Why Apple had to use AMD GPUs in the 15-inch MacBook Pro

“One slightly surprising spec in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro line-up is that even the base model got an AMD GPU,” Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac. “Previously, Apple has offered only integrated GPU in the base model, reserving discrete graphics for the higher-specced models.”

“John Gruber noticed that the ArsTechnica review explains this: it was the only way to allow the machine to drive two 5K monitors,” Lovejoy reports. “And the reason for that is that Apple had to use something of a workaround to achieve it.”

When you hook one of LG’s 5K monitors to one of the new MacBook Pros, what you’re actually seeing on the screen is two pictures stitched together to make a single seamless image. This is because the version of the DisplayPort spec supported by Intel’s GPUs and almost all monitors these days — version 1.2 — doesn’t have enough bandwidth to drive a 5K display at 60Hz all by itself. This will change with DisplayPort 1.3, which is right on the cusp of going mainstream, but it’s not here yet. Apple is actually pushing two DisplayPort 1.2 streams to the monitor over the single Thunderbolt 3 cable. — Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Which, of course, adds to the base MacBook Pro’s sticker price.


    1. Driving two 5K monitors will automatically be considered as unimportant as the need for it probably won’t happen very often. It’s simply one of those things Apple does that most of the tech community doesn’t consider as being worthwhile. Most of the things Apple computers CAN do are never seen as being important especially to tech-heads who need to see and feel tangible benchmarking specs.

      The Surface Studio certainly LOOKS more impressive than the MacBook Pro so Apple is said to be falling behind in innovation. That’s just the way things go for Apple. I happen to like the idea of a Touch Bar with contextual keys but I guess most people hate the idea as being too mundane. Beats me.

      1. If by “unimportant” you mean there won’t be very many of us who need this capability, you could be considered correct. However, I have a use case (controlling research reactors) that having two high-resolution monitors (e.g., 5K) is a no-brainer. The only catch — waiting for a new Mac Pro that supports the two 5K monitors. Hopefully, that will happen in the next year or I’ll be forced to go back to Windows machines when they support the two monitors well (current application is in C++, assembly, and Basic on a Windows machine and a Linux machine; would love to replace them with a single Mac Pro and Swift, but the current Mac Pros are so long in the tooth that they’re a hard sell).

      2. Yeah magnify…what ever, other thing you forget to say about things apple make and the rest of the industry doesn’t consider important is to make reliable products that just works and have a great customer support. How unconsidered is apple with their crappy devices that just work and their all time ahead of the industries innovations like the iPhone that Microsoft laughted so hard and make the entire phone division of microsoft and nokia dissapear., or the SIRI feature that google said no body wanted to talk to their phones and now google is trying to catch up with apple. you are right on the money men.

    1. Making parts upgradeable makes them more expensive: you need connectors and holders (which take up space and add weight). By soldering everything you get more space to more things in (like a bigger battery). It’s just economics. The logic (not wholly incorrect) is that by the time you’ll need a bigger hard disk or more RAM, you’ll just sell your current Mac and get a new one. That is, “planned obsolescence”. More sales for Apple, more room for bigger batteries, less things (e.g., cables) to go wrong.

    2. The average PC refresh cycle is 3-5 years. The useful life of a Mac is, in my experience, 5-6 years before it can’t keep up…the Pro will do just fine for at least that amount of time, probably longer. These aren’t for web browsing, etc, that’s what the MacBook is for. An equivalent PC would last maybe 3 with heavy use, and the battery will be very tired by that point. One Mac for every 2 PCs in our refresh cycle..our IT folks have noticed this, and their biggest problem with Macs is what to do with them after 5 years since they keep on trucking but the user wants an upgrade.

  1. Apple does what it (Apple) thinks will be the best for the masses, and for its shareholders. Niche users are usually left out cold. The important thing to remember, even with all the fluff coming out of Cook and Schiller is: It is a business in the business of making money….bottom line.

  2. Another practice that work on iDevices goes to the Mac. So it is another sign of Apple telling all of us how they see every Mac and every user.

    All I can say is if you happen to buy a MBP also add the cost for enough insurance and don’t stop backing up your data as often as possible.

    Apple will have to wait a few years to find out if this is as convenient as they think.

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