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3D Gaming:
8-core Mac Pro versus
4-core Mac Pro

Originally posted April 14th, 2007 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist.

I know buying an 8-core Mac Pro sounds like overkill for 3D Gaming -- but you don't know how extreme gamers can get. And I know professional scientists who need 8-core Mac Pros with high end graphics cards for their work who play 3D games during lunch hour or after work. Why play 3D games on an 8-core? Because you can.

As for gaming with a Quadro FX 4500 GPU, that seems ludicrous, but inquiring minds still want to know how it compares to the Radeon X1900 XT. After all, Apple posted the same comparison on their website we are about to show you...

Apple's own Doom 3 and Quake 4 benchmarks show the Quadro FX 4500 to be faster than the Radeon X1900 XT. However, it's a different story with every other game we tested...

8-core = 8-core Mac Pro 3GHz
4-core = 4-core Mac Pro 3GHz
FX4500 = Quadro FX 4500
X1900X = Radeon X1900 XT
G7300 = GeForce 7300

The Blizzard World of Warcraft test was to run by placing our warrior in the Firetree realm. He started at the totem pole at the entrance to Village Narache, ran West NorthWest, in the direction two large trees on a nearby hill, circled around the back of them, and returned to the totem pole. By using an addon called "Titan Performance," we were able to capture average frame rate for the running sequence. This is the best test we've found for measuring the effect of the graphics card on this game. (Test was run in Full Screen mode and best settings. CPU usage topped out at 150% during this run.)

This is the first time we've included Aspyr Prey in our testing. Our graph is incomplete but we wanted to post something to show you we're working on make sure it's included from now on. The benchmarking was done with a demo file downloaded from Overclockers. We're still researching the best demo file to use in our TIMEDEMO run. By the way, we never saw more than 75% CPU usage during our Prey runs.

1. An 8-core Mac Pro is no faster than a 4-core Mac Pro when it comes to 3D Gaming.
That's because none of the games uses more than 165% CPU usage (or one and one half core). Unless you run multiple games or play WoW in one window while compiling Xcode in another while running Photoshop CS3 action files in a third, the 8-core Mac Pro is hard to justify for extreme gaming. You are better off spending your money for more memory or more games.

Of course 3D Gaming and "real work" are not mutually exclusive. Even professionals who use high demand applications like Apple's Final Cut Studio and Adobe's Creative Suite can have another life as a 3D Gamer. So if you choose an 8-core Mac Pro for serious endeavors, you'll not lack for speed when play time comes.

2. The Radeon X1900 XT is still our recommended choice for gamers using Mac Pros. It's faster than the $1649 Quadro FX 4500 in 4 out of 6 game tests. And at $249, it's a no-brainer in our book.

The only thing that could make more sense is if Apple or a third party came out with a Mac OS X compatible GeForce 8800 GTX for about $500. (Click the table below to see a bigger version.)


CPU Crunching (Cinebench 9.5, Geekbench 2, Photoshop CS3, Aperture 1.5, and "QuickTime Player x 6")

Multi-Processing (Simultaneous rendering by Final Cut Pro, Motion, iDVD, and Photoshop CS3)

Anandtech compares the GeForce 8800 to the Radeon X1950 XT running Prey.

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We recommend the Radeon X1900 XT for 99.9% of Mac users.
Only those who are doing 3D Stereo-in-a-window should pop for the FX 4500.

FYI, The Quadro FX 4500 messes up in Maya 8.5. According to the Alias/Autodesk engineering support "qualified hardware" page, the FX 4500 (and GeForce 7300 GT) fails to render shadows properly in the Hardware Renderer and in the High Quality Viewport. However, there are no problems with the Radeon X1900 XT. That's ironic when you consider that Apple promotes the FX 4500 as the "ideal choice for high-end scientific visualization."

We have tested the memory from the following companies in our 8-core Mac Pro and can recommend them to you....

We have tested both 2GB and 1GB modules from Other World Computing in our 8-core Mac Pro. They offer a "Trade In Your Factory Memory" REBATE program. designed their own heat sinks with 6 cooling fins on each side (versus 4 on the Apple factory modules) using a special aluminum alloy. We have tested their 1GB and 2GB and 4GB modules in our 8-core Mac Pro.

We have tested MaxUpgrades' memory in our 4-core. They assured us that they have tested their memory on their 8-core Mac Pro without any errors and crashes. They also sell their heat sinks separately as well as a memory cooling kit called "max_flo."

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1995 - 2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist