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.

Apple's GPU Switching Technology Even Better Battery Life
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  • The0ne - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Wait, huh? I run Win7 and have XP and redhat and ubuntu running. Why can't he do the same? I'm totally confused. So it's meant to be MacOS only? Reply
  • jasperjones - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I said primary OS, not "only" or "exclusive" OS. It's well-known, for example, that MBPs has some issues on Windows that they don't have on OS X. My point is if you don't plan on running OS X most of the time, get something different.

    Anand wrote:
    "You're paying for the design, build quality and ultimately the right to use OS X. If those things don't matter to you (particularly the OS X item) then you'd be much better off with an ASUS or Dell."

    I would assume he made that comment in similar spirit.
    Reply
  • mikeev - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    What's wrong with at least him testing Win7 battery life and letting us know? Is it some sort of secret? We know it's going to be bad- we just want to know how bad.

    I swear, fanboys sometimes... *facepalm*
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    If I get the time to I'll run some Windows 7 numbers on it for you guys :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • mikeev - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Thanks Anand!! Reply
  • Jimbo - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Why not just get your own Intel 80GB SSD and call it a day?
    I think that 15" I5 with an SSD would would be about as much speed as anyone could reasonably want from a notebook these days.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Has Anand every reviewed or posted about the HP Envy? Just asking as I'd hate this all to be about apple Reply
  • Phynaz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    You would hate a Mac article to be just about Apple?

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    Reply
  • sportherz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks alot for the great update! However, I was wondering if you have any information on the new 13inch MacBookPro. I was looking to upgrade from an older ThinkPad T61p to the new 13 inch MacBookPro, mainly because I hate the time it takes my ThinkPad to wake (running it in Windows 7, using a Vertex SSD) and more importantly the battery life. Due to having to fly often I was also not happy with a 15inch notebook and thus I was eyeballing the 13inch. It would be great if you could post some benchmarking on the 13inch graphics card. It seems that from general performance alone there is really no need to go to the arandale (4% increase in speed seems marginal), is that true? Thus would you second Steve Job's saying that the more important upgrade was the graphic chip?

    Any additional info would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks for doing such an excellent job!
    Reply
  • fsardis - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    do the edges still cut through your wrists as you type?
    does it still get too hot to touch when doing any sort of intensive task?
    does the screen still tip over the moment you tilt the laptop forward in your lap?

    i wonder why i never see these obvious design flaws mentioned.
    Reply

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