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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  • wallysb01 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Actually, you can upgrade the CPU. What you can’t do is replace the monitor. Reply
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    You can attach external monitors to the iMac. Reply
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 03, 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 a workstation. It has workstation components and is formally classified as such, so you kinda have to compare it to *gasp* OTHER workstations and match their spec as closely as possible to see if the price of the Mac Pro is reasonable or not. Anand is absolutely correct in comparing this to a HP Z420 which is HP's mid-range workstation right now.

    "this is Apple's only desktop-ish device."

    Ever heard of the Mac Mini?

    "Apple doesn't provide options for people who want a high end notebook or desktop for normal use.."

    Ever heard of the Macbook Pro or iMac?

    You can't discount the fact that the Mac Pro has Xeons under the hood just because you don't like the other options Apple offers. If the Mac Pro has Xeons under the hood, then you have to factor that into the price of the device. You don't get to ignore the engine in a Bently to claim that a Bently is thus overpriced when compared to a Toyota Corolla. You don't get to say that it should have an engine from a Toyota Corolla and that theuy shouldn't have the luxury features and hand-crafted attention to detail that come with a bently. If you want a Toyota corolla, go buy a Toyota Corolla. If you want a Dodge viper, go buy that. Don't tell Bently to make a Toyota Corolla or a Dodge viper and don't expect to buy a bently at the cost of a toyota corolla or dodge viper either because you seem to dismiss the facts that there are differences between the three.

    "it's at least 2x as expensive as it should be for it's base unit"

    Not according to actual price comparisons it isn't..
    Reply
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    I'm still wondering how that Nokia Lumia 1020 review is coming along !? Reply
  • p51mustang6 - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    You should really do research, just a little, prior to making a review like this, you make a bold statement saying how the Mac Pro is so great and for so cheap, yet you compared it to two companies far from known for making anything professional. Try comparing the Mac Pro to The Origin Genesis Pro-X2 from Origin PC. It starts out with considerably higher specs with a LOWER price tag. They also offer up to dual Intel Xeon E5-2697 Dodeca-core processors (that's 12 cores each CPU for those of you who couldn't handle that) for a total of 24 cores (or twice that of the Mac Pro), up to dual 12GB NVIDIA Quadro K6000s (Apple doesn't even offer anything even closely comparable lol), up to 256GB of RAM (Apple offers up to 64GB), up to 4TB of SSD storage (compared to Apple's 1TB, granted PCI), comes standard with liquid cooling (Apple does not offer), up to an additional 12GB NVIDIA Tesla K40 (once again Apple offers nothing of the sort), Origin comes with one year warranty upgradable to 3 years but also comes standard with LIFETIME support with 24/7 United States based support (I wonder where Apple's support that you get 90 days of is based...lol) The starting price of the Origin is $3,712 compared to $3,999 of the Mac Pro which does not come with dual processors. The trash can is a complete rip off which requires you to go out and use their thunderbolt ports in order to do any real upgrading so you will have random things sitting on your desk, the Origin perhaps bigger, but at least all the goods will always be inside of it. Instead of spending all their time trying to make a computer a cylinder maybe Apple should have tried to compete with the real heavy hitters such as Origin PC. Reply
  • Louiek - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    Hi, I am currently myself trying to compare a maxed out mac pro ~ $10k CAD with other OEM workstations of similar spec. I looked into origin but I can't seem to build a similar spec'd (i.e. single Xeon E5-2697v2 etc) that will cost under $11k CAD. Is there something I am missing as your comment leads me to believe that I can build a cheaper PC with origins with similar specs. Reply
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    You can't the Origin machine only offers extreeeeme options that are ideal for gaming with neon lights. Its solution to things is to throw more cores at it and throw more ram at it even though the ram is slower... Reply
  • stingerman - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    Sorry dude, triedto configure a comparable system and it costs more than the Mac Pro... Reply
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Ok, I'll bite...

    Mac Pro:

    2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache
    32GB (4x8GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
    256GB PCIe-based flash storage
    Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
    User's Guide (English)

    $8000 and weighs roughly 11 pounds

    GENESIS Pro-X2

    ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS
    Dual ORIGIN FROSTBYTE 120 Sealed Liquid Cooling Systems
    Dual Intel XEON E5-2630 v2 Hex-Core 2.6GHz (3.1GHz Turbo) 15MB Cache (That's 12 cores at a lower clock than the Mac Pro build)
    1000 Watt Corsair RM1000
    Dual 6GB NVIDIA Quadro 6000 (Non-SLI)
    32GB Kingston ECC 1600MHz (4x8GB)
    Genuine MS Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit Edition
    250GB Samsung 840 Evo Series
    ASUS 24X CD/DVD Burner
    On Board Audio
    Onboard Network Port
    ORIGIN Wooden Crate Armor
    1 Year Part Replacement and 45 Day Free Shipping Warranty with Lifetime Labor/24-7 Support
    ORIGIN Recovery USB3.0 Flash Drive
    ORIGIN PC G8 T-Shirt XL
    Microsoft Internet Explorer

    $11,017 and weighs over 70 pounds.

    Now, before anyone says anything, the tee shirt was free and the water cooling was the only offer plus they give a free games offer that I didn't take. Tho I probably should since apparently workstations are all about pro gaming, neon lights and being extreeeeeme.
    Reply
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Also, if anyone wants to argue that you can get dual 12-core on the origin machine, I'll simply point out that, at spec, I'd almost be able to buy two 12 core Mac Pros. Just saying. Reply

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