Macbook Pro 2015 models graphics choice


Thinking about the new Macbook pro models from 2015. The 13 inch model comes with Intel i5 onboard graphics called Intel Iris Graphics 6100, only - whereas the 15" has AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2 GB memory card aswell.

What’s your take on this. If I plan to run mainly Rhino for Mac + Keyshot, and also the Adobe CC suite. Would I be fine with the 13" or does it require the dedicated GPU?

Best regards

  • Björn

It’s surprising no one has replied yet. This is usually a pretty good community, well, for a commercial product.

If I had concerns, they would be that the Intel would be underwhelming, or AMD might be a little flaky.

Generally, you would be better off with a dedicated GPU.


Is it mainly OpenGL performance that is of interest when it comes to this? (Except CPU power required for rendering etc).

I’ve seen benchmarks done in Cinebench 15, where they scored like this:

MacBook Pro 13" retina 2015 (Intel iris 6100 graphics): 30fps

MacBook Pro 15" retina 2015 (AMD card): 68fps

I also ran the test on my current MacBook Pro from 2010 with a dedicated nVidia card and scored a mere 15fps. I should say I haven’t experienced and problems with rhino for Mac on this computer. Neither through OS X or windows via boot camp.

Are there more to it than OpenGL scores?


I wonder if Holomark will run on the Mac.

As I thought, the AMD widely beat the Intel Integrated Boat-anchor, but that’s for the best to have a GPU market.

I’m running Rhino at work on an Nvidia GTX 285, hardly a fast card. At home I’m using a GT120, and have no redraw speed issues whatsoever. Both of these cards are ancient. While I have a pair of GTX970’s in 2 different MP’s, they are only used for CUDA rendering.

I would think whatever current gen laptop you get with ANY GPU would thoroughly clean the clocks of either of my cards.

Being as Apple doesn’t even offer a decent selection of GPU’s, you’re pretty much stuck with the R9 as your only option and that’s only on 1 model. Macbook “Pro” my ass. There’s hardly anything pro about it these days. They’ve crippled it by nuking all the ports, yanking the PCI Express slot and leaving you nothing but thunderbolt.

Support for 1080p resolution at up to 60Hz
Support for 3840-by-2160 resolution at 30Hz
Support for 4096-by-2160 resolution at 24Hz

24Hz? Really? Ever looked at a 4K display at 30Hz? It’s miserable.

There is one other option you could consider. You could go the EGPU route over TB. MacVidCards has figured out a way of running a desktop card in a TB to PCI expander and are selling the solution to those with new Mac Pro’s that are stuck with the Radeon D300’s and need access to CUDA as OSX’s openCL implementation is pretty weak sauce.

When I get some time I’ll break out my barge (old 17" MacBook Pro) and see how it holds up with Rhino. My guess is it’s probably fine.



in the past, there were lots of problems with Intel graphics and 3d apps… now, I’m not so sure… I haven’t tested the newer onboard GPUs but then again, I haven’t seen the complaints on forums like I used to. (I haven’t seen any complaints/complications that I can remember)

regardless… to me, it’s not so much a question of gpus… more about screen size. 15" is a lot better for rhino than 13 (imo)

The Intel 3000 chips were pretty bad on Macs and Wintel. run away from them.

The intel 4000 chips (and newer) on Macs aren’t fast, but they work and dramatically extend battery life as they were intended to do.

There still are Windows OpenGL driver problems with the Intel 4k+ chips but Jeff Lasor thinks he can get them working in Windows Rhino.


I never saw that old stock GT120 choke on MacRhino or WinRhino via Bootcamp. Ran like a champ all things considered.


My 2013 rMBP runs 4K displays at 60Hz with the proper OS. (I’ve tried three of them) Use 10.10.3 or higher with 4K on MacOS, which is supposed to support just about any 4K. The info out there is confusing based on earlier versions not quite baked.

Also, got 60Hz running Bootcamp/Win8.1 too. If you don’t get 60Hz update the display drivers for your card on any Mac that supports at 60Hz. The Windows drivers Apple installs are usually not very current.

Read carefully:

FWIW, I’m currently test driving a Surface with Win 8.1 which has an Intel 5000 and I must say that I’m rather impressed. Opening and navigating a 1,5 GB file doesn’t seem to pose any problems. In fact, it’s performing better than my Quadro 4000M with 2013 drivers.

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Thanks for your responses so far. I just realized I have the option to go for the 2014 model as well since it is still in stock at various vendors. That one comes with two options when it comes to the 15":

  1. Intel iris pro 5200 graphics (same as 2015 model)
  2. Or a combination of the above + nVidia GeForce GT 750M

Now I’m confused though, what’s the better option here? Their all prices similarly so disregarding that option, should I go for the seamingly good Intel card, or the dedicated GeForce one? Will this “automatic” switching work good or cause more trouble than it’s worth? (I know that stuff has given me hell on my Dell recently)



I would get the one with the GeForce GT 750M without hesitation.

Second that - GT 750M

@bjornsyse… And unless your goal was to be as mobile as one can get, while tethering a 13" to a desktop display, you are way better off working on a 15" which isn’t so easy either with CAD.

as far as I can gather (I’ve used 3 laptops with the automatic switching), it works perfectly fine and you’ll never have to fiddle with settings etc.

it doesn’t switch on an as needed basis… it switches depending on what application is being used. launch rhino and it will switch to discrete right then and rhino will only use the discrete card. as in, the GPUs won’t be switching back&forth within a rhino session… it will always use the more powerful card no matter what you’re doing in the app.

Great discussion here, so has there been any official recommendation from Mcneel on which video card is better for Rhino? Intel Iris 6100 or Radeon? I read on the support page that Radeons were not recommended but that info may not apply to the 2015 macbook pro models

I have the latest 13" with Iris 6100 graphics & 16GB RAM. The only issue I see (coming from a machine with GeForce GT 330M & 8GB RAM) is the missing anti aliasing. Just my two pence …

Missing antialiasing?! That’s unacceptable in my world. I’m glad we went for the 2014 GeForce model in that case. But are you sure it can’t be solved with some setting of some sort?

Both the Radeon and Iris are primarily intended for extending battery life.
They are not high-performance graphics chips.

so would you recommend the 2014 macbook pro with the geforce card over the 2015 macbook pro with the radeon?

Hi John, just to clarify, does that mean we can’t expect antialiasing from those cards at all? I get antialiasing from the card in my 2010 MacBook Pro.


hey John… apple doesn’t sell a computer with nvidia gpus in it anymore… if you’re recommending people buy nvidia gpus for mac rhino, you’re telling them to buy used, refurbs, or old stock if they can find it because you can’t go to the apple store (online or brick&mortar) and get a mac with nvidia in there.

mainly just pointing this out in case you weren’t aware of it… but into the future, if apple doesn’t start putting nvidia back in there, your message is going to come across as “rhino for mac isn’t for serious work as macs are low-performance machines with good battery life”
(they flip-flop a lot… speculating but this current wave of no-nvidia seems to be an openCL vs cuda sort of thing)

[edit] – just checked… there’s actually a low and mid level imac still available with an nvidia gpu in it… other than that, all amd (and/or intel)