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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  • IlllI - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    umm.. some many months ago i made a comment in a review here in regards to glossy screens. specifically i suggested possibly using an anti glare filter (here is one for example http://www.photodon.com/c/LCD-Protective-Films.htm... ).

    the reviewer at the time (i forget who) said he'd buy one and then do a review about it later on anandtech.. well that was many, many months ago. maybe even almost a year ago. to this day i keep wondering what ever happened to that review

    i'd still like a review of these things, since i completely detest glossy screens myself.. but seemingly most laptops are going this way. i think only business laptops offer matte options now :(
    Reply
  • appliance5000 - Sunday, October 24, 2010 - link

    Based on the article's title the answer is yes - it's a decent windows machine. If you want to run OSX it's the only option (legal).

    I'd ask a few questions: is bootcamp more efficient than parallels and/or vmfusion?

    RE the old chip: Mac's are optimized for OSX and apps designed for OSX use the GPU via openCl. The new intels do not allow this.

    Mac is stingy with memory - always has been - nothing new.

    Check the resale value on ebay. The value becomes more apparent.

    Apple is not so much interested in pure performance, from ipod to ipad they use readily available components. What they excell at is user interface: they make products that people want to use.

    There are many things to hate about apple but until other software/hardware manufacturers take the user into consideration, apple will do just fine. Borrow a friend's apple product for a few days and use it. 2 things will occur:

    you will be able to use it well in a short time and enjoy the process ,

    and you will hate apple all the more because Jobs is totally annoying while being generally correct. That, my friends, is a toxic cocktail.
    Reply
  • deathdemon89 - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    .. you had compared it to models that were actually in the same category as the MBP 13, like the Vaio Z. It would have been interesting to see how it stacked up to something its own size, but (seemingly?) superior in every other respect - processor, display, keyboard and all. Reply
  • newrigel - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Why in the hell would you want it to be if you can but a 17 inch PC laptop for $500? Reply
  • ChuckDarwin - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    I think the answer to the question posed by the article's title is, "yes." The current 13" MBP makes a "decent" Windows laptop, in terms of performance, but it certainly can't justify the price for the performance.

    But here's the thing. How many people use a thin-and-light laptop to do heavy video encoding? Practically nobody. And that is where the newer i3-i5-i7 hardware matters. What do people actually use their thin-and-light laptops for? Office, surfing the net, and light gaming. All of which the 13" MPB delivers on Windows just as well as Brand X with a Core i5 and integrated graphic.

    Meanwhile, the MBP really delivers on things you notice in everyday use rather than checking off a features list. Only the Apple has a screen you actually want to look at for hours on end, and only the Apple has a multi-touch trackpad that is effortlessly responsive. Apple's close attention to "user experience," and build quality, are the real reasons why the 13" MBP is still competitive with other manufacturers' machines despite running on 2 yo hardware.

    For the record, I bought my 13" MBP 2 years ago when they debuted, replacing a 12" Sony Vaio. For my money, there was no comparison at the time between the Vaio line and Apples in terms of build quality, and back then the MBP was basically the same price as a similarly-specced Vaio. The MPB looks still delivers, as described above, as a work-oriented travel machine, whereas my 12" Vaio looked like it had been through a war after 2 years--it had a cracked case from a 2' drop, the screen latch wouldn't close properly, the hinge on the screen was a little loose, and the rubber on the keys was becoming discolored. Meanwhile the MPB has survived at least as much abuse and looks like new.

    Admittedly, though, I'd never buy a 13" MBP today until Apple updates to Sandybridge--but then again, I wouldn't buy ANY laptop from any manufacturer today for the same reason.
    Reply
  • dqnet - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    I'm really considering splashing out on the 13" but I've read countless articles and all I hear is the glossy screen is either horrible or awful. I dont want the 15", I need the portability and I dont know what on earth to do!??????????

    The comes the SSD issue, if I want this option I have to wait 6 weeks!
    I can always get this later down the line I guess?? well from what the article suggests??

    Any help (opinions) would be great as right now i'm lost! :(
    Reply
  • asuka10456 - Wednesday, April 06, 2011 - link

    I installed windows 7 on my gf laptop and attempted to play magic workstation. It was unplayable but it played decent on my hp 210 mini netbook. MWS is used to play card games and doesn't really use a lot of resources, I don't understand why it doesn't run Reply

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