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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  • james.jwb - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link


    Big audience here where some (read: most) stay out of the silliness and others only take part in the silliness. The Mac reviews--just like PS3 vs Xbox, COD vs BF3--attracts a certain type of.... weird individual that needs to rethink a few things about their deep emotional attachment to little boxes with plugs, in my opinion.

    I don't blame some for defending their positions when attacked by these crazy, biased people, because it's quite annoying and borderline trolling, and sometimes it's hard not to let loose and troll a troll back.

    But to grown ups it reads as tiresomely embarrassing drivel and just looks like there is something wrong with some people, which is likely.
  • ananduser - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    This is(was) a site for tech enthusiasts. They traditionally are against pre-configured machines and more into the hardware side of things. Apple reviews are fine but the mac users that comment on those Apple related articles, more often that not, do not address the tech side of that said Apple machine. They are almost always something like "...which is why Apple will always win against..." or "...why cant other brand makers do this...".
  • freespace303 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    No 6770m benches for us windows gaming lovers eh? :(

    I would love to see how this laptop handles BF3 and Skyrim.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Same, I'd love to see how the 6770m compared with the 6750m.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    "My current setup is a Samsung 830 in the primary drive bay and an Intel SSD 510 in place of my optical drive"
    You are such an SSD hog! Most people are still finding it hard to put one SSD in their case because of the prices. :D

    Otherwise, good read.
  • Torrijos - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Anand should really try to review Mac Hardware with a bunch of Windows benchmark too, just to gage where they sit compared to the windows crowd, reducing OS & software optimization influence on the measures.

    This would be particularly interesting with the advent of the ultrabook where the MBA seems to be the reference but doesn't show up in any of the charts of the ultrabook reviews.
    This would also reduce speculation on hardware performance benchmarks the only nagging point remaining would be the drivers given by Apple.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    I agree! While I am unfortunately not in the market for such a thing while I'm still a student (another year or two), some of the MBPs do look nice and offer good performance. But I would not use OSX with them. So a comparison with bootcamp Windows would be appreciated. :-)
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    1:1 comparisons in the past have yielded consistent results in terms of battery life and game performance. Windows gets less battery life along with better game performance, the latter due to GPU drivers from vendors being much more optimized than the OpenGL drivers Apple puts out themselves. There were several updates from Apple last year when Valve ported Source games to OS X that yielded very good improvement, but it's still generally not as good as DirectX performance in Windows. There are a few exceptions like WoW, but then you have games like Starcraft 2 where the differences seem to swing wildly depending on the version number.

    Doesn't affect me much personally, I segregate work to my OS X machine and play to my Windows box. :)
  • ananduser - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Load of bull. DirectX and OpenGL performance in Windows is a no contest compared to Apple's. It all amounts to Apple's shitty bootcamp. Apple's drivers for Windows don't use the integrated graphics at all - they just turn on (and leave on) the discrete GPU - even if your machine doesn't need the graphics horsepower - hence the battery penalty. Apple also only provides Windows IO drivers that make the HDD subsystem look like an old IDE drive, reducing IO bandwidth and increasing IO latency considerably. Legacy IDE mode hinders the performance of all disk IO.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Yes, I'm fully aware that those are reasons for Windows performance having less battery life than OS X. That said, I didn't go into that, instead focusing on differences in graphics performance (Windows DX drivers are more optimized than OS X OGL drivers) which we do agree one, even though your response makes it seem like we don't.

    The one thing you do need to consider is Anandtech's battery tests on Macbooks without dedicated graphics. Even with an integrated GPU, battery life is more with OS X. Furthermore, Boot Camp battery life is roughly in line with other notebooks running identical specs:

    Why are you so mad? These aren't major disagreements we're having.

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