G5 Powermac AGP Video Card Upgrade

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by amaly76, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. amaly76 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2003
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    NJ
    #1
    Hello,
    I currently have a 1.8 DP G5 Powermac with an AGP ATI 9600 Radeon. I am looking to upgrade my video card but have a few reservations. I am considering buying a Radeon X800XT but a few interesting things have turned up. About two weeks ago, there was a promo for a $50 dollar rebate on this card from ATI, but the promo ran out. As recently as 4 days ago, online stores had this card in stock and now it is almost not in stock anywhere. Some sites are even reporting that this card is discontinued. Should I try to buy this card on ebay or wait for a potential new card to come out. I fear that ATI / Nvidia is discontinuing all of their AGP video cards. Another question I have - is it a viable and even possible alternative to buy a pc agp card and flash it to work on my mac? I am looking for at least an X800 class card if that is something I can do. Any insight and thoughts would be really appreciated.

    Thank You
     
  2. RGunner macrumors 6502a

    RGunner

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    #2
    Hold out a few weeks...

    I think I stumbled upon the answer as to why the channel for X800 Mac cards is drying up.

    Google this: 100-435338

    It appears to be a new RoHS compliant card.
     
  3. sblasl macrumors 6502a

    sblasl

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  4. amaly76 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2003
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    NJ
    #4
    X1950 AGP possible upgrade

    After searching through the threads, it looks like ATI released an AGP version of the X1950. I hope that this will be cross flashable and a possible solution.
     
  5. bwik macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    #5
    My G5 Dual 2.0 Ghz just apparently fried its video board. 128MB radeon 9800. At least, the DVI doesn't work. Not sure about the ADC.

    The Apple Genius around here tried reseting the PMU, the pram, nothing worked. So.... is this $300 X800 board the thing to get? Was really hoping for something cheaper. This is a 2 year old machine now, so cards should be cheaper IMO..??

    Any recommendations?
     
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    May 7, 2004
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    #6
    The Radeon X1900 G5 Mac Edition, is a PCI Express (PCIe) card, so it won't work on any of the AGP Macs.

    Lots of options for the AGP Macs though...

    The simplest course of action would be to buy the Radeon X800XT Mac Editon available from OWC, Newegg(10 bucks cheaper), and others. It's still in stock, and it's a very fast card. But it is expensive.

    Other options...you could flash a PC card. Here are the best candidates:

    - Radeon X800XT, Radeon X800 PRO VIVO, Radeon X800XT Platinum Edition

    - Radeon X850XT, Radeon X850 PRO VIVO, Radeon X850XT Platinum Edition

    - Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra, GeForce 6800GT, GeForce 6800GS(many, but not all)


    To flash the cards, download an appropriate hacked ROM file from the Strangedogs video card forum. These guys spent many hours reverse-engineering the Mac ROMs and making them work with PC cards - so all the credit goes to them. Once you've downloaded the ROM, you need to flash (copy) it to the EEPROM chip on the video card. Assuming you've done it properly, the card will then work in the Mac.

    Some important things to be aware of:

    -Flashing the GeForce 6800 series cards must be done in a PC (in DOS) using the nvflash application. I did this with the 6800GS (modded into a 6800GT) installed in my G4 tower.

    -If you find a 6800 series card with dual DVI ports, you'll get dual DVI on the Mac. Otherwise, you get DVI and VGA (more common). My 6800GS has dual DVI, and I can confirm it works perfectly.

    -The Radeon cards can be flashed in a Mac. The "real" Mac Edition X800XT has dual DVI - but no PC X800 series has this. All PC X800 series cards have one DVI and one VGA port - as a result, flashing one of these cards to the Mac produces a card with one working VGA port and no DVI. There is one exception to this - the FireGL X3. Using the Strangedogs X800XT Mac ROM produces a perfectly working dual DVI card. However, this workstation card still retails for over $670(!), so you're better off going with a 6800 series card or a "real" X800XT Mac Edition if you need dual DVI.

    -The Radeon X850 series cards can be flashed to the Mac, but the Strangedogs people have not produced a ROM specifically for it yet. They can be flashed with the X800XT ROM, but you must use ATIcellerator II to turn the memory speed down below 330MHz or so for the card to work properly. The reason for this is that incompatibilities between the X800 and X850 chips cause the memory timings to be off when using the X800 ROM with an X850 card - in short, the card will run at normal speed when turned down to 330 but the speeds will be incorrectly reported by the computer. Setting the speed at the usual speed for the card will cause it to run much faster than normal and toverheat the card, possibly fatally.

    There's a lot more; I just wanted to give you an idea about flashing. Read the Strangedogs forum for how-tos (they're kind of buried, but they're there).

    Bottom line:
    You can save a lot of money, but flashing is more work.

    If you can get a GeForce 6800 Ultra or GT (and have access to a PC to flash it in), it is a very easy flash, is fast and can give you dual DVI depending on which card you get. The 6800GS can also be flashed (read the thread linked in my signature), but beware: recent GS cards have featured hardware changes (a PCIe->AGP bridge chip) that make them incompatible with the hacked Mac ROM - best to find a GT or Ultra. Do NOT try to flash a 6800XT - they have the same bridge chip problem as the newer 6800GSs.

    You can get a Radeon 850 PRO from Newegg right now for $140 - less than half what the Mac version costs. I've ordered one just for fun and I'm going to try flashing it when it shows up. The downsides: you have to flash it, fiddle with the memory timing, and you'll get only a single working VGA port. Advantages: it is MUCH cheaper than the Mac card, and performance is identical. It also has a bit of a performance edge over the 6800 series in some instances.

    People on the Strangedogs forums also sell flashed cards, or may flash a card you send them - so join the forum if you want and ask around.
     
  7. bwik macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    #7
    LB, thanks for the detailed response. I am sad everything seems to cost a lot. I may go the strangedogs route or just pay $380 over at NewEgg. I really like them. Again, thanks.
     
  8. invaLPsion macrumors 65816

    invaLPsion

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    #8
    Amaly, I'd recommend going the Ebay route on a Radeon 9800 Pro SE (256mb). Quite honestly a 1.8DP G5 will not make good enough use of a X800 for it to be worth it, at least from the gaming PoV. Just my two cents.
     
  9. bwik macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    #9
    Pray tell, how can i power an ATI card that is not "Mac Edition" or those that have the 2 power prongs on the card interface itself? With an AGP dual 2.0 G5, is there a way to easily obtain aux power for these cards? The ebay cards seem to need aux power. But they are much cheaper at around $80! Thanks.
     
  10. bwik macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    #10
    Also I really have no idea WHY the original ATI Radeon 9800 128MB card FAILED. Is this common?

    Might it have been heat releated? This machine sits by some electric heaters which go on unpredictably. They are not that hot though.

    The rig is pretty complicated - Dual G5 2.0, 23" Cinema HD Display (DVI), 2x250 GB hard drive, 500GB 7200rpm Hitachi, 3GB RAM (generic), 2 Epson ink jets, a Nikon Coolscan Firewire, Canon USB flat scanner, HK Soundsticks, some USB custom app dongles. The machine runs Aperture, Photoshop, Soundtrack Pro, nothing terribly taxing.

    I do remember this. The video card was making high pitch "eeeEEEEEeee" noises when it worked hard. Scrolling windows, etc produced an audible noise! Really thought it was bizarre at the time. Was this a power source stress? Or perhaps a dying card? No card fan. Anybody heard of video cards making noise?
     
  11. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #11
    I disagree - the Radeon 9800 series are still good performers for most light/moderate computing, but the X800XT and its bretheren show clear advantages in performance, especially when gaming with newer games and higher resolutions. X800 series cards are pretty cheap these days, so unless money is an issue I'd spring for the newest class of card you can get.

    You power the card using a "Y" adapter connected to the power cable from the optical drive. This article discusses the procedure. It's the same no matter what brand/type of card you get.

    It may be a bad GPU - I've heard of others having a whine come from the GPU before failure. I've also heard that the stock heatsink/fan on the 9800 series was not the best setup.

    I don't personally think it would have been heat related. I've been running my G4 tower for about a year with an overclocked 1.4GHz CPU, 3 hard drives, DVD-RW, 2 DIMMS, and the (rather hotter than a 9800) GeForce 68000GT. The G4 towers are hotter boxes than the G5 with all its holes and fans, so My guess is that your 9800 either suffered a fan failure and burned itself up, or the GPU just gave up the ghost by itself.
     
  12. invaLPsion macrumors 65816

    invaLPsion

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    #12
    My point is that a 1.8GHz G5 will not make good enough use of the X800, thus not making it worth it. The test you link shows the results on a 700MHz faster processor. My brother purchased a 9800 for his 1.8 G5 and says he didn't even notice that much difference from his 5200. Once again, just my 2 cents. :)
     
  13. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #13
    It all depends on your hardware/software combo - and even more on the resolution you're running at.

    The X800 series won't show a big advantage over the 9800 until you are running at resolutions around 1600x1200. So people using a 20", 23" or bigger display should, in my opinion, consider a Radeon X800 or Geforce 6 class card. If your display runs at a lower res a 9800 series will probably do the job.

    I've had a Radeon 7500 32MB, Radeon 9600 Pro 64MB, and GeForce 6800GT 256MB in my G4 tower...the GeForce showed big performance gains over the Radeon 9600 in Halo, Call of Duty and Doom 3 but I've never had a chance to benchmark a Radeon 9800 class card in my machine. However, I can say that the GeForce is much happier with my Dell 2005FPW (1680x1050) display than the Radeon 9600 was.
     
  14. amaly76 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2003
    Location:
    NJ
    #14
    Purchased X800XT

    I ended up purchasing an X800XT for my DP 1.8 G5. I am running it to play WOW and I run the game at 1600X1200. The fps is definitely playable even with every single option graphical feature turned up. I am definitely glad I got this card as I have two 20" monitors hooked up via dvi.
     
  15. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #15
    I'd say you made a good choice - the only reason not to get that card is the cost, since only a flashed X800XT Platinum Edition would be faster, and it wouldn't do two displays or DVI.

    One final note: people with G4 towers can NOT use the card that Amaly76 bought, because it is actually an "AGP Pro 8x" card. As a result, you can't use this card in a standard AGP slot, since it won't physically fit. The fastest card specifically made to work in G4's is the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB Mac Edition card that InvaLPsion mentioned earlier. If you want something faster you'll need to do a flashed card.
     
  16. bwik macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    #16
    I ended up getting the Radeon 9800 SE 256MB. $199. It fit right in and the G5 is up happy again.


    Could not find any decent X800 deals. Also, newegg is out of the X800, which was a bit pricy anyway. Did not have flashing capability.

    Thanks for all your help!
     

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