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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > 128 Vs 256

128 Vs 256
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Geofries
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Jun 20, 2007, 10:46 AM
 
I saw a link to barefeats, basically claiming that there was no distinguishable difference.

Now I'm asking those who have either one of the systems, and even those who don't yet know about these things, is this really true?

Also, if it IS true as of now, shouldn't down the line the 256 vram make for better performance, in things like leopard and other things such as games and stuff?

I just find it hard to believe the the claim that there is no distinguishable difference, and want to get the best knowledge possible before I make such a huge investment.
     
olePigeon
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Jun 20, 2007, 02:15 PM
 
There's no distinguishable difference if you're only running one application that is taking advantage of the video memory (and however big your screen is.) It certainly doesn't hurt to have more.
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highstakes
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Jun 20, 2007, 02:22 PM
 
I ran Warcraft on the 128 and 256 MBP Core Duo laptops, and to be honest, I did'nt notice much difference. By the "default" setting, the 256 had more distance and better weather effects...other than those two, everything else remained the same.
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DeeKat
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Jun 20, 2007, 02:39 PM
 
It makes a difference for games and/or 3D apps. It also future proofs the MBP.
     
mduell
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Jun 20, 2007, 06:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by DeeKat View Post
It makes a difference for games and/or 3D apps. It also future proofs the MBP.
Not really, unless the game has extraordinarily large textures.
     
slpdLoad
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Jun 20, 2007, 06:34 PM
 
Should make a difference running multiple monitors, since each monitor gets 64mb with a 128 card and each monitor gets 128 with a 256 card.
     
mduell
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Jun 20, 2007, 07:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by slpdLoad View Post
Should make a difference running multiple monitors, since each monitor gets 64mb with a 128 card and each monitor gets 128 with a 256 card.
AFAIK video cards stopped splitting memory 'down the middle' a long time ago. If you're playing a game on one display and looking at your desktop on another, the game is going to get more VRAM than the desktop.
     
MattJeff
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Jun 20, 2007, 09:24 PM
 
it will help down the road.
     
Geofries  (op)
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Jun 21, 2007, 03:29 AM
 
Not planning multiple monitors or anything. My main concern like a few have mentioned, is longevity. Once I make this purchase, I need this laptop to suffice for 3-5 years. I know that's extreme, but the stuff I do isn't heavy nor intense.
     
fisherKing
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Jun 21, 2007, 08:42 AM
 
most people want their computers to last at least 3-5 years, so not unreasonable.
with that in mind, i know lots of macusers running old imacs, old powerbooks...
and getting their work done.

so, 128 vram will be more than sufficient.

go get a macbook pro, treat it well, enjoy it for a long time..
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MattJeff
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Jun 22, 2007, 10:53 PM
 
you really think 128 will do for 5 years? My imac(G4) works well but is generally dead to me now for things like video, Photoshop, and even iphoto. its just to slow. if you look at how fast everything is growing wont 5 years from now be a big leap?
     
mduell
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Jun 23, 2007, 07:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by MattJeff View Post
you really think 128 will do for 5 years? My imac(G4) works well but is generally dead to me now for things like video, Photoshop, and even iphoto. its just to slow. if you look at how fast everything is growing wont 5 years from now be a big leap?
Your G4 iMac is slow because of the CPU or RAM, not the GPU or VRAM.
     
fisherKing
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Jun 23, 2007, 07:26 PM
 
really...
i've got friends getting their work done on old ibooks with 16meg vram;
i work (hard!) on a g4 powerbook with a second monitor, and 64megs ram.

longevity? i'd be more concerned about the hard drive, the logic board.
get applecare, treat the machine well...and you should be fine...
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MattJeff
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Jun 23, 2007, 10:51 PM
 
Im in this position as well so lets get this straight... your telling me that i can get the 256 and not see a performance boost? lets say i wanted to buy Battlefield 2142 when its released, if i had 128 mgs would it be able to handle it as well as 256? this Would Change everything for me but i need to know for sure that this computer will Be able to handle my work/play for around 4 years.
-500$ is a big difference thats 25%
     
tinkered
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Jun 24, 2007, 05:32 AM
 
Honestly, I still use my Pismo with 8MB of VRAM for many basic task, although it is noticeable that it struggles. In a few years the GPU will be out of data. With 256 MB for VRAM is will still have a completive amount of VRAM for many games and will be able to play them, although the quality will be limited. With 128 expect the gaming to be limited. On the other hand, if you are not a gamer I would expect the 18 to be fine. Frankly, I expect integrated cards to be noticeably worse even a few years from now.
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JoshuaZ
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Jun 24, 2007, 10:47 AM
 
The big difference between the 128 and the 256 will be if you want your games to have ULTRA settings turned on or just HIGH settings turned on. At least according to these bench marks.

MacBook Pro "Santa Rosa" - 128M vs 256M VRAM

In general, no matter what laptop you get now, it'll have issues playing games 3 years down the line. It doesn't matter if you but the 128 model or the 256 model. In three years so much will have changed but hardware and software wise that your computer won't be able to handle the new stuff. To prove this point just go and look at the Apple offerings 3 years before.

15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, G4/1.5 GHz (2004)

You had a 1.33 or 1.5 G4, with 256/512 built in RAM, and a ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 AGP4x VRAM: 64 MB.

Now thats more or less what I have on my 12in Powerbook (1.33, 768 RAM, 64 VRAM GeForce 5200). So how does that stack up these days to the new software? Well it CAN play Doom 3, but at lowest settings and rather crap. It can play HALO decently. It does just fine for most everything in my day to day activities.

So there you go. Three years from now your computer will probably not be able to play the brand new super cool FPS that hit the market. It doesn't matter if you go for the 128 or 256. You're probably better off spending that extra $500 on some other fun products for your computer. Like a terabyte of external storage.

That is all.
     
Film Prof
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Jun 24, 2007, 09:45 PM
 
I was at a conference lately, where one of the presenters was using extremely high resolution images of medieval manuscripts. His presentation was slowed down considerably as we waited for the images to be rendered.

He had a Core Duo with 128MB. My Core 2 Duo with 256MB is considerably faster performing this function.
     
mduell
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Jun 24, 2007, 10:22 PM
 
I'd guess that's more RAM/CPU bound, unless he was using Aperture.
     
JoshuaZ
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Jun 24, 2007, 11:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Film Prof View Post
I was at a conference lately, where one of the presenters was using extremely high resolution images of medieval manuscripts. His presentation was slowed down considerably as we waited for the images to be rendered.

He had a Core Duo with 128MB. My Core 2 Duo with 256MB is considerably faster performing this function.
Overall RAM and CPU could also be a big part of it. That and what program he was using to do the presentation. I doubt the difference in VRAM would have helped him much.
     
MattJeff
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Jun 27, 2007, 12:21 PM
 
so what is the purpose of 256? does it only help with an external screen?
     
OreoCookie
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Jun 27, 2007, 12:49 PM
 
It doesn't help with your external screen.
In the old days, graphics cards had limited VRAM so that you couldn't display all color depths at all resolutions, etc. But these times are long gone. For 2D, any graphics card you can buy these days, even the cheapest, are plenty. As I said, my best friend runs a 23" HD ACD off his `puny' MacBook (he doesn't like it when I call it puny ).

Even for many 3D applications, there is no difference between 128 MB and 256 (since they use identical gpus). If you are on a limited budget (which you most likely are), you'll benefit more from investing that money into more RAM, a larger harddrive and/or an external screen.
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MattJeff
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Jun 28, 2007, 07:40 PM
 
haha i thought i understood all of this....but i dont....ok now the macbook has basically no VRAM, but from what i hear the MBP is considerably faster, why is this? basically i'm asking for someone to explain everything about VRAM to me slowly and with small words because i don't understand VRAM now.
     
MattJeff
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Jun 28, 2007, 07:41 PM
 
And thanks for putting up with me...
     
OreoCookie
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Jun 29, 2007, 12:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by MattJeff View Post
haha i thought i understood all of this....but i dont....ok now the macbook has basically no VRAM, but from what i hear the MBP is considerably faster, why is this? basically i'm asking for someone to explain everything about VRAM to me slowly and with small words because i don't understand VRAM now.
Ok, VRAM was once a certain type of RAM used on more expensive video cards (the cheaper ones have DRAM). Nowadays graphics cards use many different types of RAM, but in the Mac world at least, people still use VRAM for the RAM used by the video cards gpu (graphics processor unit).

The other fact which is now also a thing of the past is that VRAM used to be so expensive that you couldn't run `Millions of Colors' (i. e. 24 bit colors) with all resolutions, because you didn't have enough VRAM (height x width x 3 = number of bytes you need). The 30" ACD has about 4 megapixels which means you need about 12 MB of VRAM. This means, if it were up to 2D only, basically any graphics card wouldn't run out of VRAM, even if you connect to 30" ACDs to it. However, there are other limiting factors (type of connectors, etc.) so that you cannot connect 30" ACDs to any Mac. But basically, the message is that if you are in 2D mode, the amount of VRAM doesn't matter nearly as much as it used to.

The fact that the ProBook has much faster graphics has (in a certain sense) nothing to do with the amount of VRAM, but mainly with the gpu: the ProBook's gpu is a lot, lot faster than the MacBook's. Furthermore, OS X (and also Windows Vista) use 3D acceleration to, well, accelerate certain nice effects and graphics filters. Here, the simple equation to determine the amount of VRAM you need doesn't hold anymore. In addition to the amount above, you need memory to store all the windows, textures, little programs which become filters in Aperture or FC, etc. However, as long as everything fits into the VRAM, it doesn't matter how much you have.

That's why there are plenty of applications (e. g. browsing the web, e-mails and Photoshop) where the amount of VRAM doesn't really matter (`as long as it is enough'). Hence you might be fully content with a MacBook which has pretty much the same processing power as a ProBook if you are into Photoshop, for instance. However, if you use Aperture or Final Cut a lot (I rely on the former to manage all my pictures), then you probably will feel a difference between a MacBook and a ProBook, mainly because the gpu is a lot faster.

A last word about `integrated gpu' or `integrated graphics': this just means that the gpu is built into the chipset (which connects the cpu to its RAM, harddrives, USB, etc.). This saves the computer company money and the notebook runs cooler. It usually also means that the gpu doesn't have its own VRAM, but appropriates part of your RAM which isn't accessible to applications anymore. It doesn't really matter that 64 MB of your 1 or 2 GB RAM are `missing', but what matters is that the graphics card has to share the bandwidth (amount of data per second) with regular apps that access RAM. A few years ago, this was a complete no-no, but nowadays, even integrated graphics cards are so fast that they suffice for all `office tasks' and more. For instance: the current integrated graphics card that is used in Apple's current line-up is faster than the dedicated graphics chip (with its own memory) of its predecessors, the iBooks and the 12" PowerBook. Apple goes with the flow on this one, other notable notebook manufacturers do the same, my sister's 1000 Euro HP notebook also uses has an integrated graphics card.

If you couldn't follow, the basic message is: for everyday applications, there will be virtually no difference between a ProBook with 128 MB VRAM and one with 256. For many tasks, even the slower graphics card of a MacBook suffices. In particular, a MacBook can drive a 23" ACD, but not a 30" ACD (this has `other' reasons). For your needs, I think you should invest into RAM, harddrive space or a nice screen: that'll be a much, much better investment than more VRAM.
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MattJeff
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Jun 29, 2007, 01:51 AM
 
Thank you soooo much! i'm sorry i made you write all that but it helped a lot actually. ok...wow that was long but helpful. thanks again OreoCookie!


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OreoCookie
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Jun 29, 2007, 02:04 AM
 
Glad I could be of help
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bhdz
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Jun 29, 2007, 06:00 AM
 
I've already ordered a 2.4 MBP without reading your post...I hope I'll be able to make a good, maybe slighly longer use of the portable computer than the 2.4 MBP model. I'm upgrading from a 667 Tibook.
     
MattJeff
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Jun 29, 2007, 06:52 PM
 
I'm going to get the 2.2 and a 20" Apple display instead of the extra 128. I'm excited.
     
OreoCookie
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Jun 29, 2007, 07:20 PM
 
Make sure to put 2 GB RAM in it (you don't have to buy memory from Apple, though. Other than that, congrats!
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