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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Sapphire Radeon HD 7950
versus other Mac Pro GPUs

Posted Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

We have more test results for new "blessed" GPU for the Mac Pro running OS X: the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition. We've also added two more legacy Mac Pro GPUs: the GeForce GT 120 and Radeon HD 4870.

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)
GTX 285 = NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 GPU (1G VRAM)
Quadro 4000 = NVIDIA Quadro 4000 GPU (2G VRAM)
Radeon 4870 = AMD Radeon HD 4870 GPU (512 VRAM)
GT 120 = NVIDIA GT 120 GPU (512M 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. All Macs were running OS X 10.8.3.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm -- A Drone is in the lab gathering resources and mutating into Zerg structures. 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.)

Team Fortress 2 (Steam) -- We playback one minute of mayhem. Settings are 2560x1440 Fullscreen, vSync OFF, Best Settings, Anti Aliasing 8X. (LONGEST bar indicates FASTEST in frames per second.)

Final Cut Pro X -- We render the Rain video effect on all 8 clips of our 30 second 1920x1080 HD test video. (SHORTEST bar means FASTEST time in seconds.)

Premiere Pro CS6 -- We render the Fast Color Correction on all 8 clips of our 30 second 1920x1080 HD test video. (SHORTEST bar means FASTEST time in seconds.)

Photoshop CS6 -- Using a 6000x4500 pixel image, we render a 15 degree Tilt Shift (500 pixel blur). (SHORTEST bar means FASTEST time in seconds.)

LuxMark 2 -- This is an OpenCL benchmark. We render the Medium benchmark Sala scene and record the average thousands of samples per second. (LONGEST bar means FASTEST in KSamples/sec.)

1. The
Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition is fastest in three out of four Pro App tests featured on this page. It shines in Pro apps that use OpenCL for GPU accelerated effects. The NVIDIA GPUs are strongest in CUDA accelerated apps like Premiere Pro -- though there are exceptions as you notice the Radeon HD 5870 outperforming all GPUs including the 7950.

The Radeon HD 7950 was beat by the 2012 iMac's GeForce GTX 680MX in all three Game tests. But it was a strong second in two and 'sort of' tied for second in TF2.

2. I included the legacy GeForce GT 120 in some of the graphs. I excluded it from the FCPX and Photoshop graphs. It was so slow, it would have made the graphs 'ugly' to read. FYI, it took 81 seconds to render FCPX's Rain effect and 110 seconds to render Photoshop's Tilt/Shift Filter.

3. The Radeon HD 7950 is not a revolutionary product but a long overdue improvement over all existing AMD GPUs -- and in most cases -- over all the NVIDIA GPUs for the Mac Pro.

NEWS FLASH: EVGA will be selling a Mac Edition of the GeForce GTX 680. We will be testing it and adding those results to this page.

NOTE: The Radeon HD 7950 is compatible with all existing Mac Pros from 2008 - 2012 (though Sapphire is officially specifying 2010 and after). It can run under Lion 10.7.5 and Mt. Lion 10.8.2 by installing special driver that comes on a disc. No special driver install needed for 10.8.3.

In case you missed it, "Part One" has another set of tests pitting the Radeon HD 7950 with 'legacy' Mac Pro GPUs. Or to see it compared to the current 'high-end' GPUs flashed and unflashed, check out "Shootout with the Sharks."

Comments? Suggestions? Email , mad scientist.
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WHERE TO BUY THE SAPPHIRE RADEON HD 7950 for the Mac Pros running OS X.
The price will be $479. That's more than Apple charges for the Radeon HD 5870 kit (selling for $449) but less than the Quadro 4000 for Mac ($1199 and change).

You can buy the Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition from Other World Computing. Also check on Amazon, NewEgg, and TigerDirect. Search for "SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition."

Other World Computing also sells NVIDIA cards like the Quadro K5000 for Mac and will be soon taking orders for the just announced GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition. (See their NVIDIA page.)

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.

Order your copy of Adobe Creative Suite (or any portion thereof) direct from Adobe USA. Or click these links to Adobe France, Adobe Germany, Adobe Sweden, or Adobe UK. (Clicking our links helps us earn a commission.)

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