The primary goal was to see where the new Mac Pro stands compared to a legacy Mac Pro. The new Mac Pro is different enough (Mavericks, OpenCL, AMD) that trying to create a one-for-one comparison doesn't seem as useful as something more practical like "Is my money better spent upgrading my legacy Mac Pro, or buying a new one." That's a question on everyone's mind, and the concept the tests were built around.

To quantify what you get for $4K, add-ons like a RAID array or additional RAM were excluded for now. The issue is also mitigated a by it's SSD storage. Its where the NMP simply destroys on all counts (except for capacity) and allows the machine to boot in just over 12 seconds. It's so fast one of the New Media engineers thought I had woken it from sleep when I turned it on. So, doing almost any test to/from the internal SSD is not a bottleneck.

For comparison, I used a 2010 12-Core Mac Pro which is well-known, and popular with colorists and finishers. I installed the most modern CUDA GPU you can use without a PCI-E chassis or additional power, which is a stock GTX 780 3GB. It's an option a lot of people would probably look at if they decided to upgrade a legacy Mac Pro. Dual GPUs would be more "fair", but the goal isn't to beat the New Mac Pro in testing, it's to compare a well-known machine with an unknown one.

The test is also a comparison of what we've been using versus what Apple would like us to use: AMD vs Nvidia, OpenCL vs CUDA, Mavericks vs Mountain Lion, Expandable vs Self-Contained. Each one represents a entire sea-change in it's own right, much less all of them taken together. It seemed the best way to begin was to compare a good example from each generation, and see where the numbers land.

Addition of the Radeon R9 280x

Single and Dual Radeon R9 280x configurations have been added which allow some useful comparisons (Thanks Jake).

-Dual AMD D700 Firepros in a 2013 Mac Pro Vs Dual AMD R9 280x's in a 2010 Mac Pro
-AMD R9 280x in OpenCL Vs Nvidia GTX780 in CUDA

Interesting Note: The R9 280x in 10.8 appears as a "Tahiti XT Prototype Compute Engine", however in 10.9.1 is shows up as the "D700 Compute Engine". The R9 280x is basically identical to the original HD 7970 released in 2011. This verifies that the D700s in the 2013 Mac Pro are essentially HD 7970s with 6GB of Vram.

Here is how dual R9 280x's appear in Resolve on 10.9.1 on a 2010 Mac Pro:

Test Configurations

1) 2013 Mac Pro 2.7GHz 12-Core/ 64GB/ 1TB SSD with Dual AMD FirePro D700s
OS X 10.9.1 with Resolve 10.0.2 in OpenCL 1.2

2) 2013 Mac Pro 3.5GHz 6-Core/ 16GB/ 256GB SSD with Dual AMD FirePro D500s
OS X 10.9.1 with Resolve 10.0.2 in OpenCL 1.1


3) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with DUAL AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.9.1 Resolve 10.0.2 running OpenCL 1.2

4) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with DUAL AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.8.4 Resolve 10.0.2 running OpenCL 1.1


5) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with a Single AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.9.1 Resolve 10.0.2 running OpenCL 1.2

6) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with a Single AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.8.4 Resolve 10.0.2 running OpenCL 1.1


7) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with a Single Nividia GTX 780 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.9.1 Resolve 10.0.2 running CUDA 5.5.25

8) 2010 Mac Pro 2.66GHz 12-Core/ 24GB with a Single Nividia GTX 780 3GB
1.5TB Boot, plus Internal 4-Drive RAID5 Array (450 MB/s)
OS X 10.8.4 Resolve 10.0.2 running CUDA 5.5.25



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Scoring Notes

FPS scores represent the lowest sustained number of frames per second for each test.
Percentages shown represent the highest sustained CPU load for each test.

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Test Notes

-Separate Video Card for GUI: 2010 Mac Pro tests were run with the GTX 780 alone, and with a GT120 for GUI, but results were the same in either case.

-Use Display GPU for Compute: Resolve Testing was completed with "Use Display GPU for Compute" enabled, however in the 2013 Mac Pro having this setting enabled or disabled has no affect on performance.

-Nvidia in OpenCL Mode: 2010 Mac Pro tests were run with Resolve in OpenCL mode, but the scores were so poor (i.e. 2-3 fps with 4 nodes of blur), they were not included in the overall results.

-Media Drives: Media Playback for the 2013 Mac Pro was it's internal SSD (1200 MB/s), and for the 2010 Mac Pro was it's internal RAID5 array (450 MB/s).


4K Playback in Resolve:

-The 2010 Mac Pro with the GTX780 3Gb cannot play back 4K ProRes 4444 at 24 fps with no color corrections applied. Initially, it seemed there might be an issue, but Paul Provost verified the same result on his 2012 12-Core running a single GTX Titan.

However, Juan Salvo was able to play back the same 4K ProRes 4444 sample at 24 fps on hs 2010 8-Core running dual GTX 590s. This surprised us, as up until this point we had assumed a Resolve project with no corrections applied wouldn't create a significant GPU load, but apparently it does. Once I added dual R9 280x's to my 2010 12-Core for testing the same project with no color corrections applied finally played back at 24 fps.

Test Details

Resolve 9 Standard Candle
Focus: GPU
Project: (Resolve 10) 720x576 Source to 1080p/24
Result: Frames Per Second
Notes: The traditional benchmark for Resolve GPU performance using a combination of Blur and Noise Reduction Nodes. Results are based on the minimum sustained Frames Per Second by cycling through each Version of the test grade.

Juan Salvo's Standard Flashlight
Focus: GPU, VRam, System Bus Bandwidth
Project: (Resolve 10) 4096 x 2160/ 59.94 Source to 1080p/24
Result: Frames Per Second
Notes: A new Resolve test developed by Juan Salvo. Similar in format to the Standard Candle, but designed to test the limits of modern, multi-GPU Resolve configurations from several new angles, including overall GPU compute, memory, and bus bandwidth performance. Results are based on the minimum sustained Frames Per Second by cycling through each Version of the test grade.

Sapphire OFX
Focus: CPU
Project: (Resolve 10) 1080p/23.98 ProRes 4444
Result: Frames Per Second (Total CPU Load)
Note: Genarts Sapphire OFX Plugin based on Lens Flare, Film Effect, and Z Blur performance in an 1080p/23.98 ProRes 4444 Project. Presets were chosen based on CPU load and tested in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. Machines with higher CPU clock speeds generally offered the highest scores.

4K Playback
Focus: GPU, System Bus Bandwidth
Project: (Resolve 10) 4096 x 2160p/ 23.98 ProRes 4444
Result: Frames Per Second
Notes: 4K Playback in Resolve 10 created by adding Serial Corrector nodes with basic adjustments (Base, Hi Key, Lo Key, Vignette, repeat) to a 4K ProRes 4444 Project until the sustained playback dropped below 24 fps.

4K Spatial NR
Focus: GPU, Vram, System Bus Bandwidth
Project: (Resolve 10) 4096 x 2160p/ 23.98 ProRes 4444
Result: Frames Per Second
Notes: Single node, 4K Spatial Noise Reduction test in Resolve 10. The test used two settings, one easier (Small radius, Chroma /Luma Threshold of 5) and one difficult (Large radius, Chroma /Luma Threshold of 10).

HD Render
Focus: CPU, GPU, Vram, System Bus Bandwidth
Project: (Resolve 10) 1 Minute 1080p/23.98 ProRes 4444 Sequence
Result: Elapsed Time in Min:Sec
Notes: A one minute ProRes 4444 sequence in Resolve 10 with 6 nodes (Base Grade, Noise Reduction, Hi Key, Low Key, Color Push, Vignette), separately rendered out to a single 1080p/ 23.98 ProRes 4444 file, and then a H.264 file.

HD Render Test Node Tree:

ARRIRAW Playback
Project: (Resolve 10) 2880x1620 Source to 1080p/23.98
Result: Frames Per Second (CPU Load)
Notes: Resolve 10 ARRIRAW Playback at Full, Half, and Quarter Resolution.

Sony F65 Playback
Project: (Resolve 10) 4096 x 2160 Source to 1080p/23.98
Result: Frames Per Second (CPU Load)
Notes: Resolve 10 Sony F65 Playback at Full-Resolve, Full-Sony, Half, and Quarter Resolution.

Blackmagic 2.5K BMCC Playback
Project: (Resolve 10) 2400 x 1350 Source to 1080p/23.98
Result: Frames Per Second (CPU Load)
Notes: Resolve 10 Blackmagic 2.5K BMCC Playback at Full, Half, and Quarter Resolution.

Phantom Flex Playback
Project: (Resolve 10) 2560 x 1440 CINE 10-Bit Source to 1080p/23.98
Result: Frames Per Second (CPU Load)
Notes: Resolve 10 Phantom Flex Playback.

RED R3D Playback
Focus: CPU Debayer Performance
Project: (Resolve 10) 1080p/23.98
Result: Frames Per Second (CPU Load)
Notes: Resolve 10 RED Debayer at Full Premium, Half Premium, Half Good, ad Quarter Good.
4K RED One 4K: (4096 x 2304)
5K RED EPIC: (5120x2560)
6K DRAGON: (6144 x 3160)

REDCINE-X GPU Debayer
Focus: OpenCL R3D GPU Debayer
Result: Elapsed Time in Min:Sec
Notes: REDCINE-X GPU Debayer of three different frame sizes to ProRes 4444/ 23.98 at the original source frame size.


Final Test Results (download pdf)