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Ars reviews GTX 285 Mac GPU card – interesting results

Ars technica has reviewed the newish Nvidia GTX 285 graphics card on an 8-core Mac Pro, pitting it against ATI’s Radeon 4870 GPU and looking at professional OpenGL-based 3D apps. The results are very interesting.


Ars technica has written a very good review (they call it a short review) of the Nvidia GTX 285 Mac graphics cards for Mac Pros. This review specifically is aimed at looking at the card from the point of view of professional graphics and 3D rendering. 

The review compares the GTX 285 against the AMD/ATI Radeon 4870 card which is a very fast GPU option for the Mac. Interestingly, the results of these Ars review tests indicate that the GTX 285 may be the card to get if you are very interested in running Windows games on a Mac Pro in a dual-boot situation but if you want the best performance today for professional OpenGL-based 3D Mac programs, the ATI Radeon 4870 is the card to beat. 

Some Brief Details

Ars ran several tests. One test, the OpenGL Extension Viewer test indicate that while the GTX 285 is faster at earlier OpenGL extensions, it poops out compared to the Radeon 4870 card when it reaches OpenGL 2.0 and OpenGL 2.1 — especially with an OpenGL test using GLSL 1.0. This becomes most apparent in the real world app tests for Mudbox 2009 on the Mac. 

For Cinema 4D users, the Radeon 4870 also bested the Nvidia GTX 285 card. But not but a great amount. 

With Maya 2009 the GTX performed slightly better than the Radeon 4870 and it was noteworthy to see that the Radeon 3870 (which is  a year old) really got whooped by the newer 4870 and the GTX 285. Ars says it is because these later cards are much faster at heavier scenes. 

Closing Comments

This Ars review was trying to see if the Nvidia GTX 285 for Mac, which has 1GB of video memory (twice that of the ATI Radeon 4870), would outperform the Radeon cards out there today. The short answer was it did not on the OpenGL-based pro 3D Mac software side. It was the card to get if you want to run Windows games on the Mac Pro under dual boot mode. 

However for professional Mac 3D users the GTX 285 holds no current advantages over the Radeon 4870 due to immature OpenGL drivers that appear to be holding the card back. The card is more future proof because it currently supports the OpenGL 3.0 specification and has lots of CUDA/OpenCL cores. It is also quieter so if noise is a concern for you this might be a factor. 

The review is good and has lots of details and good charts. Go here now to check out the details.

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