Mac Pro's FirePro and Gaming?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Benk3350, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Benk3350 macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    Just as a background, I currently own an '09 13" MacBook Pro and a desktop PC. I am currently considering getting the new Mac Pro.

    I know that the Mac Pro is primarily a workstation desktop. I'm a film student who does a lot of film editing projects and plan to expand this into my career in the future. Right now, my macbook pro just isn't cutting it anymore. What I basically want is a future proof editing machine. My budget maxes out around $4500.

    I know that Apple is touting its standard dual GPU, ATI's FirePro card. I know that these cards were not made with gaming in mind. But I do game occasionally and wouldn't mind running windows boot camp to play some games every now and then. Does anyone know what kind of performance gaming wise that the FirePro cards might compare to? Or will they just be miserable in that department? I figured that these cards are no slouches and will at least be able to handle some decent games, maybe not on high settings but normal settings. I am just really unfamiliar with workstation GPU's so when people say they are not meant for gaming, I don't know if they mean they're just not quite up with the performance of other gaming centric GPU's in that price range or if they are just terrible in that field.

    I don't play crazy intensive games. My typical PC games will be Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars: Empire At War, Age of Mythology, etc. Mostly RTS and MMO games. I may be playing more graphic intensive games down the road if the Mac Pro can handle them, but I just don't have a good grip on what these cards can do gaming wise, mostly rendering and editing proficiency. If one of my buddies comes over with a newer game and wants to LAN, I would like to be able to keep up and play right on my desktop.

    I know this was a long post, but any answers to this would be greatly appreciated!
  2. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The money you'll probably have to option up from the base D300 to whatever faster D700 card, you might as well spend on a top-of-the-line gaming computer, probably with money to spare.
  3. Zellio macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2012
  4. Benk3350 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    I figured as much, but gaming is really only 5% of my planned usage on the desktop, most of it will be video editing, rendering, etc.

    It just would be nice for it to also be capable in gaming as well.
  5. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    What on earth kind of games do you play that won't run on a $3000 computer? I can play War Thunder just fine on a Macbook Air.
  6. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    When people say that workstation cards are not optimized for gaming what they are trying to communicate is that they are going to be around 0.5%-5% slower than their consumer counterparts. This is due to such things as more stable clock speeds.

    The Mac Pro when outfitted with dual W9000 cards will be the most powerful mass produced gaming computer on the face of the earth. For example the GeForce Titan does 68 FPS in Battlefield 3 @ 2560x1440 4x msaa high post ultra. The GeForce 690 does 94 FPS. Dual 7970 cards (consumer W9000) do 101 FPS.

    Now if you get a super workstation from a custom builder it could be even faster, but as far as anything off the shelf, there is nothing faster .

    With that said the Mac Pro with W9000 cards will probably be able to play any game at any setting at any resolution for the next 3 or so years, the problem is going to be that the standard Mac Pro will come with ridiculously cheap and slow video cards which will only play games about twice as fast as the built in graphics on some intel chips.


    Yes. Except you forgot one thing, the Mac Pro has not one, but two of these cards. That means double the performance. Only a GeForce 770, 780, 690 and Titan will outperform the base Mac Pro, and those are considered top of the line.
  7. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    The problem, is gaming terms , dual cards setups are nothing special. A quad card gaming machine will still very much humble a fully spec'd Mac Pro . The other major factor your missing here is that games do not require more than 4 cores and that overclocking is more important to improve fps , and with the Mac Pro stuck at factory MHz , it's really a bad option for a gaming machine.
  8. Benk3350 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010

    ah thank you that helps me understand the GPU's alot better.

    Now, I'll probably be getting the GPU a step above the D300, which I believe is the D500. Now you mentioned the W9000, is that essentially the D700 (top of the line, i think, GPU for the Mac Pro)? So the D500 will be a step down from the W9000, right? And when you say "standard Mac Pro" you are referring to the D300? If the D300 will only play games twice as fast as built in graphics, and the D700 will be extremely powerful running battlefield at 101fps, where does the middle GPU D500 come into play performance wise?

    Hope I explained myself coherently, forgive me if not its a bit late!
  9. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Dual 7970 cards in proprietary Crosssfire mode right? How likely is crossfire mode for these custom Apple (not a big fan of Crossfire ) variants?

    Again this is hanging on the presumption can use both cards to drive a single screen. For a Mac Pro (even in Windows boot camp mode) this likely would presume driver support for Crossfire running over PCIe v3.0 rather than the proprietary physical "back channel".

    However, drop the "any resolution" and "any settings" and a single D700/W9000 will do decently well.

    Again this presumes that the cards are somehow slaved together to work on single problems in tandem.

    It is also isn't so clear ( despite the assertions) that the D300 is a W5000 equivalent. The "apple is going to use W5000" vibe was mainly hyped by those who thought Apple was aiming for much lower price points. They aren't.

    the D300 specs out at 2 TFLOPs which the W5000 can't touch (capped at 1.3 TFLOPs). 1280 cores which the W5000 also can't touch ( it has 768 ). It is also limited on the number of displays it can support ( which is smaller than the Mac Pro's number of video ouptput capable ports. )
  10. Benk3350 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    I thought that Apple having 2 GPUs standard would mean that some form of crossfire would be supported. Especially since every MP comes with 2, why not make them work together like that? I know many applications allow them to work independently, but there are many that would benefit from crossfire.

    I also assumed that even if OSX didn't support crossfire, that it would be possible on bootcamp (which is where most of my gaming would take place anyway), especially since the new GPU's don't need a physical bridge for it. It would be a shame to be playing games off of a single GPU when you have a second equally powerful one sitting there doing nothing.
  11. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    It looks more like a nerfed W7000 (half the RAM), which is basically a 7870.

    No Crossfire though.

    The best gaming machine is a 2012 Hex Core with a GTX 780 or Titan--or better yet: Two!


    Gaming is the only reason to have crossfire. From what I gather, the OpenCL apps can use both cards without xfire.

    It's unclear if Apple's setup will be able to do Crossfire in Windows, probably not though. It's true AMD announced they don't need bridges, but we don't know anything about the D300 apart from it looks like a repackaged W7000. It's doubtful in that case that they put in the circuitry for Xfire over PCIe.
  12. drmyfore macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2013
    I'm not sure W7000 can support CF without CF Adapter between two cards, but supermicro said

    or you can wait for my testing result, I have two AMD W7000, but one is in RMA, the seller said it will return this week, I have success to build CF with CF adapter before. When my card returned, I can test CF without CF adapter.

    Perhaps, the CF adapter is already installed in nMP?
  13. kitsunestudios macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    I am kind of curious how the system will work with both cards, since I've never seen a dual-GPU pro system with Thunderbolt video before.

    With all of the video going through Thunderbolt, are both cards acting like a single card with twice the VRAM and processing? Or is the system using one card predominantly, and adding the other when needed by OpenCL or additional monitors?
  14. drmyfore macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Have you used AMD(ATI) CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI?
    In fact, the Thunderbolt is DisplayPort + PCIe, that is to say, for garphic card, it's only a DisplayPort, so there is nothing strange. Just a mature tech that CF & SLI can support up to 4 ways system(4 Graphic Card balance the load).
  15. thegreatdivorce macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2010
    Upper Left USA
    Your definition of "just fine" is probably not the same as most gamers.
  16. spaz8 macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2007
    Yes that huge library of openCL apps :p (FCPX, and PremierPro)
  17. Demigod Mac macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2008
    I predict you'll have no problem playing those games at full detail, max resolution and at 60 fps on a Mac Pro 6,1 regardless of the GPU. Metro or Crysis would be another story.
  18. Radiating, Oct 25, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013

    Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    The Crossfire support would be through PCIe 3.0, which is how AMD is handling it in the future. The only issue is there is a small chance that this feature won't be implemented. If it's not it will be just as fast as the fastest iMac on a single card, which lets me play Crysis 3 on nearly max settings and resolution (in bootcamp), but not quite max. (titan scores 8000 passmark, and iMac GFX card scores 5400 with an overclock, and the W9000 scores around the same, 5500), a Nvidia 690 scores 10300, and dual AMD W9000's would do 11000 on passmark (which correlates very well to real world gaming performance).

    So we will either get 5500 (5% chance) or 11000 (95% chance) passmark performance from the nMP. Not bad.
  19. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    from the looks of what things? the specs of the w5000 and the d300 don't match up at all. the d300 looks MUCH more like a w7000 with 2 GB of RAM. the number of stream processors is the same (1280). the w5000 only has 768 stream processors.
    the d700 is clearly a w9000, all the specs match.
    the d500 is a bit odd- nothing has that number of stream processors in the current firepro world. macvidcards said in another thread on this site that he thinks it's a radeon 7870, and he's got a point since 7870's apparently identify themselves as d500's when run in mavericks. But that's not definitive, and the 7870's specs REALLY don't match what apple's saying the d500 will have . . .so the d500 is a wild card right now.
    but i'd say it's pretty clear from the specs . . . .d300=w7000 variant with 2 GB RAM. d700=w9000.
  20. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    It definitely does look more like a W7000 than W5000, so it should be a perfectly good card for gaming, and great as (two) extra sources of compute power.

    Regarding Crossfire; we don't know anything about Apple's new connector for the GPUs, as it's not standard PCIe. It also looks like one of the cards has the connector for the SSD, which is a bit weird. It's possible that Apple could add Crossfire through a custom link built into that connector, but as you've pointed out it's not used for much (if anything) besides gaming so I doubt Apple would have much incentive to do it.

    Even on the cards that can Crossfire over PCIe, doesn't OS X need drivers to support Crossfire as well? I don't recall it ever getting any, so I doubt the D500 and D700 cards will be able to Crossfire either except maybe under Windows.

    Actually the D500 looks like it's a FirePro S9000 as the stream processors, bandwidth etc. seem to match.
  21. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    That's what I meant--no drivers, at least in OS X.
  22. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    It is going to be very interesting to see benchmarks when the mac pros are released.
  23. deconstruct60, Oct 26, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    But we do know Apple's track record on adding proprietary SLI/Crossfire support complexity to the graphics stack of the OS X. They have consistently avoided it. The proprietary cables between the cards probably were not a big win with Apple Design but probably was not the major blocker. SLI/Crossfire bring another set of bugs/defects/support issues on top of more mainstream graphic stack issues.

    Apple also punted on proprietary mobile GPU switching solutions that AMD/Nvidia have deploy for transitioning between iGPU and dGPUs in laptops.

    Whichever vendor wins the design bake-off ( AMD or Nvidia ) Apple will go with. There not going to be flipping connector designs every time vendors change. More likely they would design a common connector for use over time even as they may go back and forth between vendors over the long term.

    No. The S9000 is a Tahiti Pro , similar to the W8000 (both 1792 processors) which is different from the D500 1526. ( scroll down just a bit and can get both S9000 and W8000 in single view. ) The bandwidth appears to be a function of the 384-bit wide set up. The W8000 doesn't use that. The TFLOPs is the same and don't match D500 ( 3.2 TFLOP verus 2.2 missing a whole TFLOP of performance).

    What the D500 appears to be is a Tahiti LE set to 384-wide mode. Processors are 1536 ( not 1526... but that is pretty close). Given the thermal/power constraints of the Mac Pro going with a "LE" variant is all the more likely. I'll be quite curious in anybody so says they actually got 7 TFLOPs of performance out of a dual D700 Mac Pro set up on real world code and data. Given the power and thermal budget available that will be a feat.
  24. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    they don't match, actually. s9000 has 1792 stream processors, apple says 1526 for the d500.

    edit: like deconstruct said! lol
  25. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    You're probably right, I'm just saying we can't really know for sure till they start shipping. Even so, maintaing a Crossfire/SLI driver wouldn't be as unreasonable for the cards that do support it over PCIe. It could be especially compelling if they're doing anything to separate PCIe for their GPUs and everything else (SSD and Thunderbolt).

    Although it's mostly games that support Crossfire/SLI (even then, there are loads that don't bother) it doesn't mean that it couldn't be used by professional apps, especially if someone were to champion its use in a professional machine (even if it's via PCIe only). For example, although for raw processing via OpenCL the link is irrelevant, for apps that support realtime previews a single "combined" card could be more useful, allowing for much higher detail real-time rendering.

    You're right, strange, I could have sworn I'd read 1792 somewhere, my bad!

Share This Page