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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"

Mac OS X 10.5.4 vs 10.5.5:
Do Graphics Intensive Apps Run Faster?

Originally posted September 18th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

There's an Apple Support document that describes the improvements in 10.5.5. The eleventh item under "What's Included - General" jumped out at me: "Includes extensive graphics improvements." Does that mean applications that use 3D OpenGL and Core Image Effects will run faster? Let's see...

ASPYR ENEMY TERRITORY: QUAKE WARS (ETQW)
We recorded our own TIMENETDEMO sequence called "BF." We ran at High Quality 2560x1600. Graph shows frames per second.

MACSOFT HALO
We ran the newest UB version (2.0.3). We set everything to the highest quality including lens flare. FSAA was set to OFF. Resolution was 2560x1600. Graph shows frames per second.

ASPYR QUAKE 4
In the spirit of Quake 3, it carries on the tradition of being Multi-Core (SMP) aware. The 1.42 patch comes with a nettimedemo file called "id_perftest." We were at High Quality 2560x1600. Graph shows frames per second.

BLIZZARD WORLD OF WARCRAFT
With the help of a Blizzard 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 Camp 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, all options on or at maximum, 2560x1600, 1X Multisampling.) Graph shows frames per second.

APPLE MOTION
The graph below represents the time in seconds to complete a "RAM Preview - Play Range" which renders the template on the fly using both CPU and GPU. We chose the "Blocks Detail" HD template (900 frames).

STONE DESIGN IMAGINATOR
This app was created to showcase Core Image effects. We use it to test the GPU's ability to process those effects by having it render 1000 frames on the fly as it morphs from a snow leopard to a rose. (Graph displays time in seconds for the second cycle.)

LEGEND of GRAPHS
RED bar indicates the fastest time.
GeForce 8800 = nVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (Apple CTO option for the "early 2008" Mac Pro
Radeon 3870 = ATI Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition (Retail upgrade kit)

Test mule: Mac Pro 3.2GHz "Harpertown" (early 2008) with 16GB of RAM.

CONCLUSION
Though I don't doubt there were improvements and bug fixes to the graphics drivers in OS X 10.5.5, they don't appear to improve performance -- at least in the tests we ran. In fact, the GeForce 8800 GT took twice as long to render the test template with the new drivers. (Huh?)

RELATED LINKS

Bare Feats tests the Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition using Core Image intensive apps (Motion 3, iMovie HD, iMaginator 4).

Bare Feats tests some "cutting edge" Windows-only GPUs on the Mac Pro. Could these be coming out soon in Mac OS X compatible versions?

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...

  1. Small Dog Electronics (custom orders; refurbs)
  2. Power Max (takes trade-ins; also has refurbs and used)
  3. Silverado (custom order one with Velociraptors)

WHERE TO BUY GRAPHICS CARD UPGRADE KITS

The Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition ($219 MSRP) will be available "late June" direct from ATI's Online Store or from Other World Computing or from Small Dog Electronics. 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 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