Gaming Performance

As I mentioned earlier, under OS X games have to specifically be written to use both GPUs in the new Mac Pro. Under Windows however it's just a matter of enabling CrossFire X. I ran the new Mac Pro with dual FirePro D700s through a few of Ryan's 2014 GPU test suite games. The key comparison here is AMD's Radeon R9 280X CF. I've put all of the relevent information about the differences between the GPUs in the table below:

Mac Pro (Late 2013) GPU Comparison
  AMD Radeon R9 280X AMD FirePro D700
SPs 2048 2048
GPU Clock (base) 850MHz 650MHz
GPU Clock (boost) 1000MHz 850MHz
Single Precision GFLOPS 4096 GFLOPS 3481 GFLOPS
Texture Units 128 128
ROPs 32 32
Transistor Count 4.3 Billion 4.3 Billion
Memory Interface 384-bit GDDR5 384-bit GDDR5
Memory Datarate 6000MHz 5480MHz
Peak GPU Memory Bandwidth 288 GB/s 264 GB/s
GPU Memory 3GB 6GB

Depending on thermal conditions the 280X can be as little as 17% faster than the D700 or as much as 30% faster, assuming it's not memory bandwidth limited. In the case of a memory bandwidth limited scenario the gap can shrink to 9%.

All of the results below are using the latest Radeon WHQL drivers at the time of publication (13-12_win7_win8_64_dd_ccc_whql.exe) running 64-bit Windows 8.1. Keep in mind that the comparison cards are all run on our 2014 GPU testbed, which is a 6-core Ivy Bridge E (i7-4960X) running at 4.2GHz. In other words, the other cards will have a definite CPU performance advantage (20 - 30% depending on the number of active cores).

You'll notice that I didn't run anything at 4K for these tests. Remember CrossFire at 4K is still broken on everything but the latest GCN 1.1 hardware from AMD.

Battlefield 3 - 2560x1440 - Ultra Quality + 4x MSAA

Battlefield 3 starts out telling the story I expected to see. A pair of 280Xes ends up being 16% faster than the dual FirePro D700 setup in the Mac Pro. You really start to get an idea of where the Mac Pro's high-end GPU configuration really lands.

Bioshock Infinite - 2560x1440 - Ultra Quality + DDoF

Bioshock ends up at the extreme end of what we'd expect to see between the 280X and D700. I tossed in a score from Bioshock under OS X, which obviously doesn't have CF working and ends up at less than half of the performance of the D700. If you're going to do any heavy 3D gaming, you'll want to do it under Windows still.

Company of Heroes 2 - 2560x1440 - Maximum Quality + Med. AA

Not all games will scale well across multiple GPUs: Company of Heroes 2 is one of them. There's no performance uplift from having two 280Xes and thus the D700 performs like a slower single GPU R9 280X.

Company of Heroes 2 - Min. Frame Rate - 2560x1440 - Maximum Quality + Med. AA

Metro: Last Light - 2560x1440 - High Quality

Metro is the one outlier in our test suite. Although CrossFire is clearly working under Windows, under Metro the D700 behaves as if it wasn't. I'm not sure what's going on here, but this does serve as a reminder that relying on multi-GPU setups to increase performance does come with a handful of these weird cases - particularly if you're using non-standard GPU configurations.

GPU Choices 4K Support & The 4K Experience
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  • ananduser - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    There are pro laptops that take care of the size compromise.

    There is also the brilliantly designed HP Z1. The first AIO workstation, both compact and powerful *and* designed for(not against) user accessibility.

    Apple has neither.
  • pr1mal0ne - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Any details of the PSU? those seem missing. All i can do is scrape for clues in context. Where is the PSU located? how does it handle pushing 400W for an extended period of time (temp wise)? How much more load does it pull when you are pushing lots of data through the thunderbolt and WiFi channels?
  • japtor - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    For location at least, if you check out iFixit's teardown it's located between the Xeon's board and the I/O board on the back.
  • mdopp - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Intel's SRP for the E5-1680 V2 is $1723
  • Goff - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I'm curious if one of these Mac Pros could be recommended for programming. Specifically iOS, OSX and Unity 3D programming. I've spent all of my Apple and mobile programming years on either Mac Mini's or MacBook Pro's.
    Would a 4 or 6 core Mac Pro be of any benefit above and beyond an i7 iMac or a 15" MBPr? It seems a much clearer choice for the video, rendering, photo pros, than for the developer set.
    Any developers out there see a benefit to running Xcode on a Mac Pro?
  • madmilk - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Seems pretty pointless if you ask me. I guess compilation will be quicker on the 8 and 12-core configs, but on the 4/6 cores it won't be a big difference. As for GPU, the FirePros are not a whole lot faster than the GPUs in the iMacs. I guess if you like lots of monitors the Mac Pro has ports for six 2560x1600 monitors, but the rMBP allows three 2560x1600 which is already a vast amount of space.
  • MichalT - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    You can get XCode to use the extra cores by typing in something like this:

    defaults write IDEBuildOperationMaxNumberOfConcurrentCompileTasks 8

    It speeds unity builds a bit for me, but it seems that between Unity and XCode they are not parallelizing enough tasks.

    GCC, however, uses the extra cores nicely and compilation speed increases nearly linearly with the number of cores; linking is still single threaded. I build using make, and I type in something like make debug -j9 (for my 8 core system this provided the best compilation time).
  • whyso - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Are the D series gpus actually firepro? Or are they simply consumer level gpus that apple has paid for a firepro name? What I mean is under 3d rendering apps (maya, 3ds max, solidworks, etc) do they perform like a firepro W series gpu or an underclocked 7970?
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Well considering that FirePro's on the PC side are the same consumer level chips with different drivers and features enabled, the difference is likely academic. On the OS X side, the consumer GPU's in Apple's Mac Pro have used the same OS X driver as the workstation counterparts. (Though this historically has applied only to nVidia. This is the first time a Fire Pro has gotten an official OS X release.)
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    The FirePros usually have ECC RAM which these cards don't.

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