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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  • Chirpie - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Uh, remind me again which low-power HTPC can run 16 4K video streams at once? Beyond that, why on earth would you buy this computer as a HTPC? The graphic cards would be a waste. If you're gonna bash, I demand some effort.
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    I don't see you admitting you have a problem with haterism.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    The problem with saying Apple's pricing isn't out of touch with reality is that you can't only compare this to high end workstation's from other companies...this is Apple's only desktop-ish device. These things 10 years ago used to start in the mid $1000-2000 range, and with inflation that would be cheaper still. They were STILL expensive, but at least not absurdly so.

    Yeah, Xeons, etc. cost a lot, but Apple doesn't provide options for people who want a high end notebook or desktop for normal use...this is the closest they get, and it's at least 2x as expensive as it should be for it's base unit (even with the Apple tax).
  • OreoCookie - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    I don't understand this comment: Apple does cover this *price range* with the Mac mini and the iMac. The 27" iMac sports up to 32 GB RAM, a decent graphics card and 4 fast cores. And since these machines come with Thunderbolt, you can expand them with the same ultrafast peripherals that also attach to a Mac Pro. The only thing that Apple does not offer to you is the product that you want for the price that you want (the xMac, a traditional tower system).
  • lilo777 - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    iMac is not a classic desktop. It's a A-I-O computer with its inherent disadvantages (i.e. CPUs,, GPUs etc. usually getting obsolete much faster than the monitor)
  • OreoCookie - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    I understand what the iMac is. It is nevertheless a desktop computer that covers the price segment between $1200 and $3500 in Apple's line-up. Compared to 10, 15 years ago, the demographics have changed: people have migrated to mobile computers for the most part, and the demographic who still use desktops are often quite happy using iMacs (e. g. have a look at The Verge's review of the Mac Pro where the video editors admit to using iMacs and Mac Pros, for instance).

    Certainly, if you want or need a traditional headless computer, Apple simply does not serve your needs. But looking ahead, Broadwell CPUs will be soldered to the mainboards. Most people will rely on the integrated graphics (which become increasingly powerful).
  • Regular Reader - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    How often do you replace a CPU or graphics card? If you're a serious gamer, then Macs have never been the right machine for you and never will be. For people like me, the 27" iMac is perfect because we don't need a classic desktop. There's little reason to need a true desktop machine these days. AIO is the way to go. So much easier, you can get most of the power, they're quieter...the advantages far outweigh the negatives.
  • wallysb01 - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    The iMac is not quieter than decent desktop PC. Maybe you’ve just been around absurdly loud computers? For the $1500-$2000 you pay for an iMac, you should be able to buy a pretty much silent PC with as much or more power than the iMac. Oh, and you get your choice of monitor or you can keep your old one that you still like just fine.
  • Chirpie - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    I dunno man, usually the graphic card alone is enough to make it louder than an iMac. At least, until you're willing to start mucking with the RPMs through various mods/software hacks.
  • Regular Reader - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    27" iMac. There's no need for much more. You can upgrade everything but the CPU.

    I used to be the DIY PC build type. I got sick of wires everywhere, intermittent cooling issues, and just generally having a desktop full of crap. I've had a 4-core i7 27" iMac for nearly 4 years now, haven't looked back, and it is more than enough to run OSX and Windows in parallel, even only having 8 GB of PC1333 RAM. And with a firmware update, my old 27" can support up to 32 GB. I have Thunderbolt even, along with FW800. If you need external SATA, OWC makes a component to do that (though you have to send your machine to them to get it installed). I'd happily buy another if I needed to do even more serious work than I do.

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