Mac Pro with D300 for mobile dev?

Anyone using a current Mac Pro with the D300s? I have had negative experiences with Macs so far when using UE4. Just feels much too slow. My PC feels absolutely faster. However I would like to do all of my work at the desktop on a Mac Pro, if possible. On the other hand, I think paying 4-5k for the top end graphics is absurd, considering my PC would best it in that area for a fraction of the price.

So I would be willing to spring for the entry level Mac Pro if it would work well enough. This is basically for mobile development only so it doesn’t need to have killer desktop graphics or anything like that (I would go PC only if I were doing this anyway).

So that’s the gist…do the D300’s work well at this point with 4.3? Thanks! :smiley:

I have a friend who tested the the engine/editor on the quad/D300 and he wasn’t impressed, but that was 4.1 and I haven’t seen any performance metrics for 4.3 on the new Mac Pro. I develop exclusively on the PC and remote build on a Mac Mini. I am sure there are performance improvements with 4.3 especially regarding the auto scalability, but Apple really needs to step up to the plate regarding their driver implementations and remaining years behind in their OpenGL implementation.

If I was a betting man I would say we will see Metal on the Mac before we see OpenGL updated again, and then this arbitrary performance wall (which has nothing to do with the hardware) might disappear, but that’s only a dream I have!

I think you will get more bang for your buck building a new or upgrading your current PC, buying a Mac Mini and building remotely. That is if your plans are purely to support iOS and not OS X in general as mine are. I would love to pickup the new Mac Pro, but I can’t justify the cost vs. the performance difference.

I hear you on all of this. It’s a bummer of a situation as I would GREATLY prefer to stay Mac only, I just don’t enjoy working on a PC much even though a 1500 dollar PC would basically stomp a 5000 dollar Mac Pro for game dev. It kind of runs like a dog on my “top of the line” retina Macbook Pro.

So, thank you kind sir for that feedback. If anyone has experience with 4.3 that might sway my decision one way or another that would also be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately mobility GPUs as used in laptops are considerably slower, typically only ~50% performance, when compared to their similarly numbered desktop counterpart. So comparing an MBP to a desktop PC will always be unflattering due to the relatively puny laptop GPU. As discussed in other threads the Mac OpenGL rendering performance should be broadly equal to the Windows OpenGL performance on the same hardware. Obviously there are greater differences if compared to OpenGL 4.3 or Direct3D on Windows due to the greater rendering features offered by those APIs. Running UE4Editor on a 2012 15" MacBook Pro with Nvidia 650M under Windows isn’t an especially fast experience either as that is one of the machines I’m using for testing.

The Mac Pro with a D300 should run the Editor quite well, certainly sufficiently for mobile development. I’m also using a Mac Pro with the D500’s here and it runs ElementalDemo quite reasonably, with very close OpenGL 3 performance under OS X & Windows. I get close to an average frame rate while running with -game of ~25fps, the peaks are ~40 fps and lows of ~15 fps. For comparison’s sake this is somewhere between to 66-75% of an Nvidia GTX 670. The D300 will be somewhat slower whereas the D700 will be faster still.

This is vastly superior to the performance of an Nvidia 650M/750M as used in the MBPs. I’d imagine it is also better than the BTO Nvidia 780M available for 27" iMacs, though I’d love to hear from anyone who’s used that machine as I don’t have one to test here.

It is also worth mentioning that there is still an OpenGL driver workaround in place in 4.3 that can negatively impact performance. This will be removed in the future and should help speed the Mac version up by a few percent.

You must also keep in mind that OS X OpenGL can only use one GPU for rendering to the screen and there’s no automatic, CrossFire-style, mode to use the secondary GPU for offscreen rendering. Apple require developers to handle that manually. As such, a lot of rendering code would need to change to make use of the secondary GPU and there are no plans to do that at present.

Hi Mark, thanks for the numbers on the Mac Pro you use, it was exactly what I was looking for.

Just so I understand correctly, your nMP 6 core with the D500 cards is performing about the same under Bootcamp as it is under Mac OS when running the Elemental Demo? If so, did was CrossfireX enabled under Window 8?

The reason I ask is that I’m also in the valley of decision with regards to a computer. I’d like to stay with Mac for the rest of my work and use Bootcamp for playback of the game. I’m not developing commercially. The project is for research using the Oculus Rift and highly detailed/realistic scenes like the Elemental and Blueprint demos. Fortunately, the OR only needs 1280x720 resolution. However, They recommend a frame rate of 85 fps.

I tested 10.9.4 vs. Windows 8.1, both using our OpenGL 3 era render path (as presently that’s all we support on OS X). The performance was very similar - not absolutely identical, but very close. Both end up running ‘ ElementalDemo -game -opengl’ with a frame rate between 15-45fps. The 4.4 releases should be a bit closer still. Using Apple’s MTGL can help in ElementalDemo -game on OS X too and can be enabled with the -openglUseMacMTEngine command line option. Unfortunately this isn’t working in all circumstances as of 4.4 so isn’t the default.

No, this was tested against OpenGL on Windows, using only the single D500 which outputs to screens. The offscreen/compute-only D500 was not used.
The Mac has no equivalent to CrossFire - if we wanted to use an offscreen GPU for rendering we have to manually manage all of the distribution & parallelisation of rendering ourselves. That’s a lot of work so it isn’t planned at the moment.

I’d imagine that for something as complex as ElementalDemo with full desktop rendering you are going to struggle to achieve a constant 85fps on the 2013 Mac Pros regardless of which OS you run in.

Thanks! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your response! I wish the nMP with the D500s could work out. I found one on Craigslist for a good price. Would a TB2 GPU enclosure for a hot gaming GPU be too much of a bottleneck? I suspect so, so it looks like I’ll have to grab a used 4,1 or 5,1 Mac Pro, external power supply, and use a flashed Titan or 780TI for developing and gathering data with the Oculus Rift.

BTW, do you know of a better card or cards than the two nVidia cards I mentioned for running something like the Elemental Demo or the soon-to-come Landscape flyover at 85 fps or better? I know I “should” just get a good used HP workstation and be done with it rather than running Bootcamp, but I need to upgrade my 3,1 MP and don’t have the budget for two computers, even if they are both used.

Thanks again!

I am 99% sure you cannot connect an external GPU to the new Mac Pro. What resolution are you wanting to run the Elemental Demo at? You mentioned 1280x720, I would think at that resolution a 780ti would be fine for 85fps. But you would still be better off running it under Windows, one way or another.

I’ve seen an external connected to a MacBook Pro under Win8 and OS 10.9.x. It took about a 10% hit in both systems, but still better than the mobile GPU. It was very much a “workaround” solution.

Yup, the Oculus Rift runs at 720. That’s all I need. And your right about Windows. I get a three fold increase in frame rate with the Blue Print demo. In OSX, it’s around 20fps. Windows under Bootcamp is close to 60. I’m running a flashed GTX 570 (2.5 GB) on a 3,1 8 core Mac Pro.

Thunderbolt->PCI-E enclosures are interesting, but not supported.

Two points, your 3,1 Mac Pro isn’t taking full advantage of the Nvidia GTX 570 - that’s a known deficiency in the Mac Pro 3,1 model which I believe only manifests under OS X. That’s why the Nvidia 680 Mac Edition and AMD 7950 Mac Edition were marketed for Mac Pro 4,1 models or later - the Mac Pro 3,1 isn’t able to feed them data fast enough under OS X.
Second, there’s a further OpenGL/driver bug we are investigating that affects faster Nvidia GPUs in 4,1 & 5,1 Mac Pros and prevents them from running as fast under OS X as they do under Windows. This doesn’t seem to affect the mobility GPUs in MacBook Pros, or iMacs AFAIK, since they run the OpenGL 3.3 renderer (command-line: -opengl) approximately as fast in either operating system.
By contrast the ATi Radeon 5**0 cards in the 4,1/5,1 Mac Pros or the AMD FirePro D*00 in the 6,1 Mac Pro work similarly well across OS X and Windows.

Thanks Marksatt! I was aware of the 3,1 bottleneck but not the nVidia issue. So, in the abstract, which Mac and GPU combination would best be able to push something like the Elemental Demo around at 85+ fps? I can live with Win7 on Bootcamp, but prefer OSX.

Thanks again. Your input has kept me from making a costly mistake twice now.



None of the machines I have here (Win7 PC/NV 670 GTX, Mac Pro 5,1/NV 680 GTX/10.9.4/Win7, Mac Pro 6,1/Dual AMD D500/10.9.4/Win8.1) can achieve consistent 85fps in ElementalDemo on any OS. It is too graphically intensive and running at VR frame rates and resolutions would likely require some substantial content changes and/or disabling some graphical effects. As a result I don’t believe that any Mac as supplied by Apple would presently be capable of offering that level of performance.