1st-gen Mac Pro problems... Is it the GPU?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Doctor Suarez, May 2, 2012.

  1. Doctor Suarez macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    A little background: I'm running a first-generation Mac Pro with a PCI-Express GPU connector. My card is an ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512 MB. Originally, the card was giving me all kinds of weird artifacts during 3D gaming (World of Warcraft) and after much cajoling over the phone I was able to get Apple to replace the card under warranty. This solved the problem. Now I am running the revised edition of the same card.

    Flash forward to a year or so ago. Out of nowhere, the computer has begun shutting itself off. It doesn't happen every day. It doesn't even happen every week. I'd say once a month at the worst. But still, out of nowhere it just powers down. In addition, when running pretty much ANY full-screen app, such as a game that involves 3D graphics, the screen simply blanks out while the rest of the computer continues to function.

    When this behavior began, I took the computer to the genius bar, thinking it was the power unit. They ran tests and the power unit came up peachy.

    However, I have begun wondering if perhaps it's the GPU that is to blame. I had this problem with my previous computer, a Dell desktop. It would shut the computer down during certain games, and when I bought a new DVI-based LCD monitor to replace my CRT, it fried the connection between the GPU and the logic board and bricked the computer.

    So after all that, my question is this: Do you think I would be able to solve my issues by replacing/upgrading the GPU? I could theoretically buy a new iMac this summer when they're updated, but I really think my current computer is still filling my needs. I don't really game on it anymore, and after I recently doubled the onboard RAM it really has been able to chug along nicely in performing its other duties.

    Here is the card I was looking at as a replacement:


    or possibly:


    (I'm not sure how they're different)

    Do you think this would solve the issue? I'd hate to sink another $200 into an old computer and not help things, but if it DOES solve the issues, then I could easily get another 2 years or so out of the computer, which would wind up saving me money since when I DO replace it, I'll get more computer per dollar, PLUS I'll be able to sell this as a functioning computer and not a defect.

  2. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    The cards in the pictures are 8800GTS cards.

    It is possible that they are selling 8800GTS cards flashed with 8800GT Mac ROM.

    Those are actually BETTER than stock Apple 8800GT in that the dual level fan has a much easier time cooling the card. Card is quieter and can live longer. While the G92 chip in those was one of Nvidia's shining hours, the "chewing gum and super glue" solder they used to replace lead was NOT up to par.

    Multiple heat/cool cycles causes fractures in the BGA and the cards fail. A quick trip through your oven can fix this for awhile.

    The single slot version is more likely to experience this failure.

    If you are looking for official Apple cards, also compare DVWarehouse in LA and Mac Pro Systems in San Jose. They sell similar cards, haven't looked up their prices in awhile.

    You may want to clarify with Mac Palace if the card is indeed a dual slot card as photographed or a single slot, as the part numbers would indicate.

    If you are going to drop $200, you may want to consider getting a 5770 from BH Photo. I think they have them for $229 or something like that. 5770 is newer tech and less likely to fail in near future.

    The behavior you describe is typical of X1900. Have you tried blowing the fan out? The intake grid is a row of copper fins at power end of card. It can get covered in dust and cause card to overheat.
  3. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    A budget solution..

    Since the ATI 1900 was the last card available in the G5 in 2005, you actually have a 7 year old card in there. I would say your problem is for sure the x1900.

    Now the first responder is right, the ATI 5770 would be a very fast solution, however topping your 200$ budget. If you want a good solution with half the money, I would recommend this card here:


    This one would be still faster then then the ATI 2600 from 2008 and about as fast as the the Nvidia 8800, regardless what model. I would not go for a flashed card. If you want to get an original Apple card for 100, go with the one above.

    Just my two cents..
  4. Doctor Suarez thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    Thanks, guys. Here's a quick update:

    Based on the advice from another poster, I went on an anti-dust crusade inside the computer. Blew out all the fans I could access. When blowing out the fan assembly in the Radeon, a rather large dust bunny flew out. I also found a decent amount of dust in the rear fans that service the RAM bays. The front fans, however, were very clean.

    After closing up and rebooting, the system is running MUCH quieter. Dust may very well have been the culprit. However, as it's only been about 15 minutes, it's too early to plant the flag and declare victory just yet.

    So it appears you may have been right, MacVidCards. Regardless, I'll definitely check out the cards you mentioned. $200 is not a hard cap, just an approximation. I would be willing to go over that for more current technology.
  5. Doctor Suarez thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    Later update: After several weeks of trouble-free use, the computer hard-locked again today... just powered down and blacked out in the middle of a YouTube video. Whatever's wrong was probably exacerbated (and perhaps even caused) by the dust issue, but it's clearly still going on. I'm not sure what to do now. I guess I'll see if it happens again and just save like a madman every time I work on anything.
  6. zerb macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2012
    i was having hard lock up issues with my 1.1 that had a x1900 in it. replaced it with an apple 5770, and havent been happier...nor had an issue since.
  7. G4DP macrumors 65816

    Mar 28, 2007
    Do not touch the 2600 with a 10 foot stick. They are absolute carp. They were in 2008 when Apple classed them as worthy of the Mac Pro. Don't touch an Apple 8800 either. It will die within 18 months.

    As MVC suggested the 5770 is the one to look at, going to get one myself when we get back from our holiday in a few weeks.
  8. Doctor Suarez thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    Thanks for the heads up, guys. I'll see if that chip is still available. Apple doesn't do a brilliant job of indicating whether or not a given card is compatible with my dinosaur of a computer.

    The thing is, I'd hate to sink a few hundred into what is already an old computer unless I have some reason to believe it'll float me for another 2-3 years minimum. What say you all?
  9. ljonesj macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2009
    Kingsport TN
    actually according to apple the 5870 and the 5770 are not compatible to your computer but the they are david difranco from tech social put one in his late 06 very earlier 07 macpro and it runs fine
  10. brady.myers macrumors newbie

    Nov 11, 2007
    i can confirm this (as can many other articles online) – both the 5770 and the 5870 run like a charm in the mac pro 1,1
  11. Doctor Suarez thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    Thanks. I've been reading up on this. I keep seeing people having issues, but those posts are from 11 months ago and it's possible that Apple has since resolved them.

    $250 to stave off spending $1300 for at least another few years may be worthwhile after all, assuming the occasional hard-locks are a result of the current card. The Genius Bar tested my power control (which I thought was the problem) and it tested clean, whatever that means, so maybe the GPU is the culprit.

    Ack... gambling. This is why I don't go to Vegas anymore.

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