Report: Apple severely underclocks MacBook Pro GPU to save power, lower heat

“Apple appears to have underclocked the ATI Radeon Mobility X1600 graphics chip in its MacBook Pro laptop. According to one online report, the GPU’s core runs 35 per cent slower than the clock speed recommended by ATI. The memory clock is 41 per cent below par,” Tony Smith reports for The Register. “The speed differential was spotted by a poster on French-language site MacBidouille, the site reports. The correspondent ran ATI’s ATI Tools utility – version 0.25, a beta release – running under Windows XP. The software revealed his MacBook Pro’s X1600 was clocked at 310MHz and the memory at 278MHz (556MHz effective).”

“Apple’s motivation would seem to be to keep the MacBook Pro’s overall thermal envelope down in order to keep the fan running as slowly as possible and the system as quiet as it can make it. There’s a battery life benefit too,” Smith reports. “According to the forum poster, who followed up his initially finding by installing “ATI-optimised drivers” rather than the ones supplied by Apple, his Counter Strike benchmark test with all settings pushed to the max and the resolution set to 1,440 x 900 saw frame rates jump from 61 to 97. Of course, that’s under Windows XP – it remains to be seen how Mac OS X users can gain the same benefit.”

More in the full article here.

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42 Comments

  1. The CPU is also hobbled.

    The Core Dual 2.16 scores 76 CPU and a three year old Dual 2 ghz (seperate processors) G5 scores 100 CPU.

    It’s to keep the heat down and sell a laptop, but we are not getting the performance.

    Also no Firewire 800 and only one USB and one Firewire 400.

    The whole machine is hobbled to keep the heat down, we need new technology. This “performance per watt” marketing glitz is only a temporary solution.

    I wonder if the Intel switch was worth it now.

  2. “Vista” you are one to talk… Microcrap “FLEECES” virtually the entire PC world with their poorly copied OS and all the viruses it attracts. What are you doing on a Mac website anyways? Clearly, you have Mac envy.

  3. <<I wonder if the Intel switch was worth it now.>>

    Yeah, sure. We all know how well those PowerBook G5s performed right? It’s a travesty that Apple killed off IBM’s superior technology and are offering us this Intel crap instead.

  4. “Mmm, not really Billy. I use Linux. I’m simply enjoying the “Vista” of the elitest Mac crowd finding out their shiny new V8 is missing 4 cylinders.”

    Oh, so you’re even less important….

  5. Vista, that’s the silliest thing I have ever heard. My shiny new V8 is humming along just fine. It’s quick and functionally outstanding. I knew exactly what I was getting when I bought it. Your pathetic “I-wish-I-had-a-life-but-since-I-don’t-I’ll-make-fun-of-someone-who-bought-a-machine-that-is-much-better-than-anything-I-own” version of schadenfreude is more reflective of what’s wrong inside you than anything else.

    GPU performance on my 2.16 MBP is already way ahead of where I was before. Is it less than it could be? Probably. Many chips are underutilized in many configurations. So what? Seriously, so what? Someone here give me a reason why the apparent underclocking actually matters, since many stats reflective of graphic performance were published and are published now. FPS stats from several games were widely published before most people ordered their MBPs. Those stats don’t change because it turns out the chip could actually run even faster. How does this matter? This is like complaining that the condenser in your refrigerator could actually run colder if there was just some need for it or if the manufacturer “would just let it.”. But here, there isn’t.

    And as for Reality Check, what on earth is underhanded about this? This hyperbole [Apple screwed me by doing “it,” whatever “it” is, in a way I don’t like] is just ridiculous. When the 17-inch MBP comes out with a faster processor and more storage, are you or others like you going to complain that early MBP-15 adopters got screwed? Yeah, probably, because there are always whiners like you and Vista.

    Almost any car engine can propel 2000 pounds two or three times faster than the legal speed limit. So, are you screwed because some of that power is used to drive the AC compressor, or the alternator pulley, or the automatic transmission, or whatever power-robbing devices got built-in? Is your car maker underhanded for building in those heavy airbags to slow down your engine? In your world, apparently the incredible answer is “yes.” In mine, those, just like a variety of other compromises Apple made to bring this particular model to market, are just that: market delivery compromises.

    Go troll somewhere else. Oh, and Linux, yeah sure whatever you want. Me, I prefer to use an OS that lets me get something done on my shiny new V8.

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