MacBook Pro: AMD lifts lid on GPUs exclusive to Apple's new 15-inch models

Consumers looking at the new 15-inch MacBook Pro can spend between $100 and $200 extra on beefing up the laptop with AMD's new Radeon Pro 400 GPUs.

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AMD reckons the Radeon Pro 400 series GPUs will significantly crank up the new 15-inch MacBook Pro's productivity.

Image: Apple/AMD

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro models for now are the only laptops to gain a performance boost from AMD's new trio of Radeon Pro 400 series GPUs.

If you're keen on buying the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, AMD has revealed technical details about the laptop's new GPUs that may help decide whether it's worth upgrading the graphics.

The Radeon Pro 400 series adds a new branch to AMD's Radeon lineup, shipping first with the 15-inch MacBook Pro unveiled by Apple on Thursday.

The series includes the Radeon Pro 450, 455 and 460 GPUs featuring AMD's Polaris 14nm FinFET builds. For consumers, they present another performance-versus-cost choice to make before purchasing.

The entry-level $2,399 15-inch MacBook Pro with SSD 256GB storage features the Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB memory and a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 CPU. For an extra $200 you can upgrade to the Radeon Pro 460 with 4GB memory.

The higher-end 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,799 and comes with 512GB SSD storage, the Radeon Pro 455 with 2GB memory, and a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor. An upgrade to the Radeon Pro 460 with 4GB memory bumps the total price up to $2,899.

AMD showed off its 14nm tech at CES in January, touting significant power-efficiency gains over previous 28nm GPUs, and thinner wafers that enable thinner and lighter computer designs.

As AMD explains on a new page for 15-inch MacBook Pro creatives, the Radeon Pro 400 series will crank up productivity thanks to its ability to run up to 1.8 trillion calculations per second.

"Speed through your tasks with up to 16 compute units (1,024 stream processors) and 1.86 teraflops of horsepower. Radeon Pro Graphics on the MacBook accelerate workloads normally reserved for the main processor. It features versatile asynchronous compute, updated shader engines, enhanced memory compression and new geometry capabilities in a compact and efficient package," AMD boasts.

Those figures are only applicable to the top-end Radeon Pro 460. The Radeon Pro 455 is capable of 1.3 teraflops, and 12 compute units, while the Radeon 450 peaks at one teraflop, with 10 compute units. All three feature 80GB per second memory bandwidth.

These Polaris fourth-generation Graphics Core Next design GPUs are also thinner due to a process called 'die thinning'.

"Die thinning is an elaborate process that reduces the thickness of each wafer, those thin slices of material used in circuits, from 780 microns to 380 microns, or 0.38 millimeters. This allows for impossibly thin, beautiful designs," AMD says.

The Radeon 400 Pro series has helped deliver the 15-inch MacBook Pro double the speed of flash storage, a 67 percent brighter display, and 130 percent faster graphics, it claims.

Apple has also teamed up with LG to market the official external 5K display for the MacBook Pro. The LG UltraFine 5K Display features a 27-inch IPS panel and is available on Apple's website for $1,300. Apple is also offering a 21-inch 4K LG display for $700.

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