Here’s my take on how much faster an AMD graphics card is macOS and why you might want to get one for your hackintosh or eGPU setup. The AMD Radeon RX 580 is the best in slot card for macOS. When RX Vega is confirmed to run smooth it will absolutely take the throne.
For now I’ve made the switch myself to a Gigabyte RX 560 4GB card swapping out my existing GTX 1050 Ti for what on paper should have been a slower performing card.
But that isn’t the case at least when it comes to macOS and my style of use. Although the GTX 1050 Ti may be the faster card in synthetic benchmarks with no performance BIAS. When it comes to many productivity applications AMD tends to be the better performer. That’s even more true when it comes to macOS to the point a slower performing AMD card will out perform a more expensive Nvidia one. There is no better example of the performance disparity then the video creation software Final Cut Pro X.
Coming in #1 at 12 seconds export time and the fastest card is the overclocked AMD RX 580 in a custom hackintosh. This custom $1000 PC even outperforms the Radeon Pro 580 found in the $2200 iMac 27-inch. It also crushes the monstrous GTX 1080 Ti card with it’s $700 USD price tag making it the better value and best performing dedicated graphics card for productivity.
Even the RX 570 not included in this benchmark will outperform the GTX 1080 Ti in this rendering benchmark, since it’s performance is slightly under the RX 570. The same can also be said for my $120 RX 560 whose performance comes shockingly close to the $700 GTX 1080 Ti export times.
Below that you can see the GTX 1050 Ti a card that’s suppose to be 20% faster than my RX 560, but even it can’t compare with the favoritism macOS gives AMD cards.
Strangely the GTX 1050 Ti outperforms the Radeon Pro 560 found in the 2017 15-inch 2017 MacBook Pro ($2400) and it’s performance is significantly lower then it’s desktop counter part the RX 560. As to why this is I believe it has to do with the fact that the MacBook is just a thin slate of metal that can’t disperse heat quickly enough with’s it’s poor heat exhaust.
AS you can seen in in the results this $120 card even outperforms a $2400 15 inch MacBook Pro and if you manage to get yourself an RX 580 when the prices are below $300 you beat an $2200 iMac in performance.
From this benchmark you can see that desktop AMD Radeon RX cards run faster in macOS than Nvidia card’s and even the Apple Mac lineup. When RX Vega 56/64 is confirmed to be hackintosh usable it will crush this benchmark and become the best performing card’s available for macOS productivity.
Performance – Poor Nvidia 🙁
It’s great now that native support is available for AMD RX cards since 10.12.6 so that we can compare then against Nvidia.
People who use Nvidia cards have complained there only getting about half the FPS they would on Windows or Linux. This is because of 1. Games that run on macOS arn’t taking advantage of what the Metal API has to offer. 2. Nvidia has poorly optimized drivers especially when it comes to Pascal, which they took 8 months to bring support for.
Another complaint about Nvidia cards is that will cause applications like the Adobe Suite on macOS to crash when performing certain actions or at random; doesn’t seem to be a problem on Windows so it’s likely a Web Driver problem. I’ve havn’t been about to reproduce these crashing issues with my AMD card plugged in.
Nvidia will still pull ahead in most games in macOS that arn’t taking advantage of Metal’s API and Nvidia is still a good choice if you do a lot of dual booting. I personally only use macOS so I felt Radeon cards suited me better.
Perks of AMD
- Native Support – No waiting for Nvidia to release drivers for a new version of macOS
- Optimization – AMD cards just run better in macOS Drivers are optimized for macOS
- Faster – Productivity applications in macOS usually favor AMD. Most people that use macOS arn’t using it to game on if you use productivity applications like FCPX and Adobe Suite you’ll be better off
- Stability – Graphical intensive software in macOS wont crash and blow up on you like they may with poor Nvidia drivers
- Sleep/Wake works very reliably. I’ve experienced no weird restarts in sleep with this card
AMD RX Graphic Cards have been working since Sierra 10.12.6. If you’re someone still using your iGPU I highly recommend getting a graphics card for your hackintosh as macOS will feel noticeably smoother and you’ll be able to sleep/wake your hackintosh.
If you use a lot of productivity applications like video editing, encoding, image manipulation you’ll probably be better off with a AMD Radeon card.
If you’re someone who spends more time dual booted into Windows then there’s nothing wrong with going Nvidia as Nvidia doesn’t have the problems in Windows that it does have in macOS. does a lot of dual booting and gaming on Windows. Also there will be some applications you may want Nvidia’s CUDA support for.
With my RX 560 I noticed things run more smoothly there is no crashing when using Photoshop or Illustrator with Apple’s native drivers and I no longer have to rely on Nvidia’s crappy Web Drivers, which is simply great 🙂
If anyone want’s to see any other benchmarks in macOS comparing the RX 560 and the GTX 1050 Ti feel free to comment, about what you want to see.