Apple MacBook Pro 13—Surprisingly Powerful 320M

Ah yes, the NVIDIA GeForce 320M, a.k.a. the excuse given for why the MBP13 is still running Core 2. It’s an integrated chip, with 256MB of system memory allocated to the IGP. As I said before, it’s got 48 CUDA cores clocked at 450 MHz, compared to the G 310M (in most of ASUS’ ultraportables) which has 16 CUDA cores at 625 MHz. It’s based on NVIDIA’s GT216 core and is basically an integrated version of the GeForce GT 325M. Interestingly, NVIDIA also has a similarly (and rather confusingly) named GT 320M (found in the HP dv6/7t) but that is a dedicated card with a stripped version of the GT216 core and has 24 pixel pipelines clocked at 500 MHz.

So, there’s your NVIDIA mobile GPU lesson for the day. But here’s the basics—the 320M is the replacement for the old 9400M and is basically a GT 325M integrated into the chipset. We expect it to run squarely in between the ASUS ultraportables and the N83Jv/Alienware M11x (GT 335M), slightly slower than the GT 325M, and somewhere around the ATI HD 5470. Here's how gaming performance stacks up.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Under low settings, the MBP ended up around 10% faster overall than the Dell Studio 14, which has the HD 5470 (excluding the StarCraft II number). The Alienware M11x, ASUS N82Jv, and Gateway ID49C remain quite a bit faster, as expected, while the ASUS U-series end up significantly slower. The other integrated solutions (9400M, HD 4200/4225) are comparatively woeful. With the G 310M, you can play basically everything in our benchmark suite (except Mass Effect 2) at native res, lowest detail settings. With the other integrated graphics solutions, you need to take the resolution down a few notches to get anything even resembling a playable frame rate.

 Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty 

At medium detail settings, I expected the 320M to falter, but it surprised me by staying playable in all of our benchmarks. Bad Company 2 is a bit low, but if you really want to play it at Medium it’s possible, unlike with the G 310M and other low end dedicated graphics units. Frame rates in the mid-20 to low-30 range are awesome by mobile IGP standards. Things that aren’t playable on the G 310M, like Mass Effect 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, hit the magical 30 fps mark with the 320M. The 320M performs more like a midrange mobile GPU than any shape or form of integrated graphics; this is understandable given it’s roots as an integrated GT 325M, but it's still pretty awesome.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Core 2 Duo Performance Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Average Battery Life
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  • chui101 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    "I wanted to take the vaunted MBP and put it in an apples-to-apples comparison"

    Shouldn't that be an *Apple*-to apples comparison? :D
    Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    o ho - i see what you did there. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    the article is very well written. However, i would say that comparison section was not well justified.
    i mean.. look at the price.... if you want to do a "apple to apple" comparison, aren't you suppose to have product in the same ball park? at least for products that carries similar MSRP (i am not even talking about street price, which we all know you can easily get 30% off for all dell).

    i know anand review are based on computers that send to you for reviewing at the manufacture's cost, and this chart is probably the best anand can gather. but reading this review is akin to read, say a MB S550 destroies Toyota corolla in term of comfort and features. OKAY.. what i really know is does MB S550 a better vehicle than Lexus LS600. (besdies, the Macbook seems to carry a better screen, but doesn't offer much else if you want to run windows)

    i recently discovered you can easily buy a AFFS screen from ebay and swap it yourself. what this means is that instead of buying expensive tablet IPS/AFFS screen, one can just spend 75 dollars on ebay and get a 8 bit AFFS screen for computers such as Thinkpad X200/X201, which will be infinity better than TN of any kind. i am shocked that lenovo doesn't make it a option.

    anyhow. good write up, but next time please do a "apple" to "apple" comparison.
    Reply
  • newrigel - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Yeah, everyone's a tech. Reply
  • Maxed Out - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I have been running Windows 7 Ultimate from the beta stage and up on my MacBook Pro 17" (Early 2008) and have had no real problems. Before 7 I was running Vista Ultimate x64, so no real surprises. The only real gripe would be that the key (Windows=command & ALT=option) positions and the lack of a contextual menu key, but in the Mac world, right click has been frowned upon by Steve and the rest of the board, so i understand that.

    The only bad thing I have to say is that, yes the MacBook runs hot in Mac OS, but apple has not done anything to port the ASIC driver that controls the fans, it there for runs even hotter in Windows.
    Reply
  • Stokestack - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    A far bigger annoyance is the lack of a real Delete key. Alone among manufacturers, Apple has only a Backspace key (which they mislabel "delete"). Meanwhile, they have a dedicated Eject key, for seldom-used optical media. Oh, and they decided that they had to put a hardware delay on Eject, to prevent the bloody mayhem of accidentally ejecting a disc. That prevents you from remapping it as a Delete key.

    Apple could easily have solved both problems by replacing Eject with a real Delete key, and making Eject a secondary function on some other key (or even on the same one). Instead, they require you to use a secret two-handed key combination to delete a character. The vast majority of users spend their time arrowing to the right across the text they want to delete and then backspacing over it. Yes, that's "elegant."

    The reviewer also should have hammered the asinine glossy screen, and lack of a matte option. It makes no sense: The computer most likely to actually leave the house is the one denied common-sense options like a matte screen. Glossy screens suck in all conditions; even in a pitch-black room, you see YOURSELF in the screen because you're illuminated by it. Those "deep blacks" and "rich colors" you were promised with a glossy screen are neither deep nor rich when washed out by the sheen of reflection that covers them 100% of the time.
    Reply
  • JS - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I definitely prefer glossy screens on desktops. To me, seeing a vague reflection of yourself under certain lighting conditions is nothing compared to the "sparkling" surface finish of all matte screens that I have used so far.

    It's a matter of taste.
    Reply
  • SoCalBoomer - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    That would be fine - if he were reviewing a desktop. He's reviewing a laptop and on a laptop, a glossy screen is asinine! :D Reply
  • Tros - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I'm using both a matte desktop screen (Samsung P2570HD) and a MBP side by side right now. Guess what. I can read things easier on the glossy high-contrast screen better than on the matte-monitor. The blacks are deeper, the whites are brighter. I can also read on the MBP outside (Texas).

    I would like to think that this isn't because of glossy vs matte, but because of contrast, period. I have another laptop around here with a glossy screen, and have a hard time reading it in a lit room.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    High contrast will make a screen easier to read and whatever, but if that MBP had a matte screen it would be yet more easy to see with no distractions. The whole point of a display is to see what's displayed on it, not to see what's reflected on it, which is also going to affect colour accuracy. Glossy screens are totally not usable as far as i'm concerned.

    Even in the pics posted here it looks ridiculous, imagine how much better and easier to see that screen would be outside without all them reflections over it.
    Reply

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