GTX 680 and the Mac Pro 5,1 - Gaming Bottleneck?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by IndianaPwns, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. IndianaPwns macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Hello All,

    I know this may have been discussed a half dozen times on this forum already - I've received so many conflicting answers over the course of my research...I thought I'd just take a minute and post something. Please help!

    I have a pretty stock Mac Pro 5,1 with the following specs:

    Dual Quad Core Intel Xeon E5620 @ 2.40GHz
    6 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM
    1 TB (7200 RPM, 32 MB cache) 3Gb/s Serial ATA hard drive
    ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card
    27" Apple Cinema Display at 2560x1440

    I play my games (BF4, Max Payne, Rising Sun...etc.) mostly on the Windows side of things...Windows 7 through bootcamp to be exact. It's been great for the last two years!

    I've noticed some of my games running a little slow lately, so I took the plunge and purchased a EVGA Nvidia 680 GTX Mac Edition in hopes of giving my system a couple more years of good gaming.

    I would be incredibly grateful if you guys here on MacRumors could answer a few questions for me. I have yet to find a definitive answer for the following:

    1) Does the Windows 7 side of things (with my current setup) utilize everything the Mac side does? In general, am I getting the same computing/GPU/Memory power out of Windows as I do Mac?

    2) Will my current CPU bottleneck my new Nvidia GTX 680 (and if so how much do you think?)

    3) What is the general consensus on the GTX 680 as a gaming card in a Mac?

    4) Does anyone else here with a Mac Pro 5,1 (w/ a similar setup to mine) have a GTX 680? If so, could you share some of your benchmarks?
  2. networkguy, Jan 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014

    networkguy macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2013
    Virginia, US
    I have a 4,1 with 5,1 EFI with:

    • Single quad-core W3580 3.33GHz
    • 24GB (3x8GB) DDR3 1333MHz
    • OS X and Windows 7 on their own Toshiba THNSNC512GBSJ 512GB SATA-II SSDs
    • EVGA GTX 680 4GB from MacVidCards
    • Dell U2713HM 2560x1440@60Hz, connected DL-DVI

    I game a fair bit on Windows. Like probably a number of people, I like having just one machine at my desk.

    Gaming and 3D performance are much better in Windows, in my opinion. Portal 2 is laggy (maybe more delayed rendering than input?) with video options cranked up, even if surpassing 60 fps. It's all Diablo III can do to get 40-60 fps, even with most options lowered or disabled. I haven't tried Borderlands 2 or Assassin's Creed II yet. Not like there's a big selection on OS X, comparatively. Minecraft seems generally okay.

    On Windows, with the 680, almost everything I can throw at it runs at native res, 60+ fps (I use vsync) with model & texture options way up, a respectable level of anisotropic filtering, and usually 2x-4x AA. No delay, no lag, quite smooth (that came out like a Doge meme, sorry). Portal 1 & 2, Saints Row III/IV (SR2 is not a performer anywhere), Borderlands 1 & 2, Diablo III, AC2: all great. Notable exception being AC2, which otherwise ran great save for dropping almost immediately to 30fps if I'm in or looking at the city in Forli with AA turned on. Back to 60fps turned off. Again, only on one particular map, not sure why; likely a bug.

    Your processor only supports 1066MHz RAM and 5.86GT/sec QPI; the machine's capable of 1333MHz and 6.4GT/sec with the right CPUs and memory. Plus you could drop CPUs in that are about 1GHz faster. Bottleneck? Maybe. Do you have options? Certainly! A pair of W5590s, the dual-socket version of my W3580, runs about $400 on eBay. A pair of X5677s (quad 3.46, and Westmere) could be had for probably $500.

    Seems like a popular card? I certainly prefer it to the Radeon 5870 I had prior (and the GTX 285 before that, and the 8800GT before that...). The 5870 struggled with gaming at higher than 1920x1200, but hey, it's an older card and my 680 has 4x the memory.

    As you've probably noticed ;)
    Here are some numbers from OpenGL Extensions Viewer:

    OpenGL Extensions Viewer 4
    Iron Fist Boxing Kings
    16X Anisotropy, 8X Antialiasing
    No trans, no clip plane, no fog, no quincux, LOD 0

    Nvidia GeForce GTX680 4GB, Intel W3580
    2560x1440 32-bit 60Hz Fullscreen
    OpenGL Win7 SP1 (327) OS X 10.8.5 (313)
    3.0 259 NA
    3.1 NA 127
    3.2 192 128
    3.3 192 NA
    4.0 193 NA
    4.1 194 NA
    4.2 193 NA
    4.3 192 NA

    Oh, yeah, Mountain Lion appears to top out at OpenGL 3.2.

    Not that Mavericks pulls a rabbit out of its hat on my 2010 MBP (non-Retina; was connected mDP to the MP's monitor)

    Nvidia GeForce GT650M 1GB, Intel 3720QM
    2560x1440 32-bit 60Hz Fullscreen
    OpenGL Win7 SP1 (327) OS X 10.8.5 (310) OS X 10.9.0 (310)
    3.0 63 NA NA
    3.1 NA 40 38
    3.2 59 42 40
    3.3 61 NA 40
    4.0 61 NA 40
    4.1 61 NA 40
    4.2 61 NA NA
    4.3 61 NA NA

    The ~40% performance drop in OS X in OpenGL Extensions Viewer meshes pretty well with what I've noticed trying to game on OS X.

    That's my rant, I hope it was helpful.
  3. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    1) Yes.

    Windows is preferential to OS X for gaming.

    Case in point, when I had my 5870 installed I played through Bioshock Infinite several times under Windows 7 at 1920x1200 res, high to ultra settings. It was fine. Under OS X, Bioshock Infinite is restricted to some absurdly low resolution (1440x900 I think) and it was borderline unplayably laggy.

    I've since tried my 680 GTX with the same game, and it's pretty much the same situation- it flies under Windows (it's unbelievably fast now), but still stutters on occasion under OS X (plus there's still that damned resolution lock).

    So if you're serious about the gaming experience, you'd be better off playing everything you can under Windows and avoiding OS X entirely.

    2) Doubtfully.

    The only other alternative is the 2.93ghz/3.04ghz, and frankly, 530mhz/640mhz isn't really much of anything. I don't think this will matter at all since your Cinema Display tops out at 2560x1440 anyways.

    3) It's OK.

    Again, OS X sucks for gaming, full stop. Does the 680 GTX perform better then the 5870? Hell yeah. Does it make OS X a viable gaming platform? Not really. I still prefer playing games under Windows whenever possible because it's the difference between a mediocre experience and a wonderful, fluid, lag free experience. When it comes to immersion, OS X just isn't up to par to provide a smooth enough experience to really get into the game.

    4) I don't have any benchmarks. Fortunately, barefeats does:

    I find that a lot of games under OS X have definitely benefitted from the 680 GTX, but again OS X is holding a lot of them back (mostly due to the quirky and outdated OpenGL stack). Starcraft 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Borderlands 2 were all totally playable on my 5870, with the occasional bit of lag under heavy action. I can't really tell if the framerate has improved with the 680 GTX (it feels a bit smoother), but if anything it certainly stays more consistent with the 680 GTX (especially under Borderlands 2- no matter how much action I find myself in, it stays at a reasonable framerate).

    In any case, if you're wanting to "stay official", the 680 GTX (Mac Edition) is pretty much your only choice. I'm certainly not regretting my purchase- even though I've had some fan related issues with the card, I feel it will probably let me keep this system running for another 2-3 years at least. Considering this system is already 4 years old, that's pretty damned good for a modern day computer.

    I wouldn't be saying the same thing if I was still stuck with my 5870, since that card is friggin ancient and has some really horribly bugged drivers under OS X (even though it runs fine under Windows- fancy that).

  4. Rorqual macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2013
    It depends on the game, resolution, level of details set in the game, etc., so there's no definitive, generic answer. However, the GTX 680 is very powerful, so I suspect most of the time your CPU would be the bottleneck with today's games. With the 5870, it may be different.
    If there's a game which you find too slow, open the Task Manager's Performance tab, switch to the game and play a minute, then switch back to Task Manager.
    If there was at least one core maxed at 100%, then the CPU is the bottleneck, otherwise it's the graphics card.


    Well, that's true for graphics intensive games, but you can play many games in good conditions on OS X too: adventure, strategy, casual, etc. When I want to play a Tell Tale game like The Walking Dead, I won't bother rebooting to Windows.
    Granted, these games don't require a GTX 680 anyways. :)
  5. brianchaffee macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2014
    5,1 mac pro

    Scottish Captain,

    This is a bit off topic but what do you use your 5,1 for? Editing video? Motion graphics?

    Is the 680 your only gpu?

    And do you know if the 5,1 takes/ recognizes/ uses more than 64GB ram? As well as is it 1066/ 1333?


  6. Coyote2006 macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2006
    I have an updated 4.1 MacPro. Now it's a 5.1 with a W3860 3.3GHz, 16 GB RAM and a flashed Zotac GTX 680 4GB.

    The card rocks:

    Attached Files:

  7. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    1) In a standard bootcamp install no it doesnt. Normally the hard drive is limited to ATA-133 in legacy mode, and though you have a spinning disk it doesn't have the advanced features a lot of drives support such as native command queuing or trim for SSD's which for a performance boost would be the first thing I would add to your shopping list. You can check in Device Manager if AHCI is enabled by going to the IDE/ATAPI controller secting and looking for an Intel AHCI controller. If not there you are running legacy ATA-133.

    3) The 680 is a great card but at that resolution it's being pushed pretty hard so sorting out the slowest part in the system will be the best solution for speeding things up!
  8. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    Mostly 3D stuff, lots of comp work in AE. I also do some music work in Logic and tons of development in Xcode. I've yet to find a use for CUDA or anything that *really* taxes the 680 GTX- I bought it because the OpenGL drivers are leaps and bounds ahead of the stale drivers Apple is shipping for the 5870 (which now has issues in certain modern day 3D applications because Apple refuses to keep them up to date).

    680 GTX is my only GPU.

    5,1 takes more then 64GB. As far as I know, Mac OS X <= 10.8 only recognizes 96GB of RAM. 10.9 upped that limit to 128GB+. 1333mhz is what the system shipped with and what companies like OWC typically sell for the 5,1 (so I wouldn't recommend 1066mhz- there's no reason for it).

    Of course, 10.9 comes with it's own set of problems, so if you're looking for more then 64GB of RAM, I'd probably suggest you stick to 96GB for now with 10.8 (unless you're sure 10.9 doesn't give you any troubles).

  9. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    If any bottleneck is happening it is your low clock cycle cpu. Either that or you are trying to game at 2560x1440/ 1600 with everything cranked.

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