Integrated Graphics – ick!… well, maybe…

Posted: June 17, 2006 in Apple, computers, hardware
Tags: , ,

When i first read about the integrated graphics being used in the new mac mini, i thought, well, i guess i won’t be getting one of those. But i may have been too quick to judge. If it hadn’t been for the same basic chipset being used the MacBook i may never have given it any thought and just written it off as a mistake – a bad apple if you will. But, like i mentioned, i decided to look into it further once i found out the MacBook was using a integrated graphics chip as well, and i really liked everything else the MB had to offer, so i wasn’t quite ready to dismiss it for one small mistake on apple’s part, which as it turns out may not be apple’s mistake, but mine.
My potential mistake was not fully understanding the GMA950 and its performance. (GMA stands for Graphics Media Accelerator, in case you were wondering). As far as the specs go, this chipset is technically at least as fast as the Radeon 9200 it replaces, which is the chip in my current iBook G4. As nice as the graphics were on the iBook G4, it was not meant to be gaming machine by any means, but that’s okay i have a dedicated gaming console for that. From a benchmark perspective, from what i’ve read the new GMA950 kicks butt and is quite acceptable for nearly every other chore you would want to do on a laptop. I still greatly dislike the concept of sharing RAM and CPU with the graphics card, and the 80MB of RAM reserved for the video card (64MB for the card and 16MB for a frame buffer) will effectively turn the mini or MacBook into a 432MB machine if you get the standard 512 ram. (note to self, if getting MacBook, max out the ram) My big concern is the performance of the graphics chipset, but i have to wonder if the improvements in system bus speed, CPU speed, cache, and memory speed make up for the shared graphics chipset? Time will tell i guess. But as it stands, i’m on the fence on this whole integrated graphics issue now, which is better than standing on the wrong side uninformed.


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