video card question?

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by GyroFX, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. GyroFX macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2002
    Los Angeles and NorCal
    hi, i have a question about video cards.

    Does normal PC cards i.e. the new ati9000 or Nvidia PC cards work on a mac? Or do you have to buy Mac specific graphics cards? Does it have to be both hardware and software compliant or only software. These are my question...i have no clue about video cards. I'm trying to look for a replacement for my Geforce4 MX in my Dual Ghz G4....thanx
  2. Gus macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    Nope. Sorry

    But you have to get the ones for the Mac. Most retail stores, (and computer stores for that matter) only carry the PC versions of these cards, which won't work in your Mac. Some of the online stores carry them though.

  3. kiwi_the_iwik macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2001
    London, UK
    Sorry to throw a spanner in the works, but the short answer is...

    Yes, you can.

    There are a few plusses to this -

    Firstly, you can get the latest graphics cards available quicker than the Mac variants (although that's changing now...).

    Secondly, these cards are cheaper than the Mac cards (and that's not likely to change in the forseeable future).

    That's because the Mac cards use a proprietory connector (Apple's own ADC, which run their range of LCD displays), whereas the PC cards will only have VGA, or if you're lucky, a DVI.

    PC cards also have a few more options:
    Usually, a S-Video output, and a TV-tuner built-in (although, as before, this is starting to change with the Mac as well).

    The downside to all of this is that you have to "flash" your graphics card - I don't quite know how to do this myself, but there are a few links from the good people at on how to do just that. It involves loading a small program into the PC whilst it has the graphics card installed, and changing the settings via the software. Then, the card can be re-installed inside a Mac, and - theoretically - it should work (somebody here might be able to give you more of an insight on how this may work).

    If you only have a VGA monitor and want to upgrade your card, you can only really benefit from getting a "flashed" PC graphics card. The drivers are ostensibly the same, and you can really pick up a bargain from a second-hand computer store (I saw a GeForce 3 with all the trimmings 2 days ago for £25! The Mac version wouldn't give you much change from £160, if you're lucky enough to FIND one...).

    Good luck!

  4. Nipsy macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2002
    The longer answer is:
    Maybe you can, maybe you can't, and you need to own a PC to find out, and you may be left with an worthless video card, which your retailer may or may not take back.

    Some PC video cards can be Flashed to perform as Mac video cards. The procedure requires that the flashing be done in a PC, with one of those old fashioned plastic thingies with the sliding metal door.

    Many PC video cards cannot be flashed to work in a Mac, because their flash ROM has a different layout than the Mac equivalent.

    A few PC video cards will work in a Mac without being flashed. The GF2MX had a slew of variants which worked natively under OSX (not too sure about 9).

    The real truth is that if you weren't aware that this was semi-possible, you probably shouldn't attempt it. While a Mac GF4 Ti may be a $400 card, flashing the PC version involves first buying (or borrowing) the Mac card to obtain the ROM image (with it plugged into a PC). Then returning it, assuming it has survived. Next you must buy the PC version, and apply the Mac ROM, hoping it fits the chip. Once you've done this, you've got a 50-50% chance. Now you must move the card back into the Mac, and see if the ROM patch both works, and the OS beleives you.

    It is not recommended for the weekend hardware hacker...
  5. Beej macrumors 68020


    Jan 6, 2002
    Buffy's bedroom
    I flashed a PC GF2MX to use in my G4 400. Unless you enjoy doing that kind of stuff, just pay the extra few bucks for the Mac version...
  6. wwworry macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2002
    #6 forums under power mac has quite a long thread on how to flash a $109 PC Radeon 8500. It seems people are having a lot of success.
  7. Gus macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    Well color me uneducated...

    I didn't know about the "flashing" of the video cards, but I assumed that the original poster was just talking about buying a stock PC video card and popping it right into the Mac. It's interesting though that this technique is possible.

    My question would be this though. If it's not a separate hardware set of components, why don't the manufacturers just put a few of the Mac ones on the shelf with the PC ones? Seems like there's no major expense involved with doing this, (now that I know how it works!:D )

  8. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Mostly the GPU on the card must designed to handle the little/big endian shift.

    The dark side reads things backwards compared to us, without telling the video card it's Mac data it'll get confused.

    As far as ROM goes - the card either will have enough room to do both, one or the other, or won't work for us.
  9. GyroFX thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2002
    Los Angeles and NorCal
    thanx for the suggestion on "flashing" a PC card. But, i think i'll just stick with my GF4MX for now, since i'm no hardware hacking wiz. If i trust myself that much...i would have upped my Dual Ghz G4 to 1.2 Ghz by now...i have no guts...and i think it's a good thing under these circumstances. Don't you think so?

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