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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)

GPU SHOOT 'EM UP:
2008 Mac Pros vs
Previous Mac Towers

Originally posted January 17th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Though many "2006/2007" Mac Pro owners have been "bewitched, bothered, and bewildered" by the non-compatibility of the "2008" Mac Pro's optional GeForce 8800 GT kit, we have two pieces of good news:
1) The Radeon HD 2600 XT works on the "old" Mac Pro.
2) The Radeon X1900 XT works on the "new" Mac Pro*

So we wanted to see how both cards would do against each other as well as the two best cards for the "last great" G5 tower.

BLIZZARD WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Working with a WoW programmer, we devised a test that stresses the GPU and produces repeatable results. We placed our warrior in the Firetree realm. He started at the totem pole at the entrance to Village Narache, ran East to the two large trees on a nearby hill, turned around, and returned to the totem pole. By using an addon called "Titan Performance," we were able to capture average frame rate for the running sequence. (Test was run in Full Screen mode and best settings.)

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 -- especiallly 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).

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

LEGEND of GRAPHS
R1900 XT = ATI Radeon X1900 XT*
R1900 GT = ATI Radeon X1900 GT (G5 Edition)
R2600 XT = ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
G7800 GT = nVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT (CTO option on G5 PCIe)
G7300 GT = nVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT
H2 = card installed in Mac Pro 3.2GHz "Harpertown"
H1 = card installed in Mac Pro 2.8GHz "Harpertown"
C = card installed in Mac Pro 3.0GHz "Clovertown"
G5 = card installed in Quad-Core G5/2.5GHz Power Mac "2005"


In the case of each 3D accelerated game, we ran at High or Highest Quality settings at 1920x1200. All Macs were running Leopard 10.5.1.
(* One user reported that the Radeon X1900 XT did NOT work in his 2008 Mac Pro. We didn't do anything special to get it to work in our 2008 Mac Pro. However, we do recall running the firmware update back in October 2007 when it was installed in our 2007 8-core Mac Pro.)

INSIGHTS
The ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT standard on the 2008 Mac Pro exhibits a significant performance improvement over the GeForce 7300 GT that was standard on the 2006/2007 Mac Pro. In fact, as a $149 kit (MB198Z/A), it's a bargain upgrade for your "older" Mac Pro. It only consumes 50 watts, so it won't overwork your PCIe bus.

Notice that when it comes to high rez, high quality gaming, the 2.8GHz Mac Pro is every bit the equal of the 3.2GHz Mac Pro.

The Radeon X1900 XT (which is still available in a kit -- MA631Z/B) is fast -- faster than the Radeon HD 2600 XT, but it's pricey at $399. Yet it's currently the only "high end" GPU upgrade kit that's compatible with the 2006 and 2007 Mac Pro.

We added the Quad-Core G5 with two of its optional GPUs to the mix. You can see that overall it's faster than the Mac Pros with "stock" GPUs but slower than than the Mac Pros with the optional Radeon X1900 XT. Doubtless the GeForce 8800 GT will be faster still.

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.

RELATED LINKS

NOTE: Since we did this article we were able to get results for the GeForce 8800 GT and Quadro FX 5600 running on the "early 2008" Mac Pro. See our newest 3D GAME SHOOT 'EM UP and the CORE IMAGE HAMMER DOWN.

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

Bare Feats' advice on which Mac Pro graphics card to buy.

Bare Feats' memory speed and heat tests on the 3.2GHz Harpertown Mac Pro versus others. (And 667MHz vs 800MHz comparison.)

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

Apple has posted some 2008 Mac Pro benchmarks.

See Apple's technical briefing on Mac Pro memory expansion.

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 from the Apple Store USA -- search on "MB137Z/A" to find it. The price is $349. If you are very unhappy about it not working on your 2006/2007 Mac Pro, then sign our petition asking Apple to create a version that will. We also suggest you give feedback to the Mac Pro management at 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 ($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.

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