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Looking to purchase a new MacBook with gaming needs in mind, which purchase is m...
 

Looking to purchase a new MacBook with gaming needs in mind, which purchase is more sensible?  

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Falconpwn6
(@falconpwn6)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

I'm looking to purchase a new 2017 MacBook Pro but would like to keep my overall budget capped at $2500. That being said, I am considering several different options, as this MacBook would be for school primarily but also used for gaming. I am looking to probably play modern AAA graphically intense games (NBA 2K, Battlefield 1, etc)

1. 13 inch 3.1 Ghz dual core Touch Bar Macbook Pro + eGPU (1060 or 1070 likely)

2. 15 inch 2.8 Ghz quad core Touch Bar Macbook Pro w/ Radeon Pro 560 with 4 GB memory graphics upgrade

Would the first option be much better for gaming than the second? I have read that the 13in MacBook Pro's can't utilize the eGPU as effectively, but I do not intend to purchase an eGPU if I go with the second option. Cost-wise, I would anticipate that the first option would be slightly less expensive as well. Can anyone give advice on the more sensible option for educational/gaming needs?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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rushvora
(@rushvora)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

First option would be better for gaming. It would give you much more overall performance than the 2nd option.

If you think you can somehow save up for eGPU with the 2nd option, that is, get the 2nd option now, buy an eGPU down the line, that would be ideal.

Otherwise, go with the 1st option, if gaming is a necessity.

late-2016 15" MacBook Pro RP455 + [email protected] (Mantiz Venus) + Win10 // external SSD


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nando4
(@nando4)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

The 15" MBP's unique and performance superior TB3-CPU architecture explained at https://egpu.io/macos-pascal-drivers-gtx-1080-ti-2016-macbook-pro/#cpu-vs-pch makes it the fastest TB3 eGPU candidate system available at the moment.

May I suggest then seeking a deal on the superceded late-2016 15" MBP to bring it's cost down closer to the mid-2017 13" model you are looking at? The 2017 15" model only offer a slight CPU+dGPU performance bump. Hardly worthy of paying a premium for if intending to use an eGPU with it.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 M1000M + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10


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wingman9
(@wingman9)
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Gaming on a 13" is not so pleasant, especially if you're accustomed to a larger display.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

If you're in the US, check open-box laptops at Best Buy. These open-box units are returns and they retain the one year warranty. They're typically in great shape. The savings are about 10% to 20% over new prices. Every few months Best Buy have promotions on Apple computers. This lowers the open-box prices. You can also negotiate for additional discount for aged units.

It's very possible to find a late-2016 15" MacBook Pro for $2,000 or less. The rest of your budget then can go towards an eGPU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
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Posted by: itsage

If you're in the US, check open-box laptops at Best Buy. These open-box units are returns and they retain the one year warranty. They're typically in great shape. The savings are about 10% to 20% over new prices.

As a former BBY employee I can vouch for this. When they're initially returned, if they're in like-new shape it's a 10% discount. The discount goes up for missing packaging and cosmetic damage (like light surface scratches on the casing). Everything that gets returned undergoes Apple's hardware diagnostics, as well, so the hardware should be good. Call 1-800-APL-CARE & get it registered under your name as well; if you give them a copy of your receipt via e-mail AppleCare will do it right over the phone for you in a few minutes (I also used to work at the AppleCare call center). Best Buy has back-to-school/college deals going on too you might want to look into.

I've only ever owned two brand-new Macs. Every other one I've bought was used from eBay, an open-box from Best Buy, or an Apple refurb. I think nando makes a good suggestion.

2018 Mac mini: Core i3, 8GB RAM, Sonnet 350 (aftermarket 550w PSU)+XFX Radeon RX-480 8GB Black Edition
2012 Mac mini: Core i7, 16GB RAM, Toshiba 1TB SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD
Custom: Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB Corasir DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 2x Corsair 500GB Neutron SSD, Seagate 3TB SSD, EVGA Nvidia 980Ti
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derFunkenstein
(@derfunkenstein)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

I got my 13" TB version at Best Buy as an Open Box deal, too. $1750 for the 2.9GHz model with 500GB of storage and 16GB of memory. More like $1900 after sales tax. Full 1-year warranty. 

I'm a little surprised to read that the 15" version has a better implementation. Apple makes a note on the Touch Bar version that the left side ports have full PCIe bandwidth and the right-side ones have reduced bandwidth. Are those full-bandwidth ports on the left really still not as fast as the 15"? That's odd, but I guess I wouldn't put it past Apple.

I game on my 13" but I'm using an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to do it. I don't like gaming on laptop keyboards in general and I have a nice 24" Dell Ultrasharp, so going this route made sense. I've used a GTX 1070 in the past but I was able to sell it for more than I paid, partly because I only paid $325 in the first place. I guess some of these miners are desperate. I'm going to get by on a lower-class Polaris card for the time being.  

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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JDug
 JDug
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Posted by: derFunkenstein

I got my 13" TB version at Best Buy as an Open Box deal, too. $1750 for the 2.9GHz model with 500GB of storage and 16GB of memory. More like $1900 after sales tax. Full 1-year warranty. 

I'm a little surprised to read that the 15" version has a better implementation. Apple makes a note on the Touch Bar version that the left side ports have full PCIe bandwidth and the right-side ones have reduced bandwidth. Are those full-bandwidth ports on the left really still not as fast as the 15"? That's odd, but I guess I wouldn't put it past Apple.

I game on my 13" but I'm using an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to do it. I don't like gaming on laptop keyboards in general and I have a nice 24" Dell Ultrasharp, so going this route made sense. I've used a GTX 1070 in the past but I was able to sell it for more than I paid, partly because I only paid $325 in the first place. I guess some of these miners are desperate. I'm going to get by on a lower-class Polaris card for the time being.  

The reduced bandwidth only applies to the 2016 and early 2017 versions of the 13" MBP.  The mid 2017 with Kaby lake has fixed this and all 4 TB3 ports are full bandwidth. 

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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From what I gathered here are the arrangement in the Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pros:

  • 15" MBP has two Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controllers to handle 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, two ports per controller at full bandwidth.
  • 13" MBP has one Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller. The non-touchbar MBP has two TB3 ports to use this one controller at full bandwidth. The touchbar MBP has the right side TB3 ports run at half bandwidth because the lack of a second TB3 controller. 

Correction: This is for Late 2016 MacBook Pro. @JDug confirmed with Apple the Mid 2017 have better arrangement for the 13" Touch Bar MacBook Pro; two TB3 controllers like the 15" version.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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JDug
 JDug
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Posted by: itsage

From what I gathered here are the arrangement in the Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pros:

  • 15" MBP has two Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controllers to handle 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, two ports per controller at full bandwidth.
  • 13" MBP has one Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller. The non-touchbar MBP has two TB3 ports to use this one controller at full bandwidth. The touchbar MBP has the right side TB3 ports run at half bandwidth because the lack of a second TB3 controller. 

I recently purchased the Kaby Lake 13in with TB and Apple confirmed that all 4 TB3 ports can run at full bandwidth.  Now I have not tested this, but according to Apple this was a change with the mid 17 update.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@JDug, you are right. That's the case for Late 2016 MacBook Pro then. I looked at photos from ifixit's tear down of the mid 2017 Touch Bar 13" MBP. One of the photos showing the logic board with two JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controllers. I'm wondering if they are attaching the PCIe connection directly to the CPU as well. Do you have Windows 10 on your new MBP? If so, please run HWiNFO64. Thank you.

Orange boxes are the TB3 controllers - https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/NarKemP5uHIdcOIE.huge

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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JDug
 JDug
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Posted by: itsage

@JDug, you are right. That's the case for Late 2016 MacBook Pro then. I looked at photos from ifixit's tear down of the mid 2017 Touch Bar 13" MBP. One of the photos showing the logic board with two JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controllers. I'm wondering if they are attaching the PCIe connection directly to the CPU as well. Do you have Windows 10 on your new MBP? If so, please run HWiNFO64. Thank you.

Orange boxes are the TB3 controllers - https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/NarKemP5uHIdcOIE.huge

@itsage, no I have not installed Win 10 on my new 2017 MBP.  Since it looks like I cannot use my egpu on it yet, since I do not want to run 10.13 beta on it, I am trying to keep my new machine as "clean and lean" as possible until high sierra exits beta.  I am running High Sierra on my late 2013 13in MBP to use with my egpu. 

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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rushvora
(@rushvora)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

Apart from the TB3 controller differences, the 13" has a dual core processor, whereas the 15" has a quad core processor. Those 2 extra cores/4 extra threads actually make a noticeable difference.

late-2016 15" MacBook Pro RP455 + [email protected] (Mantiz Venus) + Win10 // external SSD


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nando4
(@nando4)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@gents, the 13" MBP in Sky/Kaby Lake form with it's "U" CPU cannot have PCIe lanes attached. That's because Intel have no PCIe lanes on those cut-down ULV CPUs and instead manufacturers must route PCIe devices via the PCH-U designed for those systems. 

If do want a TB3 controller attached directly to the CPU then require a 15" MBP. More details about TB3-PCH vs TB3-CPU are at  https://egpu.io/macos-pascal-drivers-gtx-1080-ti-2016-macbook-pro/#cpu-vs-pch

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 M1000M + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Thank you @nando4. Very good to know.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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JDug
 JDug
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Posted by: nando4

@gents, the 13" MBP in Sky/Kaby Lake form with it's "U" CPU cannot have PCIe lanes attached. That's because Intel have no PCIe lanes on those cut-down ULV CPUs and instead manufacturers must route PCIe devices via the PCH-U designed for those systems. 

If do want a TB3 controller attached directly to the CPU then require a 15" MBP. More details about TB3-PCH vs TB3-CPU are at  https://egpu.io/macos-pascal-drivers-gtx-1080-ti-2016-macbook-pro/#cpu-vs-pch

Maybe my reading of Intel's spec sheet is incorrect, but to me it looks like the U series CPU's in the Kaby Lake 13in do have PCIe lanes, they are just limited in their capacity compared to the CPU's in the 15in.  See stats below:

all the i5 and i7 (which is really a spec bump i5) in the 13 in Kaby Lake have the follow:

Expansion Options

The 15in Kaby Lake MBP's have the following:

Expansion Options

So my reading and understanding is that the 15 in can take advantage of full 16 lanes whereas the 13 in can only take advantage of 12 with a max configuration of 1x4.  Someone please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.  Here are the links to Intel (I just chose one processor for each size)

13 in https://ark.intel.com/products/97531/Intel-Core-i5-7287U-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-3_70-GHz

15in https://ark.intel.com/products/97185/Intel-Core-i7-7700HQ-Processor-6M-Cache-up-to-3_80-GHz

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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nando4
(@nando4)
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Posted by: JDugMaybe my reading of Intel's spec sheet is incorrect, but to me it looks like the U series CPU's in the Kaby Lake 13in do have PCIe lanes, they are just limited in their capacity compared to the CPU's in the 15in.  See stats below:

all the i5 and i7 (which is really a spec bump i5) in the 13 in Kaby Lake have the follow:

 

The U CPUs have an integrated PCH-LP which provides the PCIe lanes. There are no PCIe lanes directly off the U CPUs.

Above: from pg2 of https://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/platform-briefs/7th-generation-core-and-celeron-mobile-iot-processor-platform-brief.pdf

Do note that Intel discretely places  "OP IO" text,  which I highlighted in RED,  between the two components without elaborating that it is a bottlenecked ~x4 3.0 link. What's the point of them advertising 12 PCIe 3.0 lanes when only 4 can work concurrently and even less when you factor in other devices running through this PCH like LAN, USB, SATA, SOUND? The Devil is in the detail . . .

If you want to avoid this "OP IO" bottleneck, then get a 15" Macbook Pro. It's the only notebook on the market that has the TB3 controller attached directly to the CPU as shown at https://egpu.io/macos-pascal-drivers-gtx-1080-ti-2016-macbook-pro/#cpu-vs-pch

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 M1000M + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10


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JDug
 JDug
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@nando4, thanks for the additional info.  So I guess my reading was not wrong, just interpreted it wrong.  So knowing this.... I wonder where one would really see the detriment of this "bottleneck" in usage.  Do you or anyone else have any input on this?  Essentially, if I am running my egpu on my 13in vs a 15in will I only notice a difference if doing high performance gaming?  Would I notice a difference working on editing 4K video?  thoughts?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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