2019 16” MacBook Pro Graphic Card Update

I recently purchased the new 2019 16” MacBook Pro base model which includes an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of DDR6 memory. I was upgrading from my 2016 MacBook Pro which supported 1440p resolution graphics in Zwift. With the new 16” MBP, to my dismay, it would only render out 1080p max!

I contacted Zwift support regarding this. I was perplexed. How could a 3 year old machine optimize graphics better than a new state of the art MBP? Zwift support said the new machine does not support 1440p or Ultra graphics in Zwift but another tech support person said it really should from a spec stand point.

I am officially requesting Zwift enable support of this graphics card. The only other option would be to upgrade the graphics card. Apple offers up to a Radeon Pro 5500 with 8GB. I ended up returning the MBP. If they will enable support for this product I will reorder from Apple.

Zwift help us Mac users :slight_smile:

Hello. I’m interested if there is an update on this. On the verge of buying a 16 inch Macbook Pro (for non-Zwift reasons) and it would be great if Zwift correctly sets the graphics quality which it didn’t seem to do in November based on the message above.

I have the 16" MBP with the upgraded GPU. It runs Zwift in 1440 at close to 60fps just fine; however, I had to manually edit one of Zwift’s preference or config files for the 1440 option to be shown since Zwift doesn’t recognize the newer laptop. See this zwiftinsider post and scroll down to the section on ULTRA 1440 AND 4K RESOLUTION OPTION OVERRIDE:

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Thanks very much Eric - very useful. Good news that it can do Ultra in 1440p. A friend of mine just bought the base model with the 4gb 5300 card. According to benchmarks the difference is only 10% or so. I’ll test this and will report the numbers here for completeness.

One other quick question - does your MBP manage things like races with lots of avatars or the dust in parts of Watopia or is it fairly stable at nearly 60fps in all situations?

Stewart, I don’t do many races or large group rides, but overall my experience is that the 16"MBP varies between 30 & 60 FPS overall whether it’s “dusty”, there’s a large group is around me or it’s less crowded so to speak on screen. I do have a stutter for a second or two maybe once or twice a ride but otherwise cannot tell the difference between 30 & 60 FPS. I’m feeding the MBP to a 55’ 4k capable Samsung TV with an HDMI cable (I found a cable on Amazon that is USB-C on one end and HDMI on the other). I’ve attached the Zwiftalizer screenshots from Watopia rides I did Saturday (2.5hr Pretzel route), Sunday (1.5 hr easy Jungle Circuit route), & today (intervals on the Mountain 8 route).

Note that the screenshots show I’m using the “High” profile. That’s the one the MBP 16" uses, so I modified it for the 1440 UHD resolution, etc.

Thanks again for these Zwiftalizer screenshots. To complete the picture, I tried Zwift on my friend’s base MBP 16 inch, with the 5300M graphics card with 4GB memory. Zwift forces this to the Basic profile. I used a prefs.xml override to get it to use 1440p (but still with the basic profile.

Frame rate looked pretty good at 80-100. Ignore the 25fps p5 - that was me unplugging the power to see if it hot-swapped to the integrated Intel graphics (which it did).

So I think the frame rate is probably high enough to run at least the medium profile but that’s up to Zwift who still don’t allow the profile to be changed unlike every other game in the history of the world. Other reviews suggest fps is only 10% higher or so with the 5500M than the 5300M.

In the meantime, I have bought a portable 15 inch 4k monitor and a tiny case for my existing desktop PC with a 1080 GTX card, and I’ll just move the computer downstairs for the occasional Zwift session. I imagine the best solution long term is either to stream to a tablet from a gaming computer in the house, or to stream from the cloud from the Shadow service or similar. Then everyone on their work laptops can enjoy ultra 4k resolution without faffing around with new hardware, eGPUs etc.

It sounds like you have a solution that will work for you. Just for anyone else reading this, my 16" MBP (with the upgraded graphics card) auto selects the “High” profile as noted in my screenshots. I’ve modified Zwift’s high.txt profile config file to mimic Ultra by renaming the “High” file to “High Orig”, duplicating Ultra file and renaming the duplicate “high.txt”. The Ultra file has higher resolution - 1920x1080(0X) vs 1080x720(0X) - and higher shadow resolution (sres= 2048x2048 vs 1024x1024). Otherwise High and Ultra are the same.

Yes, with the 5500m on High it works well. But unless Zwift allows the 5300m to do more than basic then it’s hard to recommend the base MBP for Zwift. Thanks for all your help.