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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"
Rob-ART, Main Mad Scientist (aka Dr. Frankenstein)
Bet-TAY, Special Features Edtior (aka Frau Blucher)

SHOOTOUT: Vista Ultimate 64-bit
on "2008" Mac Pro -
3D Game Testing

Originally posted March 4th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated April 29th, with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars graph
and dual Radeon HD 2600 XTs in CrossFire mode.

We've been having some fun testing two killer graphics cards on the "early 2008" Mac Pro under Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. It shows what's possible if Apple and "strategic partners" have the will.

We ran a four "state of the art" Windows 3D games using two Apple Mac Pro GPUs (Radeon HD 2600 XT and GeForce 8800 GT) along with some Windows PC only cards including the ATI/AMD Radeon HD 3870 X2 (dual processors on one card), and the nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 (dual GPU sandwich).

For the UT3 tests, we used the Suspense Flyby. The Flyby emphasizes GPU speed. Though a Botmatch is more like actual game play, the artificial intelligence varies the actions of Bots from run to run, making it impossible to get a repeatable results. Also, the Suspense Flyby is available for you to try yourself in both the Demo and Retail versions on the game.

For Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (ETQW) we recorded our own 4897 frame netdemo which includes running/shooting and flying/shooting. "r_useThreadedRenderer" was set to "2" (enabled) instead of the default "0" (disabled).

G9800 GX2 = nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 (1000MB GDDR3 - Windows Only)
R3870 X2 = ATI/AMD Radeon HD 3870 X2 (1000MB GDDR3 - Windows Only)
G8800 GTX = nVIDIA Geforce 8800 GTX (768MB of GDDR3 - Windows Only)
G8800 GT = nVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (512MB of GDDR3 - Apple CTO)
R2600 X2* = Dual ATI Radeon HD 2600 XTs with a jumper running in CrossFire mode.
R2600 XT = ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT (256MB of GDDR3 - Standard card for "early 2008" Mac Pro

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit was installed on a Boot Camp partition. We downloaded the latest drivers directly from the nVIDIA and ATI/AMD websites.

a) 3D accelerated games run faster under Windows Vista than under Mac OS X. (See the Apple OEM cards tested under Mac OX Leopard.)

b) The Radeon HD 3870 X2 has two processors on a single card (a la 3Dfx Voodoo5). It would make an excellent Mac Pro upgrade if ATI/AMD would offer it in a Mac OS X compatible version -- compatible all versions of Mac Pro. Ditto for the GeForce 9800 GX2 from nVIDIA.

c) Notice how the dual Radeon HD 2600 XTs in CrossFire mode run twice as fast as the single Radeon HD 2600 XT. However, two are no match for the single GeForce 8800 GT.

As of April 15th, 2008, Apple started shipping the "legacy" version of the GeForce 8800 GT in a kit form for 2006/2007 Mac Pro owners. When you visit the Apple Store USA, click on "Displays" in the left column and look for the Geforce 8800 GT labeled "1st Generation." Let me remind you that our testing has shown this to be a strong 3D OpenGL gaming card but a weak Pro App card (Motion, Aperture, FCP). We believe a Mac OS X compatible Radeon HD 3870 would perform better for Pro Apps. We are urging ATI/AMD to release such a card and will alert you if and when that happens.

The GeForce 8800 GT functions fine under Windows XP or Vista but don't plan it jumpering two of them to run in SLI mode. It won't work on the Mac Pro. However, two ATI Radeon cards will run under Windows in Crossfire mode as you can see from the graphs.

FLASH! -- ATI Radeon HD 3870 for Mac will ship the end of May. We have received confirmation from a reliable source that a ATI will definitely offer a retail version of the ATI Radeon HD 3870 with 512MB DDR4 that will boot OS X on both current and legacy Mac Pros. It will, of course, boot Windows XP or Vista in your Boot Camp partition.

This is significant in that the Radeon 2600 XT beat the GeForce 8800 GT in Apple Pro App Core Image intensive testing. So the HD 3870 will do even better in Pro Apps but also be a strong gaming card. And, like the 2600, we expect it to support CrossFire mode under Windows if you have two installed and jumpered.


Anandtech compares the GeForce 9800 GX2 to the Radeon 3870 X2 and others.

Tom's Hardware comapares the GeForce 9800 GX2 to other PC GPUs.

Bare Feats' 3D Game "Shoot 'em Up" (Mac OS X) between the four graphics cards compatible with the 3.2GHz Harpertown Mac Pro.

Bare Feats' reveals a weakness in the GeForce 8800 GT with the results from 15 Motion 3 template RAM Previews.

Bare Feats' CPU crunch tests on the 3.2GHz Harpertown Mac Pro versus others.

Bare Feats' memory speed and heat tests on the 3.2GHz Harpertown Mac Pro. How about 32GB in your Mac Pro?

Bare Feats' compares different 7K SATA hard drives running inside the Harpertown Mac Pro. Or how about SAS vs SATA?

Bare Feats' power usage and noise level testing on the 3.2GHz Harpertown Mac Pro vs the 3.0GHz Clovertown Mac Pro.

Apple Online Store

When ordering products from Apple Store USA, please click THIS TEXT LINK or any Apple display ad as your "portal" to the online store. In so doing, you help to support Bare Feats.

(DON'T LIVE in the USA? See links for Apple online stores in other countries.)

Also check with Small Dog Electronics and Power Max. (Power Max takes trade-ins.)


You can order the GeForce 8800 GT kit from the Apple Store USA -- search on "MB137Z/A" to find it. The price is $349. (It only works on the "early 2008" Mac Pro.)

The Radeon HD 2600 XT kit will work on 2006/2007 Mac Pros as well as the "early 2008" model (thanks to having both a 32-bit and 64-bit EFI driver in the ROM). Search on "MB198Z/A" when you visit Apple Store USA ($149).

The Radeon X1900 XT kit is still available for the 2006/2007 Mac Pro. It goes for $399 (eek!). Search on "MA631Z/B" at the Apple Store USA. Don't confuse it with the RAdeon X1900 GT "G5 Edition" (model TL142LL/A) being sold for $349 -- unless you have a G5 tower with PCIe slots.

Apple charges and arm and a leg for CTO memory options. We suggested ordering your Mac Pro with minimal memory and getting 8GB or 16GB of matched FB-DIMMs that meet Apple's specs and use Apple approved heat sinks from ....

Other World Computing

Trans International

MaxUpgrades makes max_flow, a kit to keep your Mac Pro memory running even cooler. They also have a kit called "MaxConnect" which enables you to use the lower optical bay to add four more internal hard drives for a total of eight.

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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster