Apple 5770 vs PC 6870

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by OracleRedux, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. OracleRedux, Aug 4, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011

    OracleRedux macrumors member

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    #1
    I have a dying 8800GT and am looking to upgrade it.

    I am considering putting in a PC 6870 considering the success people are having with them under Lion (no/minimal patching, flashing etc).

    My summary of issues with a stock PC 6870 from browsing this and other forums would be as follows:

    1) No boot screen, requiring selecting boot camp drive from OS X rather than holding down option key. The other issue I have is that since my SSD is in the ODD bay, it doesn't show as a bootable OS X partition under bootcamp (PITA).
    2) Issues with DVD player and steam, most of which solveable with the aty_init patch on groths.org
    3) Unknown problems in the future when Lion is updated, Steam is updated etc.

    1) and 2) are absolutely fine for me, the (relatively) technically proficient user, but an issue for others with far less tech knowledge, tolerance of bugs and ability to troubleshoot. Explanation: I share the system with my father, he uses it for its photo and video editing horsepower and is nervous about the addition of a non-Apple supported graphics solution. I also take advantage of it for these reasons but would prefer the 6870 for boot camp gaming.

    Simply put: am I setting myself up for a series of headaches in the future by going for the 6870 over the 5770? Or will careful patching and care over system update installations see me through?
     
  2. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

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    #2
    My 3rd option is leaving the 8800GT in the Mac Pro, and replacing it with an Apple 5770 when it does kick the bucket. Meanwhile I plan to build an i5 2500k / Asus Z68/ Geforce 560 Ti Hackintosh for my exclusive use.
     
  3. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #3
    That's impossible to know for sure. In the past even those PC cards considered the most rock solid in a MP were later broken in OS updates.

    If I were running the 6870, I'd avoid OS updates until someone on Netkas.org verifies issues or compatibility first. You'd also have to accept the possibility that a fix may take a while or may never come at all. Therefore, you'd be stuck at a certain version for a while or forever (until you switch cards anyway).
     
  4. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    Thanks for your reply. I was planning on awaiting verification of issues and fixes before updating in the future. However, as you sagely point out, the issue might arise whereby I cannot update at all, which might become a problem in the longer run, particularly given Apple's tendency to sometimes incorporate security patches into OS updates.

    Considering my father is likely to become the primary user of this system down the line, I think I will save him any (more unusual) problems by going for the Apple solution.
     
  5. Pili macrumors regular

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    Orlando/Miami, FL
    #5
    I was considering the same thing a few months ago. Ended up going with the 5770. It was a little more expensive, and a little less powerful but it mostly does what I need with less headaches. I like tinkering but I like it more when stuff just 'works'.
     
  6. siorai macrumors 6502

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    Sep 14, 2007
    #6
    If you can find one, I would say buy a PC 5870, flash it, and have slightly more performance than the 6870 with only the boot screen problem. This is exactly what I've done. I get around the boot screen issue by using BootChamp which adds an icon to the menubar to boot into Windows. DVD Player and Steam games work perfectly fine.
     
  7. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #7
    History has shown that flashing is not proof against updates causing problems.

    Also, have you seen the price of in-stock new PC 5870s??? They have been very, very expensive for a couple of months now. 6870 is currently significantly less expensive.
     
  8. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    Apr 29, 2007
    #8
    As ActionableMango says, the 5870s aren't cheap at the moment. In terms of performance, in various reviews, the performance of the 6870 Black Edition is comparable to the 5870 - in some cases, outperforms the 5870. Also, the 6870 is more energy efficient.
     
  9. DasShrubber macrumors newbie

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    Jun 23, 2011
    #9
    Now this is funny "Also, the 6870 is more energy efficient"...

    I'm running 2 quads, lots of memory, and hds... and a big screen.
     
  10. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    I have to agree - flashing a 5870 seems unnecessary - more of a headache for no less of a guarantee that something won't go wrong in the future. At least with the 6870 option, if it does go pear shaped somewhere down the line, the card is still an unadulterated vanilla PC card which can be shoved into any almost machine, or sold etc.
     
  11. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    May 4, 2009
    #11
    Flashed cards ain't so scary.

    I started with an 8800GT in 2008, looking for more power and gaming ability I flashed a Sapphire HD4870 in 2009 and used that till late 2010 when I flashed a Sapphire 5870 to replace it. I am very circumspect about patching and upgrading my OS but so far have experienced no problems with either flashed card or any app using them. I love the 5870 and will continue to do so till an improved performance replacement becomes viable.
    The moral of this story is with foresight and enough attention to forum detail you can easily use a flashed card for a fraction of the cost and a significant performance gain into the bargain.

    +1 vote for not paying Apple Tax for your GFX card.
     
  12. siorai macrumors 6502

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    #12
    You should realize that a simple flash and *poof* my 5870 is magically an unadulterated 5870 quite capable of being shoved into almost any machine, sold, etc.

    Personally I would rather flash a card than patch my system. Which do you think might actually cause more problems with upgrades down the road? A flashed video card or hacked/altered system files?

    Each to their own though.
     
  13. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

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    Dec 7, 2010
    #13
    I would just go with a PC 6870. Even if something breaks down the road, by then there will be an "official" card much better than the 5770, which is a good basic card but not a powerhouse and was never meant to be.
     
  14. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Even if power consumption isn’t an issue for someone, I think most would still acknowledge that the significant lower power consumption of the 6870 Black Edition is an advantage over the 5870. It may not be an benefit that’s of interest to them, but it’s still an advantage.

    In various tests, the load power consumption of the 6870 Black Edition is roughly 10-15% less than the 5870. As I mentioned above, the former’s performance, at worse tends to be about the same as the latter and in some cases, more – so it’s not as if that the extra power required by the 5870 is giving any noticeable benefit in performance. The 6870 BE can easily be picked up for less that half of the cost of a stock PC 5870, so all in all in a more economical purchase without having to sacrifice performance.

    If someone was running more than one card under CrossFire, the performance two 6870s (Black Edition or otherwise) is significantly greater than a couple of 5870s, so when as the former are considerably cheaper and use up less power, it’s a no-brainer decision with CrossFire.
     
  15. fabriciom macrumors 6502

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    Madrid, España
    #15
    Does the 6870 work with the latest release of SL?
     
  16. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #16
    Hello,

    Shopping for GPUs right now, and your statement contradicts just about every benchmark and tests I've found so far. The 6870 is very nice, especially for its price, but it's not up to the 5870's performance.

    I'd love to learn that I'm wrong (because I have a friend who could sell me his 5870 on the cheap), so if you have data, please share it.

    Loa
     
  17. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

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    Dec 7, 2010
    #17
    If you can get a 5870 for cheap, I would go for it.

    6870 is headed to be what the 5770 is now. A cheap, reliable GPU. If you need power, then obviously you will want 69xx and won't be using a Mac Pro:cool:
     
  18. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    Apr 29, 2007
    #18
    Firstly, if you can get a good deal on the 5870, take it! Anyway….

    I was specifically referring to the Black Edition – many reviews of various graphics cards will have the relevant benchmarks but http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/xfx_hd_6870_black_edition/ showed the 6870 BE in a particularly good light against the 5870, but I would just Google.

    The vast majority of reviews (I certainly wouldn’t go by the above alone, although it handily has overclocking comparisons) - tend to show that the 5870 often offers better performance than the 6870 BE, but usually this is very slight – e.g. something like 58.5 FPS compared to 57, and although there were also slightly higher difference, it wasn’t enough for the 5870 to rise head and shoulders above the cheaper card by a long shot. Also, this wasn’t consistent – i.e. 5870 didn’t beat the 6870 BE all the time. As I said earlier in the thread, according to various reviews, the performance of the 6870 Black Edition is comparable to the 5870 – I think you’d be hard-pressed to show that it’s just “not up to the 5870's performance.”

    If you can get a good the 5870 cheap, then it would be certainly worth getting – and if I had a friend that was going to sell me one, I would do that! However, if you’re buying at regular price, then the 6870 BE offers a lot more bang for your buck - at the moment, in the UK it can be hard for less that £130, which is a heck of less than the stock PC 5870. When the performance, power consumption, price and noise of both cards are compared, the 6870 Black Edition is the better buy to me – your mileage may vary!
     
  19. ActionableMango, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011

    ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #19
    The 5870 is a little better than the 6870 at nearly all benchmarks than the 6870. In one or two benchmarks the 6870 will be a little better (tesselation and power consumption). In most cases where one is better than the other, it doesn't seem to be by much of a margin.

    So given that, at current prices, the 6870 is a MUCH better deal than the 5870. The PC 5870 is so expensive right now you might as well get an Apple 5870. If you can get a special deal, good for you, but that's an exception.

    Well from the threads I've read, both methods can be problematic when it comes to an OS update, and both methods can be reversed. Well, they can be reversed if you were smart enough to make a backup of your system drive or original card's BIOS, depending on which method you used.
     
  20. OracleRedux, Aug 11, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011

    OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

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    #20
    Switching from 8800GT to 5770

    I thought it worth posting regarding my final decision. In the end I went with the Apple 5770. This was for the reasons given above; it's not solely my computer, I won't always be around to support it if something breaks down the line, the lack of boot screen causes problems in case of drive failure, etc. I should point out that if it were solely my machine, I would not have hesitated to buy the 6870.

    The card has been installed a couple of days, my observations so far (all tests at 1920x1200):

    - The only noticeable advantage would appear to be the 1GB of video memory, but this would seem to be offset (in GTA IV for example) by the only marginal difference in GPU power, meaning that increasing texture resolution causes a drop in FPS due to the added processing overhead. Please feel free to contradict; I am a total amateur and I may not be selecting the correct settings.

    - I have noticed some lagging when playing some games, e.g. Just Cause 2. By lagging I don't mean low FPS per se, but rather a smooth framerate followed by a stall. This may be because I have switched from nVidia to ATI without a full reinstall of either games or the system - does anyone have any advice? I did uninstall the nVidia drivers and control panel before switching.

    - Noise levels: a very marginal increase in fan noise at idle. However, this is made utterly irrelevant by the incredibly vast difference in fan noise under load. The 8800GT (single slot) is rather quiet at idle, but under load sounds like a jet engine. Comparatively, for the 5770, the difference in noise between fan speed at idle and under load is barely noticeable. (All noise levels are perceived, a highly unscientific measurement, and the increased idle noise may just be due to a slight change in pitch)

    - Installation on the Mac Pro 3,1 (Early 2008) is made slightly tricky due to the fact that the PCI retaining bar doesn't slide as for the newer Mac Pros. The 5770 therefore has to be inserted into the case at an angle to begin with (not rocket science, but worth pointing out).
     
  21. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    I hadn't entirely realised that, thanks. I have to admit, having never flashed a card I am perhaps more cautious than most.

    Logically, a flashed card would cause fewer problems down the road, particularly if it's a carbon copy of the Mac version, e.g. a PC 5870 flashed to be a Mac 5870. However, as I understand it, the native 6870 support under Lion is somewhat of an anomally (a consequence of the support for the mobile 6870 in the iMac) and thefore isn't guaranteed ad infinitum.
     
  22. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    Sweden
    #22
    not really because of the iMac card, but otherwise this is a good description.
     

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