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Apple underclocking MacBook Pro graphics cards

post #1 of 87
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Apple is trading graphics performance for battery life with its new line of Intel-based MacBook Pro notebooks.

The ATI Radeon X1600 graphics card inside each MacBook Pro is capable of running both its graphics processing unit and memory at about 470MHz, but avid computer users have discovered the cards are underclocked to 310MHz (GPU) and 278MHz (RAM).

The modifications cripple the speed of the graphics processor by about 34 percent and the memory by 41 percent.

Users discovered the change after installing Microsoft's Windows XP (with the help of Apple's Boot Camp software) and running a third party application called ATITool (0.25).

By sacrificing graphics performance, Apple was able to improve the MacBook Pro's battery life and keep the units near-silent.

Some daring MacBook Pro users successfully used the third party ATITool software to uncap the full potential of the ATI chip. They found it reduced the battery life of their MacBook Pro by about 30 minutes, but did not over heat the notebooks or cause any other side effects such as display artifacts.

However, one user said the uncapping "took only couple of seconds" to cause the system's cooling system fan to spin at a speed he "never experienced before."
post #2 of 87
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm all for this. I'd rather have a laptop that runs as silently as possible, and trade some performance for longer battery life.

That being said, wouldn't it be cool if Apple offered an "overlooking" tool, like ATI does? That way, if you want to squeeze every last frame per second out of Quake 4, you could, and than clock it back to the "recommended" state.
post #3 of 87
I'd like to know, how other Laptop-Manufacturer handled this problem? It seems, that the ATI graphic-card is a bit too hot for Notebooks!
post #4 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
...That being said, wouldn't it be cool if Apple offered an "overlooking" tool, like ATI does? That way, if you want to squeeze every last frame per second out of Quake 4, you could, and than clock it back to the "recommended" state.

This would be very neat if Apple were to somehow offer this.
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post #5 of 87
Yeah! this is good news for us laptoppers that want a silent environment.
However the best would be to solve it like they do with the processor:

Processor performance: highest or reduced.
GPU performance: highest or reduced.

I would always go with reduced GPU until I really needed a massive on screen feedback, like in Motion or while gaming.
post #6 of 87
Other manufacturers have noisy laptops, thats how they handle it.

I think the ideal solution would be for the graphics processor to only run at full specs when absolutely needed, some sort of automatic sliding scale of performance verses power consumption. This would be Apple's style, I'm disappointed in them.
post #7 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by palegolas
Yeah! this is good news for us laptoppers that want a silent environment.
However the best would be to solve it like they do with the processor:

Processor performance: highest or reduced.
GPU performance: highest or reduced.

I would always go with reduced GPU until I really needed a massive on screen feedback, like in Motion or while gaming.

True, but is a reboot required for the settings to take effect? If so I doubt Apple would include such a feature, otherwise have at it Apple!
post #8 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by thefunky_monkey
Other manufacturers have noisy laptops, thats how they handle it.

I think the ideal solution would be for the graphics processor to only run at full specs when absolutely needed, some sort of automatic sliding scale of performance verses power consumption. This would be Apple's style, I'm disappointed in them.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I believe that the CPU has very specific features that allow it to dynamically adjust its speed.

The GPU, however, DOES NOT. As such, it would be impossible for Apple to implement the feature you suggest.
post #9 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by crees!
True, but is a reboot required for the settings to take effect? If so I doubt Apple would include such a feature, otherwise have at it Apple!

A reboot would not be required - you can do it on the fly - example: ATIccelerator (could do with having this ported to intel - it would do just waht everyone wants - i.e. change the clock speed.)
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post #10 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Eduardo
This would be very neat if Apple were to somehow offer this.

I'm using ATIccelerator II on my TiBook right now. It does the on-the-fly-overclocking thing, but I'm only daring enough to get it about 15% over:

http://mapage.noos.fr/campahunta/index.html

I guess it would be nice if Apple put the GPU in its Energy Savings Preference...
post #11 of 87
If the heat is truly not a reliability issue, merely a noise and battery life issue, then Apple should offer a dropdown in Energy Saver Preferences:

Graphics Performance - Normal / Maximum.
post #12 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by palegolas
Yeah! this is good news for us laptoppers that want a silent environment.
However the best would be to solve it like they do with the processor:

Processor performance: highest or reduced.
GPU performance: highest or reduced.

I would always go with reduced GPU until I really needed a massive on screen feedback, like in Motion or while gaming.

I would like to be able to underclock the CPU, and reduce the clock even further on the graphics for heat and battery life. Unlike on my PMG5, I don't see the ability to select to run the CPU as "reduced" in the MBP Energy Saver preferences, or in the CHUD Processor Preference pane. Given the amount of flexibility that SpeedStep currently has, I'm surprised that almost none of it is given or available to the user.
post #13 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm all for this. I'd rather have a laptop that runs as silently as possible, and trade some performance for longer battery life.

That being said, wouldn't it be cool if Apple offered an "overlooking" tool, like ATI does? That way, if you want to squeeze every last frame per second out of Quake 4, you could, and than clock it back to the "recommended" state.


I quite agree. The battery life sacrifice isn't too bad, but the reported noise increase is. Also, it would be great if Apple offered, as you said, an uncapping tool (possibly incorporated in the Energy settings).
post #14 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm all for this. I'd rather have a laptop that runs as silently as possible, and trade some performance for longer battery life.

That being said, wouldn't it be cool if Apple offered an "overlooking" tool, like ATI does? That way, if you want to squeeze every last frame per second out of Quake 4, you could, and than clock it back to the "recommended" state.

That'd be cool but if someone overclocked too much and screwed up their computer think of all the warranty and tech support issues apple would have.

A simple normal and maximum like nagromme said would be perfect if it was possible to do that while still keeping the machines safe.

I mean yeah sure people haven't had problems with this but no one has done it for a long time, who knows how much life that might take out of the components, or future damage it could do.
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post #15 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm all for this. I'd rather have a laptop that runs as silently as possible, and trade some performance for longer battery life.

Screw that! you are giving Apple the pass...You save battery by not running wifi, so they made it able to switch off, why not have a switch in prefs...Working in Motion, turn it up, working on battery checking email, turn it down...and if they really wanted to take it to the next level, they could have an "ultra low" mode, clock everything at 100MHz, that would save some juce, would it not?

Theres no "i'd like to see" to it, if the artical is true, Apple should have DONE IT AT LAUNCH.
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post #16 of 87
Well given the issues Apple is already having with MacBook Pros, I think that not pushing the machine to the limits is probably a good thing to do. Of course there is nothing stopping you from overclocking your machine, at your own risk. I don't believe finding out your computer is better than advertised is false advertising.
post #17 of 87
The iMac is also underclocked. By default it is set at 400/400 instead of 470/470. I upped the frequency using ATI Tool and Far Cry was noticably smoother.
post #18 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by palegolas
Yeah! this is good news for us laptoppers that want a silent environment.
However the best would be to solve it like they do with the processor:

Processor performance: highest or reduced.
GPU performance: highest or reduced.

I would always go with reduced GPU until I really needed a massive on screen feedback, like in Motion or while gaming.

Could be like the Windows 'power-saving' option (not sure if it still exists) that slows down the CPU...it also has options to change the times for screensavers, sleep etc. based on whether or not the laptop is plugged in...
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post #19 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by palegolas
Yeah! this is good news for us laptoppers that want a silent environment.
However the best would be to solve it like they do with the processor:

Processor performance: highest or reduced.
GPU performance: highest or reduced.

I would always go with reduced GPU until I really needed a massive on screen feedback, like in Motion or while gaming.

That's an excellent suggestion Palegolas. I wonder why Apple didn't think of this already. Makes a lot of sense to be able to independently adjust both the graphics ram and processor speeds as well as the Core Duo processor's speed. There's still the processor speed adjuster in the Energy Saver Prefs on the Core Duo MBPs right?

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post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
Correct me if I am wrong here, but I believe that the CPU has very specific features that allow it to dynamically adjust its speed.

The GPU, however, DOES NOT. As such, it would be impossible for Apple to implement the feature you suggest.

I think you're wrong because such a feature exists with the Windows XP utility that was used to discover the graphics processor and ram speed slow downs.

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post #21 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by dexter
I'm using ATIccelerator II on my TiBook right now. It does the on-the-fly-overclocking thing, but I'm only daring enough to get it about 15% over:

http://mapage.noos.fr/campahunta/index.html

I guess it would be nice if Apple put the GPU in its Energy Savings Preference...

Thanks Dexter. I had no idea such a utility existed. This is great. Now can anyone tell me if a similar utility is out for the nVidea cards. My Quad has the GeForce 6600 in it and I don't see any way to put any of the ATI PCI Express video cards inside the Quad yet. Have any third parties written drivers for them?

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post #22 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by ecking
That'd be cool but if someone overclocked too much and screwed up their computer think of all the warranty and tech support issues apple would have.

A simple normal and maximum like nagromme said would be perfect if it was possible to do that while still keeping the machines safe.

I mean yeah sure people haven't had problems with this but no one has done it for a long time, who knows how much life that might take out of the components, or future damage it could do.

This is why I read through the posts first. This is exactly what I would have said.
post #23 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
Correct me if I am wrong here, but I believe that the CPU has very specific features that allow it to dynamically adjust its speed.

The GPU, however, DOES NOT. As such, it would be impossible for Apple to implement the feature you suggest.

There is a program called "RivaTuner" for Windows that allows you to change both the clock speed of your GPU and the GPU's video memory without rebooting. Many enthusiasts use this type of program to run the graphics card(s) in their gaming machines a bit faster than shipping specs.
post #24 of 87
This isn't the first time apple has pulled this stunt.

Back in the Rev B g5 days they had a 9800xt and 9600xt (so they said). When this ati program was run on these cards, it was found that these cards were actually running at 9600pro and 9800pro speeds. The next rev... they completely dropped the xt and pro titles because people were bitching.

Why they underclocked them for the g5's is unbeknownced to me... but they did.

I'm actually for a sliding scale for a laptop... kinda... sorta. I mean these laptops get hot enough as it is! I run my powerbook on a cooler 24/7. Course it's my work machine.

But it would be nice to get a little extra umph when u needed it.

 

 

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post #25 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by ascii
The iMac is also underclocked. By default it is set at 400/400 instead of 470/470. I upped the frequency using ATI Tool and Far Cry was noticably smoother.

Ah! Does the iMac get much hotter by turning it all the way up? And how much does it do for framerates? Can you give some benchmarks for the default settings and for the 'upped' settings? I would really like to know the difference there. And is the difference in Far Cry 'between the ears' or is it really noticeable?

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post #26 of 87
I'm not sure that's entirely lawful (at least in the UK).

If you've crippled something then you should be selling it as the full-on product. By hiding the fact that you have crippled the product, this is effectively what you are doing.

I should imagine that there have been a number of customers out there who have based their purchasing decision based on the performance of the X1600.

Unless Apple makes it perfectly clear that what it's selling isn't the full-on X1600, but a crippled version, then I think it is perfectly understandable that MBP purchasers who visit a retailer should expect full-on X1600 performance AND the low noise level that they experienced in the shop when they get home.

When they find out that they haven't received the full-on X1600 they are immediately entitled to a full cash refund and can insist that Apple stop selling the product (in this manner) in the UK. Not sure how this works in the US.

It's the same as Intel selling an 955 chip as a 965. Intel can't get away with it so why should Apple?

I can't believe how underhand Apple are sometimes...
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post #27 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Messiah
Unless Apple makes it perfectly clear that what it's selling isn't the full-on X1600, but a crippled version

They are. The specs page clearly references as mobility version, not a regular version.
post #28 of 87
So Apple is selling people castrated GPUs, but charging full price, just so the can brag with their x1600? Nice move - not.

I am no gamer myself, but if I shelled out the money for the MBP expecting to get great gaming performance, I'd be severely pissed now.

I suppose with the slow-ass clocking, Apple could have as well used a X800 in there. But it is always nice to see how some people find excuses for Apple even if they are outright duped...
post #29 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Messiah
I can't believe how underhand Apple are sometimes...

May I suggest actually doing some research, before spouting off? Apple is selling you the full X1600 mobility graphics card. By default, they have optimised its clock rate in software to enhance battery life, and make the MacBook Pro run as quietly and as cool as possible.

You can of course get ATI's beta utility to "overlock" it, though obviously this will hurt battery life and make your MacBook Pro a lot noisier and hotter. It's up to you.
post #30 of 87
On the other hand, if they advertised the X1600 mobility card, but gave you a different card, or a version which can't even clock as high, THAT would be a problem. However, this is NOT what Apple are doing.

It amazes me how {personal attack removed - JL} some people are, reaching conclusions before even doing some very basic research. Or maybe it's just laziness.
post #31 of 87
By the way, since it apparently is possible to adjust the GPU speed without rebooting, I do fully agree that Apple should look into the viability of adding some GPU speed options to the Energy Saver control panel, e.g. "Normal" and "Highest".

Until than, anybody who wants to change the clock speed of their GPU will need to download the official ATI tool, or something like ATIccelerator II. Both of which appear to adjust it on the fly: "On-the-fly ATI overclocking tool" from http://mapage.noos.fr/campahunta/index.html
post #32 of 87
Did anybody check ATI's Specifications page for the x1600 Mobility?

http://www.ati.com/products/mobility...600/specs.html


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Performance, technologies and features listed above can vary with specific notebook implementations.
Please consult with Notebook vendor for a complete list of supported features.
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post #33 of 87
What I find to be amazing is that all the people who crab about how they want a thinner, lighter laptop here, will also crab because said laptop can't cool enough, and that a bigger heavier battery can't be cramped in, so that these power hungry, and HOT chips can run at full speeds.

If the MBP were a half inch thicker, and a half pound heavier, then there wouldn't be a problem.

Life is a compromise. Get over it.
post #34 of 87
But, but, melgross , I want my 30" MacBook Pro with SLI graphics and quad core. It must weigh no more than 3 pounds, and have at least 8 hours of battery life. It must also be completely silent, and not generate any heat of any kind.

I hope Apple does not screw up again by not releasing this product. Apple keep screwing up. And I, for one, am tired of it! We must demand satisfaction!
post #35 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin Hood
But, but, melgross , I want my 30" MacBook Pro with SLI graphics and quad core. It must weigh no more than 3 pounds, and have at least 8 hours of battery life. It must also be completely silent, and not generate any heat of any kind.

I hope Apple does not screw up again by not releasing this product. Apple keep screwing up. And I, for one, am tired of it! We must demand satisfaction!


post #36 of 87
My question is: wouldn't this be considered false advertising? If they are marketing that they have a specific GPU that has a published set of features/speeds, then they are modifiying these speeds without telling the consumer, isn't that illegal. It's obvious they want to APPEAR to have a fast GPU when in reality they do not. A consumer making a purchasing decision would see this GPU and another computer with the same GPU and consider them equivalent, when in fact Apple's is not capable of performing at advertised speeds.

I see this as a blatent violation of consumer trust and Apple should be called on it. If I had purchased a new MacBook, I would be furious!
post #37 of 87
Quote:
melgross\tWhat I find to be amazing is that all the people who crab about how they want a thinner, lighter laptop here, will also crab because said laptop can't cool enough, and that a bigger heavier battery can't be cramped in, so that these power hungry, and HOT chips can run at full speeds.

If the MBP were a half inch thicker, and a half pound heavier, then there wouldn't be a problem.

Life is a compromise. Get over it.

Sure you are right melgross, life is a compromise. But a consumer should be the one who chooses to make the compromise. Apple should be clear that you are not getting what is 'in the box' so to speak. It should be very clear what you are compromising to get your thin, long-life-ed sleek MacBook. I love Apple computers but I am not a hacker and must rely on trusting apple's published specs as true.
post #38 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by makkystyle
My question is: wouldn't this be considered false advertising? If they are marketing that they have a specific GPU that has a published set of features/speeds, then they are modifiying these speeds without telling the consumer, isn't that illegal. It's obvious they want to APPEAR to have a fast GPU when in reality they do not. A consumer making a purchasing decision would see this GPU and another computer with the same GPU and consider them equivalent, when in fact Apple's is not capable of performing at advertised speeds.

I see this as a blatent violation of consumer trust and Apple should be called on it. If I had purchased a new MacBook, I would be furious!

Did you even read Lundy's post?
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post #39 of 87
Quote:
Originally posted by makkystyle
My question is: wouldn't this be considered false advertising? If they are marketing that they have a specific GPU that has a published set of features/speeds, then they are modifiying these speeds without telling the consumer, isn't that illegal. It's obvious they want to APPEAR to have a fast GPU when in reality they do not. A consumer making a purchasing decision would see this GPU and another computer with the same GPU and consider them equivalent, when in fact Apple's is not capable of performing at advertised speeds.

I see this as a blatent violation of consumer trust and Apple should be called on it. If I had purchased a new MacBook, I would be furious!

In a way I agree with you. When I found out my ATI 9800xt in my g5 wasn't a real 9800xt I was pretty upset. I mean I paid extra money for it.

Graphics card manufacters advertise the speeds of the GPU core and the memory rate. Even if it's slower, they always advertise. I'm curious as to why apple does NOT advertise these speeds and makes it difficult to find them out.

Can someone PLEASE give us speeds of an x1600 mobile GPU? I'd imagine they are different than a x1600... perhaps apple isn't underclocking them at all?

 

 

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post #40 of 87
Quote:
The Mobility Radeon X1600 GPU is essentially identical to the desktop Radeon X1600, save for its lower clock speeds and potentially smaller compliment of frame buffer memory. Whereas the desktop Radeon X1600 family of products will have their GPU's clocked at speeds ranging from 500MHz - 590MHz, with 128MB-256MB of memory clocked at 780MHz - 1.38GHz, the Mobility Radeon X1600 as it was configured in the Asus A7G notebook we used for testing had both its core and memory clocked at 470MHz. Clock speeds will likely vary based on the particular notebook design, however.

Off of hothardware.com...

So the macbook pros actually have a crippled x1600 mobility gpu. What a shame.

Can someone confirm the iMac's speeds?

 

 

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