4 Replies Latest reply: Apr 20, 2014 5:05 AM by dominic23
kurt hahn1 Level 1 Level 1


I recently bought a new Mac, and although I don't do "heavy" stuffy like movie editing, I decided to buy the expensive model, and so I bought a Macbook Pro 15" with the NVIDIA graphics card. The reason for that is that I like to keep my Macs for a long time, and usually it is the video stuff that makes a PC unusable (too slow) once it gets older, so I thought it might be a good investment.


Apart from surfing the web and all the other usual stuff, I have a racing game and a flight simulator I like to play once in a while, and I noticed that this Macbook seems to get hotter and the fan a little louder/faster than the 13” I had before. Do you think that the more powerful NVIDIA chip is producing unnecessary heat here? Just today, someone in this forum advised me to instally gfxCardStatus, which is a tool that allows me to see and even to control which one of the two graphic chips is being used. Do you think that at the moment, until I notice that my Mac is having trouble keeping up, I could set gfxCardStatus to use the integrated Iris chip only? It being less powerful, it would also produce less heat, wouldn't it? But how would I know that I should switch to the NVIDIA-chip?




MacBook Pro with Retina display, OS X Mavericks (10.9.2), 15inch
  • dominic23 Level 8 Level 8
    Mac OS X

    kurt hahn1 wrote:


    But how would I know that I should switch to the NVIDIA-chip?


    Activity Monitor will show it.


    Graphics switching

    Macs that support automatic graphics switching save power by using integrated graphics and switch to a higher performance graphics chip only when an app needs it. Activity Monitor shows "Graphics Card: Integrated" when using integrated graphics, or "Graphics Card: High Perf." when using high performance graphics. To identify which apps are using high performance graphics, look for processes which show "Yes" in the Requires High Perf GPU column.



  • chattphotos Level 4 Level 4

    Like Dominic said, Activity monitor shows which process calls for the high-performace graphics. (see pic below)

    For reference, the Intel card can handle almost anything, it's not an absolute requirement to use the Nvidia card. Just some apps can leverage the extra computing power that the card offers.


    I can process panoramas in photoshop, watch HD video, and stream netflix without issue on the intel card. And for what you need, it can handle it.


    Words of wisdom: Don't switch between the video cards while some (adobe) apps are running, they really don't like it if you do that.


    Note, I have the 2011 MBP and my Intel card (HD 3000) doesn't support multiple displays. The ATI card is needed in order to have extended desktop setups/presentations/etc.


    Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 10.26.32 AM.png

  • kurt hahn1 Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks guys, I think I got, I just leave it on the default setting, since as you said (and as I could observe myself), when it needs to use the NVIDIA-chip, it will do so anyway and gfx will pop up a window explaining why.


    Just one thing I don't know: From time to time, I used to play a racing game (Dirt 2, I think it's a new version of a game called Colin McRae before) on my 2013 MB Pro 13" Retina, it would play smoothly, even on my beamer, but the computer would get a little hot, which I don't like. Now, on the new computer, I've just played it once on the beamer and once on the retina-display, and both times, I had the impression that it got really hot, and the fan was very loud/fast (normally, it was never on, only when I installed Windows at some point). Is it possible that because of the higher graphics power, the game chooses automatically a better resolution, so that processor has to work more? Or can there be another reason for that?



  • dominic23 Level 8 Level 8
    Mac OS X

    During processor intensive activities—such as processing HD video or playing a game that makes extensive use of the graphics processor—the fans speed up to provide additional airflow.