Best Mac Pro Graphics Card? (for StarCraft 2)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Cyprus Sinner, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Cyprus Sinner Suspended

    Jul 28, 2010
    Hi guys,

    - I have a 2008 2.8 Quad-Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro with 6 GB of ram and an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT card

    - I just bought Starcraft 2

    - I figured that my setup would run the game fine, but I was disappointed to find out that I can't even run the game on medium graphics settings without getting a choppy framerate.

    - What would the best graphics card to buy be if I'm trying to run this game at high resolution on a 23" monitor with the best settings (called Ultra in game)?

    Thanks for any help!
  2. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I will NEVER in a MILLION years admit that I was standing in line at the West LA Best Buy at midnite 2 nights ago to get this silly game.

    But answer is same as if you were running any other 3D app.

    GTX285 if you have 2008 or newer.

    4870 1 Gig if older.

    5770 or 5870 (perhaps) if you can wait.
  3. REM314 macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2009
    The best graphics card would be the latest one Apple has released for the PRO. The 5870 I believe. Also I would play it in Windows to get more performance.
  4. bobpensik macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2003
    Calgary, AB
    I'm in the same boat as you. 2008 2.8 Octo with 2600XT and looking to upgrade my graphics card. I've been playing SCII on my 20" at medium settings and it works okay, but I want to go to Ultra

    Would a Mac 4870 be able to go to Ultra settings? or is it best to wait for the 5870 or buy the 285?

    The 285 (and presumably) the 5870 are well over $500 CAD, while one can find a Mac 4870 for under $400
  5. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    The card isn't released yet. They ship as BTO options with the 2010 Mac Pros in August and there has yet to be indication (that I know of) of the 5870 being offered as an upgrade kit.

    The fastest "official" card currently available for a 2008 MP is EVGA's GTX 285. And it ain't cheap ($450 US).
  6. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    When out, get a 5770 or 5870. Don't get any nvidia cards. Why? Because at this point they are old generation. 5770 & 5870 have DX11 and latest OpenCL, vs GTX285 which well, it's no longer worth it in 2010, perhaps in 2009
  7. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    If you can, wait for the 5870. It really is amazingly fast in OSX. I'd strongly advise waiting if you have a 30" or 27" Apple display.

    I haven't bought the game - always preferred C&C to Starcraft but may give it a shot at some point when I get the time. Just spent the last couple of weeks playing Mass Effect 2 to death though so I'm feeling a bit gamed out!!
  8. hualon macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
    I have a Early '08 MP with the 8800GT installed and was disappointed in the performance on SC2. I'm running a 30" display also so I'm sure THAT has a lot to do with it!

    I've never upgraded anything except the RAM in my MP. Where do you suggest buying the 5870 Mac edition when it comes out next month? Is this the thing that you suggest getting from Apple or maybe OWC instead? Thanks!
  9. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I'm guessing it'll only be available from Apple at launch. No idea about the price though.
  10. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Struggling to play with an 8800.

    I heard 10.6.4 is causing issues. Trying a reinstall of 10.6.4, and then rolling back to 10.6.3.

    ATI graphics cards are not supposed to have issues (sadly, the 2600 is just slow), so I may be jumping ship from NVidia after this disaster.
  11. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Ah yeah good point. 10.6.4 killed nVidia graphics card performance so much so that Valve announced a warning through their Steam app suggesting people don't update.
  12. cured.not.dried macrumors member

    Nov 23, 2008
    By saying that did you not just indirectly admit to doing so? :p

    I did the same thing at my neighborhood gamestop, bro. Gamer nerd party FTW!

    as far as the thread topic is concerned, a gtx 285 actually performs similarly to a 5870 in windows at SC2. but that's just until ATI can release a catalyst update to optimize performance, and blizzard can release an update making the game run threaded.

    that being said, do you really want to get an older card just for one game that hasn't even been updated yet? personally, i'd plan ahead and get a card that supports more rendering options (dx 11 and opengl 3.1 & 4), has a more forward thinking core architecture (more streamer cores, better performance at lower clock speeds, less heat, less power draw) and can also work in the mac os in the near future. call me an ATI fanboi, but i'd go with a 5870.
  13. bobpensik macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2003
    Calgary, AB
    I bit the bullet and bought a Mac ATI 4870 and I am happy with it's performance for SCII

    I was going to wait for the 5870, but considering no one knows when it will come out or how much it will be I figured the 4870 would probably hold up for a while.

    I have a 20" ACD, and I have everything maxed (Ultra) except for texturing which is set to high and the game plays with no issues at all and looks awesome
  14. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    The strange thing is last night everything suddenly smoothed out. Even the pre-mission stuff was all smooth.

    Missions are normally playing smoothly, but on average, the pre-mission stuff is nearly unusable unless I switch to windowed mode. Except for that bizzare period of workingness last night.
  15. Macmenace macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2007
    Redmond, WA
    I'm running Starcraft II on my 2006 Mac Pro with the configuration in my signature. I'm also using 10.6.4

    In order to get the game to run between 30-60 fps I need to have my settings at this configuration:


    Is this typical? If I set my shader settings to medium the frame rate falls to around 10 fps. Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 run way better and at high settings. It doesn't seem like a game like SC2 should be this taxing?
  16. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    According to your sig, you're running an NVidia 8800 GT. As noted in this thread already, the NVidia graphics drivers are bugged and will not play Starcraft 2 well.

    Not much can be done about it at this point. Sometime NVidia will get around to fixing it. I'm in the same boat myself (will be buying a ATI 5870 and getting out of this NVidia mess.)
  17. teeck2000 macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2009
    This game relies heavily on the CPU and memory as well. On my Mac Pro 2.8 octo with GTX 285 in windows my FPS is about 40-46, and dips to 30-36 and goes to like 15-25 when it gets very heavy. Ultra Settings 1920x1200. I pulled my GTX 285 out and tried it in a cheapo PC I built with a core i3 530 2.93 ghz for like $300 and BAM, 76 FPS, same settings, dipped down to 60.

    OS X is useless at this point for gaming though, cause in windows I get 46 FPS and in OS X I get 22, same settings, kind of lame.

    Although I have to say that I did OC the i3 to 3.5ghz, but come on it was like 2 seconds and stock cooler. Pretty crazy how much more the cpu affects it, but understandable, 3 year old chip.

    I am building a core i3 that cost me in total $370, and just going to put my GTX in it and put my old 2600 HD back in the Mac Pro. Perfect gaming machine.
  18. onesixright macrumors member

    May 28, 2007

    Got a :apple: 2006 2 x 3Ghz (quad core), with 5 Gb and just installed a 4890HD (1GB). Everything running on medium, seems ok so far. But just started....

    For those who are interested, Settlers 7, seems to be running also a hell (!) of a lot better! My revious X1900 :cool: was a total drag...

  19. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Odd. I'm running with the same settings in OS X with a GeForce 8800 using the 10.6.3 drivers with no issue. Framerate holds pretty steady, I'd say it's likely not dropping below 20 or 30.

    The OS X version, at least, seems to have some pretty heavy multithreading. Maybe the Windows version doesn't?
  20. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    ATI makes sense now Apple have plumped for them.

    I've used a lot of Macs over the years and their GFX cards has swapped make practically every time:
    iMac G3 233 mhz ATI rage pro turbo 6mb then Voodoo II 8mb added.
    iMac G4 800 mhz Nvidia Geforce MX2 32mb
    iMac G5 2 ghz ATI Radeon 9600 128 mb
    Mac Pro 2008 ATI 2600HD 256mb, Nvidia 8800GT 512mb, ATI HD4870 1gb

    All the iMac cards were underpowered crap compared to PC equivalents due to underclocking and mobility spec design, only the Voodoo II kicked any ass back in the day. Unreal Tournament was mindblowing on it !

    In the Pro, I hated the 2600HD, loved the 8800GT till WoW made it struggle with WotLK, now I really like the 4870 for it's gutsy performance even 2 years after it was originally designed. It's the equal of the HD5770 currently being sold by ATI and the new basic card in the new Mac Pro.

    If you can't wait for the 5870 issue which may take longer than we all think, I would say get a HD4870 and use Apple's current preferred desktop GFX card vendor.
    I will road test SC2 on it, as soon as I can install it, then post some stats for you.
    Nvidia are yet to get their fingers out of their butts to fix their OS X woes so it's a "no-brainer". Mature ATI drivers, GDDR5 memory and fantastic cooling.

    Buy a Sapphire based PC version of the 1gb HD4870 for $200 and follow the flashing instructions on this forum, job done. :D
  21. TSchiewe macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2008
    I've been playing SC2 this week as well. I had an 8800GT but upgraded to the GTX285 a few months ago (my 8800GT died on me so it was bittersweet lol). My other specs are in my sig. Oh and I installed SC2 on my regular HD, not my boot SSD.

    Anyways, I can run nearly everything on ultra. I ended up turning a couple things down to high after a few days because the frame rate got a little choppy at one point - I was also running some stuff in the background at the time too and turned those off as well. But I really like the GTX285 and SC2 looks terrific on it.
  22. bilbo--baggins macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    If/when a 5870 upgrade kit becomes available it's surely going to be ridiculously expensive. In the past I've been shocked to see that the hot new graphics card I've just paid an extra £300 BTO is available for PC's for about £70. Looking at the 5870 for PC's its about £300 - does this mean a Mac 5870 upgrade is going to be more like £1200?

    Or is it that this time Apple isn't quite so far behind as they were in the past (in terms of graphics card, I mean I'm not talking about the lack of USB 3 etc.).
  23. Gloor macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2007
    What is your screen and resolution?
    I have 30" ACD and I doubt I can play everything on ultra with 2560x1600 :(
    I do plan to get 5870 when they make it available for purchase (unless its extremely overpriced)
  24. TSchiewe macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2008

    Oh yah, I guess that would make a big difference. Totally forgot about that factor. I run two 20" ACD's instead of a 30".

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