I had visited a friend of mine recently and used his MBP. And, I happened to stumble upon an alphabet – d – on his menu bar. Having so much love for those tiny – yet powerful – menu bar apps, I asked him about the app.
Before he could finish explaining (It took less than a minute!), I found myself already searching for the app. Meet – gfxCardStatus – a free, open source app that helps you to switch GPU, aka Graphics Card,at your will. Its for 15″ and 17″ MBP’s from late 2008 and until the retina MBP’s (The reason is very obvious). Its updated to Mountain Lion as well.
Off late the Macbook Pro’s come with dual graphics card and they switch automatically based on the app you run. But, most of times we are never aware of which GPU you are running on. And even if you knew, we hardly knew which app kicks on the integrated Card. And this app helps you will all of those. You always need to understand you laptop to get the best out of it!
As you expect from any menu bar app, its got the basic option – About, Check for Update and Preferences
The next in Grey Color is the ‘Card’ that you are currently running on. To change this, the options are right below it – Integrated only, Discrete Only and Dynamic Switching. As you can see, I have got my Twitter(!!), Sparrow and GC Helper running which automatically turns on my AMD. Just choose to your preference just like that!
In Pref’s, you have the option of Smart Menu bar icons, which has been brought after request from users. Then comes the regular ones – updates, startup option and use Growl. The grow integration makes it even more awesome so I know when the GPU changes. Sure, you can look into the menu bar for the alphabet but this is more catchy! I love Growl anyway..
Then in Advanced is another useful setting, switching Graphics card based on your power source. Believe me, its so handy. Was at airport and I never wanted to drain my battery, I used this app. On flight, considering my travel time, I used it. So handy.
Does it affect battery? – Yes. You can feel that your battery just lasted longer/shorter. I put it in ‘Integrated only’ while my time in office. The apps I turned on were Twitter, iTunes, Reeder, Sparrow, Skype and Adium. I did experience a boost in battery life. Maybe lets say 10% to 15% boost.
Integrated Only Performance:
It was surprising to know that both iTunes and iWork app weren’t ‘dependencies’. So they,obviously, ran very smoothly with the integrated one. Even when iPhone was syncing iTunes didn’t show up. But, Twitter did (See Pic above!). It showed up frequently. None of the iWork app showed up unless I opened like 4 files. It worked so seamlessly as ever under the integrated ones.
Did the apps lag while in Integrated Only? – Twitter sometimes did and so was sparrow. Not that my it was requiring the discrete card, but may be it was coded to run on that for better performance. Also transition to Mission Control was not so smooth. But it doesn’t happen every time and certainly doesn’t make it unusable. MBP never hangs for that matter.
Overall:This is one heck-of-an-app. Really. Save Battery, Save Power!
Update: Please read this for a Quick Thank You!