Last week we got the details of Apple’s Macbook Pro updates, and although the biggest news is their speedy new port, there’s another item on the spec sheet that deserves a second look: graphics. The Pros are undergoing a significant graphical change, dropping the Nvidia chips entirely for integrated Sandy Bridge, plus dedicated Radeon GPU’s on some models. But how big of a difference is that really? Should gamers add the refreshed MBP to their purchasing radars? And just how much can we expect from integrated visuals, even if these are so tightly bound to the CPU?
video card benchmark list at Notebookcheck.net, the disparities become clear. As you’d expect, the new top of the line is also top of the pile, easily outperforming the previous revision’s best. Meanwhile, though, the HD 6490M is ranked below them both, so even going middle of the line this time around won’t push you over the old GT 330M.
gaming performance list with a few titles from recent years, it’s the same story. The 330M has a definite leg up over the 6490M, especially at the medium settings where you might actually play a game. It’s disappointing to see that turning your visual options above average still requires a MBP with the very best card.
independent reviews have the 3000 performing poorly on anything above low settings. Of course, that’s only an issue for 13” Pro buyers who don’t have any other graphics options, and for them the more important question is how Sandy Bridge handles video. To get a solid answer on that, though, we’ll have to wait on some proper reviews of those MacBook Pro models.