drive a 27" screen.
    27" is really demanding! Using a high-end notebook GPU (and not the highest-end), which would normally drive a 17" screen, for a 27" screen = low-end :(

    If I was in charge for the hardware at Apple, I would give the 21.5" iMacs the 6750M (same as the 17" Macbook Pro has) and the 6850M as upgrade. The 27" iMac I would give the 6850M and the 6970m as upgrade.
     
  23. iSayuSay macrumors 68030

    iSayuSay

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    Feb 6, 2011
    #23
    If i were in charge i'd design new iMac to have an upgradeable GPU using mini PCI-express port or some sort, only for iMac

    That way every iMac will last for 5 to 7 years with newest GPU .. that would be the best solution

    We may not need to upgrade CPU as often as GPU, and iMac is supposed to be a desktop computer, why limiting its expandability, i just don't get it. All in one concept doesn't mean you have to limit everything

    iMac came with user-upgradeable RAM and HDD .. why not creating the same for GPU
     
  24. TMRaven, Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011

    TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #24
    You can upgrade its gpu too, just not as easily as the hdd. You just have to make sure the gpu has already been supported by apple and there's firmware up for it.

    For example, you can upgrade the mobility 4850 that's in the late '09 iMacs with a mobility 5850, and you might be able to do the same if they use mobility 6950.

    Mxm cards are expensive though. Would probably be better off selling off your old one and getting new one.
     
  25. nkd macrumors newbie

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    Feb 25, 2011
    #25
    Very true thats why I was careful in my remarks and said you should be gaming at 1080p lol. 65gb is plenty with high settings at the resolution. To be honest it is a decent card and I think this is the fastest apple has ever gone in a imac where before the graphics were painfully slow. Although I take 27" screen as a plus and over the graphic card lol. I think the res is a plus as I will be gaming at 1080 and know my boundaries with that card, lol.
     

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