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OS X - Apps and Games Discussion of applications and games available for Mac OS X.

Unofficial Macbook Gaming Thread (Late 2008 Models)


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CodeSamurai

 
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Member Since: Jan 31, 2007
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Hello everyone! As promised, I have done some game testing with the new macbook. As of now, I have only tested oblivion, but I plan to expand into the source games and a few other requests. I'm giving Oblivion its own review because it is such an expansive game and what you get in one area may not necessarily be what you get in another. I'm going to break it down by area and tell you what worked for me and what didn't. Hopefully, this will give us an idea of what to expect on these new fangled macbooks!

First off, I have the stock 2.4Ghz Aluminum Macbook using the 9400m chipset. I am running Windows Vista via bootcamp. For what it's worth, Vista gave this system a 5.2:
Processor: 5.3
Memory: 5.9
Graphics: 5.5
Gaming Graphics: 5.3
Primary Hard Disk: 5.2

I thought this was pretty impressive! This was actually a higher rating than what my macbook pro had, mainly because of the memory. The new macbook is using DDR3 memory and is therefore, much faster!

Now onto the good stuff. Here are my settings for Oblivion. I set them high thinking I'd need to scale back a bit. To some extent I was correct, but to others, I was completely wrong and suprised!

Resolution: 1280x800
Textures: Medium
Tree Fade: Max
Actor Fade: Max
Item Fade: Max
Object Fade: Max
Grass Distance: Max
View Distance: Max
Distant Land: On
Distant Buildings: On
Distant Trees: On
Interior Shadows: Max
Exterior Shadows: Half
Self Shadows: Off
Shadows on Grass: On
Canopy Shadows: On
Shadow Filtering: High
Specular Distrophy: Max
HDR: On
Bloom: Off (you can't have both HDR and bloom on at once)
Water Detail: High
Reflections: On
Ripples: On
Blood: High
AA: off

This isn't entirely different from how I ran it on my old macbook pro with 512MB 8600M GT graphics!

Results:

Outside the Imperial City (on the larger island): Hovers between 20 and 30 fps however it stays nearer to 24. Everything looks gorgeous however. One of the biggest issues is grass. This drops the fps almost instantly.

Weynon Priory (and surrounding forest): Stays at around 22fps. One of the big kickers here is once again, grass!

Cheydinhal (my favorite city): Once again, hovers between 20 and 30 fps, however this time it stays closer to 28. There isn't much grass around here, however there is a lady in a red dress that absolutely destroys fps. I'm not sure what her problem is. Looking at everyone else causes no issue. She, however, can drop the fps as low as 14. Looking away from her causes it to go right back up...you can make your own assumptions about this one.

Outside Anvil (on the gold road): This is possibly one of the most graphically intensive areas of the game. If you veer off the gold road into the golden fields, you are instantly met with fps as low as 8. On my old MBP, I got an fps of around 16. This is just an overall bad area. This is where I decided to try the togglegrass command in the console. I was instantly met with 35-40fps! Grass is simply the worst catalyst fps wise on this game.

Imperial City Market: 25-40 fps. Looking at people seem to cause an fps drop here. With one or two people however, you can easily get 30-35fps. I reached as high as 40 with no people while walking around the different doors to shops. Awesome!

Every interior in the game (pretty much): Solid 35-50fps. There's so little going on in interiors that it is easy to get good fps. Very impressive.

Conclusion: I am pleasantly suprised with the outcome of this test. I aimed high and the macbook responded really well! There is room for improvement, but that's what scaling is for. You could easily cut back the view distances on grass and such and gain better fps. Water does not seem to affect us at all, but as I said before, grass is the culprit here. Using the command "togglegrass" in the console remedies this, but then you have no grass! Overall, I'm going to give this game a B-/B for playability on the new macbook.

I'm going to mess around with the Nvidia driver some and see what else I can get out of it. I wouldn't reccomend this to any inexperienced users, however I will post my results at a later date. I hope this helps everyone! Expect reviews of other games within the weekend/upcoming week. My next stop is Team Fortress 2 and then trickle down into other source engine games because they are so similar. I'm also going to visit Sim City games (including Societies) as well as the ever famous Crysis and Crysis: Warhead. You just never know...

Feel free to post your own results as well! Maybe we can get a more official thread going (moderators willing). I'll take requests, but I'm a college student and my school work has to come first. However I'm on break this weekend, so party on!

Trent out

Note to Moderators: I realize that this is a hardware only forum, but I posted here because I thought this related more to hardware (9400m graphics) than anything else. I'll let you guys make the final call, but I just wanted you to know my reasoning. Thanks!

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CodeSamurai

 
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Member Since: Jan 31, 2007
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Team Fortress 2 has been tested! Here are the results!

All settings at their highest possible.
Anti-Aliasing at 2x
HDR lighting
no motion blur (i hate it)
1280x800 Resolution
Veritcal Sync on

Works flawlessly. Not a stutter (except for internet lag, freaking wireless) I tested it all: Water, explosions, trains, heavys, pyros, every class, every stock level, all with the same result. I give this game an A for playability. The only thing I saw weird was in the character selection menu, the animations are a little glitchy. In game is fine. Have fun guys! I'm going to keep testing.

Trent out

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Marcel

 
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Thank you so much. This is seriously great.

I think your voluntary work here is really kind.

And I'm absulutely blown away by your results. This MacBook seems to run Oblivion just like my PC here. Impressing.

Oh, and, btw, Cheydinhal is my favourite city as well.

I think I've got a christmas gift for myself now...
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Aptmunich

 
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Great posts, keep them coming!
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CodeSamurai

 
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Sorry if I'm hard to keep up with today, but it's been an exciting one! I've gotten to test Half-Life 2 as well as episodes 1 and 2, Portal, and HL1 (haha). Here are the results:

HL2: All settings maxed, 1280x800 res, 4xAA, not a problem in the world. A+ in my book. This is one of my favorite games of all time, so this is exciting for me.

HL2-Episode 1: All Settings still maxed 1280x800 resolution. Everything works fine. I'm getting a strange sound bug however. I thought this was part of the game, but I realized that I was downloading vista updates in the background, so that may have something to do with it. I'll try again later and let you guys know. Lets give this an A-.

HL2-Episode 2: All settings maxed (however you might set the textures from very large to large) 1280x800 resolution. This works a lot better than Episode 1 for me. I'm going to attribute it to it being more of a "wide open" game rather than the typical linear nature of Half Life. I'm going to give this an A.

Portal: Everything maxed, 2xAA, 1280x800 res. Works fine! No stuttering of any sort. I left motion blur off (mostly because it hurts my eyes so much) and I imagine that would lower the fps a little, though probably not noticeably. I give it an A+.

HL1 - Hahahahahahaha. I gave this an A+ on the gma 950. Rest assured...it works fine. It's 10 years old for crying out loud. It was rather fun to play it again though.

More to come! I'm going to work on a paper for awhile and then test Sim City Societies, as well as a request for a Final Fantasy 11 Bench mark later this afternoon. Enjoy the day everyone.

Trent out

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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Me thinks this needs a sticky for the gamers. ^-^"
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CodeSamurai

 
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I figured out what the Lady in the Red Dress issue was in Oblivion. It has something to do with the medium textures. I went ahead and raised the textures to "high" and redid the whole test. Basically, subtract 3fps from every fps example I gave. It's pretty much across the board. Not bad! I think I could sacrifice 3fps for higher textures.

Trent out

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OSX2009

 
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First off I just want to say thanks for reviewing gaming performance on the new macbook. I'm still trying to decide between the new MB or MBP.

I was wondering if you could post the FPS for TF2 and HL2(Low/Hight)?

Also, if there's any way you could benchmark UT3 that would rock my world.

Here's a link to the demo:
Unreal Tournament 3 Beta Demo - FileFront.com

Thanks again!
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CodeSamurai

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OSX2009 View Post
First off I just want to say thanks for reviewing gaming performance on the new macbook. I'm still trying to decide between the new MB or MBP.

I was wondering if you could post the FPS for TF2 and HL2(Low/Hight)?

Also, if there's any way you could benchmark UT3 that would rock my world.

Here's a link to the demo:
Unreal Tournament 3 Beta Demo - FileFront.com

Thanks again!
No Problem! Happy to do it. I'll get the fps for you. My eyes are fairly trained with that, so I'm going to take a preliminary guess. I'm guessing Low of 45 and high of 60. I'll let you know for sure here soon. I'll test that demo as well as the FF11 demo later as well. I just have to get this paper done and then get some food in me. Thanks guys.

Trent out

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CodeSamurai

 
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Results for TF2 exact fps test:

I was slightly more optimistic than I should have been, haha, but not too far off. The fps hovers around 35fps with those settings. This is in battle with explosions and many things going on. It gets as high as 60fps in more open areas, but doesn't really stick there. The lowest I got was 29fps during a lag spike. Overall, extremely playable! I had no issues whatsoever. Hope this helps!

Trent out

Demos to come...they are large files being downloaded over crappy wireless.

Also: Would you guys like a video put up? I can get out my old digicam (oddly enough, my dslr doesn't do video) and get a recording of some games if you want. I could have those up by tomorrow afternoon. Let me know!

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Aptmunich

 
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That would be pretty awesome Codesamurai!
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OSX2009

 
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Awesome, thanks so much CodeSamurai!
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CodeSamurai

 
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Might not be able to get to the demos until tomorrow. I'm at about 50% complete on both of them. The wireless here is awful...but at least we have it. Some universities aren't so lucky. I'll let them download overnight and give them a runthrough tomorrow afternoon while I'm working the desk. I'm still playing through my steam games list, so far everything is working wonderfully. I have noticed a random sound/video lag that shows up at random times. It seems to only affect the Half life series. Tf2 is unaffected, however I notice something similar in Oblivion from time to time. It lasts about 2 seconds and just makes the video and sound very choppy. It's not regular by any means and doesn't seem to be set off by any particular instance. I'm going to go with driver malfunction for now...since it's not affecting TF2 or Sim City Societies (review on this tomorrow) I'm not thinking it's hardware, especially since it doesn't show up in OS X. It's a new chipset, so I'll give it some time. How is everyone else doing? Any luck with your games?

Trent out

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Thanks you so so so so much CodeSamurai!! I really appreciate your contribution and seeing your results for Oblivion with almost max setting looks very impressive.

Please keep up the good work!

Cheers.
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bad.heron

 
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@CodeSamurai - Thanks for your tests. Any screen shots?
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