Is the new Mac Pro Overkill as a Gaming Machine?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by macpants, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. macpants macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2008
    I am currently using a high end MacMini (2012) with maxed out RAM. I do quite a bit of photo editing in Aperture but no video or 3D work. I do however enjoy playing X-Plane 10 and Sim City but find I cannot really raise the graphics options in these games very high at all. I would really love to be able to max out all of the graphics options in these games but the question is would the new iMac i7 with the 4GB graphics card allow me to do this or would I be better off with the MacPro (assuming it is affordable).

    Thanks for any help.
  2. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    The imac is going to be good enough. the mac pro with a graphic card equivalent to the 780 is not going to be the base model.
  3. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    There are still lots of unanswered questions about the nMP, as far as it concerns its role as a gaming machine. Nobody knows yet what the Apple's policy will be about the GPUs. Are they going to work both of them simultaneously for games (like crossfire or something similar), are they going to be upgradeable (even in the proprietary form that seems to be), are they going to have gaming-capable drivers for OS X etc etc.

    On the other hand, the last 2 iMac upgrades make clear that these are (as of yet) the best Mac gaming options, since they have dedicated gaming GPUs (and some very good ones I might say).

    So, on one hand you got iMac that it's definitely the closest h/w you're gonna get from Apple for gaming. On the other hand, there's the nMP possibility but noone can guarantee that yet. Soon, though...
  4. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    I too am trying to figure out if the maxxed out new iMac with 780M will be good enough for X-Plane 10... opposed to a 2008 Mac Pro with Radeon 7950.

    My insights:
    The problem with the new Mac Pro is the "dual grfx": Will there be a Mac Pro with a single "gaming GPU" like the 7970 or 780?
    If so, then that would be the best bet.
    But if the new Mac Pro will "only" be configurable with two "Pro"-grfx cards then configuring a new Mac Pro to be on par with a Radeon 7970 or GeForce 780 for apps like X-Plane 10 will probably be hugely, hugely expensive....

    The new iMac with the 780M seems great! But, in comparison to my Radeon 7950, this mobile version of the 780 probably won't be faster, especially as there seems to be "instancing issues" with nVidia cards (?) on OS X, which seems to make the framerate of X-Plane 10 suffer...

    (do a Google-search on "OS X nvidia instancing", and you'll find some info, especially regarding to X-Plane 10)

    So, I really, really want the new iMac, maxxed out. But if I find that X-Plane 10 performance is only slightly better (or non at all) than my current 2008 Mac Pro with 7950... :(

    So, I'm waiting for Barefeats to give some indication.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    As I understand it, "workstation" GPUs tend to be optimised for driving multiple high-res displays and/or high-end software that offloads processing to the GPU, and aren't necessarily any great shakes at gaming.

    ...and whatever happens with the graphics, Xeon, ECC RAM and all-SSD storage are already overkill for gaming.

    Anything could happen, but "no" seems like a fairly sensible bet. They've quite explicitly said "dual workstation-class GPUs as standard" and "Not only does it feature ... AMD FirePro ... it features two of them" and the entire design is built around dual GPU cards.

    Nothing Apple have said suggests that they're interested in gaming. Apple's gaming platform is called "iOS".
  6. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Apple hasn't said much about the entry level graphics for Mac Pro. Some folks have mentioned something like a W5000 equivalent ( which wouldn't match up with a 780M) and some have mentioned W7000 equivalent ( which would). The desktiop 770 is significantly under clocked ( ~ -20% ) to turn into a 780M. That brings it within reach of a W7000 class.

    While I'm sure there will be folks who get the 780M and then through hacks crank the clock back up a bit.... that isn't a good idea for an iMac with a fixed thermal system. No it isn't going to blow up right away, but long term it is not likely to have good outcomes as a gaming machine.
  7. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    The are removable. That is relatively evident from the pictures. If removable then upgradable. The question if far more so if there is going to be an open market supply of alternative cards to put in or will the market solely consist of 'bone yard' parts scavenged from older retired Mac Pros. It is doubtful that the top end BTO Mac Pro graphics cards are not going to fit in the other models.

    But these GPUs are now soldered to the logic board. While not mainstream market cards before the graphics on some older iMacs are removable.

    I don't really think Apple is primarily aiming at gaming as much as trying to match "desktop" GPUs with the "desktiop" CPU in the iMac. Over time the iMac has been picking up more "dekstop" like components are they fall withing the thermal constraints of the iMac ( and Apple expands those constraints a bit).

    That they can be used for gaming is nice, but it isn't the primary optimization objective. Far more there are folks who used to "have to" buy a Mac Pro who can buy an iMac to get work done. Their computational workload isn't growing fast and the iMac is a better budget match. "Gaming" is a more of better match because very often it is a budget constrained.


    There is no way to drive 7 physical video outputs with just one of those cards. The Mac Pro 2013 has 7 physical video output ports. Apple has not said "up to" two video cards. They have simply proclaimed two: period. So there are highly likely two. Similar with the up to

    Chopping down to a single card is likely primarily aimed at pushing the price point down inside the iMac's price range. It is yet another back door into the "xMac mini tower". This isn't the xMac mini tower for all the same reasons Apple didn't make an xMac mini tower before. Fratricide with the iMac doesn't do very much for the overall Mac ecosystem.
  8. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Currently if max the CPU and GPU BTO options on the iMac you get to $2,349. If that is in the affordable range, then there is a good chance Mac Pro will be affordable. If the new Mac Pro comes in around 2,499-2,599 then the tipping point will likely be driven off you non gaming activity and needs than the gaming and whether have a display you can use.

    If need lots of storage at normal HDD speeds the iMac will have it, the Mac Pro you'll need to add. The Mac Pro would also need a display if don't have one. In short, myopically focusing on the GPU isn't going to get to the best answers. The other factors are significant costs.
  9. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    The new imac with the 780m will offer a satisfactory level of gaming performance and will be many times better at it than your mini. I would say the new Mac Pro is overkill, but that's not going to stop me. Workstation cards handle games just fine for the most part - there was an article about this recently in tomshardware
  10. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    An interesting Problem..

    I have an interesting problem here:

    Right now I have the equipment in my signature . Using a Macbook Pro in conjunction with a 27' Cinema Display is a terrific solution that worked great for the last 3 years. But now, adding a second computer to my household, I am in a dilemma.

    If I sell my 27' and go for a brand new iMac, it will go down this way:

    A 27' ACD sells in Bavaria for 680 Bucks. A new BTO iMac goes for 3200 Bucks.
    So my invest would be around 2500 I have to pay out of my pocket.

    Assuming to keep the 27' ACD and going for a new basic MacPro (assuming 2499 as last time) will leave me with the basic version with no bells and whistles.

    So the invest of 2500 is the same, give or take. The question boils down to this:
    1. How does the new MacPro Basic compares to a Medium prepped iMac (3200)
    2. How important will be the ratio between gaming and professional
    3. Which System has a longer live cycle and can be used longer or is more durable in terms of reliability. (Which system will be better in 5 years from now - to hand it down to a younger family member ?)

    I think 3. is the most interesting question that may not have been looked at.
    (I think today a 5 year old Mac Pro is better then a 5 year old iMac)
    Whats your opinion folks?

  11. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    The 780M is quite capable. The i7 over the i5 won't help for most (if not all) games. I am guessing that a MacPro that will be as capable gaming wise will probably cost noticeably more.
  12. macpants thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2008
    Thanks for all the fantastic responses here. Perhaps I should have added, from a financial point of view, I already have a Apple Cinema Display attached to my Mac Mini therefore, if I went the iMac route, I would have a display to try and sell whereas if I bought the MP I would already have a display.

    The other thing which attracts me to the MP are the 6 TB ports. My Cinema Display is TB and I have two TB RAIDS which I can plug into individual ports. (I know can be daisy chained but they seem to be far more stable when plugged into their own ports)

    So whilst the MacPro might be a bit more expensive than a maxed out iMac it does have some useful extra connectivity (which is also a bit more future proof i.e TB2). I could ignore this extra convenience if the iMac was equally as good a gaming machine but, from what I read here, it may not be. I can't wait till spec and prices are announced.
  13. andrew78 macrumors member

    May 4, 2013
    According to my understanding:

    Workstation GPUs are more expensive not because they are more powerful, but because their drivers are customized for specific professional applications.

    Workstation GPUs will perform very similarly to their non-pro equivilants in games, but the non-pro GPUs will perform significantly worse in pro applications

    I predict you will find a significant gaming advantage in the mac pro specifically because there are two GPUs in crossfire.

    That said, it will cost an arm and a leg. Pro GPUs generally cost $800-1000 on the low end. Your Mac Pro will likely cost $2000 for the GPUs alone. It's looking like we'll be lucky to see the base Mac Pro sold for under $3,500.

    This link will answer your question about the Pro GPU performance,3425-15.html

    Following is the end of the article, summing it all up

    Bottom Line

    We often get folks wondering how desktop-oriented apps handle professional workloads, and today's experiment turned that question around. Now we know that workstation graphics cards are better for gaming than gaming cards are in professional tasks. Case in point: The FirePro W9000 nearly manages to keep up with AMD's Radeon HD 7970. The slightly lower performance of a workstation card in the latest shooter is a lot easier to live with than the massively lower performance you get from a GeForce or Radeon in a professional application.

    Once again, the lesson here is that, in the workstation graphics segment, you don’t pay that massive premium for better hardware so much as you pay for the drivers and validation. This isn't something that should be held against AMD or Nvidia, even though we know they sell the same silicon into cards that cost a fraction as much. Driver development and optimization takes a lot of expensive time and work. Games are fun and all, but when you step aboard that new 787, you need to trust that the workstations responsible for every piece of it were 100% accurate.
  14. ActionableMango, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013

    ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Have you seen any evidence of Crossfire support in OS X? This has been brought up many times and nobody is seeing it in all the Mavericks developer previews.

    To say that OS X will have Crossfire simply because the MP has two GPUs is a huge assumption.
  15. sbarton macrumors regular

    May 4, 2001
    As a gaming machine it won't be overkill. In fact it probably won't be as good as many other cheaper alternatives. Most games, even in 2014/15 won't take full advantage of all of the cores available, and from what I've seen the xeons they will be using will be clocked lower than the consumer versions of those chips (like they are today). That's why you see the latest imacs pulling away from the current mac pros since 3.4 ghz is where they generally top out. Compare that with 3.7ghz and much higher turbo boost and you just get way better performance for games and apps that only have a few threads. Most gamers in the windows world take those same chips and get 4.5+ ghz and theres just no comparison in performance anymore.

    As for graphics cards, we don't know if the ati cards will support crossfire as we know it so graphics performance can't really be predicted or even what it means for apps like games in OSX.

    I wouldn't buy a mac pro for gaming, and yeah that's sad.
  16. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I believe the MP will be quite underwhelming as a gaming machine, mostly because of the dual GPUs. Games would need to be programmed specifically to take advantage of that, which nobody does at a moment AFAIK. An iMac makes a quite decent gaming machine, but why not get a gaming PC? You can build a plastic box (mATX or even ITX) with quite good performance for around $1000 - and you already have a display.
  17. macpants thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2008
    To be honest, I know that Wintel boxes make the best games machines but gaming is only a part of my usage. I use PC's all day long every day and, personally speaking, I wouldn't use one at home as a door stop. Sorry:(
  18. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    They only make the best game PC's because of the vast choice of hardware and Windows engine optimizations and time spent coding. Run Windows on your Mac HW in Boot Camp and you'll be fine.
    OS X is a vastly inferior gaming platform. Optimizations are slow and port game makers are terrible. You will loose out in 10's if not hundreds of frames per second on most games running in OS X. You have to deal with mouse acceleration algorithms that defy logic in that they are only created for use with Apple displays and mice. They are not pixel accurate. I have played (or tried to) games on Macintosh systems for the last 18+ years. I love OS X as my primary OS and never boot up Windows unless I need to play a game. But I am no masochist. I may have high expectations but once you get the right gear together and experience true fluidity you are hooked and can't go back.
  19. slughead, Sep 28, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013

    slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    You could do what many have done and just run 2 computers (Check my sig). It may be a cheaper solution to have a Gaming PC for gaming and a Mac Mini for everything else. If you really enjoy gaming, Windows is going to provide an infinitely better experience (as above post by derbothaus stated).

    The top card rumored in the nMP is the FirePro W9000 which is the same as a 7970 in terms of gaming (behaves almost identically). As ActionableMango has said, there's little if any evidence that the new Mac Pro will use Crossfire. In fact it likely wont. I doubt the Crossfire link will even be present, and I doubt even more that there will be an OS X version of the software. You can look up benchmarks to see if a single 7970 will be adequate for your gaming needs. The 7970 was released in December 2011, by the way.

    Also keep in mind that the W9000 retails for $3500--two would cost $7000. Even if Apple charges 1/10 that price (yeah, right), that's still $700 for the gaming power of a single 7970 (if it indeed has no crossfire). This is even more $$ than a high-end overclocked GTX780 and has significantly less power.

    A solution which will likely be better than the new Mac Pro (as well as almost certainly cheaper) is to buy a refurbished Hex Core Mac Pro 5,1 and throw in a GTX780 or Titan. You can check the benchmarks here.


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