Staying power: Apple’s 2021 Mac Pro GPU is still faster than a new AMD graphics card
Apple still sells an Intel-based Mac Pro that we’re pretty sure no one is buying because the Apple silicon upgrade is coming soon (we think). But there might be a reason why you’d want to buy the Mac Pro’s graphic MPX modules right now, especially if you are a Windows PC gamer.
YouTuber Roman “der8auer” Hartung bought one of those graphic MPX modules, specifically the Radeon Pro W6800X Duo, which sells for $5,000 in the Apple Store. (Apple marks it as “New,” but it actually arrived way back in August 2021.) He wanted to test it on a PC and compare its performance to AMD’s newer graphics cards, and after a great amount of effort, he got it working.
The video is over 22 minutes, but it’s a fascinating look at the inner workings of this MPX module. The footage includes a complete teardown of the module, an examination of the components, how it was powered and connected to the PC, and how the driver problems were addressed. You can skip to the benchmark comparison if that’s all you’re interested in, but we recommend watching the whole video.
Mac users may not realize that the PC graphics card market is volatile right now, with persistent out-of-stock problems that lead to inflated prices. If a PC user is out of luck and is willing to go to extreme measures for a high-performing graphics card, der8auer shows how to do it.
The module was tested on the PC using 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme benchmark, and the results show that the Radeon Pro W6800X Duo module was quite fast. It’s faster than the RX 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 graphics cards, two cards that are so popular that our sister site, PCWorld, did a head-to-head comparison of the two cards. (There is a bit of apples-to-oranges comparison going on in der8auer’s testing because the W6800X Duo is essentially two graphics cards acting as one, while the RX 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 each have only one GPU.)
Apple is rumored to be launching a new Mac Pro with Apple silicon this year, but it might not support third-party graphics cards like the current model. This video a reminder of what Apple may be giving up with the transition—a flexible expansion system that’s as elegant as it is powerful.
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