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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  • zephonic - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the first thorough review of the MacPro, and on the last day of 2013!

    Happy New Year!
    Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I'm surprised that you can't have 3x4K displays all off the TB ports since the one HDMI port is connected to TB Bus 0. Reply
  • lilo777 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    The review is very disappointing. Normally workstation review would contain performance comparisons with other workstations not with all-in-one consumer computers equipped with mobile parts. How about comparing MP with real workstations? Perhaps that would put its size shrink into proper perspective. Reply
  • darkcrayon - Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - link

    From the review, there's no reason to believe the Windows performance would be much different from other similarly configured workstations (which we know are of similar cost), with similar CPUs and GPUs. And of course if you need to work in Final Cut Pro, there wouldn't be an exact comparison available anyway. Reply
  • hoboville - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    "No reason to believe performance would be different".

    Interesting to hear you say that, as these GPUs are underclocked to meet the thermal headroom. For raw performance metrics, the gaming shows how CFX D700 compares to its consumer twin the 7970 GHz / R9 280X, it's slower. More RAM, sure, but it's not ECC which is what real workstations use. And if you're not using more than 3 GB...you're wasting money.

    This is a Final Cut Pro computer or a computer for those who only use Mac software. Too bad for them, as they have to pay more for less power.
    Reply
  • akdj - Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - link

    Did you read page one? There really isn't anything to 'compare' it TOO! No one else is offering different chipsets in their workstations. PCIe SSDs are rare and thunderbolt is all but non existent so far in Windows land Reply
  • wiz329 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    @Ananad, does the fact that there are only 8 PCIe lanes available to the IO mean that we could see some bottlenecks if there are a large number of external devices attached/in use? Reply
  • wiz329 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    *Anand Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    So you can't get the cards to be Firepros under Windows? I suspected something like that would be the case with the cost of actual firepros, since apple writes much of the graphics driver there's less of a difference in osx, while they seem like bog standard radeons with somewhat odd configs in Windows. That may take some value away for pros who work with high end apps in both. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - link

    There were also reports of 7900 series Radeons showing up as D*** series FirePros in OSX. It appears Apple is just eliminating the distinction between them, just calling standard Radeons FirePros. Reply

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