The bad news about upgrading the new low end MacBook Pro to a Core i5 2410M processor is that it will only have the Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated GPU. From various benchmarks, this integrated GPU is roughly equivalent to the previous generation NVIDIA 310, and falls short of the current (until tomorrow) generation Intel Core Duo CPU with NVIDIA GeForce 320M.
The performance of the Intel HD Graphics 3000 can indeed be called impressive. In many older and current gaming titles it competes at a level of entry-level graphics cards like the Geforce G 310M, the GT 220M or the ATI HD5470. It multiplies the performance of the previous Intel GMA HD solution. In practice this means that older games can be played at high graphics settings and current games mostly at low graphics details.
The loss of GPU power however, will likely be offset by the much faster Core i5 2410M Sandy Bridge processor which blows away the two-generations-behind Core 2 Duo.
There was some question, during the previous MacBook Pro upgrade in April if Apple was aware of the tradeoff in GPU vs. CPU. A 9to5mac reader sent Steve Jobs an email to which he replied “Far faster graphics and 10-hour battery life trump 10-20% faster CPU.” The man had a point.
But it is now clear that a 50% faster CPU trumps faster graphics, at least to Apple (low end gamers might not agree).
Apple has no choice in this matter unfortunately. Intel squeezed NVIDIA out of making Intel chipsets going forward (they are only able to make Core 2 Duo chipsets). Apple couldn’t have stayed with Core 2s for another generation.
Don’t feel bad for NVIDIA however, they are currently about to hand Intel’s own backside to them with the Atom-smashing Tegra 2, 3 and 4 ARM processors.
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