The GPU: Faster

The GPU was the main recipient of Apple's attention for this upgrade. The old entry level model shipped with a pretty disappointing AMD Radeon HD 6490M. Apple has since upgraded the entry level 15-inch model to the Radeon HD 6750M, more than doubling its compute horsepower and memory bandwidth. Memory capacity has doubled as well to 512MB. I don't believe 512MB is ideal if you're going to be driving an external 27-inch panel, but for use on the notebook's screen alone (even at high res) you should be fine.

Discrete GPU Options
  AMD Radeon HD 6750M AMD Radeon HD 6770M
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm
SPs 480 480
Texture Units 24 24
ROPs 8 8
Core Clock 600MHz 725MHz
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Clock 900MHz 900MHz?
Frame Buffer 512MB GDDR5 1024MB GDDR5

The upgraded configuration now comes with a Radeon HD 6770M. The 6770M increases shader clock but not the number of processors on the GPU. Memory bandwidth may be improved, it depends on what memory clock Apple decided on - by default the memory interface is no faster than the 6750M. The bigger difference for non-gamers will be the 1GB framebuffer that comes with the 6770M. If you're going to be using a 27-inch display, you'll want this GPU.

I tested the 6750M in the $1799 model and found it generally comparable to the 6750M in the old upgraded setup. The old 6490M is much slower and thankfully, out of the picture:

Half Life 2: Episode 2 (Mac OS X)

Half Life 2: Episode 2 (Mac OS X)

Starcraft II - AT GPU Bench (Mac OS X)

Starcraft II - AT GPU Bench (Mac OS X)

Starcraft II - AT CPU Bench (Mac OS X)

Starcraft II - AT CPU Bench (Mac OS X)

Silicon Updates Display Quality & Peripherals


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  • futurepastnow - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    And 5400 RPM hard drives standard. Now that's a bad joke.

    It's also pretty sad that the 13" model still has a 1280x800 screen when Apple's own 13" Macbook air uses a 1440x900 display.
  • trifecta88 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    It could be because current benchmarks are being done on Lion and not Snow Leopard Reply
  • grahamnp - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    The 2.2 tested is the replacement for the old 2.0ghz which isn't shown in all the charts but when compared it does come out on top. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, November 19, 2011 - link

    You do realize that the 2.3 GHz model (early 2011) was the EXTREME HIGH END model (best of 2.0, 2.2 and 2.3GHz);
    the 2.2 GHz model (late 2011) is the LOW END model (worst of 2.2, 2.4 and 25)?

    The article could do a better job of explaining that, I'll admit. But you (and even worse, some of the idiotitic followup commentators) could do a better job of not assuming something that is highly unlikely --- that Apple has DELIBERATELY chosen to reduce the performance of its machines, and that Anand is so in love with them that he thought this wasn't worth mentioning.

    Better commenters, please.
  • loox - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Wow... an off-topic, major PC vs Mac fanboy flame war on an Anandtech article re: an Apple product. That *never* happens. *yawn* They both have their place on this planet. Moving on...

    I'd like to remain on topic *gasp!* and return to the OP's observation:

    I am confused, as well... is this a typo in the charts? or is my 15" early 2011 macbook pro really superior to the late 2011 in benchmarks... this is not making sense to me.

    On the flipside, if true, it makes me very happy as I purchased the macbook pro for the video card, and am happy to see that I would not have lost much performance gain had I waited for the later 2011 model.

  • loox - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I am seeing what I think may be the cause...

    In "early 2011" I purchased the higher end 15" Macbook Pro. At that time, the more expensive model came with the Radeon 6750 and a slightly higher clocked Core i7 SandyBridge (2.3 Ghz). It looks like this model was used in the charts above.

    Meanwhile, the model that Anandtech benchmarks in *this* review, is the lower end (cheaper) 15" Macbook Pro which, in "late 2011" has the (1) the same Radeon 6750 GPU as the higher-end, early 2011 Model I have and (2) a slightly slower clocked Core i7 SB CPU (2.2 Ghz).

    This explains alot.... had Anandtech tested the 2200 USD variant of the "late 2011" 15" MBP, it surely would have bested my 2200 USD variant of the "early 2011" 15" MBP because it would have benchmarked the higher-end Radeon 6770 and CPU in the 2200 USD MBP.

    Basically, it looks like the hardware in my 2200 dollar MBP from early 2011 is now comparable to the hardware in the "late 2011"'s 1800 dollar MBP As a result, I would have waited 2 months had I known I could get pretty much the same hardware for 400 dollars less. But, hindsight is 20/20 and something better always comes along.

    This does, however, explain the benchmark tables in this article. Had the higher end variant of the late 2011 MBP been used, the results would no doubt have favored the newer model.
  • ThreeDee912 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    After seeing those charts I knew someone was read it incorrectly and assume Apple is gimping their systems or something....

    The Early 2011 model is the *high-end* 15" upgraded to the optional built-to-order 2.3 GHz (2820QM) i7 with 8MB L3 cache.

    It still ranks slightly higher than the newer model, because the new Late 2011 model in the charts is only the *low-end* stock 15" model with a 2.2 GHz (2675QM) i7 6MB L3 cache.

    So the low-end 15" model is quite a bit faster than before, but still not as fast as the highest-end customized 15" model from a few months ago.

    To exaggerate, it's like saying "Why is my old i7 still faster than this new Pentium?"

    You can see the previous specs here in a neat chart here:
  • TheGeoff - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    It's been awhile since I've gotten to spend any time with this body style. Do they still have that sharp "wrist-cutter" edge on the front? That was a deal killer for me. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    This is actually one of the more subtle things I've noticed with the newer MBPs.

    After MacBookPro6,2 the front edge on every MBP has received a very small bevel that makes a huge difference on the wrists. I have an 8,2 which has the bevel, so anything newer than 6,2 should likewise have it. It makes the difference between wrist-cutting and not right at the center thumb-notch area too (which used to come to a very sharp point on both sides).

  • retrospooty - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    a 15 inch laptop with 1440x900 LCD, 2.2ghz quad core 4gb ram for $1800. I could literally get 2 equivalent ones for that price Reply

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