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Constant power: Apple’s 2021 Mac Pro GPU is even faster than a new AMD graphics card

Apple still sells an Intel-based Mac Pro that we’re pretty sure no one is buying because Apple’s silicon upgrade is coming soon (we think). But there might be a reason you’d want to buy the Mac Pro’s graphics MPX modules right now, especially if you’re a Windows PC gamer.

Roman YouTuber”der8auerHartung bought one of those MPX graphics modules, specifically the Radeon Pro W6800X Duo, which retails for $5,000 in the Apple Store. (Apple marks it as “New,” but it actually arrived in August 2021.) He wanted to test it on a PC and compare its performance against AMD’s new graphics cards, and after a lot of effort, he got it to work.

The video is over 22 minutes long, but it’s a fascinating look at the inner workings of this MPX module. The movie includes a complete teardown of the module, an examination of the components, how it was powered up and connected to the PC, and how driver issues were resolved. You can move on to benchmark comparisons if that’s all you’re interested in, but we recommend watching the entire video.

Mac users may not realize that the PC graphics card market is volatile right now, with persistent out-of-stock issues leading to inflated prices. If a PC user is unlucky and is willing to go to extreme measures for a high-performance graphics card, der8auer shows how to do it.

The module was tested on PC using 3DMark Extreme weather spy benchmarks and results show that the Radeon Pro W6800X Duo module was fast enough. It’s faster than the RX 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 graphics cards, two cards so popular that our sister site, PCWorld, made a direct comparison of the two cards. (There’s a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison going on in der8auer’s tests because the W6800X Duo is essentially two graphics cards acting as one, while the RX 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 each have only one GPU.)

Apple is said to launch a new Mac Pro with Apple silicon this year, but it may not support third-party graphics cards like the current model. This video is a reminder of what Apple may be giving up with the transition: a flexible expansion system that’s as elegant as it is powerful.