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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"

PC Only Gaming:
Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition
versus GeForce 8800 GT

Originally posted June 13th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

If you are a "hard core" gamer that runs "PC only" 3D games, then you'll want to know how the new Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition stacks up against the GeForce 8800 GT and other GPUs. We tested several PC games under Vista 64-bit Ultimate in the Boot Camp partition of our Mac Pro 3.2GHz octo-core Mac Pro "early 2008."

For Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (ETQW) we recorded our own 4897 frame netdemo which includes running/shooting and flying/shooting. Also "r_useThreadedRenderer" was set to "2" (enabled) instead of the default "0" (disabled).

For the UT3 tests, we used the Suspense Flyby. The Flyby emphasizes GPU speed. Though a Botmatch is more like actual game play, the artificial intelligence varies the actions of Bots from run to run, making it impossible to get a repeatable results. Also, the Suspense Flyby is available for you to try yourself in both the Demo and Retail versions on the game.

Take 2 Interactive PREY
We use a demo file in our benchmarking that we downloaded from Overclockers in Australia. High Quality was selected (including 8X anisotropy and dynamic shadows).

Activision CALL of DUTY 4: Modern Warfare
We ran a timedemo created by Bryan C. of InsideMacGames with maxFPS set to 500 to overcome the 90 fps default max.

LP has a built-in two part Performance Test (Snow and Cave). We posted the results for the Snow sequence below.

THQ Company of Heroes
Using HIGH settings and DX9 shaders, we ran the built-in performance test for 90 seconds.

Electronic Arts CRYSIS
We chose the GPU benchmark and MEDIUM settings. We had some odd results when in Crossfire mode. We'll add those later once we've done more testing.

Harper = Mac Pro 3.2GHz "Harpertown" (early 2008)
8800 = nVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (Apple CTO option or kit; different ROM code for "early 2008" versus "2006/2007" Mac Pro)
3870 = ATI Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition (Retail upgrade kit)
3870x2 = Dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition cards with Crossfire jumper attached and Crossfire enabled using the Control Center app.
2600 = ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT (Apple OEM)

Vista 64 Ultimate was running in the Boot Camp partition of a Mac Pro 3.2GHz octo-core with 16GB of RAM.

The GeForce 8800 GT carries its 3D edge over to Windows, but it's nice to know that the ATI Radeon HD 3870 Mac & PC Edition "holds its own" plus it supports Crossfire if you happen to have two cards. That's signficant for "hard core" gamers who prefer running their 3D games under Windows. Why? Because two GeForce 8800 GTs will NOT run in SLI mode.

The "early 2008" Mac Pro makes using the Crossfire jumper easy since there are two side-by-side x16 PCie slots. The "2006/2007" Mac Pro only has one x16 slot. and the one next to it is an x1 slot. Unless you "downgrade" slots 1 and 2 to x8 using the Expansion Slot Utility, Crossfire will be counter productive. But then, who wants to run a high powered pair of GPUs in x8 slots?

Apple Online Store

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.)


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).

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