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Wednesday
Jan082014

Mac Pro as a Gaming Machine

Using my modified 2010 Mac Pro I wanted to see if I could successfully turn my Mac into a gaming machine. To give an accurate representation of the capabilities of the hardware the same games using identical graphical settings were measured on native OS X 10.9.1 as well as Windows 8.1 (boot camp). FPS measurements were taken using the standard Boot Camp 5.x video drivers as well as upgrading the drivers to the latest stable version of the GTX 680 drivers.

Mac Hardware Configuration:
Duel 2.4 Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (5620) processors
32GB RAM (DDR3)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2GB EVGA Mac Edition)
240GB OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G (both Mac and Windows)
Apple 30” Cinema Display (2560x1600)

Mac Gaming:
Compared to the Windows world drivers on the Mac side seem to be lacking. Frames per Seconds (FPS) values always clock lower than on its Windows counterpart. This is probably due to more frequent driver updates being available on the Windows platform. 

World of Warcraft (2560x1600 Ultra Settings)
Set the slider bar to Ultra settings at 2560x1600 resolution. Since this game is an MMO I performed tests in a couple of different areas in the game (listed below)

Orgimmar: FPS between 32 and 40
Flying around Durotar and Outland FPS was between 80 and 90


Diablo III (2560x1600 High Settings)
Texture Quality - High
Shadow Quality - High (Smooth)
Physics - High
Clutter Density - High
Anti-Aliasing - On
Max Foreground FPS - 100
Max Background FPS - 8

FPS varied between 56 and 61

Bioshock Infinite (2560x1600 Ultra Settings)
With Ultra settings on the Mac I was able to achieve a solid 50 to 55 FPS, however, at times there were lag spikes that were noticeable. 

Windows Gaming on Mac Hardware:
This portion of the article focuses on a Boot Camp (non-virtualized) installation. 

World of Warcraft (2560x1600 Ultra Settings)
Again I set the slider bar to Ultra settings at 2560x1600 resolution. On the Windows side there was a noticeable performance boost but it was not as dramatic as I was expecting.

In Orgimmar I was getting 37 to 50 FPS and flying around Durotar and Outland FPS was between 87 and 98

Diablo III (2560x1600 Ultra Settings)
Under Windows I got a solid 60 FPS for the most part, however, in town it would spike slightly higher at times

Bioshock Infinite (2560x1600 Ultra Settings)
I used the same Ultra settings as on the Mac side and was able to get a solid 60 FPS at all times, sometimes it would go higher. Overall gameplay was very smooth, no noticeable lag spikes.

Note: After upgrading to the latest Nvidia GTX680 drivers frame rates were nearly identical to the standard Boot Camp 5.x drivers that Apple provided. Going to be continuing to benchmark and will post updated results here on a regular basis.

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