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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  • yodasz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I wonder if the SSD performance and compatibility issues have been addressed in this revision? Does anybody have an update on that? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    3Gbps works out of the box (confirmed on Corsair's Force 100GB drive). The system seems to work fine with the SandForce controller, but the same is true for the previous gen. I haven't tried Indilinx yet. Intel also appears to work fine.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    That is the most important information from this release. Sadly, you are likely the only one to report on it.

    How does the use of SATA II over SATA III affect the performance of SSDs?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    The only SSD that can benefit from 6Gbps SATA is the Crucial/Micron RealSSD C300, which I've briefly talked about here:

    http://anandtech.com/show/2944

    The problem today is some 6Gbps SATA controllers are actually slower than Intel's 3Gbps SATA controller:

    http://anandtech.com/show/2973/6gbps-sata-performa...

    Realistically I don't expect 6Gbps SATA to be that important to SSD performance until next year.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pat69 - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Do you know which kind of SSD Apple is providing through the 3 options (128, 256, 512)? Are these SSD good ones? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Apple doesn't like confirming this kind of stuff, but I'm guessing they are supplied by Toshiba and/or Samsung. If so, the drives are ok but not particularly great. I'd save the upgrade cost and do it yourself aftermarket.

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

    I take it then that your recommendation would be to that same $500 that Apple wants for their 256G SSD and put it toward a 160G x25-M gen 2? Reply
  • bradpowers - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    Could we get benchmarks on the MBP with the Corsair F100? I'm very interested in that combination. Reply
  • stimudent - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Still measuring in inches and feet... Reply
  • Squuiid - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Aynbody know what model the 256GB SSD is? Reply

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