When OS X El Capitan ships this fall we should see some big improvements in performance on our Macs thans to Metal, which is Apple's system for vastly improving how our computers handle graphics. There isn't any official word yet on which Macs will support Metal, but we do have some idea of what to expect thanks to the efforts of developers who have been digging through the El Capitan beta.
Metal is coming to the Mac, but not all models
Based on the driver software developers have found so far, it looks like support is there for graphics cards from Nvidia, Intel, and AMD. Here's the unofficial requirements based on netkas.org research:
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 400 series and newer
- Intel HD4000 and newer (Ivy Bridge or newer)
- AMD HD7000 and newer
You can see which graphics card is in your Mac by clicking the Apple menu and choosing About This Mac. Look for the Graphics entry under the Overview tab.
My 2012 Retina MacBook Pro shipped with Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M, which sure doesn't look like a GTX-level card to me. That doesn't mean my three year old Mac laptop definitely won't be able to take advantage of Metal, but based on the limited information available today it doesn't look promising.
About This Mac shows which video card is in your computer
In comparison, the current top 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro ships with either Intel's Iris Graphics 6100 or Intel Iris Pro Graphics and AMD's Radeon R9 M370X. The MacBook Air ships with Intel HD Graphics 6000, and the MacBook includes Intel HD Graphics 5300. Presumably all of these models will support Metal.
If your Mac isn't Metal-compatible, that doesn't mean it can't run OS X El Capitan. Apple said all Macs that support OS X Yosemite can upgrade to El Capitan. Here's which Macs will be OS X El Capitan-compatible:
- iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
OS X El Capitan was unveiled during Apple's 2015 Worldwide Developer Conference keynote presentation at the beginning of this week. It's available as a developer-only beta now, and as a public beta in July. The official shipping version will be a free upgrade some time this fall.