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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  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - link

    The device ID for the D700 is identical to the 7970 (1002-6798), so it will show up as a Radeon under Windows. Conversely, a 7970 may very well show up as a D700 under Mac OS X if the only thing being checked is the device ID. Reply
  • 666sheep - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    It used to be device ID only, but it has changed in 10.9.2 drivers. Now 7970 (and 7870 XT) are recognized as "themself", like in 10.8. So there's another check, most likely vendor and/or subsystem ID.
    BTW, D500 and D700 are based on the same core - Tahiti XT2 and share one EFI ROM (but not the PC part, these are different for each card). I sent Anand an email with more detailed info.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, January 02, 2014 - link

    But can you install FirePro drivers for it under Windows? Reply
  • 666sheep - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I doubt that at this moment drivers other than Apple Bootcamp ones will detect these cards as FirePro. One should test this empirically, though. Reply
  • wheelhot - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Yes, I'm one of them as I'm using Solid Edge in Windows and wonders if the D300/500/700 is supplied with actual FirePro drivers in Windows or not. Anyone care to clarify?

    I've been searching for anyone to run a specviewperf test as it'll be easier to know if they truly comes with a FirePro GPU drivers or not in Windows, sadly none yet :(
    Reply
  • melgross - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I'd like to see a comparison pricing between the Mac Pro and a DIY machine using the same processors, not the i7. Whatever the difference, it's not the same type of machine if the CPU's are entirely different. That price difference, and possibly that of the mobo will be drastic, I would imagine, and would be a fairer comparison. Reply
  • acrown - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Lucky for you that someone did that already then:

    http://www.futurelooks.com/new-apple-mac-pro-can-b...

    Spoiler - the Mac Pro is cheaper when you attempt to keep the same design restraints.
    Reply
  • lilo777 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Don't be ridiculous. The guy has no clue. He used two AMD W9000 cards as if this is is what D700 is. Reply
  • itpromike - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Apparently you have no clue... The W9000 is spec for spec the exact same card as the D700. Every single spec and number are identical. Aside from Apples stupid and pointless naming convention this card is the same. Reply
  • KVFinn - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    >The W9000 is spec for spec the exact same card as the D700. Every single spec and number are identical.

    The W9000 is different, it has ECC ram for example. It's spec for spec the same as the 7970 but clocked lower.

    Though most of the differences in Pro grade GPU are confined to drivers.
    Reply

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