Will MacBook Pro 2016 Ditch AMD For Intel Graphics?

Steve Brownlie - Author

Sep. 19 2015, Updated 6:05 a.m. ET

Significant upgrades to Intel’s chipset could bring exciting news for buyers of the new MacBook Pro line with power consumption improvements, and increased processing power. Perhaps most interestingly there are rumors, reported by Tech Radar, that Apple is considering ditching discrete AMD graphics on the MacBook Pro for Intel integrated graphics.

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With MacBook Pro users typically engaging in more intensive computing than more generic PC buyers, this is a particularly notable achievement for the chip maker. It is reported that the new chip will support 3D modeling, simulation, data analysis, and intensive gaming on the MacBook Pro. Apple, however, given the demands of their typical buyers, would need to be highly confident that the new MacBook Pro would continue to deliver a premium experience, and is not currently commenting on speculations about the rumored change.

One thing that is certain, however, is that the new MacBook Pro will see even greater battery life due to the power saving benefits of the new chipset. It is possible that the MacBook Pro could see battery life extend into double-figures, bringing it into line with lower-powered tablet devices.

A conflicting rumor, covered by Venture Capital Post, puts NVIDIA in the driving seat of the MacBook Pro 2016. A new focus on high-intensity gaming on the MacBook Pro, including a custom external GPU, is reported to be in the works.

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Given the significant current performance difference between integrated graphics, even if Intel delivers the huge leap they are claiming, it seems unlikely that a truly, “high end” gaming experience can be delivered without NVIDIA or AMD on board for the MacBook Pro in 2016.

Even if Intel is unable to unseat dedicated graphics chipmakers in the MacBook Pro, the rumors are indicative of a narrowing gap where PC manufacturers will be able to consider integrated graphics as a reasonable decision for most user’s needs. Whether that will be true for MacBook Pro users in the short-term is unclear.

The ability to power multiple 4K screens, play more games, and perform intensive design tasks, it certainly seems these options have moved closer to Apple’s focus when considering MacBook Pro user’s needs, but it may be more likely that we see a safer iteration of the MacBook Pro with a more powerful NVIDIA or AMD GPU in 2016. Competition for a slot in a leading premium device like the MacBook Pro can only lead to more competition in the market, and innovation from the GPU makers, making it difficult or impossible for Intel to ever fully close the gap.

[Image courtesy of Apple]


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