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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

eGPU = TITAN X for Mac Pro 'cylinder'

Originally posted December 18th, 2015, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Many owners of the 'late 2013' Mac Pro 'cylinder' are frustrated with being limited to only AMD GPUs. MacVidCards and netkas have co-developed a hack that enables a Thunderbolt 2 expansion box with an NVIDIA TITAN X GPU to override the Mac Pro cylinder's AMD GPUs.

cMP TITAN X = 'mid 2010' Mac Pro 3.3GHz 6-Core with NVIDIA GTX TITAN X (12G)
eGPU TITAN X = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 2.7GHz 12-Core connected to eGPU with NVIDIA GTX TITAN X (12G)
nMP D700s = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 3.GHz 8-Core with dual (active) AMD FirePro D700s
nMP D700 = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 3.GHz 8-Core with single (active) AMD FirePro D700

All test units were running OS X El Capitan 10.11.1. NVIDIA's web driver 346.03.04f01 was installed and active.

LuxMark 2.1 is an OpenCL benchmark that renders scenes of various complexity. For this round we used the default Sala scene (488K Triangles) and rendered using all available GPUs, but GPUs only. (LARGER number means FASTER in Thousands of Samples per Second.)

The single GeForce TITAN X beats the single FirePro D700. However, when dual D700s are rendering OpenCL, they, of course, beat the TITAN X.

OctaneBench allows you to benchmark your CUDA capable GPU using Octane Render code. (LARGER score means FASTER.)

The dual FirePro D700s get no score because they are not 'CUDA capable.' This is one of the primary justifications for the eGPU: to run 'CUDA only' pro software like Octane Render.

FurMark OpenGL 'GPU burner' uses fur rendering algorithms to measure the performance of the graphics card. It tends overheat the GPU making it a perfect stability and stress test tool. (LARGER number in Frames Per Second means FASTER.)

Even when 'hobbled' by the limited bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, the eGPU TITAN X 'buries' the AMD FirePro D700 on this OpenGL test.

Diablo III -- We observe FPS while our character was by the New Tristam Waypoint. Quality was HIGH, no AA, no Vsync Fullscreen. (HIGHER number means FASTER in Frames per Second.)

When it comes to GPU intensive games, the NVIDIA GPUs dominate whether in the eGPU or native PCIe x16 slot.

Tomb Raider -- We use the built-in benchmark using the HiGH preset. (HIGHER number means FASTER in average Frames per Second.)

Same thing. NVIDIA GPUs excel in many GPU intensive games.

Cinema 4D R17 - Here is an example of a CPU bound animation that can confuse and frustrate Mac users seeking to boost FPS with a better GPU. Notice how none of the GPUs have a clear advantage. We took the Car Chase animation that Cinebench runs in a 1024x768 portal and opened it in Cinema 4D Rev 17. Then we played animation in fullscreen mode at 2560x1440 with a maximum frame rate of 500 (to push it to as fast as it would go).

The single active FirePro D700 edged out the TITAN Xs.

The eGPU offers an alternative to the "FirePro Only" option in the 'late 2013' Mac Pro cylinder. Even with one-fourth the bandwidth of the 'normal' x16 PCIe slot, in many cases the NVIDIA option shows its advantage. However, in some cases, the AMD FirePro D700s dominated -- especially when BOTH GPUs were in use.

Though the cMP was 6-core and the nMP was 12-core, the apps we featured here do not use more than 2 cores. The 6-core did have an edge on core clock speed, but the 12-core's CPU is newer and its 1867MHz memory is clocked faster than the 6-core's 1333MHz memory.

BTW, the eGPU TITAN X can also run at full 5120x2880 on the Dell 5K display.

Stay tuned for some results running real world pro apps like DaVinci Resolve.

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MacVidCards for details. They also sell high-end NVIDIA GPUs modified to be fully compatible with the Mac Pro tower and eGPU. Big mahalo to iBuildMacs for providing the Mac Pro 12-core cylinder we used in the eGPU testing.

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copyright 2015 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"