VVVV on a Mac Pro "dustbin"

Hey all

I’ve been putting together some PC specs for a machine to use for installations
We want 4 - 6 direct outputs from the machine, (which may also then be split further, e.g. for 8 projectors).

My first choice is to base the system around a Radeon R9 295x2
I’m keen on having Thunderbolt support to keep compatibility with hardware we’re using on OSX (e.g. hard drives, BlackMagic)
Also small form factor / easily travels is a big plus

I’ve noticed that you can get a Mac Pro with 2 x AMD FirePro D700’s for $4,600, which is only a little higher than we are expecting to spend on the PC cost. And it’s pretty compact, good warranty (for me as i’m travelling), lots of extra features (e.g. PCIe storage) and can run OSX also

2 x D700 combined has 4096 stream processors, whilst the R9 295x2 has 5632 stream processors (it’s 2 chips GPU combined, but since it’s a single card, these pretty much act as a single GPU afaik)


  1. Does the Mac Pro support flexible EyeFinity options across 6 outputs (e.g. 4x1 team + 2 individual)
  2. Would the 2 x AMD FirePro D700 act as 2 separate cards (e.g. each connected with 3 outputs), thereby resulting in lower performance and compatibility than a single card solution. Or perhaps it just acts as a single card? The fact that each card has it’s own memory makes me believe that it’ll act as 2 cards (with resulting issues).
  3. Are there any awkward limitations of features with the Mac Pro when using Windows

Appreciate if anybody has any experience here!


Gathering notes:

There’s content on the net which show:

6 screen EyeFinity


  • anandtech review - 1 * D700 is slower than 1 * R9 280 (and 2 * D700 CrossFire is about 70% speed of an R9 295x2)

Crossfire as an option in the GPU preference panel


  • anadtech article - Review of product, with good insights on how the 2 GPU’s are used in OSX


  • 6 screen EyeFinity works
  • There is still a price premium over similar micro-atx systems
  • It seems laid out as 1 graphics GPU and 1 compute GPU (likely 1 is attached to the 6 outputs, with the other being able to provide CrossFire support for rendering on Windows but not OSX, or be assigned compute tasks)
  • R9 295x2 also splits memory per GPU (not shared)


  • Curious what DirectCompute does with multiple GPU’s. I presume it doesn’t magic them together.
  • Does that HDMI 1.4 work as a 7th output?
  • What’s the difference between CrossFire Pro and CrossFire X? (Pro uses a little physical bridge like SLI, whilst X uses the PCI-e bus, but is there any difference because of this considering the massive headroom available on the PCIe 3.0 bus?)

The D700 specs seem to match those of the FirePro W9000.
The following article might be interesting: How Well Do Workstation Graphics Cards Play Games?

I work with /mac pro 2013 ‘dustbin’ on OSX with Resolume Arena. When I use 4-5 direct outputs, video cards work how one card. This thing I see at system information. Next time I want use this computer with Windows too…

thanks for the link @bjeorn!

seems like graphics performance is pretty weak for the W9000

Negatives vs gaming GPU’s

  • Graphics performance is significantly weaker per chip than GeForce 680
  • The 295x2 has ~2x the score on 3DMark of D700x2
  • Similar single precision ‘compute’ performance on D700, but not confirmed as to whether this directly translates to DirectCompute performance:


11.2 TeraFLOPS Single Compute
1.4 TeraFLOPS Double Compute

W9100 (~D700, but with a higher clock)

10.4 TeraFLOPS Single Compute
5.2 TeraFLOPS Double Compute

Negatives vs workstation GPU’s

  • No sync output/input
  • Less community support (and probably manufacturer support too)

I’ve been using one for a couple of weeks now (D500 / 6 core)…

Some disadvantages

  • High end model has small HDD (250GB), you have to customise to get more (which means waiting for delivery)
  • Power button is tricky to find when an installation is running (lots of things plugged in)
  • EyeFinity doesn’t work out of the box, you have to use Radeon graphics drivers (thereby losing FirePro features)
  • It’s not a real FirePro, lots of features are missing (CrossFire Pro, EyeFinity, genlock, etc)
  • Bootcamp is trickier than normal to set up (it supports fewer HDD formatting options than previous macs, specifically requires Windows 8, insists on doing everything its way in order to set the partition up for you. allow time, usb sticks and internet!)
  • I doubt you get any premium support from AMD for using it as a FirePro in Windows (as opposed to if you’d bought a standard FirePro card)

interesting. How about this cards with native MAC OS?

@pogi - the cards are the same performance in OSX and Windows, except OSX doesn’t support CrossFire.

CrossFire X gives you a speed boost for realtime rendering by using both cards together, but note this doesn’t work when:

  • You are rendering offscreen (e.g. rendering to a texture)
  • You are rendering to a window (note that all DX11 renderers work as windowed renderers, not true Fullscreen currently)
  • You are in OSX (Apple has no software support for CrossFire X)

what’s it like for waste paper?

@elliotwoods Thank you. I think that PC based server with Nvidia cards will be better…


they also sell a bigger “plus” version which is great for waste paper.