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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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Three things: brand name, build quality, and LCD quality. While I can easily ignore the first, the second two are an area where Apple consistently gets it right. I wish Dell, HP, etc. would do better at copying the important aspects of the MacBook Pro rather than just a stab at aesthetics, because as much as I like the 15z it's definitely not put together anywhere near as well as the MBP 15. Reply
  • maxxl - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Although you must realize that there are lots of "retrospooty" thinking people around, which are always moaning. And no matter what you will say, this retrospooty's kind of people wil always try to convince you, that you are looser, becouse they can buy "dozens of tables for a price of an iPad". I say to them: stop moaning, just go buy what you want, I'm not interested in your opinion ;) Reply
  • zhill - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Yeah, I agree Jarred. Plus don't forget OS. I'm convinced that if Apple stopped making OS X and just had Windows on their hardware they wouldn't sell nearly as many machines. OS X isn't all great, but it is significantly different than Windows and the whole "you won't get viruses on a Mac" argument is a big seller (I'm not going to argue it is actually more secure, but the market-share argument is reasonable enough, although in that case Apple is its own worst enemy--more market share=more likely for attack).

    Plus, Apple's interface items are so much better than most PCs: keyboard (generally speaking, but there are some good PC keyboards..uhem Thinkpad which I'm typing this on...though they aren't cheaper); the trackpad is vastly superior to the windows equivalents in terms of multitouch and precision--still love my Trackpoint nub though :)
    Reply
  • maxxl - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    So what? Do you really think that there is someone interested in your buying decisions? Do you really think that Apple will lower their prices, becouse only that will drive mr. retrospooty to buy one MB Pro, which he cries for? Stop moaning, just buy what you can afford. I don't give sh.t what laptop you will choose. Good luck, be happy "equivalent ones" boy... ROTFL ;)))) Reply
  • iSayuSay - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Really? You can get 2 laptop with nice equivalent keyboard, trackpad, display, tech support, aluminum unibody for $1800?

    Wow .. where did you get that? Please share your valuable information with us. Does it come with OSX too?
    Reply
  • vision33r - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    There's no way Dell, Asus, or HP will ever get close to Apple in terms of build quality. It's simply unprofitable as it is in the PC industry with cut throat competition and lower margins.

    Most Windows users can accept shoddy quality as long as things are cheap and they can upgrade every other year.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Unfortunately this is why they'll keep being inferior. It sucks because you see some trying to do what the MBP does but it is only on the most superficial level, they completely miss the point when it comes to the displays and trackpads. Reply
  • ananduser - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Have you personally tested all high end solutions from other manufacturers than your favorite brand, KoolAid drinking man(says so in your nick) ? I think not. Defending your reasons for your acquisition does not a best laptop make. Reply
  • Greg512 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    I read a lot of reviews and have yet to see a PC with the combination of processing power, screen quality, keyboard/touchpad quality, and battery life that the MacBook Pro 15 in. has. One may exist, but I haven't seen a review of it. I am not saying Macs are perfect, but they do other a combination of features and quality that are quite rare. I am not a fan of OSX, but I do like Apple hardware. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Show me a laptop with the same combination of size, performance, display quality, keyboard, battery life, and trackpad.

    I've looked at my share, and the only one I'd consider at this point is a mid to high range Lenovo, vetted to get a good display since many of them have poor ones. The x220 with the IPS upgrade is quite good, despite the 16:9 display.

    Most laptops aren't very good, and it is completely the fault of companies for missing the point and copying the MBP on only the most superficial level with case design.
    Reply

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