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2013 Mac Pro vs 2010 Mac Pro with Sapphire HD 7950 Video Card
A big thanks to Other World Computing for loaning MPG Sapphire HD 7950.
For the right tasks, the Sapphire HD 7950 installed into a 2009/2010/2012 Mac Proc falls squarely into the D300/D500 GPU range on the new Mac Pro.
GPU usage in general
With all GPUs (video cards) in general, many tasks see no benefit, but for those that do, a fast GPU (video card) can be a huge improvement. If those are your workflow tasks, it’s a great investment.
Video users are particularly likely to benefit.
The Sapphire HD 7950 would not drive an NEC PA301W at 90° rotation (1600 X 2560), though the stock ATI Radeon 5870 worked/works fine for years. Later, the 2013 Mac Pro shows 90° rotation to be a more general problem.
OWC Drive Dock for backup drives or extra storage.
USB-C about $119
USB 3.1 about $75
Thunderbolt 2 + USB about $180
Most 2009 Mac Pro users have the GT120 video card, which is much slower than the results with the ATI Radeon 5870 shown here. Most 2010/2012 Mac Pro users have the Radeon 5770 video card, which is also slower than the 5870 video card.
So the results here understate the gains in GPU friendly tasks for users upgrading from the GT120 and Radeon 5770 cards.
As shown below, the Sapphire HD 7950 brings down the times for 3D rendering as well as sharpening in Photoshop (more gains could come in 2014 as Adobe adds improved GPU support).
The Unigine Valley benchmark shows that video and 3D rendering gains should also see large gains.