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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

"Mac Edition"
versus Past and Present Mac GPUs

Posted Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
April 17th updated comments on multiple displays (see #2 in insights)

Things are getting exciting for owners of 2008 - 2012 Mac Pros. Yet another graphics processor upgrade is shipping: the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition. Let's see how it compares to other Mac Pro GPUs past and present.

GTX 680 Mac = EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition (2G VRAM)
QK5000 = NVIDIA Quadro K5000 for Mac (4G VRAM)
Quadro 4000 = NVIDIA Quadro 4000 for Mac (2G VRAM)
GTX 285 = NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 for Mac (1G VRAM)
GT 120 = NVIDIA GT 120 GPU (512M VRAM)
Radeon 7950 = Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7950 GPU (3G VRAM)
Radeon 5870 = AMD Radeon HD 5870 GPU (1G VRAM)
Radeon 5770 = AMD Radeon HD 5770 GPU (1G VRAM)
Radeon 4870 = AMD Radeon HD 4870 GPU (512 VRAM)
GTX 680MX = NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX (iMac 2012; 2G VRAM)

All Mac Pro GPUs above were in a in a 'Mid 2010' Mac Pro 3.33GHz Hex-Core. The GeForce GTX 680MX is the only exception -- embedded in the 'Late 2012' (27") iMac 3.4GHz Core i7. Both Macs were running OS X 10.8.3.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm -- In the Rat Lab, the various mutations are complete. Settings are 2560x1440 Fullscreen, Ultra and Extreme, vSync OFF, no AA. (LONGEST bar indicates FASTEST in frames per second.)

Diablo III -- "Evil is in its prime." Our lonely traveler is on the path to adventure stopping occasionally to kill a few zombies. Settings are 2560x1440 Fullscreen, vSync OFF, Best Quality, Anti Aliasing enabled. (LONGEST bar indicates FASTEST in frames per second.)

Civilization V is now on Steam. By entering "-LeaderBenchmark" in the Properties > Set Launch Options, it runs through multiple animated sequences of the various World Leaders. Though it does not simulate real game play, it is GPU intensive. Resolution was 2560x1440 with FullScreen ON. Quality settings were on "Medium" with one exception -- Texture Quality was set to "High." vSync and High Detail Strategic View were both OFF. (LONGER bar indicates FASTEST in frames per second.)

X-Plane-32bit - Our Phantom Jet Fighter takes off over the ocean during a thunderstorm. Best settings at 2560x1440. (LONGER bar means FASTER average frames per second)

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark 4.0 is an OpenGL "real world" benchmark that flies through 26 scenes of a village, a ship, and floating islands applying advanced ambient occlusion, volumetric clouds, and various lighting conditions with refraction. We used Extreme preset for our testing which specifies 1600x900 windowed resolution with 8x Anti-aliasing, Ultra Quality for Shaders and Textures, with Occlusion, Refraction, and Volumetric Shadows enabled. (LONGER means bar means FASTER AVERAGE frames per second.)

Unigine's Valley "flies" through forest-covered valley surrounded by vast mountains. It's a birdŐs-eye view of 64 million meters of extremely detailed terrain down to every leaf and flower petal. It features advanced visual technologies: dynamic sky, volumetric clouds, sun shafts, DOF, ambient occlusion. (It is cross platform. For Windows users it is a test of DirectX.) We used Extreme preset: 1600x900 windowed resolution with 8x Anti-aliasing, Ultra Quality for Shaders and Textures, and with Occlusion, Refraction, and Volumetric Shadows enabled. (LONGER means bar means FASTER AVERAGE frames per second.)

1. The
EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition is the clear winner in the tests featured on this page.

2. The specs show the GTX 680 supporting up to four displays. I've observed Aperture grabbing over 1G of video memory (VRAM) while removing noise from 50 raw images. With only 2G of VRAM, does the GeForce GTX 680 have enough to support the four displays if multiples such pro apps are running? Turns out that the displays themselves only consume about 45MB each. The majority of VRAM is consumed by the apps themselves. One way to track the total consumption of available VRAM during your workflow is with an Apple Developer app called OpenGL Driver Monitor (see Current Free Video Memory parameter).

3. According to EVGA's spec sheet, it is compatible with Mac Pro 'early 2008' or later running OS X 10.8.3 (aka MacPro 3,1 or later). Just as with the Radeon HD 5870 and GeForce GTX 285, it requires two 6-pin PCIe Power feeds. You may have the correct power cables already but a "fresh" pair is included in the kit along with one DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort adapter and one DVI to VGA adapter.

... where we benchmark using Pro Apps like Cinema 4D, Motion, DaVinci Resolve, After Effects (Ray-traced 3D), and Octane Render.

And Part Three where it goes up against 'alternative' GPUs like the GeForce GTX 580 Classified and GeForce GTX 690.

Comments? Suggestions? Email , mad scientist.
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WHERE TO BUY THE EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition:

  • Order Direct from EVGA
  • Other World Computing (MacSales.com)
  • Trans International (TransIntl.com)
  • NewEgg.com (NOTE: one buyer posted on NewEgg.com that the GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition is not compatible with After Effects CS6. That's incorrect. As with any new CUDA GPU, you must add it to the whitelist of "ray-traced_enabled_cards" using the "sudo nano" Terminal command. For full procedure, contact us.)
  • Amazon.com


USA readers can help us earn a commission by using this Apple Store USA link or by clicking on any Apple display ad. For GPUs, click the left side bar option for "For Mac > Displays & Graphics" to find the GPU kits available. Or if you are buying a new Mac Pro, you will find options when you configure your order.

Apple Store USA has refurbished Macs with 12 month warranty that can be extended to 36 months with AppleCare. Pay attention to the GPU it comes with.

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copyright 2013 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"