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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  • LorneKwe - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    How about we replace those Quadro 6000's with Radeon 7970s which are what the Mac Pro has inside. You can make any price comparison look like shit when you erroneously drop a few thousand dollars worth of GPUs into the build.

    Dual 6GB 7970s cost $1,400.

    Using that, we can build out a 24C Dual Xeon 2697v2 workstation, with 64GB of RAM, dual 512GB 840 Pro SSDs in RAID0, H100i cooling on each CPU, and it would come to around $10,000. Same price as the Mac Pro's kitted out, 12C config, double the CPU power, and a good chunk more GPU power as they aren't underclocked.

    You also have the option of going with 4x 7970s if you chose to, and if you forgo to ASUS Z9PE board for a proper workstation board, you can go up to 512GB of RAM instead of being capped at 64GB. If you want dual Quadro K5000s instead of 7970s, raise the PC's price by around $1600, but understand that these will outperform Apple's D700 pair by an enormous margin.

    If you're looking for portability, or absolutely require OS X for what you do; choose the Mac Pro. If you're looking for computer power that won't throttle down when faced with tough workloads; have a full-fledged workstation built for you and get much more bang for your buck.
  • stingerman - Sunday, January 5, 2014 - link

    Sorry Dude, this is a Pro Workstation, that mean workstation class GPUs. 7970 is a great CPU but there is a reason it doesn't go into Workstations...
  • madwolfa - Sunday, January 5, 2014 - link

    And what is it? Drivers? D700s in Mac Pro don't even have ECC memory enabled in them.
  • wheelhot - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    yes, the drivers provided (and I believe you can only test this in Windows?) will determine if it's actual workstation class GPUs or just Radeons with the name FirePro slapped on it. I'm seriously hoping it's supplied with actual workstation GPU driver, as it'll greatly benefit the software I use.
  • LorneKwe - Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - link

    I'd agree with you if we didn't have solid evidence that Apple's D700 is a repurposed 7970; lack of ECC memory being the best clue, and pricing being a great clue as well.
  • scarhead - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - link

    One Xeon E5-2697 processor costs $2,614. Two costs $5,228. I doubt your $3,712 figure for complete system is accurate.
  • p51mustang6 - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Apparently any comment disagreeing with the author gets deleted.
  • chaos215bar2 - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Clearly not. Perhaps your comment was rude, trolling, and / or being argumentative without actually adding anything to the discussion?
  • Johan Niklasson - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Great review - thanks. I just wanted to add that the new Mac Pro design and its finish does matter more than most people understand. The ones who work on graphic and video applications usually are artists with some sense of beauty and aesthetics. I am sure that the much more pleasant looking Mac Pro is a welcome addition to such people's workspaces.

    Also the smaller form factor and the silence will make it hard to resist!
  • james-bond - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the great review. I wonder if some of the USB ports should have been on the other side of the chassis. Seems like the power cord and monitors are things that are rarely unplugged and are usually on the back side of current case designs. Having to reach around to plug and unplug a flash drive seems inconvenient.
    Please keep and eye out for an upgrade to Logic Pro (Apple's audio pro app). A would love for you to benchmark this in the same way you did Final Cut. I doubt Apple will be able to harness the second GPU for compute in audio applications do to latency in doing real time audio monitoring. Audio has taken a back seat to video apps in this version of the Mac Pro it seems.

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