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Revisiting the Quadro 4000 Mac Edition: Lion Makes it the Card it Was Meant To Be

I get a lot of questions about graphics cards on the Mac since I review them for Ars Technica and have a lot of experience with GPUs and different 3D/app apps in OS X. A lot of people read my review of the Quadro 4000 Mac Edition and are now wondering if this card, which performed really well but had a lot of show-stopping bugs at the time of the review, is now working like it should. Yes, it is. I’ve been using it for months with OS X 10.7 to 10.7.2 and, in the entire time I’ve used Lion, I’ve only had one kernel panic and all indications are that the graphics card had nothing to do with it. Considering I’ve used virtualization apps with 3D running next to Maya and rendering, it’s safe to say this is stable. It’s really the card it was meant to be now and works great with CUDA apps like Octane Render.

There is one catch though. There is still no word on OpenCL support for this card. At the last minute, Apple pulled the plug on this from Lion, which pissed me off pretty badly. Nvidia reps haven’t got back to me on the status of this either, so it can’t be used with things like V-Ray RT’s GPU mode, which is OpenCL based. No one doubts that OpenCL is increasing in prevalence, so not having this for a card that costs about $700 is pretty bad. If you don’t need OpenCL and you want the extra memory vs. the Radeon 5870, I can recommend the Quadro. Otherwise, the cheaper Radeon works very well for Maya, Mudbox and every other app I’ve thrown at it and it has OpenCL support and can drive three screens vs. the Quadro 4000’s two.

If you’re looking for benchmarks of the card, click the link in the review above. It was run in 10.6.8 but the speed isn’t noticeably different in 10.7.2.

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