Powermac and Graphic Card Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by devman, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. devman macrumors 65816

    devman

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #1
    Hi all,

    well I'm ready to buy my first powermac (I've had a PB 15" for about 10 months and love it). I checked the buyers guide here and it says don't buy updates soon. I've not heard any rumors though here or on other sites about imminent powermac updates. Also, I'm looking at the dual 2.5 model and I undertand that is still in short supply which makes me think maybe that model is not at the wrong end of the cycle?

    Anyway, I'm looking for some advice from those of you more knowledgable than me and far more knowledgable about Apple and Mac in particular.

    As far as graphics cards go, the models numbers don't mean much to me. Are there some reviews or benchmarks that are Powermac specific that would help here. Right now I'm looking at the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT DDL. It's only a small amount more than the 9800 XT and the top model NVIDIA I remember reading had some sort of issues (but I'll be honest and say I cant recall the details now).

    Finally, I'm looking at two 20" cinema displays. I LOVE the 23" model, but for almost the same money I can buy two 20" displays. I currently have the previous model 20" cinema display and using that as a second monitor on my powerbook (when in the office or course!) has been terrific. Oh yeah, also, when I configure this at the apple store, for the second monitor it only give me choices that include some belkin ADC-DVI thingy. I don't get at all what that is about? I thought the new displays were all DVI?

    Since this is a big spend, I'm just after some advice and stories from others who've got similar setups and been around Apple and Mac longer than I have.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Veldek macrumors 68000

    Veldek

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #2
    My guess is that we’ll probably see 3GHz PowerMacs in summer.

    I think the 6800GT is a good choice as it has only slightly less power than the Ultra. The problem with the Ultra is that there aren’t good drivers yet. They’re said to arrive with Tiger, though the last Panthere updat was said to enhance it (not for me though). I’d even recommend the X800XT but as you want two DVI displays it’s not a good choice as it has only one DVI port.
     
  3. loneAzdgari macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    Location:
    UK, KENT
    #3
    I'd go for the X800 XT Radeon when it comes out and purchase an ADC->DVI connector. In many tests it comes out as faster than the GeForce 6800 Ultra at $100 less (which would end up being the same price seeing as you'd spend $100 on the adaptor so you can have 2 DVIs on the ATI card).

    www.barefeats.com has some decent tests of the cards together and here's a decent review by the site I write for: http://www.insidemacgames.com/reviews/view.php?ID=548

    What you should do is:

    1) Purchase a 9600XT 128MB VRAM via BTO. Only $50 more or so.

    2) Purchase a Retail X800 XT at $499 with ADC->DVI for $99. $599 overall.

    3) Take the 9600XT out of the G5 and flog it on eBay. You might get $100 for that.

    4) Put the X800 XT into the G5.

    You'll have:
    a) The flexibility of either 2 DVIs or a DVI and ADC port.
    b) An equal or faster speed compared to the top-end GeForce 6800 Ultra.
    c) 3 PCI-X slots instead of 2. (The Geforce cards are so big they take up the space of one of the PCI slots)
    d) Quieter, cooler and more efficient operation.
    e) You'll be $50 better off than if you go for the 6800 Ultra, or it'll be $50 more than the 6800GT, an inferior and lower specced card.

    The only downside is that it's a bit more hassle.

    On the other hand, go for the $299 Radeon 9800XT. It's not cutting edge but it can certainly handle every single game on the Mac at the top resolution of the 20" displays. Although if you're doing 3D work on two displays the added grunt of the X800 XT will definitely help.

    Hope I helped, Conrad
     
  4. devman thread starter macrumors 65816

    devman

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #4
    Thanks for the info so far. I've read barefeats and also some reviews at xlr8yourmac. Plus I read the article at insidemacgames.

    I'm now thinking to get the 23" display and use that with my existing 20" cinema display.

    re: the new x800 Xt card, I feel more comfortable ordering something that's an Apple supplied and supported config. Is this an issue or am I just being over-cautious? Is the 6800 GT really that inferior?

    FWIW - games is not a factor (I use a PS2 for that) so I don't need all those game and control panel tweaks.

    If you use a thrd party card like the X800 XT how does it work with software update? I presume you don't get updates through apple, you download and apply driver updates yourself from ATI?
     
  5. brandon6684 Guest

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    #5
    I usally buy the midrange video cards since they won't really be obsolete anytime soon(the 256MB Radeon 9250 in my PC still plays Doom 3 and every otehr game) so I'd go for the 9800XT.
     
  6. Veldek macrumors 68000

    Veldek

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #6
    Unless you are a gamer, you can safely buy the 9800XT. It will serve you well and you won’t need the extra power of the cards I mentioned before. As you have a previous generation Cinema display and want to buy a new one, the ports on this card are fitting, too. This way, you can also use all of your PCI slots.
     
  7. carlos700 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Omaha NE
    #7
    I would go with the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT. If you cannot sell the second card you would have to eat the cost of it. Anyway the NVIDIA GeForce may not be as fast but it has a supirior design.
     
  8. devman thread starter macrumors 65816

    devman

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #8
    Thanks Veldek (and everyone else) you've been very helpful.

    So, the 6800 cards are really only for gamers? Wow - it's hard to put the cost of such a powermac system and those cards up against the simplicity and convenience of a few hundred dollar PS2. Anyway...

    I think I'll still go with the 6800 GT. For an $8000+ purchase (in my currency) why not spend an extra $150 on a graphic card that seems to best the 9800 XT by a fair margin. Of course, you're probably going to say "yes, but it only bests the 9800 in operations that you won't use since you don't plan to play mac games."

    I can live with losing a a PCI slot.

    The new ATI card looks really good and if it was an apple option it would be a no-brainer. But for me, the move to Mac has meant simplicity. Refreshing, relaxing, breathtaking simplicity - and productivity. The thought of a card where I have to download drivers myself, and run a control panel that lets me tweak all sorts of settings and etc. is like fingernails on blackboard in terms of the Mac experience to me. It's like what Windows and Linux people do - yuk! Now I understand that for high-end gamers then that control panel and all those per-game overrides are geek-heaven. But for me, I'm just so enamored with the Mac experience and how it has changed my life that I can't even contemplate wanting all those settings and overrides and downloads.

    Sorry for the sermon - but I love my Mac. :)

    Oh, I also forgot to mention that I already own the big ADC-DVI convertor box since I needed that to drive my cinema display off my PB 15.
     
  9. loneAzdgari macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    Location:
    UK, KENT
    #9
    Just FYI, you don't need to bother with the ATI control panel. You can just use the built-in OS X driver which are updated more often and automatically if you wish. The ATI driver pack is optional.

    I'd still say you should go with the X800 XT. It's the same price as the 6800GT with more performance than the Ultra card, plus it's quieter and smaller.

    You mentioned concern about it being a non-apple product. This should not really be a concern. Apple graphics cards are essentially the same as the Retail cards, they are supplied from the same companies after all: ATI, nVIDIA. Anyway, I wish you luck with your new system whatever you choose. :)
     
  10. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #10
    Wait just a second. It has been said repeadely that you don't want to use your Mac for games (you have a PS2), so why are you even looking at spending so much on these graphics cards? The 9600XT will be more than enough for anything, including the casual game here or there. If you find yourself playing more games on the new computer after you get it, you can upgrade to the X800 after a while (which is fully supported by ATI [good company], and Apple still updates the drivers for you, etc...).
     
  11. devman thread starter macrumors 65816

    devman

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #11
    So is there like a generic ATI driver that Aple ships and updates through software update but then there is a specific driver from ATI that you can apply yourself, get updates for yourself and that has the extra items such as the control panel - is that how it works?

    Thanks very much :)

    I didn't mean non-apple product, I meant non-apple supported. I do understand that the order options through Apple all involve non-apple produced graphics cards. But the apple orderable ones are supported by Apple (and are built for shipping) etc. I don't want to get into any hassles with repair centres who always seem to look for any OEM bit they can find and then claim "that's the reason!" My son's iBook stopped reading/playing DVDs some time back. CDs worked ok, but not DVDs. When I took it to the applecentre, the first thing they tried to claim was that the memory was not apple memory (untrue). (besides, WTF would that have to do with the DVD problem...).
     
  12. devman thread starter macrumors 65816

    devman

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    AU
    #12
    Well, that's why I started this thread and asked the question. I had no idea then that anything beyond 9800 cards are only for games. I asked that question explicitly a few messages back in this thread.

    If true, and I suspect it is, then you make a good point. The answer for me, my own value judgement, is what I also said a message or two earlier. I'm spending many thousands of dollars on a system - so why spend $495 on a 9800XT when for only $646 you can get a 6800GT (or X800XT). It's only a $150 diff out of an $8-9,000 spend.

    I have asked this question in the previous post, but I am very interested to know that if I had an X8000XT that Apple updates the drivers for this? I presumed (now I think wrongly) they would only update drivers for cards they themselves sell.
     
  13. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #13
    Apple updates the drivers for all Nvidia and ATI graphics cards in 10.x.x updates because they use the same cards in their own computers. Thats just how it works in OS X. The X800 won't be supported immediately by OS X (because Apple hasn't released an OS update since its release), but the ATI drivers that come on the CD work 100% until the next update, when the drivers integrated into OS X take over.

    But my advice to you still stands, get the 9600XT. Even the Nvidia 5200 Ultra will be 100% fine for anything 2D, but for $50 the 9600XT is worth it for the future (thinking about Tiger with Core Image). The 9800XT, 6800GT/Ultra and X800XT will be WAY overkill for you, unless you decide to start gaming.
     
  14. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #14
    Just in case people are interested in the approximate resale value of these things, I got AU$200 on eBay for the 64MB Radeon 9600 Pro (not XT) that came with my 1.6GHz PowerMac (I upgraded to a 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro SE). That was about 3-4 months ago.
     

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