MP 1,1-5,1 MP 5,1 - Most Powerful AMD Video Card for CAD and Archviz

kittonian

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Original poster
Aug 4, 2008
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Austin, TX
Many of you may have been following my recent thread regarding properly powering a NVidia GTX 780 (6GB) in a Mac Pro 5,1. The solution works really well and I no longer have any crashes due to a power imbalance (or the card asking for more power than it was being given). So, overall the solution works and most anyone would be very happy to have this card in their machine.

That being said, I need to find the single most powerful AMD video card I can put into this machine for a few reasons:

1. I need my redraw rates to improve significantly solely for the purposes of running ArchiCAD, Twinmotion, and Cinema 4D
2. I need full metal support and the ability to move beyond High Sierra (not possible with NVidia cards if you want CUDA)

Sure, the RX580 (8GB) is a really nice card, but it's not powerful enough to justify spending hundreds of dollars and moving away from my current setup. The Vega 56 is a much more powerful card, but I'm hoping to do even better if possible.

Thanks!
 

sirio76

macrumors 6502
Mar 28, 2013
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In Cinema4d and in other similar software(probably also in ArchiCAD) your bottleneck is mainly the CPU, it’s the processor that needs to feed the data to the GPU at first and since this is a single threaded task you can’t do anything about it. Throwing money on faster GPU won’t help with redraw rate in C4D, maybe just a little especially if you have a lot of very large texture, more VRAM will help there. I’m not sure about Twinmotion, this is essentially a game engine and I’m not an expert.
 

kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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Cinema 4D uses CPU for rendering, as does VRayforC4D (at least until ChaosGroup releases the new rewritten version in late spring), however, the video card absolutely helps with redraw rates. Cinema is last on the list of reasons why a much more powerful video card is necessary, because Maxon does such a great job with their interface optimization that it already works pretty well (until the scene gets super heavy of course). ArchiCAD and Twinmotion are the two main applications that I need to run much quicker.

For example, drawing a complex profile of a wall with siding in ArchiCAD and using that over a luxury residential structure grinds ArchiCAD to a halt where you have to wait almost a minute for the 3D window update after changing anything. Whereas, if I use a standard composite wall with an image of siding, it runs just fine.

Twinmotion is recommending an NVIDIA GeForce 2070 GTX or AMD Radeon Vega series card or higher
RAM: 32 GB RAM for optimal performance. Obviously I am looking to get away from NVidia and go with AMD, so Vega series or higher with even 16GB of RAM would probably work pretty well as a major step up.
 

kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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Austin, TX
Looks like AMD recommends the Radeon Pro WX 9100 for Twinmotion, which of course is overkill for ArchiCAD and Cinema 4D so that might be perfect.

This card needs 230W of power over a 6pin and an 8pin connector and I would need to find a way (if possible) to flash it so I can see the boot screen (does macvidcards do this?).
 

sirio76

macrumors 6502
Mar 28, 2013
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Cinema 4D uses CPU for rendering, as does VRayforC4D (at least until ChaosGroup releases the new rewritten version in late spring), however, the video card absolutely helps with redraw rates. Cinema is last on the list of reasons why a much more powerful video card is necessary, because Maxon does such a great job with their interface optimization that it already works pretty well (until the scene gets super heavy of course). ArchiCAD and Twinmotion are the two main applications that I need to run much quicker.

For example, drawing a complex profile of a wall with siding in ArchiCAD and using that over a luxury residential structure grinds ArchiCAD to a halt where you have to wait almost a minute for the 3D window update after changing anything. Whereas, if I use a standard composite wall with an image of siding, it runs just fine.

Twinmotion is recommending an NVIDIA GeForce 2070 GTX or AMD Radeon Vega series card or higher
RAM: 32 GB RAM for optimal performance. Obviously I am looking to get away from NVidia and go with AMD, so Vega series or higher with even 16GB of RAM would probably work pretty well as a major step up.
Again, I don’t know about Twinmotion but in C4D you can install whatever you want, even a 8000$ Quadro GPU, it won’t improve viewport experience significantly compared to a midrange card. Is not that GPU don’t matter, it’s only that CPU becomes the bottleneck much earlier. Look at activity monitor while spinning the viewport on a large scene, you will notice that CPU will be used and unfortunately it will use only a single thread, so in order to work fast you’ll need that core to be as fast as possible, something an old MP can not provide compared to modern hardware;)
 

kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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Austin, TX
Right, for the most part, except that this is a heavily upgraded MP 5,1 with dual 6-core 3.46ghz processors and 64GB of 1333mhz memory. My current GPU bottlenecks on heavy scenes far sooner than my CPU. But, no matter, this thread is about the video card and I am very interested in hearing from people with experience running a Radeon Pro WX 9100 with these types of applications.
 

mikas

macrumors regular
Sep 14, 2017
238
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Finland
Are you on ArchiCAD 23 and Catalina? (edit. of course you are not on Catalina with a GTX card, sorry about my stupidity. or if it's a mac flashed card, then again, you might..)

I use those same programs as you do, but AC22 mainly today. I would not go with Catalina, lot's of problems with ArchiCAD. I wouldn't go with ArchiCAD 23 either in production (just testing now). Same thing, problems too much, and especially I would not use a combo of Catalina and AC23. Maybe after the next hotfix and OS update, we'll see.

But back to your actual question:
I think Your best bet would be a Radeon VII 16GB. Just have to decide there you get all the necessary power for the card. WX9100 is costly (1000€-1500€), and it's basically still a Vega card too. You wouldn't need 6 DP ports either?

I just bought a couple of Red Dragon Vega 56s, about 300€ each. Haven't had time to test yhem thoroughly, but I can allready tell it's a reasonable jump from RX580. Pro Render in C4D works better with this.

I think RX580 would be about double the GTX780 performance though. You can get one used for 80-150€ today. You would need only a dual mini 6-pin to 8pin cable to power it.
Vega 56/64 would be almost a double up from RX580. Powering Vega's is a little bit trickier than RX580, but with some Vega 56 you have low power bios, and that helps a lot reagrding the power requirements. Radeon VII would be even way more power, and with 2xVRAM. You would need a power mod for that card, ie. Pixla's MOD. Or an external power supply.

Sidenote:
I can't say why your 3D acts up that way in ArchiCAD. ArchiCAD has been quite responsive in 3D for me with AC22 and Mojave. 2D has been another thing though. Maybe you have really detailed complex profiles, maybe too much boolean operations with them or with other elements.

Another sidenote:
ArchiCAD can use cores and threads quite intelligently, but it still is single core limited for many tasks. That's a problem at keeping with a 5,1 today. Single core performance is just subpar.
 
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kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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Austin, TX
Mikas, thank you for that response.

1. We have been using AC23 for a while now and don't have many issues. Really loving the new opening tool!

2. I am currently on High Sierra 10.13.6

3. I'm not concerned about the money, I'm concerned about the performance. I do not want to spend a little less and get less performance-wise. I was wondering if there was something even more powerful than the WX 9100 that would provide me even better Twinmotion and Archicad performance.

4. Archicad is much lighter on the video card than Twinmotion. The WX 9100 was specifically for Twinmotion and as I mentioned, would be obvious overkill for Archicad. Twinmotion requires the most because it is real-time rendering and I want to be able to design with ease in ultra mode.
 

mikas

macrumors regular
Sep 14, 2017
238
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Finland
Ok. I would still go with Radeon VII and do the powermod then. Nothing wrong with WX9100 either, but I don't think it would give any more performance than VII in twinmotion. VII has got double the memory bandwidth, though WX has got more stream processors. I am experimenting with twinmotion too now (Vega56).
 

kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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Austin, TX
I'm not sure what you are referring to regarding the powermod. I tried googling but the only thing that came up was due to the Radeon VII being so power hungry, you would need an external power supply to drive it properly.

While you are experimenting with Twinmotion, try putting the quality on Ultra across the board and then adding tons of grass painted onto sculpted terrain, and then adding lots of trees and plants, in addition to the Archicad model you sync.
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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Twinmotion is recommending an NVIDIA GeForce 2070 GTX or AMD Radeon Vega series card or higher
RAM: 32 GB RAM for optimal performance. Obviously I am looking to get away from NVidia and go with AMD, so Vega series or higher with even 16GB of RAM would probably work pretty well as a major step up.
Those are two different RAM capacities. The GTX 2070 only has 8GB VRAM. ( the 2080 has some 11GB variants but mainstream it too is 8GB VRAM. ).

The WX 9100 or Radeon VII are 16GB HBMv2 "VRAM". AMD has stopped making the Radeon VII (there is still some inventory out there but won't be surprising to see the price creep up over time at this point) . if intend to stop at Mojave + MP 5.1 combo and 'sit' for a long while then WX9100 is probably a better long term supported configuration. The WX 9100 explicitly made Apple's list of "working" eGPUs. Radeon VII happens to work off of piggybacking on the support for the Vega II cards. And it is a bit better matched to the power available.


Both of those AMD and Nvidia GPU solution VRAM are different from system RAM (attached to host processor. Which is what the Twimntion system recommendations seem to be pointing to. 32GB system RAM versus the minimal 8GB ) . Depending upon the "model" loaded and other stuff running you may need more.
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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..... But, no matter, this thread is about the video card and I am very interested in hearing from people with experience running a Radeon Pro WX 9100 with these types of applications.
Not macOS drivers but WX 7100 ( 580 ) versus WX 9100 ( Vega 64 ) is a pretty decent proxy.

A range of 26-34% decrease in computation time and a solid double digit percentage increases in frame rates.

For larger, more complex, 3D models the addition 8GB of VRAM will make a difference. More stuff get cached and more data can just be frontloaded. That will make adjusting the the large number of elements easier.
( whether using Metal or OpenGL/Shading Language/OpenCL combo. If the apps here don't use Metal you won't eek out the most out of these AMD GPUs. ). The Vega GPUs are about as much skewed toward compute as they are to 3D objects. They are better than the Polaris 580 implementation but not a quantum leap better.


The Navi 5700 variants have more hardware thrown at better 3D object manipulation, but only get solid support after MP 5,1 is in process of exiting the supported list.
 

kittonian

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Aug 4, 2008
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The intention is as follows:

1. To have blazing fast Twinmotion and Archicad performance
2. To be able to update the OS to the latest Catalina and beyond since Apple directly supports AMD processors
3. To get away from NVidia since I do not use CUDA and the web drivers are lacking (I just backed down to two revisions prior to the latest release to regain stability)

From the comments, it seems that the WX 9100 is the best bet at this point, even though Apple is offering the Vega II as their highest end GPU for the new Mac Pro.
 

ZombiePhysicist

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2014
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The intention is as follows:

1. To have blazing fast Twinmotion and Archicad performance
2. To be able to update the OS to the latest Catalina and beyond since Apple directly supports AMD processors
3. To get away from NVidia since I do not use CUDA and the web drivers are lacking (I just backed down to two revisions prior to the latest release to regain stability)

From the comments, it seems that the WX 9100 is the best bet at this point, even though Apple is offering the Vega II as their highest end GPU for the new Mac Pro.
I have the wx9100. It worked great in the 5,1 but you need to pull power from 2 of your SATA ports in addition to the motherboard power cable. Once I did that, it worked fine. Catalina supports it. I ended up pulling it from my 5,1 and slapping into my 7,1 as it's way better than the 580x (and oddly draws way less power than the 580x). For whatever reason, the 9100 is one of the cards apple has blessed (my guess is the multi screen support for mini-display port and a lot of legacy 27" and 30" displays still around).
 

h9826790

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Apr 3, 2014
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I'm not sure what you are referring to regarding the powermod. I tried googling but the only thing that came up was due to the Radeon VII being so power hungry, you would need an external power supply to drive it properly.
There is no need to use external power for Radeon VII.

Pixlas mod is perfectly fine for Radeon VII.

I can even power my Radeon VII with mini 6pins only even in Furmark if I downvolt it properly.
 
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kittonian

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I have the wx9100. It worked great in the 5,1 but you need to pull power from 2 of your SATA ports in addition to the motherboard power cable. Once I did that, it worked fine. Catalina supports it. I ended up pulling it from my 5,1 and slapping into my 7,1 as it's way better than the 580x (and oddly draws way less power than the 580x). For whatever reason, the 9100 is one of the cards apple has blessed (my guess is the multi screen support for mini-display port and a lot of legacy 27" and 30" displays still around).
That's great to hear and exactly how I power my current NVidia card. Do you use a dual mini-pin to to 6-pin so you get the power of both connections from the logic board? I am using two splitter cables for the SATA ports that allow me to connect a dual SATA to 8-pin power cable for the 8-pin connection.
 

ZombiePhysicist

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2014
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That's great to hear and exactly how I power my current NVidia card. Do you use a dual mini-pin to to 6-pin so you get the power of both connections from the logic board? I am using two splitter cables for the SATA ports that allow me to connect a dual SATA to 8-pin power cable for the 8-pin connection.
You can see it here:
 

awkward_eagle

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2020
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The WX 9100 or Radeon VII are 16GB HBMv2 "VRAM". AMD has stopped making the Radeon VII (there is still some inventory out there but won't be surprising to see the price creep up over time at this point) . if intend to stop at Mojave + MP 5.1 combo and 'sit' for a long while then WX9100 is probably a better long term supported configuration. The WX 9100 explicitly made Apple's list of "working" eGPUs. Radeon VII happens to work off of piggybacking on the support for the Vega II cards. And it is a bit better matched to the power available.
I've seen reports for two other Radeon VII Mac Pro 7,1 users that they're likely causing random kernel panics. Between that and the lack of official support, it was enough for me to return mine unopened and get a pair of WX 9100s. Long term probably a better buy if you use them heavily for production. Proper rear ventilated cooling, better manufacturing yield, ecc vram, and blessed by Apple.
 

macguru9999

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Aug 9, 2006
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I have the wx9100. It worked great in the 5,1 but you need to pull power from 2 of your SATA ports in addition to the motherboard power cable. Once I did that, it worked fine. Catalina supports it. I ended up pulling it from my 5,1 and slapping into my 7,1 as it's way better than the 580x (and oddly draws way less power than the 580x). For whatever reason, the 9100 is one of the cards apple has blessed (my guess is the multi screen support for mini-display port and a lot of legacy 27" and 30" displays still around).
what do you mean by 'blessed" ? does it have a boot screen ? in a 5,1? in a 7,1 ?
 

h9826790

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Apr 3, 2014
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I've seen reports for two other Radeon VII Mac Pro 7,1 users that they're likely causing random kernel panics. Between that and the lack of official support, it was enough for me to return mine unopened and get a pair of WX 9100s. Long term probably a better buy if you use them heavily for production. Proper rear ventilated cooling, better manufacturing yield, ecc vram, and blessed by Apple.
The Radeon VII's driver in Catalina seems getting worse and worse. AFAIK, the lastest beta even have more trouble. For 5,1 users, we can stay at Mojave to enjoy the flawless Radeon VII usage. But for 7,1 users, my suggestion is stay at 10.15.3 even it's not stable enough. Don't jump to 10.15.4 on day one and hope it will do better for Radeon VII.
 

Eschers

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Oct 27, 2015
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For 5,1 users, we can stay at Mojave to enjoy the flawless Radeon VII usage. But for 7,1 users, my suggestion is stay at 10.15.3 even it's not stable enough. Don't jump to 10.15.4 on day one and hope it will do better for Radeon VII.
I would not fully support this statement. Some benchmarks do not indicate as much performance improvement compared to older cards (especially RX 580 and my personal RX 590) and besides that with the ioreg PerformanceStatistics command in terminal only gpu usage in % is shown, what we can have without that in activity monitor.

Ran some tests with fortnite and WOW and I have found it runs smoother on catalina 10.15.2 and 10.15.3 (both vanilla with only no compat check boot args, updated via mac mini)