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3D Gaming on the 'mid 2009' MacBook Pro:
Integrated versus Dedicated Graphics Processor
Originally posted Friday, June 19th, 2009, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Hypothesis: An older, used 15" MacBook Pro with a dedicated GPU is better than a new MacBook Pro with integrated GPU when it comes to running 3D apps.
The 'mid 2009' 13" MacBook Pro (and low-end 'mid 2009' 15" MacBook Pro) comes with only the integrated GeForce 9400M GPU. It's fine for light computing (Mail, Safari, iLife). But if you plan to use it for playing HW accelerated 3D games or running any 3D OpenGL intensive software, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.
LEGEND of Graphs
15" MBP e08 = 'early 2008' 15" MacBook Pro 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo with 4G of 667MHz DDR2 memory, 6MB on-chip L2 cache, 800MHz frontside bus, and GeForce 8600M GT dedicated graphics processor
13" MBP m09 = 'mid 2009' 13" MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo with 4G of 1066MHz DDR3 memory, 3MB on-chip L2 cache, 1066MHz frontside bus, and GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor
All 3D tests were run at 1280x800 for fairness, even though the 15" supports up to 1440x900.
I think we've proved our hypothesis. The 'early 2008' 15" MacBook Pro with slower memory and slower frontside bus but with a dedicated GPU smoked the 'mid 2009' 13" Macbook Pro with the integrated GPU when running our 3D test apps.
If you want the best 3D performance, you should opt for a MacBook Pro with a dedicated GPU. You can even save money while gaining speed if you buy a used or refurbished MacBook Pro. Just make sure you check the specs for a dedicated GeForce 8600M or 9600M.
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© 2009 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
, the webmaster