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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"

3D GAME SHOOT 'EM UP:
Legacy GeForce 8800 GT
versus others

Originally posted April 24th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Apple (and nVidia) came through with their promise of a "legacy" GeForce 8800 GT that works on "Generation 1" (2006/2007) Mac Pros. We tested it on our "Clovertown" 2007 octo-core Mac Pro (3.0GHz) and compared it below to various cards for that model as well as the "Harpertown" early 2008 octo-core Mac Pro (3.2GHz). This article focuses on 3D gaming. We will add a future article comparing it to other graphics cards running Pro Apps.

MACSOFT UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2004 FLYBY
We used the SantaDuck Toolkit to benchmark with UT2004. Though a Botmatch simulates actual game play, it is very CPU intensive. However, the Flyby benchmark is primarily GPU -- especially at max settings and high resolution. We used the Inferno map.

ASPYR PREY
It 'represents' for the games based on the Doom 3 engine. We use a demo file in our benchmarking that we downloaded from Overclockers in Australia. High Quality was selected (including 8X anisotropy and shadows).

MACSOFT HALO
We ran the newest UB version (2.0.2). We set everything to the highest quality except lens flare. FSAA was set to OFF.

ASPYR ENEMY TERRITORY: QUAKE WARS (ETQW)
This is the newest "shoot'em up" game for the Mac. It's very demanding compared to older games. For this first posting we only had time to test certain cards. (It does not run on G5 Power Macs, BTW.)

LEGEND of GRAPHS
G8800 GT = nVIDIA GeForce GT (Apple CTO)
There are two versions of this card. The hardware is identical but the ROM code is different for the
"early 2008" (MB137Z/A) and "1st Generation" (MB560Z/A) Mac Pro.
R1900 XT = ATI Radeon X1900 XT (Apple CTO 2006 Mac Pro)
R2600 XT = ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT (Standard card for "early 2008" Mac Pro
G7300 GT = nVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT (Standard card for "2006/2007" Mac Pro)

H = card installed in Mac Pro 3.2GHz "Harpertown" (early 2008)
C = card installed in Mac Pro 3.0GHz "Clovertown" (2007)
Both Macs were running Leopard 10.5.2 with the Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 installed.

CONCLUSION
The legacy "1st Generation" GeForce 8800 GT brings much desired improvement to 3D acceleration for the 2006/2007 Mac Pro series. It's not quite as fast as the version we tested in the "early 2008" Mac Pro but that's likely due to differences in architecture including memory speed, frontside bus speed, and core frequencies. At $279, the price is reasonable.

It's a shame Apple could not produce a GeForce 8800 GT that works in all models of Mac Pro. You'll notice we were able to boot and test the ATI Radeon X1900 XT and HD 2600 XT in both models of Mac Pro. That's because ATI included a big enough ROM to hold both EFI 32 bit and 64 bit code. Why Apple didn't do that for the GeForce 8800 GT is a mystery to me.

Though the addition of the GeForce 8800 GT is a step forward, one only has to look "over the fence" at the GPUs available to Windows PC users to wonder why we can't "have it all and have it now." I'm referring to the Geforce 9800 GX2 and Radeon HD 3870 X2 we tested recently under Vista 64.

MAKING THE RADEON X1900 XT WORK
Some reports have come in that the Radeon X1900 XT does not work on their "2008" Mac Pro. We have had no problems running it in our 2008 Mac Pro 3.2GHz. We asked ATI about this issue. They suggest performing the firmware update on the Radeon X1900 XT while it is installed in a 2006 or 2007 Mac Pro. Then moving it to the 2008 Mac Pro.

NOTE: We can NOT get the Radeon X1900 XT to boot Vista 64 from our Boot Camp partition. We are forced to use the Radeon HD 2600 XT (or GeForce 8800 GT) for that purpose.

RELATED LINKS

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.

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

WHERE TO BUY A MAC PRO
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.)

WHERE TO BUY GRAPHICS CARD UPGRADE KITS

You can order the GeForce 8800 GT kit for whatever Mac Pro you own by going to the Apple Store USA and clicking on the "Displays" link in the left column. You'll see two versions of the GeForce 8800 GT listed: The "early 2008" (MB137Z/A) and "1st Generation" (MB560Z/A) models. The price dropped for both to $279. (We paid $325 for the "2008" version -- where's our store credit, Apple?)

The Radeon HD 2600 XT kit will work on the older Mac Pros as well as the new one (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 ($129).

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.

WHERE TO BUY MEMORY FOR YOUR MAC PRO
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