cMP video card upgrade mostly for 4K

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by austinted, May 24, 2015.

  1. austinted macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    There is lots of great info posted on the video card topic, but I still wanted to solicit some thoughts on my particular situation.

    I have a 2010 Mac Pro upgraded with dual 3.46GHz X5690 CPUs and it's been running well for 6 months now. I am in need of a new display and a 4K display seems to make the most sense at this point. However, this will require a video card upgrade.

    My primary performance hungry apps are FCPx, Premiere, and Photoshop. No gaming. Whatever improved acceleration I can pick up is icing on the cake. It doesn't need to break any world speed records. I was looking at the 7950 simply because it seems pretty well vetted out at this point.

    It would also be easy to consider the 7970, but I'm concerned about power consumption when the system is running flat out for hours at a time. I want an option that keeps me within reasonable power limits and the 7950 seems to be within that envelope, while the 7970 might be a bit too much given the CPU upgrades already in the machine.

    I wanted to get some input here as to whether 7950 was an ok choice given my usage and concerns.
  2. IowaLynn macrumors 65816


    Feb 22, 2015
    Any GPU is going to be one that uses one or two independent 6-pin power cables.

    You left out the GTX 960-980.
  3. mugwump macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2004
    The 750ti does not need additional power, runs 4K, performs well with FCPX and has cuda for Adobe products.
  4. Arron Rouse macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2010
    Chichester, UK
    I managed to get a Sapphire 7950 Mac Edition on sale at a third of the retail price. And have largely regretted not paying out for a decent card ever since. The 7950 has all kinds of problems. I recommend that you pay the extra for a flashed 7970 or an Nvidia card.
  5. austinted thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Decided on MacVidCards 7950 and a Dell P2715Q. I decided on the 7950 since it's in the 200W range and has a good set of outputs. We'll see how it goes.
  6. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    Aside from occasional text box lag in Yosemite, I've been very happy with the 7950 alongside my 1080p + P2415Q. Only issues I had were at the very beginning, fiddling with cables initially to get picture (the order the monitors were plugged in to the mDP made a difference for some reason.)
  7. ShawnF macrumors regular

    May 10, 2014
    I have a 7950 myself (in a Mac Pro 5.1 running OSX Mavericks) and was thinking of getting a 4K monitor. Can share your experience - OSX version, any issues like UI lag, artefacts, etc?

  8. austinted, Jun 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    austinted thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Overal, 4K suppor
    My 7950 from Macvidcards arrived today. Everything seems to be working so far. Too soon to tell whether there will be any display sleep issues or anything like that. I have two 4K displays attached - a Dell P2715Q and a Samsung U28D590. I also have a third Dell 2408WFP 1920x1200 display attached.

    I ran into a couple surprises that were slightly disappointing, but easy to sort out.

    First surprise was no 4K EFI boot support, which means that the 4K displays have problems during the initial boot screen when in DP1.2 mode. This is no fault of the video card and is apparently an EFI limitation. If the Dell is set to DP1.1 (MST secondary) it will boot fine. The Samsung doesn't seem to have such a setting. My solution was simply to plug the 4K displays into a power strip. I cut the power to the displays during boot, which sends the boot screen to the 2408WFP. Once I get to the login screen I power the 4K displays back up and all is good. Not exactly elegant, but it works.

    My second surprise is that Yosemite does not show the typical retina display options for the two 4K displays (i.e. best for retina, more space, etc). When I plug these displays into a Macbook that supports 4K via dp1.2 I do get this option. My solution was to use switchresx to put the 4K displays into 2460x1440 HiDPI mode. Not sure if there is better way around this, but it works.

    Fan noise of the 7950 seems more pronounced than my old 5770, but not objectionable. The 5770 made not noise while the 7950 has a mild whisper like a case fan. I have no idea what is normal for the beefier video cards.

    Overall, 4K support isn't exactly clean, but is working and looks very nice.
  9. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and hope your enjoying your new setup. Just some clarifications. When you are using the DP1.1 ( MST ), are you only at 30Hz instead of 60Hz? And I understand that with DP1.2 mode, you get 60Hz refresh rate?
  10. ShawnF, Jun 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    ShawnF macrumors regular

    May 10, 2014
    Very nice. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    In the end, I decided on a 1440p monitor with a wide color gamut instead. I got the LG 27MB85Z monitor and it has done quite well in my color-managed workflows. Plus it has USB 3 AND 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports - so a bit of future-proofing there should I ever upgrade to a Thunderbolt equipped Mac in future.

    Would also love t o hear 4K user experience from people running AMD 7970 on their system.

  11. austinted thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    That's correct, with DP1.1 it's a 30Hz refresh rate.
  12. AmanO macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2008
    Mac Pro 4,1 6 core 3.46, 16 of 1333. GTX970
    What did you pay for the 7950? How much VRAM? Is there a reason you and others did not go with an Nvidia solution? I am liking my 970 and it takes less power than my 7970. I did get a pretty good deal on both, though.
    Running 4k, I figured you would want VRAM first and other specs second. Maybe that is only a big deal for games.
  13. austinted thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    After exploring all of this I'd agree that a high quality 1440p monitor is something that shouldn't be automatically dismissed. I was able to compare the Dell P2715Q and Samsung U28D590 to a 27" Apple Cinema Display. Although it's not 4K, the Apple display is an IPS panel and far superior to the Samsung for critical work. I noticed the Samsung lacking in viewing angle consistency (just moving your head back and forth can be an issue) and lacking in highlight detail. As an office/work display it's fine. The Dell display faired better although the Apple display might still have just a hair better highlight detail in my crude comparison. (Of course the 4K resolution is quiet a benefit for resolving detail.)

    The wide gamut displays can be important for certain work and to get a wide gamut IPS 4K display is still pretty cost prohibitive. So 1440p would be the better way to go for a lot of people. I don't need wide gamut for what I do as I rarely do print work. The Dell 2408WFP I have happens to be a wide gamut display and it has done nothing but drive me crazy since I've had it - partly due to being a PVA panel and partly due to color management issues in some applications.
  14. austinted thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    You can find the 7950 on

    3GB of VRAM. I went with the 7950 since I was pretty sure I wouldn't have to mess with drivers. Maybe the same is true for some of the nvidia cards. I dunno. I didn't go with the 7970 since I was concerned with power consumptions. Net I was trying to find something as hassle free as possible and this was my best guess.
  15. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    I just bought a 280 because the entire Mac line is now AMD and the last computer that could have it's graphics card changed shipped in 2012. At this point we're going to be relying on nVidia support only and I question how long that will last with MP now being 3 years old and a small market on top of that. It may last a long time but that question mark is just to big for me to drop money on nVidia.

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