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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  • Dandu - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Hi,

    It's possible to use a 2 560 x 1 440 HiDPI definition, with a NVIDIA card, a 4K Display and the (next) version of SwitchResX.

    I have tested that : http://www.journaldulapin.com/2014/01/10/ultra-144...
    Reply
  • Haravikk - Sunday, January 12, 2014 - link

    The news about the USB3 ports is a bit strange, doesn't that mean a maximum throughput of 4gbps? I know most USB3 storage devices will struggle to push past 500mb/sec, but that seems pretty badly constrained. Granted, Thunderbolt is the interface that any storage *should* be using, but the choices are still pretty poor for the prices you're paying, and no-one offers Thunderbolt to USB3 cables (only insanely priced hubs with external power).

    Otherwise the review is great, though it'd be nice to see more on the actual capabilities of Apple's FirePro cards. Specifically, how many of the FirePro specific features do they have such as 30-bit colour output, EDC, ECC cache memory, order-independent-transparency (under OpenGL) and so-on? I'm assuming they do given that they're using the FirePro name, but we really need someone to cover it in-depth to finally put to rest claims that consumer cards would be better ;)
    Reply
  • eodeot - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I'd love a realistic comparison with an i7 4770k and say, 780ti.

    You also compare 12 cored version to older 12 core versions that hide behind (fairly) anonymous xeon labeling that hide their chip age (sandy/ ivy bridge/haswell...). I'd like to see in how any real world applications does a 12 core chip perform faster. Excluding 3d work and select video rendering, I doubt there is much need to extra cores. You note how its nice to have buffer of free cores for everyday use, while heavy rendering- but I never noticed a single hiccup or a slowdown with 3d rendering on my i7 4770k with all 8 logical cores taxed to their max. How much of better performance then "butter smooth" one already provided with a much cheaper CPU can you get?

    Also you compare non apple computers with same ridiculous CPU/GPU combinations. Who in their right mind would choose a 4core Xeon chip over a haswell i7? The same goes for silly "workstation" GPU over say a Titan. Excluding dated opengl 3d apps, no true modern workstation benefits from a "workstation" GPU, if we exclude select CUDA based 3d renderers like iray and vray rt that can benefit from 12gb of ram. GPUs included with Apple Mac pro have 2gb... Not a single valid reason a sane person would buy such a card. Not one.

    Also, you point out how gaming makes the most sense on windows, but do no such recommendation for 3d work. Like games, 3d programs perform significantly better under directX and that leaves windows as a sole option for any serious 3d work...

    I found this review interesting for design Apple took, but everything else appears one sided praise...
    Reply
  • pls.edu.yourself - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    QUOTE: "The shared heatsink makes a lot of sense once you consider how Apple handles dividing compute/display workloads among all three processors (more on this later)."

    Can anyone help point me to this. I think one of my GPU's is not being used.
    Reply
  • PiMatrix - Saturday, March 08, 2014 - link

    Apple Fixed the HiDPI issue on Sharp K321 in OS 10.9.3. Works great. Supported HiDPI resolutions are the native 3840x2160, and HiDPI: 3200x1800, 2560x1440, 1920x1080, and 1280x720. You can also define more resolutions with QuickResX but the above seem to be enough. Using 3200 x1800 looks fantastic on this 4K display. Great job Apple! Reply
  • le_jean - Monday, March 10, 2014 - link

    Any information on updated 60Hz compatibility concerning Dell's UP 2414Q in 10.9.3?
    I would be very interested to get some feedback in relation to:
    nMP & Dell UP 2414Q
    rMBP & Dell UP 2414Q

    I remember in anandtech review of late 2013 nMP there have been issues concerning that specific display, while Sharp and ASUS performed just fine
    Reply
  • philipus - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    As a happy photo amateur, I have to say the previous Mac Pro is good enough for me. I have the early 2008 version which I like because of its expandability. Over the years I have added drives, RAM and most recently a Sonnet Tempo Pro with two Intel 520 in order to get a faster system. As cool and powerful as the new Mac Pro is, it would cost me quite a lot to add Thunderbolt boxes for the drives I currently use, so it is not worth it for me.

    I do agree that it is about time a manufacturer of desktop computers pushed the platform envelope. It's been tediously samey for a very long time. I'm not surprised it was Apple that made the move - it's in Apple's DNA to be unexpected design-wise. But as much as it is nice to see a radical re-design of the concept of the desktop computer, I think a future version of the Mac Pro needs to be a bit more flexible and allow more user-based changes to the hardware. Even if I could afford the new Mac Pro - and I would also place it on my desktop because it's really pretty - I wouldn't want to have several Thunderbolt boxes milling around with cables variously criss-crossing and dangling from my desk.
    Reply
  • walter555999 - Saturday, June 07, 2014 - link

    Dear Anand, could you post how to connect a up2414Q to macbook pro retina (2013) ? I have tried a cable mini display port-HDMI. But there are no image in the dell monitor. Thank you very much. Walter Reply
  • Fasarinen - Saturday, August 09, 2014 - link

    Thanks for an excellent review. (And hello, everybody; this is my first post on this site.)

    I noticed, in the "GPU choices" section, what seems to be a very useful utility for monitoring the GPU. The title on the top of the screen is "OpenCL Driver Monitor"; the individual windows (which are displaying graphs of GPU utilisation) seem to be titled "AMDRadeonXL4000OpenCLDriver".

    I'm probably just being dim, but a bit of googling doesn't shed much light. If anybody could point to me to where this utility can be obtained from, I'd be most grateful.

    Thanks ....
    Reply
  • pen-helm - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    I showed this page to a Mac user. They replied:

    I'm pretty sure that this simple fix takes care of the issue with
    monitors where OS X doesn't offer a HiDPI mode:

    http://cocoamanifest.net/articles/2013/01/turn-on-...
    Reply

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