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Oculus says Mac Pro not powerful enough for VR


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Tomás Freres-Flete

apple logoOculus published the requirements for its Rift VR goggles several weeks ago. A PC needs to have at least an AMD Radeon R9 290 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 installed, as well as a a mid-range Intel Core i5 CPU. AMD CPUs are excluded right from the start. Now, the company belonging to Facebook has commented on Apple's Macs.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has stated current generation Macs are not fast enough for Virtual Reality. Even the fully configured Mac Pro, costing nearly 6,000 US dollars, apparently is too slow. When Apple brings out a computer powerful enough, Oculus will give it it's seal of approval, states Luckey.

However, this statement is rather self-contradicting in terms of actual hardware requirements. A Mac Pro comes with two graphics cards installed, in the full configuration two AMD FirePro D700 are used. These cards use AMD's fully configured Hawaii GPU - just like in the Radeon R9 290X or 390X. This naturally provides a basis to compare the cards.

Mac Pro in the dual GPU configuration
Mac Pro in the dual GPU configuration

The FirePros in Mac Pro certainly don't have the same high clock rates. One can hypothetically say they're on par with a lower clocked R9 290X (or, for comparison, a weaker 380X). An R9 380X with a standard clock rate already is close to the performance of an R9 290. If two slightly weaker R9 380X cards are used in a CrossFire array, the performance definitely ought to be above the level of an R9 290. Especially if each GPU takes care of one of the two VR displays, eliminating the drawbacks of AFR.

As Apple's also offers a very low-level API called Metal, which is similar to DirectX12 or Vulkan, developers ought to be able to publish games or VR demos for the Mac Pro that will support VR. Why the co-founder of Oculus openly claims Apple's hardware isn't on par sees one scratch one's head. While he is certainly right about smaller Macs, his argument against a fully configured Mac Pro has quite a lot of gaps. Far more, Oculus' lack of support for the platform certainly has more to do with the very small user base owning such systems.

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