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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  • estern53 - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    Now all we need Apple to do is make a prosumer version of the Mac Pro for under 2k for the rest of us. Reply
  • wheelhot - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    They already did, it's called the iMac, or MacMini Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    A Mini redesigned as a mini version of this might be cool, especially with a discreet GPU. Reply
  • affinityseattle - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    The LR test is a bit off. LR is not great at exporting. As a pro, I've found the trick is to stack export processes. The more cores you have, the more it can handle and utilize the CPU. So, the iMac i5 might be faster on a single export, but the Mac Pro should spank it if you start dividing the export up. Also, if you have a 1000-image export, the imac and mbp will overheat and reduce the CPU power (TLD). For a pro machine, these types of usage are relevant. Reply
  • GRAFiZ - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    It's an impressive product... but, as with most Apple designs, form is first, function is second. The fact that it has to scale CPU speed to reduce heat says all I need to know. Obviously the Apple fanbois will argue "THATS A THEORETICAL SITUATION!!!" but who cares? The fact is I'm buying brand new parts at the highest premium on the market... thermal throttling should NEVER EVER be necessary.

    Bottom line, like all Apple products, it's impressive... but, you can do better for less money elsewhere.
    Reply
  • DotFab - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    You've read it all wrong!

    The work load that put the MP under slower run was purely artificial.
    It's not anything actual programs run.
    The conclusion to draw is that the global thermal dissipation is great!

    You missed the point of the test.
    Reply
  • lukarak - Thursday, January 09, 2014 - link

    You clearly don't care, but people who will actually use it, will care that it won't throttle down when they load it.
    Only haters care about a situation that will never take place. As they can, in their frustration and insignificance, gloat about something.
    Reply
  • GRAFiZ - Thursday, January 09, 2014 - link

    No hater here... I just think it's poor design that a brand new product, costing as much as TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS can not handle a theoretical max load without overheating.

    I can build a dual octa-core Xeon E5v2 system for far less that could process the same simulated work load without any thermal of processor speed restrictions at all.

    But, I guess if you want the smallest little desktop made, it's really your only choice. I just find it funny that when you spend as much as a brand new car might cost on a desktop computer, that any such limitations would need to be accepted at all.
    Reply
  • wordsofpeace - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    If Apple had made it 10mm wider and maybe 20mm taller, the extra thermal capacity could have allowed more headroom. But no, it had to be 9.9" x 6.6" and 11lbs. It's almost as if the marketing dept. decided on the most wow factor specs and poor old engineering had to come up with a solution.
    Don't get me wrong, I'd love one on my desk, but I too don't understand Apple's addiction to form over function.
    Reply
  • tsk2 - Thursday, February 20, 2014 - link

    I share your view. I enjoy my mac pro 2008 (packed with all the stuff I need) and a nice cinema display. Sure, both are big, but they both look nice and I don't feel limited. I have tried small nice looking boxes in the past and my experience has always been that it is a lot of effort to expand, add cables, and still get that uncluttered feel. A bigger box, I can live with, but this solution, albeit "initially" good looking, is too short term. I wish Apple would notice that there are users who fall in our category.. Reply

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