8800 vs Dual 3870

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by tritian, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. tritian macrumors member

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    Jul 19, 2008
    #1
    I am doing my research to get my mac pro. I have a question for video cards when it comes to gaming.

    I am not sure at this time if I should get a single 8800 or dual 3870's. I plan on having a Vista or XP bootcamp so I can still have access to newer games (Bioshock, COD4 etc). I know the 3870's will use crossfire when I boot that way, but is it faster then a single 8800 GT?

    Has anyone seen benchmarks for these 2 setups in OSX and in Windows via bootcamp?
     
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

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  3. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    #4
    The dual 3870s are faster in Windows in Crossfire mode than a single 8800.
     
  4. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #5
    Use the standard card that comes with the Mac Pro in Mac OS X and buy a seperate card for Windows gaming, like the Radeon HD 4850 or 4870.

    Cheaper and better.
     
  5. Tracer macrumors 6502

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    #6
    4850's can be had for around $150 after rebate, which makes it about $75 cheaper than a Mac 3870.

    A much better solution.

    Tracer
     
  6. tritian thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    How hard is that to do? To configure it to use one card in OS X and one in Windows?

    This will be my first desktop Mac. Only laptops in the past.
     
  7. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #8
    It depends whether or not your screen has two inputs (either dual DVI or DVI and one analog) or you may have to change the screen cable between the graphic cards.

    For ease of mind, you do not need to do this with the Geforce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 3870, which works in both Mac OS X and Windows.
     
  8. zmttoxics macrumors 65816

    zmttoxics

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    #9
    I just replaced the 8600 GT OC in my windows box with a brand new 4850.

    Playing Crysis on HIGH @ 1680x1050 is a very beautiful thing. The card is a monster, and there isn't a game it can't play well.
     
  9. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    #10
    Exactly. For most people who want to do some gaming in Windows and a bit in OS X too, two 3870s is by far the most comfortable solution. You can have one official Mac 3870 card as your primary card to which your monitor is attached - giving you all the Pro acceleration you need in OS X and letting you play the odd game (WoW etc) that you might want. Then you could have a second 3870 (doesn't even need to be an official Mac one if you can get the right power cable) that's connected with a crossfire cable to your primary card, giving you the extra graphics performance you want in Windows.

    Sure, the 4850 is supposedly better than two 3870s in crossfire mode but you'd have to live with switching cables the whole time - something most people really can't be bothered with. You wouldn't have any faster performance in OS X either.
     
  10. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

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    #11
    You could use a DVI switchbox.

    Basically, both GPUs are installed, both connected to the switchbox, which then runs a single cable to the monitor. There is a switch which toggles which GPU sends its signal to the screen.
     
  11. mogallin macrumors member

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    #12
    What about dual 8800?

    And is the second PCI also 16x?
     
  12. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #13
    Yes, the current Mac Pro has two PCI-Express slots that are physically 16x.

    However, the Mac Pro does not support Scalable Link Interface so it wouldn't gain anything performance-wise from having two Geforce 8800 GTs installed.
     
  13. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #14
    Correction:

    nVidia don't support or let you use SLI on the Mac Pro, even though the Mac Pro is technically fully capable of it.
     
  14. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #15
    Semantics ;)

    Glad you got it out.

    But technically the Mac Pro does not support the current Scalable Link Interface, period.

    The motherboard needs a media and communications processor (otherwise known as the MCP or NVIDIA SLI MCP) to support the technology.

    Earlier versions of Scalable Link Interface (the technology goes back to 3dfx) did not require this though.
     
  15. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    #16
    That's just marketing. It would work just fine if the drivers didn't purposefully disable it on non nVidia chipset boards. SLI could in theory work on any board based on any chipset - just like Crossfire could work on nVidia boards, in theory. Its all about the drivers.

    For the record, until very recently, I was using a hacked nVidia driver to run two 7300 GTs in SLI in Boot Camp on my Mac Pro.
     
  16. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #17
    The only thing special about the MCP is that it has a special authentication unit in it which the driver uses to prove that the board is nVidia SLI approved.

    If you can hack the driver to remove this 'check' then SLi would work just as well on the Mac Pro.

    This has nothing to do with the technical ability of the board to do it and everything to do with nVidia just wanting to artificially limit SLi to their own boards so they can charge you more money.

    That was Scan-Line Interleave. :)
     
  17. Chilz0r macrumors regular

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    #18
    Same shi**, different name. That's marketing for you :confused:.
     
  18. m1stake macrumors 68000

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  19. Chilz0r macrumors regular

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    #20
    Funny thing is they still don't have SLi right, all I see is SLi this CrossfireX that. Why can't we have a nice single slot card that consumes a small amount of power, or better software/drivers that actually make SLi worthwhile (moneywise)?
     
  20. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #21
    It's not really. Scan-Line interleave was a very specialised piece of technology. One board would render the even scan lines, the other would render the even scan lines and then the master board would combine the two images together.

    Scalable link interface is much more technically advanced. You can read about it on the 'pedia.

    first off you can just buy a 8800GT or a 4850/70 and have very good performance on a single card.

    Secondly drivers for SLi are quite hard to write. When you have written your own brilliant and fantastic drivers then you can comment on the hard work the engineers at ATi and nVidia are doing.
     
  21. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #22
    So we can agree on that no matter what function it serves, it is required? ;) Although it is merely cosmetic and to the pain and suffering of the mainstream user. Luckily Scalable Link Interface isn't needed for the majority of computer users.

    And yes, I am aware that it wasn't locked down to only NVIDIA motherboards in times of old but it is now. I guess it's only to sell NVIDIA chipsets.
     
  22. Chilz0r macrumors regular

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    #23
    NVIDIA needs to realize that the consumer is all and that they should worship them (as a business). Releasing a 9800GX2 for a phenomenal price and finding out it's just two 8800GT's sandwiched together with a bus that is bottlenecked isn't my idea of "hardworking" engineers, it's more like marketing bullsh**. Maybe they should replace their engineers with marketing staff, that could be more productive.
     
  23. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #24
    Taking what you said backwards...

    That's probably the reason why we had that product, the marketing staff forced them to make it.

    You obviously have never worked in industry. It works like this.

    1. Engineers come up with brilliant new way to link two GPU's together ALA SLI.

    2. Engineers point out all the performance advantages but also mention that the technology isn't fully ready for implementation yet, although it is working somewhat.

    3. Big manager hears 'faster' and doesn't hear 'not ready yet' and tells the engineers (usually against their better judgement) to put it into a shipping product and then lets marketing loose to spin a whole load of hype.

    Engineers make these products because they are told to. It's their job to work on new ideas but also to implement them if they are told to.

    It's the managers who don't understand the intricate details which put these premature products out and the marketing team which makes it sound like the best thing since sliced bread.
     
  24. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #25
    In regards to Scalable Link Interface, it worked beautifully on the Voodoo 5 series or the good old Voodoo 2.

    This was tested and tried technology even before NVIDIA decided to use it.

    ATI had already used Alternate Frame Rendering with the Rage 128 Fury Maxx back in 2000, only worked in Windows 95 and 98 though (due to driver issues with Windows XP).
     

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