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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"

FUTURE MAC PRO GPUs:
Radeon HD 4870?
Or GeForce GTX 280?

Originally posted August 11th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated August 29th, 2008, with Radeon 4870 X2 results

If you are a hard core Mac Pro enthusiast like me, you are looking forward to the next killer Mac -- like the "Nehalem" based Mac Pro. But it won't be much "fun" unless Apple (or third parties) offer cutting edge graphics processors (GPUs) like the ATI Radeon HD 4870 and the nVIDIA GeForce GTX 280. Because these GPUs are not (yet) available in a version that runs under Mac OS X, we used Vista Ultimate (Boot Camp partition) to run three 3DMark06 Feature Tests and four 3D accelerated games to test their potential compared to the current crop of available GPUs for the Mac Pro.

Futuremark 3DMark06 is a popular benchmark that shows the potential of graphics cards. Using the Professional Edition, we ran the HDR/SM3 test and two Feature Tests at 2560x1600. First, here's the results for the HDR/SM3 test:

Then we ran the Fill Rate (Multi-Texturing) test:

Thirdly, we ran the Shader Particles test:

Next we ran four 3D accelerated games.
ID Software ENEMY TERRITORY: QUAKE WARS (ETQW)
For Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (ETQW) we recorded our own netdemo which includes running/shooting and flying/shooting. We set "com_unlock_maxfps" to "0" to overcome the 60 FPS limit.

EPIC UNREAL TOURNAMENT III
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.

Activision CALL of DUTY 4: Modern Warfare
We ran a timedemo created by Bryan C. of InsideMacGames with maxFPS set to 500 to overcome the 90 fps default max.

Electronic Arts CRYSIS
We chose the GPU benchmark and HIGH settings.

LEGEND of GRAPHS
R4870 X2 = Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 100251SR (2GB GDDR5)
GTX 280 = BFGTech GeForce GTX 280 (1GB GDDR3)
R4870 = Diamond Radeon HD 4870 (512MB GDDR5)
R3870 X2 = MSI Radeon HD 3870 X2 (1GB GDDR3; Overclocked)
QFX 5600 = nVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 (Apple CTO)
G8800 GT = nVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (Apple CTO or kit)
R3870 = ATI Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition (Retail upgrade kit)

Vista 64 Ultimate was running in the Boot Camp partition of a Mac Pro "Harpertown" 3.2GHz octo-core with 16GB of RAM.

OUR SUGGESTION TO APPLE FOR FUTURE GPUs
We hope Apple will "leap frog" the GeForce GTX 280 and Radeon HD 4870 to offer the Radeon HD 4870 X2 dual processor card with 2GB of GDDR5 as a CTO option on the next generation of Mac Pro. And if they don't, we hope ATI/AMD will offer it as a retail kit that is compatible with all models of Mac Pro.

One big advantage of the Radeon HD 4870 X2 as a future Mac Pro option is that affords the advantages of CrossFire for both Mac OS X and Windows. If you just have dual Radeon HD 3870s or 4870s with a CrossFire jumper, it only provides a speed boost under Windows.

Whatever Apple chooses next for an optional GPU, we hope it's an ATI Radeon card. Why? Because ATI has optimized their Mac Edition drivers and firmware for the Radeon 2600 XT and 3870 so that they run Core Image effects much faster than comparable nVidia cards including the GeForce 8800 GT and Quadro FX 5600. Unless there's a breakthrough on the nVidia side, the ATI Radeon cards will continue to be superior for getting GPU intensive work done on Pro Apps like FCP, Motion, Aperture, etc.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY A MAC
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 MAC OS X COMPATIBLE GRAPHICS CARDS

The Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition ($219 MSRP) is available now from Other World Computing. Unlike the GeForce 8800 GT, one card is compatible with ALL models of Mac Pro (2006 - 2008).

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" and "1st Generation" models. The price for both is $279.

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).

WHERE TO BUY "WINDOWS ONLY" GRAPHICS CARDS
We recommend NewEgg for the following overclocked versions of the cards we tested:
MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 R4870X2-T2D2G-OC Video Card
MSI GeForce GTX 280 N280GTX-T2D1G OC Video Card
MSI Radeon HD 4870 R4870-T2D512 OC Video Card
MSI Radeon HD 3870 X2 RX3870X2-T2D1G OC Video Card

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.

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