Bootcamp, Vista, Dual 8800 GFX cards? What are you, crackers?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by manualsaur, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. manualsaur macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2007
    Hello there

    I would like to draw, if I may, upon the collected wisdom of this forum around the use of vista and bootcamp in particular for gaming.

    So a little context.

    1) I'm a relative Mac newbie, I've had one for a couple of years but never really had to get under the covers. All my gaming has been done on a PC and I used my G4 Mac for Pro tools and music production etc.

    2) I have recently purchased a Mac Pro Dual 3.2ghz, currently stock ram but upgrading to 8gb shortly. Runs Leopard, I'm holding off on the latest patch for compatibility with pro tools but hopefully this isnt a big issue.

    3) I am at a cross roads in my gaming! My current PC rig has hit a troubled patch wherein it doesnt run cutting edge games such as Crysis with any level of real playability. So I have to consider what to do next if I'm going to continue playing.

    So the options I'm considering are:

    1) Continue to upgrade the gaming rig, which will cost a fair bit but is of course gaming focused.

    2) Try to build on the uber fast mac I have sitting at my feet, and try and upgrade the gfx functionality therein and run Vista, DX10 and associated games through that route using bootcamp.

    So what I could really do with some help with is on GFX cards! So I know we can get 8800GT's but does anyone know:

    a) How their overall performance compares.. are there overclocked versions available for Macs these days?
    b) I know the Mac Pros support up to 4 gfx cards, but does the Mac Pro manage load across the cards in the same way that SLI cards do? Or is that down to the O/S?
    c) Are the drivers for Vista going to be a problem? I've read probably a dozen conflicting posts on this and other forums - some people have no problems, others have lots.

    Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated. Obviously I'd love to consolildate on my Mac, as I really do love the machine, but I don't want to sink money into 2 x 8800gt's thinking I'm saving on a gaming rig only to find that half the things I want to play don't run or run badly!

    Thanks muchly

    Manualsaur aka Dan
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    There is no adding up of the power of the graphics cards, as kick-awesome as that would be. The only reason for having more than one card in a Mac Pro is to drive a wall of displays.

    Or, if you're like me, to get two midrange cards (e.g., Nehalem's 9800 GT) and run one monitor off of each.

    I'm pretty sure there aren't too many driver issues with Vista and non-Apple cards in a Mac Pro.
  3. Siron macrumors 6502


    Feb 4, 2008
    North Carolina
    You could try putting a modest card (low power) in slot 1 that will be used by Leopard and dropping an nVidia 9800GX2 in slot 2 and use this under Boot Camp for gaming. You would have to have a monitor with dual inputs so you could switch depending what OS you are running. I believe that the limiting factor is that both cards cannot draw more than 300 watts.
    When the price of the 9800 comes down to a more realistic price I am seriously thinking of trying this, as this beast is essentially two 8800GTs in SLI mode on one card.
    BTW the 8800GT runs Crysis okay on HIGH at 1600x1200 but can slow down to a crawl in parts. However I think EA needs to get some decent programmers because I'm playing Frontline Fuel of War and with all settings on Very High at 1600x1200 it plays so smooth with no stutters and the detail is as good if not better than Crysis.
  4. manualsaur thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2007
    Thanks for the initial comments guys.

    Siron, why would it be good to put a standard card in slot one and a gx2 in slot 2?

    Is this because the GX2 wouldnt work under OSX and so you need a diff card for each O/s?

    I am presuming I can keep the default card that is in there if I do this....
  5. Siron macrumors 6502


    Feb 4, 2008
    North Carolina
    Yes you are correct. Mac will not recognize the PC card and will not boot without a Mac video card in Slot 1. That's why you need to switch your monitor input to the Slot 1 card when booting to Leopard (or when holding down the Option key to get to the Leopard/Windows drive option screen so you can boot to XP in Boot Camp) and when XP is up and running switch to the card in Slot 2.
  6. robwillett macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2008
    I have a few questions that I hope someone on these forums can answer for me.

    I have read in several forums, including this one that Leopard will not boot without a Mac video card in slot 1. I am thinking about getting either a ATI Radeon X1900 or a Nvidia GeForce 8800. Both of which are available for the Mac Pro which is my current system. The apple store users had some really horrible reviews for the x1900. This makes me lean toward the 8800GT. Any comments comparing these cards, or recommending one would be appreciated.

    On to my question and the question that Manualsaur had.

    I know it is possible to put two 8800 GT's in a Mac Pro, but will boot camping Vista allow me to run these cards with an SLI configuration? I do not know much about SLI. Is it the OS that manages this configuration? Is the Mac Pro hardware capable of SLI, and strictly limited by the OS?

    "Tallest Skil" said "There is no adding up of the power of the graphics cards, as kick-awesome as that would be. The only reason for having more than one card in a Mac Pro is to drive a wall of displays."

    Does this also mean it does not work in Vista either?

    Siron, had the suggestion of putting a 9800GX2 in the second slot and using it with windows strictly for gaming. Has anyone done this? Are there driver issues for this card on boot camp?

    Any answers to these questions is GREATLY appreciated.

  7. robwillett macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2008
    Contrary to what some people have posted here and what Apple sales tells you, the Mac Pro is not capable of supporting Sli per nVidia.

    Please see their knowledge base concerning this and it's very clear. If you know how Sli works and the requirements for it, you need a motherboard that supports Sli video, which the Mac Pro does not have.


    Is SLI configuration on the Geforce 8800GT supported on the Apple Mac Pro?


    No. SLI requires an SLI capable motherboard, so SLI is not supported on the Apple Mac Pro in Mac OSX, Windows XP or Vista (using Boot Camp) operating systems.


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