The GeForce GT 330M

The discrete GPU Apple settled on in the 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pro isn't bad for a notebook. The GT 330M is a 40nm chip with 48 SPs, cores, CUDA funhouses or whatever you want to call them. This is up from 16 in the GeForce 9400M that shipped on last year's MBPs, and 32 in the optional GeForce 9600M. Those GPUs were also built on TSMC's 65nm process, but power consumption may not be lower on the 330M given what we've seen with NVIDIA's desktop 40nm.

In addition to having more shader power, the GT 330M runs at a higher clock speed than last year's offerings. The end result is much better GPU performance, something that will start to matter now that OS X is getting Steam.

I didn't have access to any MacBook Pros with a 9600M, so my only performance comparison is to the 9400M. The 9600M should fall somewhere in between the 9400M and the GT 330M in performance.

I ran all of my gaming tests under Bootcamp in Windows 7:

GPU Gaming Performance Comparison - Windows 7
  Left 4 Dead (1440 x 900 - High Quality) World of Warcraft (800 x 600 - High Quality)
15-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2009) - GeForce 9400M 16.9 fps 19.1 fps
15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) - GeForce GT 330M 44.9 fps 52.3 fps

Compared to the 9400M the GT 330M is amazing. Compared to the rest of the world though, we're still not looking at desktop GPU speeds. Less than 60 fps under World of Warcraft at 800 x 600, and not even 50 fps at the panel's native resolution in Left 4 Dead. We can at least run these games at high quality settings, which isn't something that was possible with previous graphics solutions on the MacBook Pro.

If you can deal with running a game at medium quality settings and a lower-than-native resolution, you'll get ok performance out of the 330M.

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  • NYC Heather - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    I'm a photographer and I'm finally getting ready to switch from PC to Mac. A lot of friends have recommended the 13" mac book pro with the 2.4ghz processor. When i went to the Mac store they were recommending the 15" because of the 2.53GHz intel Core i5...

    I see that the 13" now has a 2.66ghz core 2 duo. Do you think there is a big difference between the 13" 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo vs 15" 2.53GHz ntel Core i5? It's a $500 price difference and i just wondered if it was worth it...
    THANK YOU!
    Reply
  • tbtbtb - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    MacBook Pro 17" is my favorite and I really want it for X-mas, and it actually on sale right now for 2130$ on http://amzn.to/eP79Nk Reply
  • MiddletonBanks - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    If you are looking for a macbook to run memory hungry games or to do a lot of photo editing and won't be looking to carry it about everyday then the macbook pro 15 is the one for you. You can buy it here http://www.middletonbanks.com/acatalog/Apple_MacBo... for only £1,240 including VAT and delivery. Reply
  • MiddletonBanks - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    If you are looking for a macbook to run memory hungry games or to do a lot of photo editing and won't be looking to carry it about everyday then the macbook pro 15 is the one for you. You can buy it here http://www.middletonbanks.com/acatalog/Apple_MacBo... for only £1,240 including VAT and delivery. Reply

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