MacBook Pros with Vega graphics options go up for sale

Vega Mobile lives, and we now know just how much it'll cost for the privilege of adding Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Radeon Pro Vega 20 power to Apple's MacBook Pros. The company has updated the listing for its highest-end portable system to include those graphics options, as spotted by The Verge.

The highest-end 15" MacBook Pro configuration is the only way to get ahold of Radeon Pro Vega mobile chips. This machine starts at $2799 and includes an Intel Core i7-8850H CPU, 16 GB of RAM, a 512-GB SSD, and a Radeon Pro 560X graphics processor built on the Polaris architecture. Adding a Pro Vega 16 chip to that MacBook Pro runs $250, and a Pro Vega 20 is another $100 (for $350 extra in total).

While that may sound like a lot of money on its face, we can work back to see whether Apple is gouging pro customers on pixel-pushing power. To start, the company says that the Radeon Pro Vega 20 offers up to 60% higer performance in graphics workloads compared to the Radeon Pro 560X, and that allows us to make some interesting guesses.

By my estimate (achieved in part with clock-speed ranges obtained by Anandtech), the raw single-precision compute power of a Pro Vega 16 should be about 2.43 TFLOPS. In turn, the Pro Vega 20 should be good for about 3.33 TFLOPS. If we work back from that 3.33 TFLOPS figure, it suggests the Radeon Pro 560X's 1024-ALU shader array is good for about 2.08 TFLOPS.

Without ROP and texture-unit counts, we don't know the full potential performance picture for these chips just yet. Still, the Pro Vega 16 could shadow a mobile GTX 1050, while the Pro Vega 20 might have the chops to duke it out with a mobile GTX 1050 Ti.

Going by peak single-precision throughput alone, our estimates would mean the Pro Vega 16 offers about 16.8% higher performance potential for only a 9% increase in price, while the Pro Vega 20 only commands a 12% price increase for its considerable performance boost over the 560X. Compared to the extortionate $400 Apple wants to double the MacBook Pro's flash storage from 512 GB to 1 TB, the Pro Vega chips seem like no-brainer upgrades if you have the scratch.

Both Vega parts also have access to considerably more memory bandwidth than the Polaris chip, thanks to their use of HBM2 RAM, and architectural features like accelerated mixed-precision math that could pay dividends in some workloads. Still, for those who want more pixel-pushing power than Polaris can provide, the Vega option could be quite appealing indeed.

Comments closed
    • Spunjji
    • 11 months ago

    Tree-fiddy? God damn Apple Monster, I ain’t givin’ you no tree-fiddy.

    • tipoo
    • 11 months ago

    It did feel to me like the “X” update to the GPUs were stand-ins for Vega at the right sizes and performance per watt not being ready for mobile yet. Though here, they still haven’t replaced the whole line with it either, these are just larger chips above the existing.

    I hope they don’t take any extra wattage, because these coolers were already at the brink…One thing I really don’t enjoy about Apple is that they never put a milligram of extra cooling capacity over the TDP, such that even a desktop like the new Mini runs at 100C perpetually at load, and at base clocks.

    • BorgOvermind
    • 11 months ago

    At least now MACs get decent graphics.

    But otherwise, please someone tell me the logic of spending x3 the price on a system designed to self-terminate after support period is out vs. getting a general use notebook and dropping a good linux on it.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 11 months ago

      You don’t get the Apple Magic that way tho’…

      • Growler
      • 11 months ago

      I don’t think Media Access Controls need graphics. :p

      • tipoo
      • 11 months ago

      ” self-terminate after support period is out ”

      Explain?

      [url<]http://www.portableone.com/images/consumer-reports-notebook-failure-rates-100631728-large.idge.jpg[/url<] (I would be curious though, to see what this looks like after Butterfly jammage)

      • End User
      • 11 months ago

      MAC address or Macs?

      Why buy a Mac? Trackpad. Apps. Continuity. macOS. Apple Pay. T2 chip. Support. Apple Stores.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 months ago

      Mac Ain’t an aCronym?

    • qmacpoint
    • 11 months ago

    If they didn’t use the T2 chip, I would buy them on a whim (at a reasonable price)

    • Krogoth
    • 11 months ago

    Raja is very impressed and he doesn’t need fancy glue either.

    • DPete27
    • 11 months ago

    Pretty courageous, smashing through the $3,000 barrier with a laptop.

      • DancinJack
      • 11 months ago

      The MBPs have been above 3K for a while now, mate. If you juice them up, that is.

        • DPete27
        • 11 months ago

        Shows how much I look at MBPs then 😉

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 months ago

      And with a headphone jack, even. That’s just sheer bravery.

        • ptsant
        • 11 months ago

        I wait for the day they offer wireless charging and you have to carry a 13″ charging pad around. That would certainly remove yet another useless 0.1mm.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 months ago

          let’s get rid of the battery entirely!

    • DancinJack
    • 11 months ago

    It’s really weird to me that upgrading to the best GPU they offer is only 300 more, but if you add 16GB of RAM it’s like 10K. So dumb.

      • NoOne ButMe
      • 11 months ago

      The margins for each upgrade are likely pretty similar.

      Vega 20 with 4GB HBM2 costs a little less than 16GB of DRAM does for Apple.

        • DancinJack
        • 11 months ago

        that doesn’t make it any less dumb though.

          • ClickClick5
          • 11 months ago

          Looking at the RAM prices online, I guess Apple makes about a good chunk of side change on their RAM.

          $200 for 16GB for the Mac Mini from Apple. Or, Amazon for about ~$120. Add in Apple’s bulk discounts, and that gap is even larger now. Would not be surprised at a 50%+ profit.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 months ago

            More than that even, because you have to factor in they’re not giving you the 2x4GB kit that would have been there without the upgrade. They’re making ~50% plus whatever they value the 8GB of RAM to be.

      • ptsant
      • 11 months ago

      $1500 to ugrade the SSD from 512GB to 2 TB. Yes, it is a very fast SSD. But still…

      • Rza79
      • 11 months ago

      I was configuring an iMac 27 for a client. The upgrade prices are just mind-boggling.

      i7 upgrade = + 360 Euro (isn’t that the price of the actual CPU, not upgrade?)
      64GB RAM upgrade = + 1680 Euro (store price ~550 Euro)
      512GB SSD upgrade = + 360 Euro (500GB 970 EVO = 130 Euro)
      And the worst of all, upgrade keyboard with numpad = + 50 Euro (seriously??)

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 months ago

        The 27″ iMac (non-Pro) has an access door for upgrading the RAM. So you can do that aftermarket if you like.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 11 months ago

          Integrated all-in-one PCs are colossally stupid and wasteful. The PC part is always going to break or be completely obsolete before the monitor part. Instead, mount a NUC-like device to the back of a monitor. That way, you won’t be dumping an otherwise-fine monitor into the landfill with the PC part becomes useless.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 months ago

            That’s neither here nor there. The guy was speccing out iMac.

            • Spunjji
            • 11 months ago

            *raises hand to be awkward*
            A friend of mine is running an HP Z1 Workstation circa 2012. The Sandy Bridge Xeon and 16GB RAM inside it are more than good enough for its role as media system / DayZ server with occasional mucking in as a games system in emergencies. Unfortunately, 1/4 of the panel back-light died and now it looks permanently sad.

            You’re still right, of course – it’s a waste no matter which of the unnecessarily-bolted-together bits dies.

          • Rza79
          • 11 months ago

          I was actually already planning that.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 11 months ago

    Nice write-up, Jeff. I don’t want to think what a well-equipped mbp 15 would cost.

      • DancinJack
      • 11 months ago

      6 core i7 + 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD + Vega 20 = ~3200.

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 11 months ago

        I should have clarified. I was thinking 32GB and 1TB.

          • DancinJack
          • 11 months ago

          ~3950

            • ptsant
            • 11 months ago

            You can make a cluster of thinkpads at this price.

        • ptsant
        • 11 months ago

        32 GB seems better. 512 GB would be enough for me.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 months ago

      It’s one of those things where [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0CW39q0TrY<]if you have to ask[/url<]...

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