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Issue with GT 650m (Macbook Pro)

IamAdrummerAMA
IamAdrummerAMA
Soul Shriven
Hi!

My Macbook pro is the mid-2012 15 inch model with a 5400 RPM HDD, 4 GB RAM, i7 2.3 Ghz CPU (Turbo boost to 3.3 Ghz) and Nvidia GT 650m 512mb. I play with Vsync always off and in fullscreen mode, no other programs open (including launcher). I am using the latest version of Mavericks (10.9.2)

My issue is that the GT 650m has a stutter at any graphical setting, be very low or high settings. I have a program which allows me to choose between the integrated GPU (Intel HD 4000) and the dedicated GPU, with this I chose to use the HD 4000 to find settings that are stable for it which was medium/low - this was smooth (no stutter) and remained between 25-30 FPS.

Using the same settings and with the 650m, I get between 45-60 FPS but with a stutter. I can notch it up to high to get between 30-50 FPS as well. It's very smooth but the slight stutter gives it a laggy feel. I use atMonitor and found that the VRAM usage hovers around 75-80% and the GPU fluctuates between 40%-99% usage. I also use a program called MemoryCleaner which shows that I am using all of my 4 GB RAM.

I've read that HDD speed can have an impact on MMO games, or games that require streaming data. I plan on upgrading to 8 GB RAM (I should of done this a long time ago), could this help alleviate stutter? Would having a faster drive (7200 RPM/SSD maybe?) help? Or is the HD 4000 just better than the 650m?

Appreciate all the help you guys can give!
  • KhajitFurTrader
    KhajitFurTrader
    Community-Botschafter
    @IamAdrummerAMA‌,

    you're running at the absolute minimum of RAM, it's possible that swapping occurs, which in turn is detrimental to system performance.

    Upgrading to 8 GB is greatly recommended, since the whole system profits from it: OS X needs ~2 GB for itself alone, and while Mavericks brought a memory compression tech with it, it needs some free memory to compress in to and out of.

    More free memory also benefits HDD reading buffers, since magnetic bits rotating at 5400 RPM aren't by far the fastest thing on earth. Replacing your current HDD with a more speedier 7200 RPM model would also help, but it may tax the thermal budget; more heat leads to noisier fans. A SSD would be your best option, if you can find a sweet spot between capacity and price; don't worry too much about transfer rates, a SSD will easily saturate the SATA interface. A SSD excels at IOPS, which is much more important for MMOs.

    One reason for the stutters may be the relative small amount of video memory of the GT 650M. When using the internal processor graphics, a part of the system's RAM gets used as VRAM (up to 1 GB). It may seem paradox, since normal DDRn RAM isn't as optimized for video operations as GDDRn RAM, but the larger amount available for the games' many graphical assets seems to help. I don't want to speculate about the different quality of OpenGL drivers here, so I won't.

    One last word about add-ons: it's possible that some may be interfering with FPS rate. ESOhead's was a known culprit in the past, I don't know whether that has changed. So if you're using any, try disabling them and see whether anything changes.
    Edited by KhajitFurTrader on May 18, 2014 8:22PM
  • IamAdrummerAMA
    IamAdrummerAMA
    Soul Shriven
    I'm monitoring vram usage and it doesn't go above 80%, plus I'm pushing a relatively small screen (1400 x 900).

    I'll upgrade to 8 gb of RAM and see if that helps!
  • Moonraker
    Moonraker
    ✭✭✭✭
    Some great advice there from @KhajitFurTrader.

    On the HD4000 v GT 650m even with just 512MB RAM it should perform noticeably better than the HD4000 card. That you have no issue of stutter on the HD4000 even though it is actually using more of your RAM to run indicates some problem with the Nvidia. it may be just that the default setting for the Nvidia is too high for it especially in busy towns etc.

    RAM should really help. 8GB really is a good minimum. SSD would also help and follow advice from other poster. But it's cost to benefit here on this Mac.

    You really wont get settings above Medium with that card I think. Best to set it Low then gradually try different settings to get the balance and also check to see if anything in particular causes the stutter. Vsync always off.

    Shadow Quality is the biggest hit and View Distance will also have quite an impact. Others tend to be marginal.
  • Randay
    Randay
    ✭✭✭
    as @KhajitFurTrader‌ already impressively well stated, upgrading ram would be best solution. It is also not very pricy and should be affordable.

    Since Mavericks introduced memory-compression it is normal that more of you ram gets used as it is less important to have free ram, because the System can compress inactive ram almost instantly instad of swapping it to the backing_store (HD/SSD)

    what you now see in activity monitor under 10.9.x is "memory pressure" which is important. you will also see the used swap.

    if you want to know if more ram is nessecary you should open terminal and enter "top"
    you will see a lot of numbers and also something like
    0(0) swapins, 0(0) swapouts
    
    if the number inbetween the brackets is always above 0 it means your mac is swapping too much
    => more ram needed

    hope this helps

    if less really is more, then maybe nothing is everything
  • Moonraker
    Moonraker
    ✭✭✭✭
    Randay wrote: »
    as @KhajitFurTrader‌ already impressively well stated, upgrading ram would be best solution. It is also not very pricy and should be affordable.

    Since Mavericks introduced memory-compression it is normal that more of you ram gets used as it is less important to have free ram, because the System can compress inactive ram almost instantly instad of swapping it to the backing_store (HD/SSD)

    what you now see in activity monitor under 10.9.x is "memory pressure" which is important. you will also see the used swap.

    if you want to know if more ram is nessecary you should open terminal and enter "top"
    you will see a lot of numbers and also something like
    0(0) swapins, 0(0) swapouts
    
    if the number inbetween the brackets is always above 0 it means your mac is swapping too much
    => more ram needed

    hope this helps
    In Mavericks the point of how they now show Memory Pressure is that it is graphically represented i.e. if it is going up to amber then red then it shows the same thing;
    Memory pressure is indicated by color:

    Green – RAM memory resources are available.
    Amber – RAM memory resources are being tasked.
    Red – RAM memory resources are depleted and OS X is using the drive for memory.
    Tip: If the Red state occurs, quitting apps can free up RAM. You may also be able to install more RAM to prevent memory depletion.
    source

    It's a good way to express these parameters to general users.
  • Randay
    Randay
    ✭✭✭
    isnt that what i said? :D
    if less really is more, then maybe nothing is everything
  • Moonraker
    Moonraker
    ✭✭✭✭
    Randay wrote: »
    isnt that what i said? :D
    Just that one doesn't need to use tops and Terminal which is not so known to a lot of Mac users ;) Really, to be able to see RED is always a good way to say you have a problem :)
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