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Radeon HD 5870 in 2006 Mac Pro

Posted Friday, August 27th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

I told you the day the Radeon HD 5870 was announced with the 2010 Mac Pro that it was compatible with ALL Mac Pro models. Yesterday we reported on the 2008 and 2008 Mac Pro compatibility with the 5870.

NEWS FLASH: Radeon HD 5870 kit status became "Ships: Within 24hrs" on November 12th, 2010, on Apple Store USA.

There was skepticism as to whether it would work in the 2006 Mac Pro. I was determined to try it myself but I didn't have a 2006 model in our "arsenal." But thanks to PowerMax (and their great trade-in program), we were able to test a 2006 Mac Pro (MacPro1,1) with the Radeon HD 5870 sold with the 2010 Mac Pros.

I tested at 1920x1200 with the High Quality settings and 4X Multisampling (Anti-Aliasing). The only exception is X-Plane which was run at no AA. Fastest average FPS is in RED.

2006 Mac Pro
4-core 2.66GHz
Radeon X1900

2006 Mac Pro
4-core 2.66GHz
Radeon 5870

2010 Mac Pro
6-core 3.33GHz
Radeon 5870

Portal First Slice

54 FPS

247 FPS

321 FPS

ET:QW

30 FPS

96 FPS

157 FPS

CoD4

16 FPS

46 FPS

70 FPS

X-Plane 9.61

59 FPS

83 FPS

194 FPS

Halo UB

81 FPS

164 FPS

245 FPS

Doom 3

37 FPS

111 FPS

217 FPS

GLview 45 FPS 155 FPS 248 FPS

INSIGHTS
W
e can now confirm that at least one 2006 Mac Pro supports the Radeon HD 5870. In the table above, we compared it to the Radeon X1900 XT, the top GPU choice for 2006.

We used the boot drive from the 2010 Westmere 6-core Mac Pro to fire up the 2006 Mac Pro. Other than that, nothing else was done to "help" it work. FYI, it was:
Model Identifier: MacPro1,1
Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.66GHz
Total Number of Cores: 4
Bus Speed: 1.33GHz
Boot ROM Version: MP11.005D.B00
SMC version: 1.7f10

As you can see by the comparison with the 2010 6-core, adding this card won't make your 2006 Mac Pro "leap tall buildings in a single bound." But the 5870 will help you "clear low buildings with a running start."

The DVI port works, of course, but we also tested with a Mini DisplayPort. It worked with a 20" Cinema display using a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. We also tried a 24" LED Cinema display with "direct" Mini DisplayPort connection. That worked. We used the 24" display for running the benchmarks since it supported 1920x1200.

Again, big MAHALO to PowerMax providing the 2006 Mac Pro test unit (and for their strong support of Bare Feats over the years.)

AND THERE IS MORE
Since posting this initial article, we have done a shootout between four older GPUs and the two newest GPUs on the 2006 Mac Pro.


Have any comments or questions? Send them to
, mad scientist.
Or Follow me on Twitter @robartmog.

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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