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Macbook for gaming?


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#41 Quicksilver

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 06:07 AM

View PostQuantaCat, on March 12th 2008, 04:36 AM, said:

Is it just me, or are you on a crusade against current gen macbooks, quicksilver?


Most people I know that own macbooks, don't have it for gaming. So why do you care? There is a laptop with a better graphic card, so it's not that they're completely dumbing down. Or do you think the price range is too stupid? (ie. that they should make all components interchangeable, like 11" macbook, with a 8600m?) because if you don't, then I can't find a *logical* reason for you to hate them so much.

I'm on a crusade against stupid decisions.  Because Apple wants to pinch pennies (add the IR remote-less MacBook Pro to the mile-high list of proof), they've created a MacBook that can't do a whole lot in terms of high-end multimedia entertainment.  

Quick aside: you can't make the GPUs on Apple's systems interchangable (they're integrated into the motherboard) without adding a daughtercard, and that would make all of the systems fatter (and require a complete redesign).

Obviously, one way to translate what I just said is to assume that I'm only talking about games, but in reality, I'm also referring to "creative" applications that require decent hardware acceleration, like Motion in Final Cut Studio.  As someone whose best friend is in the film industry, I know that a lot of students that want to use a Mac in the industry wind up shelling out an extra grand for a MacBook Pro just to get the 8600M GT.  This may give you a better idea of why this issue keeps tripping my "Rant Mode."  The way I look at it, the enormous gap in GPU power between the MacBook and MacBook Pro is:

a) Hitting students hard (who are potentially Apple's future "pro" consumers).  As a student myself, I'm always super short on money, and from personal experience, that sting hurts for a long time.
b) The only reason that Apple can keep the specs on the MacBook Pro lineup artifically low.  As soon as Apple adds decent graphics acceleration to the MacBook, all of the sudden, the MacBook Pro looks like the bad deal that it is.

Here's a few things to think about:

- Ever wonder how Apple can include a 250 GB hard drive on an expensive, professional media-oriented system when 320 GB mobile hard drives (the old standard) are in the process of being replaced by 500 GB drives?
- Consider the fact that the 8600M GT (512 MB) is about $90 in quantity.  Why then would Apple save $10 by shipping the $2000 MacBook Pro with 256 MB of VRAM?
- You can find 4 GB (2x2 GB) SO-DIMM kits for $80 and 2 GB (2x1 GB) SO-DIMM kits for $40 if you shop for a minute or two.  OEMs get them much cheaper since they buy hundreds of thousands of these things, but for argument's sake, let's assume that the difference in price (for them) is about $20.  For $2000-$3000 "Pro" system, does it make sense from a public perception standpoint to ship a system with what we perceive today as the bare minimum?  Even more importantly, what does it say about a company that charges $400 to upgrade from 2 GB to 4 GB?

To bring specs into alignment with Apple's current price points:

- The MacBook Pro lineup should include 4 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, and a 8800M GTS / 8700M GT (high end / low end).  In six months, all systems should move to the 9600M GT.

- All of the MacBooks should include a 8400M GT (with a 8600M GT as a speed bump in six months).

Another aside: In my opinion, Apple should replace the physical latch in the MacBook Pro lid with a magnetic clamp, dump the ExpressCard 34 slot, toss the Firewire 400 port in favor of a third USB port (include a FW800 -> FW400 adapter to make up for the loss), and use the resulting free space to include a third fan (whose cold-air intake, if you want to be creative, could be drawn through the Superdrive slot).

For reference, here are some rough 3DMark06 figures for the 8600M, 8700M, and 8800M GPUs (they're all 512 MB standard):
  • 8600M GT (20 watt TDP): ~3200 marks
  • 8700M GT (29 watt TDP): ~4700 marks
  • 8800M GTS (35 watt TDP): ~8400 marks
(Source: NoteBookReview.com Forums)
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#42 QuantaCat

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:12 AM

Well yes of course they're holding the macbook and macbook pro artificially down. But they're selling a style with the macbooks. And with the macbook pros, they're selling "professional solutions".

Yes, the pricing is mostly stupid. Especially if you calculate the difference in euros to dollars, and not just because the american market is doing so badly. But still, if I wanted to do editing, and I am a professional editor/post production person, I would get the MBP anyway. I can't imagine cutting on a macbook, it would make my head asplode. So I did (get an MBP, obviously).

Or at the very least, I don't hate the macbook for it. It's just not meant for any heavy multimedia processing. Watching movies. Typing. Presentations. That's what I expect from a macbook. The pro, on the other hand, should do the pro kind of things.
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#43 Huntn

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:34 AM

View Postbobbob, on March 12th 2008, 12:51 AM, said:

?
Most are actually the same chip architecture as the dedicated cards, just lower-clocked and with less units. Intel's latest have added more and more hardware features to match the competition, too. The only problem the competition has is that they're a bit slower than the cheapo dedicated cards, while Apple's only problem is that Intel sucks.

My thinking is that if it was just a matter shared RAM, that could be overcome easily by buying more RAM. My wife's MacBook has plenty of horsepower to run a game like Penumbra Overture, but it's apparent that the lack of 3D features holds it back.

Regarding MacBooks, if your a casual gamer, usually they will suffice.

#44 Janichsan

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:44 AM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 12th 2008, 01:07 PM, said:

... dump the ExpressCard 34 slot...
Talk about penny pinching. Obviously you do not use UMTS/HSDPA cards.

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#45 Quicksilver

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 09:24 AM

View PostJanichsan, on March 12th 2008, 08:44 AM, said:

Talk about penny pinching. Obviously you do not use UMTS/HSDPA cards.

The vast majority of people don't need that functionality, and if they do, it's sufficient to go through their cell phone's connection or buy a little USB modem (like the Huawei Terminal).  

It's not about penny-pinching; it's all about efficient volume utilization.  Having one more USB port and an extra fan for additional cooling capability will benefit far more users than an ExpressCard slot will.
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#46 Janichsan

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 09:48 AM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 12th 2008, 04:24 PM, said:

The vast majority of people don't need that functionality, and if they do, it's sufficient to go through their cell phone's connection or buy a little USB modem (like the Huawei Terminal).
...which of course they would have to lug around even more devices and/or have additional devices dangling from their MBPs.

But the HSDPA cards were mainly only an example. There are other ExpressCards, like eSata adaptors, Flash card readers, Firewire adaptors (for people that – for what reason ever – need more FW ports), audio cards, video cards… you name it.

Just because you don't need a ExpressCard slot doesn't mean it's useless to everyone. USB doesn't fix every need.

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#47 Quicksilver

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 10:11 AM

I understand that.  My point was that more people would benefit if the ExpressCard slot was eliminated.
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#48 iRolley

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 05:04 PM

I just tested my wife's Macbook 2.2 ghz, intel 3100 with 1gig Ram in Doom3.

I am amazed to report that you can have an excellent Doom3 experience. Running at 640x480, Low Settings, no High quality special effects, and no shadows, the game runs between 20 and 60 fps. Average at 25-40 I would say. I'll run the timedemo next time, but still it means that you can can simply lower the settings in Doom3 and get a very good fps out of a MacBook.

I was really not expecting that... good news I guess.

...the fans become quite loud though ;)...

#49 Quicksilver

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 06:38 PM

I hope that your "excellent experience/very good fps" statements were written from a sarcastic perspective.  ;)  First of all, there's no point in playing Doom 3 without all of the effects, because this closet jumper relies on the dynamic lighting to scare you.

Second, I tried your settings a while ago on the timedemo (using my old 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro), and pulled over 160 fps.  That system got a ~3,500 3DMark06 score.  By contrast, a stock 8800 Ultra will score well above 12,000.  

On a side note, can you imagine the tearing if you connected one of those to a CRT running at 60 Hz? :P
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#50 QuantaCat

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 02:40 AM

The only thing I don't like about the new macbook pros, is the new GPU. It seems, from various sources, that the 8600M isn't as stable as the x1600, although it has like, on average, 30fps more.


Still, what you should complain about, instead of what you are complaining about, is that apple is choosing for you, which is something less of an issue for PCs, where even the notebook vendors let you configure it fully, and not partially, like apple does.

So yes, some configurations made by apple are less than favourable. But that's the way they do their thing. Like I said, they don't sell computers, they sell style. Incidentally, people that don't have your demands of laptops/desktops, are completely ok with the configs that apple does.


By the way, what difference would it make if I had 3Gb RAM instead of 2? (graphically, that is)
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#51 iRolley

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 11:46 AM

View PostQuantaCat, on March 17th 2008, 02:40 AM, said:

Still, what you should complain about, instead of what you are complaining about, is that apple is choosing for you, which is something less of an issue for PCs, where even the notebook vendors let you configure it fully, and not partially, like apple does.

There has been hope, at some point, that with Apple's move to intel, we might be able to more easily use Windows Graphics Card...

Quote

So yes, some configurations made by apple are less than favourable. But that's the way they do their thing. Like I said, they don't sell computers, they sell style. Incidentally, people that don't have your demands of laptops/desktops, are completely ok with the configs that apple does.
By the way, what difference would it make if I had 3Gb RAM instead of 2? (graphically, that is)

I'd say... none. In the not so far future maybe, but currently I doubt those 2 gig are holding back your computer.

#52 iRolley

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:06 PM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 16th 2008, 06:38 PM, said:

I hope that your "excellent experience/very good fps" statements were written from a sarcastic perspective.  ;)  First of all, there's no point in playing Doom 3 without all of the effects, because this closet jumper relies on the dynamic lighting to scare you.

Actually, no it was not sarcastic  :happy:

Turning shadows off does not turn dynamic lighting off. It turns dynamic SHADOWS off. And frankly, shadows are fun and cute, but they are not worth the performance hit. You can turn them off and won't miss them so much, what's more the game will revert to static shadows to replace them, and those are SOFT SHADOWS which look much better!

As for Doom3 on a Macbook, I have never tried a Lan Doom 3 game (although I heard it is miserable), it'll be change from Quake3. The point is just to get a quick fix ;) not to expect the full blown experience.

#53 Quicksilver

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:50 PM

View PostQuantaCat, on March 17th 2008, 03:40 AM, said:

The only thing I don't like about the new macbook pros, is the new GPU. It seems, from various sources, that the 8600M isn't as stable as the x1600, although it has like, on average, 30fps more.

The 8600M is just as stable at the X1600, in my testing.  Sounds like you're picking up crud from random forums containing users that are complaining about driver conflicts.
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#54 bobbob

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 03:28 PM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 12th 2008, 09:11 AM, said:

I understand that.  My point was that more people would benefit if the ExpressCard slot was eliminated.
Benefit how?
The wiring and slot cost very little and take up little space. I don't know what you think removing the slot would get you. They could certainly put a better video chipset in now without removing the slot.

#55 teflon

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 05:04 PM

the whole machine's heat profile is based on gaps of millimetres through the entire case. The HDD has maybe 2mm clearance, the optical drive has to be 9.5mm instead of 12.5mm because theres not enough space etc. etc. The slot might not take up much space when its empty, but when full itll just be this block in the way of air. Except that thered still be the guide rails for the card, the interface etc. etc.

everything is about air flow, and everything is very very finely balanced in these machines... life would be slightly easier without the slot (for most people) and we could have another USB port and a eSata port or something...

but in reality, it wont actually change much if its there or not. some people will complain about the slot being there, some people will complain if the slot isnt there.

Personally im for it. it offers more options overall.
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#56 Quicksilver

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 07:11 PM

View Postbobbob, on March 17th 2008, 04:28 PM, said:

Benefit how?
The wiring and slot cost very little and take up little space. I don't know what you think removing the slot would get you. They could certainly put a better video chipset in now without removing the slot.

The wiring and the slot take up about the same amount of volume as a fan.  Yes, you can add a 8800M GT in the MacBook Pro right now, but without that extra fan, you might as well serve your family jewels like so:

Posted Image
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#57 AussieMacGamer

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 06:18 AM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 18th 2008, 12:11 PM, said:

The wiring and the slot take up about the same amount of volume as a fan.  Yes, you can add a 8800M GT in the MacBook Pro right now, but without that extra fan, you might as well serve your family jewels like so:

Posted Image

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#58 the Battle Cat

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 07:41 AM

Personally, I'm horrified at how tasty Grandpa's jewels look.
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#59 QuantaCat

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 12:51 PM

Not some random forums, QS, but some people can't get games to work properly. Maybe they did with downloading drivers that aren't *officially* supported, but I've experienced no such problems at all, with the x1600. But admittedly, a moot point.
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#60 iRolley

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 03:45 PM

Gotta love a forum where you can just suddenly fall on a picture of spaghetti in a topic like "Macbook for gaming?".

Thanks, you guys help me keep my sanity level just fine.

Cheers :happy: