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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  • gradjoh - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    If I read the charts correctly, then the new "late 2011" model is slower in every category than the "early 2011" model?? Reply
  • Zellias - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Since when have mac users been focused on performance? If you're concerned about performance buy a PC and save yourself some time and money. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    High end MBPs have generally been on the high end of performance. Fanboys threw a shitfit a few years ago when PCMag rated the MBP as the fastest PC laptop, barely edging out an HP (I think it was an Elitebook).

    You're paying for that performance in a thin and light package with good battery life. Compromise on any of those as well as the display, the keyboard, and the trackpad, and it's easy to get a cheaper laptop from someone else.
    Reply
  • arterius2 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Bug off iFanyboy, fastest PC laptop? you make me laugh, my 2 year old Asus G73 with an intel SSD rapes the living sh1t out of this POS. I been playing Starcraft II @ 1920x1080 on high setting with 40+fps with this laptop at less than half the price of the macbookpro.

    thin and light package? do you even know the crap you spew out of your mouth? macbook pro is far from light, in fact its quite heavy for its class due to being carved entirely out of a block of metal.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Nice troll, missing the point entirely is the way to go! Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Wow, so mad!

    See, this is what I talk about when it comes to angry fanboys. Newsflash: these machines all have most of the same guts, a quad core i7 in my case.

    And my POS MBP runs Starcraft 2 at over 60fps on high and over 200fps on low (pro style) at the same resolution.

    As far as weight goes, 5.6 lbs is extremely light given that notebooks with the same display size and power are generally over 6lbs and generally around 8lbs.

    GG
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Also, there seem to be serious reading comprehension issues here. The PCMag example I gave was ONE example where the MBP (I believe it was the Penryn launch) was actually the fastest notebook for a time. Obviously it isn't always the fastest, thermal limitations and the chassis size are always going to place a limit on that.

    The point still seems to stand though, say that the 15" MBP is actually fast hardware, or sometimes even the fastest, and some people go ballistic.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    The MBP has never been the fastest notebook around. Ever. It has (debatably) been one of the best built and equipped laptops, but fastest? Penryn MBPs were released around the time when other high-end laptops were going to Core 2 Extreme or at least T9500. The only way an MBP is "fastest" is if you arbitrarily eliminate faster contenders. Consider these two reviews (within a couple days of each other):

    Dell XPS M1730:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2461

    MBP 15 Penryn:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2459

    The XPS M1730 smokes the MBP 15 in performance (not that we did Apples to apples tests of the two, but you can just look at the specs to see where Apple is less than the XPS), thanks to the GPUs and faster CPU. Again, this is not to say that an MBP isn't potentially "best", or "best battery life", but "fastest"? Don't make me laugh.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    As I said, that was the result of a PCMag review that rounded up several other laptops in its comparison.

    As I also said in another response in this thread, it obviously wasn't the fastest forever, the whole point of that story is that people got up in arms over such a favorable review, just as it happens every time Anand posts a good review of an Apple product.

    That is all.

    I wouldn't dare call MBPs the fastest laptops around, if I wanted that I would be sacrificing battery life and size for the extra TDP that the faster CPU and GPU generate. This is obvious, but again it is an anecdote about the review used to make a point about how angry some people can get on the internet because some notebooks have a fruit shaped loge on the case.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    PC Mag. 'nuf said. ;-)

    I get the same vibe when I read modern hardware reviews in PC Gamer magazine; it's like the companies are just paying for the reviews to be favorable. "Oh, it's an Alienware? 95% and Editor's Choice!" Okay, we like the M17x and M14x (and to a lesser extent the M11x R3), but the M18x just feels like too much. /tangent
    Reply

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