This list of the five best graphics cards for Mac is sure to get all you gaming enthusiasts salivating. For years, Mac gamers had to sit on the sidelines while their PC gaming friends enjoyed the spoils of the graphics card wars, but now, with newer Macs, everyone can get in on the fun. It should be noted that this list is comprised of the best graphics cards at the time of writing, and that in six months from now there may be an entire line of faster, more capable cards available. Let’s get to it.
- Radeon HD 5970. ATI’s line of Radeon graphics cards has served them well over the years, and with the introduction of the Radeon HD 5970, ATI has finally reclaimed their place at the top. The specs associated with this blazing fast card differ depending on what maker you buy from, but it is generally accepted that the 4GB edition from Sapphire is the cream of the crop. Featuring lightning quick DDR 5 memory and a core clock speed of 725MHz, the Radeon HD 5970 is the fastest graphics card for the Mac on the market today. Depending on where you shop, this card could run you well over a thousand dollars.
- GeForce GTX 480. Nvidia is not far behind in the Mac graphics race, as demonstrated with their GeForce GTX 480 GPU. ZOTAC’s AMP series marries the 765MHz core CPU with 1536MBs of DDR5 memory, and tops it off with one giant heat sink and two custom blowers. If that doesn’t sound fast enough for you, Nvidia’s SLI technology allows you to add up to two addition PCI express graphics cards (for a total of three), giving you enough graphics power to play every Mac game for the next ten years.
- Radeon HD 5870. ATI’s Radeon GPU takes another slot on this list with their line of HD 5870 graphics cards. Card-maker ASUS introduces the ROG, an impressive variation of the 5870 GPU that features a core clock speed of 900MHz and 2GBs of DDR5 memory. Though it has more memory and a higher CPU speed than the GeForce GTX 480, it falls slightly behind in real-world testing. Still, this Mac-enabled graphics card will chew through any game you can throw at it, and being the same GPU that the limited-edition ARES is built on, this card is a great choice for those who want extreme power at a reasonable price.
- Radeon HD 5850. To create this inexpressive behemoth card-maker, MSI attached ATI’s 725MHz HD 5850 GPU to their Twin Frozr II card, added 1GB of 256-bit DDR5 memory, and then threw in a stylish aluminum heat sink with dual black fans. This powerful, dual slot card performs exceptionally well with its stock settings, and is easily overclocked if you need a few more frames-per-second.
- GeForce GTX 470. Rounding out this list is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 470 GPU. EVGA, who has been in the graphics business for years, brings us the super-clocked Fermi edition of the GTX 470, which runs at a reasonable 625MHz and is equipped with 1280MB’s of DDR5 memory. Though this card is slightly older than the others on this list, the GeForce GTX 470 is a very capable card, and with a price tag that is significantly lower than the other four, it should not be laughed at. Consider this card if you are building a mid-range system.