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How does the stock graphics performance of the "Early 2008" (Harpertown/Penryn) Mac Pro models compare to the original Mac Pro?
Please note that all systems mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The "Early 2008" Mac Pro series was replaced by the "Early 2009" series on March 3, 2009.
The marketing copy from Apple proclaims that:
All-new high-performance graphics cards from ATI and NVIDIA make Mac Pro graphics technology even more cutting edge. The standard graphics card -- an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0, and two dual-link DVI ports -- provides great performance for typical creative applications.
For motion graphics, 3D modeling, rendering, or animation, you’ll need the greater graphics horsepower offered by the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory and latest-generation NVIDIA GPU technology.
The optional NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 graphics card is the ultimate workstation-class graphics card available, with a massive 1.5 GB of GDDR3 memory and a 3D stereo port for stereo-in-a-window applications.
In a Doom 3 test, Apple compared the stock NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT in the original Mac Pro and the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT and build-to-order NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT offered by the "Early 2008" Mac Pro models and reported 64, 88, and 141 fps, respectively.
The always excellent BareFeats provides extensive tests comparing the stock NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT and after market ATI Radeon X1900 XT and ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT in the original "Clovertown" Mac Pro "Eight Core" 3.0 to the stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT and aftermarket ATI Radeon X1900 XT in the "Harpertown" Mac Pro "Eight Core" 2.8 & 3.2 (Early 2008).
In addition, the site compares these Mac Pro configurations to the ATI Radeon X1900 GT and NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT in the Power Macintosh G5 "Quad Core" (2.5).
The enitre document should be read in its entirety for the complete perspective provided by the author, but ultimately BareFeats concludes that:
The ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT standard on the 2008 Mac Pro exhibits a significant performance improvement over the GeForce 7300 GT that was standard on the 2006/2007 Mac Pro. In fact, as a [US]$149 kit (MB198Z/A), it's a bargain upgrade for your "older" Mac Pro. It only consumes 50 watts, so it won't overwork your PCIe bus.
Notice that when it comes to high rez, high quality gaming, the 2.8 GHz Mac Pro is every bit the equal of the 3.2 GHz Mac Pro.
To purchase a new or used Mac Pro, free of sales tax, please visit site sponsor PowerMax. To purchase video cards for the Power Macintosh G5 and Mac Pro please visit site sponsor Other World Computing.