Yesterday two interesting stories converged. Nvidia announced a new series of Keplar-class Quadro graphics cards and the latest build of Mac OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion contained support for Keplar-class Quadro K5000 for Mac.
Future Mountain Lion Update: Newer High-End Graphics Options
Let’s deal with OS X news first. This 10.8.3 build spotting has revealed not one but two new supported advanced GPUs in the last few days. As we wrote just this week, AMD partner Sapphire has a new Radeon HD 7950 Mac Pro Edition (MPE) coming soon (the rumor is mid-late March for official release) for a Mac Pro near you.
This new Sapphire card (see this page for picture) packs quite a punch and will be a superb choice for hardcore Mac gamers (yes, they do in fact exist!) and more importantly Mac-based pros doing advanced visualization in 3D, DCC, film and science. The new Sapphire Radeon looks like it will support Mac Pros back to 3,1 versions which puts you back to 2008. (more on that topic soon).
The very latest build of 10.8.3 shows support for Nvidia’s ultra high-end Quadro K5000 for Mac GPU which was announced late last year but–to the best of our knowledge–has not shipped yet.
This new Keplar-class Quadro K5000 for Mac will support 4 GB of GDDR5 memory, a full gig over the Sapphire Radeon card. It also is a certified card and may be more applicable for those who may run Windows-based CAD and engineering software apps under Boot Camp on a Mac Pro.
But Nvidia Intros New Keplar-class Quadros
Also yesterday, Nvidia introduced a series of Keplar-class Quadro GPU cards at various levels of tech and price points, bringing Keplar technology benefits to the volume GPU market. The breakdown on these new GPUs include:
- Quadro K4000 – new top-of-the-line single-slot configuration Quadro with 3 GB of memory
- Quadro K2000 – mid-range card with 2 GB of memory
- Quadro K2000D – a variant of the card above with two dual-link DVI display connectors
- Quadro K600 – entry level card with 1 GB of memory
The price points on these cards from the top start at 1,269.USD (K4000), 599.USD (K2000) and 199.USD (K600).
Apple currently offers the older Quadro 4000 for Mac which if they continue to offer that card will fit in under the new K5000 for Mac and offer Mac Pro users a Quadro-class workstation option with 2 GB of GDDR 5 memory and an 89.6 GB/s memory bandwidth.
The Mac CAD market has long lamented the lack of flexibility in GPU offerings for Mac workstations. In truth, there is really no reason for the Mac audience to wish for or utilize the grand fine-grain availability of GPUs that are enjoyed on the Windows side. Apple’s customers expect a simplified and logical selection of offerings. However, it has long been the case here that Apple should always have available a minimum of four performance/price points for its Mac Pro towers:
- A Mac version of Nvidia’s most powerful Quadro (at the same price as PC)
- A Mac version of the fastest gaming GPU in the land (AMD or Nvidia)
- A mid-range Nvidia Quadro at a sub-$500 price range
- A mid-high range gaming GPU often in the same series of the fastest gaming GPU above (AMD or Nvidia)
For the most part Apple has done all of this except the third option. A mid-range Quadro GPU has always been missing as a choice. Sometimes, having a certified-app class processor at a decent price point is key.