Gaming Sound in a Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by omfgninja, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. omfgninja macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2006
    Hey everyone. I recently ordered a Mac Pro, and like some of you, want to do some gaming on it.

    As a guy whos worked with gaming PCs for quite a while now, I still had a few questions in my head in relation to gaming on the Mac Pro.

    First and formost was... Audio?
    While im not a big audiophile, I do know the importance of having a GOOD soundcard in your computer. Because not only does it sound better (duh) but it doesnt put strain on the processor, like alot of on-board sound does.

    The state of Audio has always been crappy on the Mac (IMO atleast). With the exception of that one Live! card that Creative put out for the mac, has there ever been another 3d party sound card..... ever?

    Any way, I know that it will be impossible to get drivers running under Mac OS X for whatever sound card I descide to get. But, Since im using it for gaming, I dont really care about whether or not it runs under OS X.
    Thing is tho.... PCIe isnt the best bus when it comes to Sound. I know theres some Pro Audio stuff out there that works with PCIe, but its probably overkill.
    Are we gunna be stuck with *gasp* USB? (I hope not...)
    Ive seen a couple USB sound card things, but am very very weary of them. Ive never used a USB sound card, and I doubt it would be anywhere as good as something directly on the PCI Bus..... BUT its a better option than nothing.

    Do we know if the Audio in the Mac Pro has its own processor (I think its called a DSP, im not sure tho, correct me if im wrong, I want to know), or does it take cycles from the Proc?
  2. bbrosemer macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2006
    I really would like the explanantion of how a dedicated on board sound chip hurts the processor especially when the game isnt even going to use all of the CPU anyway I mean come on a quad anything xeon do u actually think that will ever be fully utilized.
  3. tobyg macrumors 6502a

    Aug 31, 2004
    Personally I haven't found the right sound drivers for XP yet. But yes, with 4 processors, and games mostly not using all 4... and even if they did, at that point, your graphics card is probably the limiting factor. I don't think onboard sound will hinder performance very much, if at all.
  4. devmage macrumors member


    Aug 9, 2006
    While there are some really cheap motherboards that put in really cheap sound chips that offset sound processing on the CPU I kinda doubt those kinds of chips are in this $3k pro computer. I've never had a problem with the sound quality on my dual G5 2.0 and I'm sure I won't with the Pro. The thing has optical and analog in and out so they are thinking about sound when they designed it. The only thing your going to get from third party is probably efect type support like EAX from creative.
  5. omfgninja thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2006
    Thing is, MOST games are not writen to take advantage of Multiple Processors or even multiple cores.
    Having Quad Xeons is nice, but considering that my game will probably have to run only on one single core, well, puts a new spin on things.
    Games now a days are bound to alot of different things, CPUs being one of them. I dont know which core the sound will processed on, but if its the same one as the game, then thats a problem. The processor has to do alot of work in games, especialy with alot of games now wanting to run physics in them.

    Thing is, Yes, the sound is good, or maybe even great on a Mac. And yes, its exactly what the Pros need.
    But guess what, im not looking for Professional Audio. Im looking for Gamer Audio.

    Gaming sound cards have things like Positional Audio. So that you can better figure out where people are when playing games. Even the new X-Fi card from Creative has on board RAM for speeding up games, sadly enough, X-Fi does not come in a PCIe flavor, and if it ever does, it wont be for a while...

    How about 7.1 Audio? Can the onboard Mac Pro sound do that?

    Professional Sound is not the same thing as Gamer Sound. Lots of differences. I could give a danm about how many input and output things my soundcard has (as long as I can plug in my headphones and mic, and possibly a surroundsound system if we get a remote for FrontRow)
  6. milo macrumors 604

    Sep 23, 2003
    Many if not most mac games offload at least the audio to a second processor, it's a pretty easy thing to code even if most everything else is on the first core.

    Mac built in audio is pretty decent on the new machines, it's at least 24 bit, 96k. And I know it handles surround sound. I don't know if it does 7.1, but it does at least 5.1. Your easiest option might just be using the optical digital out.

    I don't know what the situation is with positional audio on macs, seems like the kind of thing that would be perfect to farm out to a second core.

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