What are the non-Apple GPU options for the 2019 Mac Pro?
January 14th, 2020 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
January 16th: upgraded the game graphs to 4K
February 6th: added Pro 580X GPU results
Apple currently offers 3 factory GPU options for the 2019 Mac Pro. There are third party GPUs that are less costly and run just as fast as Apple's Pro Vega II option.
Vega II = Apple's Radeon Pro Vega II (32GB HBM2 memory)
VII = AMD Radeon VII (16GB HBM2 memory)
5700 XT = ASUS Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB GDDR6 memory)
RX 580 = MSI Radeon RX 580 (8GB GDDR5 memory)
Pro 580X = Apple's Radeon Pro 580X (8GB GDDR5 memory)
TEST MULE: 2019 Mac Pro 12-core 3.30GHz W-3235 CPU, 96GB of 2933 MHz DDR4 ECC memory, 1TB flash based internal storage (dual 512G modules)
Blender 2.81 - Metal Render of BMW Scene
AMD Radeon ProRender add-on enables Metal rendering in the latest version of Blender. We increased samples from 64 to 512 to make it work harder. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
DaVinci Resolve 16 - Looping Noise Reduction
Using the 1080p Candle Project, we applied the "3NR" preset and started a looping playback. We rendered using Metal. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
DaVinci Resolve 16 - Blur Effects
Using the 1080p Candle Project, we applied the "64 Blur Nodes" preset and started looping playback. We rendered using Metal. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
TW: Three Kingdoms
Used the built-in Battle benchmark at 3840x2160 High Quality. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Used the built-in benchmark at 3840x2160 High Quality. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
TW: Warhammer II
Used the built-in Skaven benchmark at 3840x2160 High Quality. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
The really big news is that the non-Apple supplied GPUs are a fast and affordable alternative to the Apple GPUs like the Pro Vega II. But there are a few downsides. First, they don't provide an Apple Startup or Boot screen. That's not an issue if you are just adding them to the Apple factory GPU in your 2019 Mac Pro.
UPDATE: Catalina 10.15.3 now produces an Apple Startup screen when the Radeon RX 5700 XT or Radeon VII is installed (and no Apple MPX GPU module is present).
Second, they don't sleep well. The Radeon VII's fans go crazy when you put the 2019 Mac Pro to sleep. The Radeon RX 5700 XT will sleep, but the Mac Pro crashes when it wakes up (unless the Apple MPX is removed). Hopefully MacVidCards will come up with a mod to fix this. Until then, when adding non-Apple GPUs, either keep your 2019 Mac Pro awake or shut it down when you are not using it.
Third, though Blender and DaVinci Resolve let you choose the active GPU(s), many apps choose for you -- including games. However, when I connected a Dell 5K display to the DisplayPorts of the VII or RX 5700 XT -- and made it the primary display, the games would use those GPUs. Another way to force third party GPUs to be used is to remove the Apple GPU MPX module -- though be aware that your Thunderbolt 3 display will no longer light up.
We limited this test session to apps that heavily stress the GPU.
The RX 5700 XT surprisingly excelled running Blender 'GPU only' render and DaVinci Resolve Noise Reduction. However, it was not as impressive in our DaVinci Resolve 8K RED transcoding test.
Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to email me,
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WHERE TO BUY APPLE products:
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OTHER GOOD SOURCES
Trans International sells various Mac upgrades
Other World Computing sells memory, eGPUs, storage, and used Macs.
B&H Photo Video sells Apple products, GPUs, eGPUs, displays, storage, etc.
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copyright 2020 Rob Art Morgan
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