ATI X1900XT + NV7300 / ATI X1900XT *2 Test Results

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Ozy, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. Ozy macrumors regular


    Aug 8, 2006
    Goodyear, AZ
    Let me explain my current setup. I replaced my PC with my new shiny MacPro. I made a seperate thread on this, and wont post the details. I am keeping my custom display setup and wanted Quad LCD's to work on the MacPro, but wanted a fast video card setup to play WoW. The NV7300 is a joke compared to any real video card, so I knew I wanted to get either an ATI X1900XT + NV7300 or two ATI X1900XT's in the system at once. Here is a picture of how it looked on my PC.


    Here are my current findings:

    ATI X1900XT (slot 1- 16x) + NV7300GT (slot 4 - 8x) - FAILURE

    Well, it does and doesn't work. It DOES boot and work for all normal work. But, there are a few funky things going on. The OpenGL system must go into a "compatibility" mode because WoW performance drops by ~30% on the ATI vs when it's the only card in the system. Also, Aperture crashes if its launched on the ATI screens vs the NV screens. I read up and found out that Aperture actually uses the GPU to generate previews for each shot. The app works fine if you leave it on a screen with the NV7300, but as soon as you move it to an ATI screen, it crashes. iMovie Quartz effects also do not work reliably on either screen.

    ATI X1900XT (slot 1 - 8x) + ATI X1900XT (slot 2 - 8x) - SUCCESS Kinda...

    I didn't want to go this route because of the cost, but after spending $6700 so far on the setup, what's another $400? :rolleyes: Everything works fine in this setup. Aperture, iMovie, FCEHD all work perfectly. WoW runs great on the screen's with the Primary slot 1 card. If you move WoW to a screen on the slot 2 card, it runs horribly. This is probably a WoW thing. But I am having random lockups on various things.

    At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. But I am able to reproduce one lock 100% of the time. If I move my SlingPlayer window from a card 1 screen to a card 2 screen or visa versa, the screen would freeze, almost like both GPU's locked up. The mouse cursor still moved, and I could SSH and do all console activity on the box. It would take a "sudo reboot" and shut down properly. Parallels also would cause a random lock even if its just sitting on a single screen. I could not convince myself that it wasn't a HW issue with card 2, so I decided to swap card positions (moved slot 1 to slot 2, and slot 2 to slot 1) and see if the symptoms changed. Now when I moved the SlingPlayer from screens of both cards, the entire MacPro would simply reboot; No warning, nothing... Boom Reboot. I repeated this many times to make sure the crash was repeatable. It was to a certain degree. It would randomly crash and reboot or do a GPU lockup like before. I put my original X1900XT back in, removed my new one, and issued an RMA to Apple. I am going to swap out card 2 to remove doubts about bad HW.

    PS. Bootcamp won't even POST with both ATI cards in the machine. By POST, I mean, if i hold [ option ] and pick my bootcamp partition, it just hangs. I have to remove ATI card 2 before it can boot up. What's up with that?


    Why does Apple not give more video card options? Why can they not give me a Killer 7900 or 8800 Nvidia card to mix with my puny 7300GT so I can have good performance on my primary screen?

    Why does Apple not give an option for a crappy ATI card to compliment the X1900XT so I don't have to waste $400 on a card that will never be used to its fullest extent?

    Is multi-screen (3+) that uncommon on professional computers? It seems the only way one can do this in a supported fashion is to put a ton of crappy 7300GT's in the mac. I've been doing this on my old XP box for YEARS without any issues whatsoever. So far I'm pretty pissed about this whole experience. I will report my results when I get the RMA'd card on Friday.
  2. timb macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    I don't have any of those issues...

    Slot 1: X1900XT (16x)
    Slot 4: 7300 GT (8x)

    WoW plays at over 100 FPS on the main screen (ATI) and Aperture works fine on either card.

    Running a 21" Widescreen DVI LCD on the ATI and two 17" VGA LCDs on the NVIDIA...
  3. Ozy thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 8, 2006
    Goodyear, AZ
    Hmm.. Maybe I need to reinstall OS X and try it from the very beginning.
  4. Ozy thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 8, 2006
    Goodyear, AZ
    I put the 7300GT into slot 4. I put a spare 500GB disk into my MacPro and reinstalled from scratch. I fully patched OS X. iMovie & Aperture still crash as before. I then tried setting my screens just like yours: One on the ATI, two on the NV. I physically detached my 4th screen from the ATI. Same exact results. I even tried reducing my resolutions to match what I assume your setup is using, 1280x1024 on the 17's and 1680x1050 on the 21" Wide.

    Sigh... this is very very frustrating...
  5. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    In response to Ozy's question about Apple and its lack of video cards. Apple uses the poor video card options to keep people buying new Macs. Its time for Apple to start selling to the consumer needs rather then these games they play with video cards.
  6. timb macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    And you're using the 1.2 Firmware?
  7. SMM macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2006
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    I like your political comment, but do not think much of this one.
  8. Neonguy macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2006
    I would like to put a better NVidia card onto the Mac Pro myself instead of the overprice ATI X1900 XT. Not only I think NVidia is better, but in price too. Too bad I'm stuck with the blow dryer ATI X1900 XT and force to use a thrid party cooler. This is the only problem with Mac Pro that it isn't very upgradable like the PC.
  9. timb macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    You could have just bought a PC X1900 and flashed the EFI portion of the ROM to it... That would have saved you a little money.

    You also could have bought a 7800 GTX and installed the EFI emulation software.

    Both are valid and working options. At this point there's not many video cards that support EFI. Over the next year we'll start to see more and more, especially with Vista shipping in January.

    At this point, it's not Apple holding us back, but the video card industry. We're waiting on them to catch up to the new standard. (EFI)
  10. Ozy thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 8, 2006
    Goodyear, AZ
    How can I check? I've applied all applicable downloads for the box.

    Today's Recap

    Because timb above stated he is running the ATI & NV card without issues, I wanted to try again to make this setup work. I had a spare 500gb HD and swapped out my disk 1 with it. I reinstalled OS X from scratch. I had the ATI card in slot 1 and the NV7300 card in slot 4. I did a full install, patched all software, and rebooted a few times as requested. After, I immediately opened iMovieHD and was able to reproduce the same graphics issues with it as I had on my first post. I installed Aperture and was able to reproduce the EXACT crashes by moving it from screen to screen. He said he had three screens, when I had four. So I disconnected one of my screens and setup the same configuration (1 screen on the ATI, two on the NV card). No dice. Next I reduced the resolutions to best match what I thought his 20" widescreen and 17" screens were using. I used 1680x1050 for my 24" and 1280x1024 for my 20"s. Same results. Sling Player still locks or core dumps the OS when moved from card to card screen. Hmmm.

    Calling it quits on that, next I had my new replacement ATI card arrive and I put it into slot 2. All of my iMovie and Aperture issues are gone now, but I was still having a few other issues. Sling Player STILL causes the same lockups as before. I think I have accepted the fact that this application just doesn't play well with multi-card setups, and I'm fine with that. I rarely move it from screen to screen anyway, and if I shut off the playback, move it, then restart it, it doesn't lock.

    During the entire day, I'd experience random lockups. I could be doing nothing, or have everything running. My typical apps consist of iChat, Mail, Safari, Parallels, Stickies, more terminals than you can shake a fist at, and my VPN client to work. I also play WoW, and regularly launch two copies and dual box two accounts. :D

    The lockups were occurring too randomly to put my finger on. I then wanted to start to look at other items that normally can cause random lock ups in the PC world. I rebooted off the OS X install CD an ran the diagnostics. It took a VERY long time to check all 6GB of ram in the extended tests! The test came back with no errors. I booted back into OS X and again, randomly after 10 or so minutes, the box locked again.

    Next, I started RAM swaps to see if the apple test wasn't able to thoroughly test the ram under load and temp. I pulled out all but the OEM ram. Lock. I put in 2GB of other sticks. Lock. Any combo produced a lock. This ruled out to me that there was a bad ram stick causing these reboots.

    My next tests were involving thermals. Hardware Monitor showed that the RAM in the system was pushing 60-70C!! The HDD's were around 40-45C, and the CPU's would hit 60-70C under full load too! No matter how hot the system got, the fans would all stay around 500-800RPM. Following the instructions under , I was able to compile the application and then I cranked all three fans up to 3000RPM. I let the system get pretty cool, and tried again. It locked randomly again. :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

    Next, I wanted to think about the power supply. I have four 500GB disks in my Mac Pro. Disk 1 is a 500GB system disk, and Disks 2-4 are setup as a 1.5TB Raid 0 Stripe. I know that Apple claims the PCI-E slots are defined to have a max wattage of 300W. I found various claims on the web stating that the ATI X1900XT is rated at ~135W. This put me under the 300W rating assuming the 135W is the rating at FULL load. Not knowing what the power supplies rating is, I decided to pull Disks 2-4 out of the system. So far my box has not locked yet. I have a full day's work ahead of me tomorrow. I will put the system through it's paces.

    If the system is stable like this, I may swap back in the NV7300GT with only one disk and see if the iMovie & Aperture problems still persist. This is a long stretch, but it's worth a try.


    I'm thinking of calling Apple to ask spec's on if they "officially" support 4 HDD's and two ATI cards in the system. If this is outside of the power specifications for the Mac Pro, I will upset. If this is the problem, I wonder how many HDD's I can safely run with the two ATI cards. As a worse case scenario, I could get the $1250 3ware external disk solution and put my disks into it. Not a cheap solution when Apple could have put a more powerful supply into their professional line of computers.

    More soon...
  11. timb macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    Oddly, I just tried iMovie HD, and it will not display the movie on the main screen (ATI) but will on the secondary and tertiary screens (NVIDIA).
    I'm chalking this up to Apple just not knowing how to code.

    Everything else you listed seems to work fine though.

  12. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    The Mac Pro's PSU is rated for 980W, so maybe 4 HDDs, two X1900XTs and 2 Xeons is too much?

    Man, you have easily twice as much money to spend on computers as I ever will. I envy your problem (but hope you get it figured out;) ).
  13. Neonguy macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2006

    Flashing is dangerous step and a risk to take. We don't know how well the EFI emulation software work or fully take advantage of the Graphic Card in performance and compatibility.
  14. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    I flashed my X1900 and it works great!

    From what I can tell, the model I bought is better than the one Apple provides. Not only is it clocked higher, but Apples seem to be more prone to failure.

    Time will tell, however.
  15. wsgroves macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2006
    I find it kinda funny as well that the std. card is an nvidia card, and the upgrade is an ati (not counting the quadro).
    I would NEVER run an ati and nvidia card together in a windows setup (granted its windows).
  16. timb macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    Cry more about it? Oh, wait, you are...

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