Can the new macbooks handle HD DVR'ing?
October 29, 2008 8:29 AM   Subscribe

New Macbooks: how good are the integrated NVIDIA graphics?

So I'm finally making the leap and buying my first Mac, hopefully by the end of this year. Now that the gap between the high-end MacBook and low-end MBP is so narrow, I can't justify the extra cost...except maybe for graphics.

I don't do hard-core gaming or anything, but I may use this thing occasionally as an HD DVR and to play high-def content. Will the regular Macbook with integrated graphics have enough juice to handle this, or would I need to upgrade to the Pro?

And yeah, I know I can get a Pro refurb for cheaper, but right now I just want to know all my options.
posted by middleclasstool to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There is some good (but unofficial) evidence that the new MacBooks support hardware decoding of h.264 video. Whether they do or will support hardware accelerated encoding, I don't know. But playback should be very smooth, so long as it's h.264 encoded.
posted by jedicus at 8:48 AM on October 29, 2008

Oh, also, if you're going to do much recording, I strongly suggest either a fast external drive or replacing the internal drive with a 7200 rpm model. I replaced my internal drive and it makes a noticeable difference in responsiveness. NB: You'll need a T6 Torx and a small phillips screwdriver to replace the hard drive.
posted by jedicus at 8:51 AM on October 29, 2008

Best answer: If you're just watching HD content, you will be more than happy with the Macbook. I have the previous Macbook and it plays HD content fine. The Nvidia 9400M on the new Macbook blows the Intel X3100 on the old Macbook out of the water. Comparing 3DMark 05 benchmarks, we're talking about 807 (Intel X3100) vs 3,930 (Nvidia 9400M), almost 5X better performance.
posted by junesix at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2008

Response by poster: Anyone know anything about recording?
posted by middleclasstool at 11:38 AM on October 29, 2008

Best answer: Depending on your capture device, the HD recording should hardly use any CPU power since the device is only capturing the already-compressed video stream and saving it to the hard drive. Playing back that HD file is the real CPU kicker. Jedicus mentioned that the new hardware supports h.264 hardware acceleration, but it should also support MPEG hardware acceleration as well (which some HD streams broadcast as, depending on your region).
posted by phrayzee at 12:06 PM on October 29, 2008

BTW, I have an older Macbook with the Intel GMA950 graphics and it can playback 720p MPEG using about 70% CPU, but drops frames with 1080i video.
posted by phrayzee at 12:07 PM on October 29, 2008

Response by poster: So you're saying that I have no leverage to convince my wife that we should drop the extra $400 on the Pro.

Damn you all. Damn you all to hell.

Seriously, that's good stuff, thanks.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2008

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