My laptop has an integrated GPU, but no discrete GPU. It is a MacBook Pro so I am running Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). My CPU is Intel second-gen i5, and my GPU is the Intel HD 3000.

The way that I understand integrated GPUs is this: the GPU is attached directly to the motherboard, rather than being its own component, and it has no memory that is dedicated to the GPU. Since it has no dedicated memory, it has to "share" memory with the rest of the computer. And since it has to be shared, it cannot be accessed as quickly so that is usually why integrated GPUs perform slower than dedicated GPUs.

I've been looking for ways to improve my performance on games. Obviously I cannot buy a better CPU nor GPU since it is a laptop and there may be overheating problems. But I was thinking (please correct me if I'm wrong), since an integrated GPU "shares" memory, there is probably no physical restriction (contrary to having dedicated memory) so how much memory it can share - it is probably just a set number. So that leads me to my question: is there any way to raise the amount of memory that the GPU shares with the rest of the computer? Since many games use high quality models and textures, they require a lot of video memory. So if I could raise how much memory the GPU can allocate, perhaps I can gain a smoother experience. After all, when I play, I end up having about 1GB of memory that is unused since the bottleneck is typically the GPU, not the CPU.


3 Answers 3


According to Apple...

Intel HD Graphics 3000 allocates a base amount of 384 MB on a Mac with 4 GB of RAM or 288 MB on a Mac with 2 GB of RAM for video and processes at startup. For example, a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011) with 4 GB of RAM installed has 3.7 GB of memory available to Mac OS X and applications (4096-384=3712). For Macs that have been upgraded to 8 GB of RAM, the Intel HD Graphics 3000 will allocate 512 MB of system memory instead of 384 MB. For example, a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) with 8 GB of RAM has 7.6 GB of available memory (8192-512=7680)

Which means that it is an automatic option, based on the amount of Ram that you have in your Macbook. And... according to at least one person who upgraded from 8gb to 16gb, it doesn't increase any more than 512mb.

So, the best you could do would be to upgrade to 8gb of Ram.


As far as I know the new 2012 13 inch retina model has 768MB shared RAM. (Intel graphics 4000) This has 8GB of normal RAM. So maybe with OSX Mountain Lion you can boost it up to 768MB with 16GB?

However on the 15 inch the Intel graphics 4000 only has 384MB shared vRAM and mine has 8GB and my dad's 16GB, both the machines have 384MB shared vRAM. (Mine and my dad's Macbook are identical but the RAM and the display).

So on the 15 inch it doesn't change because it has got the Nvidia gt650m.


I'm not 100% certain when it comes to macbooks... but as far as PCs go... some(most) integrated GPUs DO have dedicated video-ram. There are some that allocate parts of your system's RAM for VRAM... but they generally do not perform anywhere near as well as similar chipsets with dedicated RAM. On those motherboards that do share the RAM, you typically can allocate the quantity from within the BIOS. Simply throwing more RAM at the GPU does not mean that your GPU will perform better. Typically, you'll only see improvements when trying to increase resolution (increasing desktop resolution or adding 2nd/3rd/4th... monitors). More RAM will not make your GPU faster... but it can reduce the number of times it has to reload data from disk or system ram. In the majority of situations I've played with... you will not notice any improvements with regards to gaming. In many cases, I've seen it actually significantly decrease performance, because of the lack of system RAM.

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