We promised some more benchmark scores for Apple's new eight-core Mac Pro this morning, and once the Fed Ex delivery guy showed up, we got to work. Apple sent us an ATI Radeon HD 4870 3D card to see how the major graphics card upgrade for the Mac Pro would improve its 3D gaming performance.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As in our review of the Mac Pro, we tested with three different time demos in the Mac version of Call of Duty 4. We set the resolution to a modest 1,680 x 1,050 with 4x anti-aliasing. The results, as you can see, are definitely better with the $200 ATI upgrade, but it really only pushed the Mac Pro from "mediocre" to "acceptable" as a gaming system.
We suspect you'd see better performance with faster CPUs than our default model's pair of 2.26GHz Xeon chips, but with the 3D card upgrade our previously default review model already costs $3,499. We found plenty to like about the Mac Pro in our review, and for design professionals the new 3D card options will surely be welcome. We just can't endorse even this upgraded Mac Pro as a gaming system, with so many more powerful Windows-based options available for less.