Opinions on 15 " MacBook Pro replacement

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Thomas Porter

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Jul 30, 2016, 5:00:58 PM7/30/16
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Only real question is whether I should get one with both discrete and integrated graphics or just integrated?

I'm not a gamer or video creator, and I understand that battery life with the integrated only models is a bit better.

Anyone made use of the GPU computing capabilities of their discrete graphics chip?

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Ed Prevost

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Aug 2, 2016, 7:29:53 AM8/2/16
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Get a real laptop, get a sager!!

Edward Prevost
Application & Network Security Research Scientist | 509.254.7690 | m...@edwardprevost.info | @edwardprevost
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Thomas Porter

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Aug 2, 2016, 8:01:29 AM8/2/16
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Steve Moon

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Aug 3, 2016, 7:51:33 AM8/3/16
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Unless you know you need the discrete graphics there isn't much point. I'm not familiar with the current laptop hardware so please validate these observations that I have made from past experience:

Reasons you might need discrete graphics:
1. You want to drive large 4k/5k displays that the integrated graphics may not do as well -- check this out. There could be limitations either way. For instance integrated graphics maybe can drive a single large screen while the discrete can drive 2 4k displays at high color depth. Or the refresh rate might be better with discrete graphics -- you'll want at least 60fps.
2. You plan to use software that specifically benefits from having a GPU. While this would often be a game, there are data analysis packages that make use of GPUs too.
3. You would rather spend a few $$ now to "future proof" your purchase and possible extend the useful life of the laptop an extra year or two.
4. You want to experiment with developing GPU-based software. This sort of thing doesn't virtualize into a VM (that I know of) unless you have the actual hardware.
5. You want to maximize RAM available for applications - discrete graphics typically come with their own memory, while integrated use a portion of main memory.
6. You want to offload as much as possible from the main CPU so you have more cycles for applications. Integrated graphics usually use some of your main CPU, although on modern CPUs the extent of this may be minor.

Reasons to avoid discrete graphics:
1. Higher cost
2. Battery life -- this can go either way, for typical "business" use they suck out power faster, but if you're exercising the graphics hard they use less power than the integrated. This can also be mitigated (on windows) by disabling the GPU unless you need it.
3. Stability. This is more of a windows laptop kind of thing, but there is more opportunity for driver conflicts & problems in general.
4. Pink elephant syndrome - there are zillions of macbooks, macbook air's, and powerbooks with no discrete graphics GPU, but far less with the GPU. If you're going to have problems with system updates or weird bugs, it seems more likely if you've got a non-mainstream machine. This can go both ways too - perhaps the mac developers all have these higher-end laptops and they are (ironically) better-tested than the mainstream models.

Hope this helps-
Steve-
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