Confused Over Video Cards

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by prairiefire, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. prairiefire macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2007
    I had wanted to get a dual 2.66 with the ATI 4870 card. A client ordered it with the Geo 120.

    One option seems to be to buy an upgrade so here are my questions:

    1. Is there anything I can do with the GEO 120? If I leave it in, will it do anything useful? When you have more than one card in, is their a "primary card"? How does the computer know?

    2. If I buy another card, should I buy the ATI 4870 or the GTX 285? I've been reading about the 285 here. Will installing either of these cards void my warranty and/or AppleCare?

    There seems to be a question as to whether the 285 is "supported" by Apple, whatever that means.

    I do a lot of Photoshop editing and some video -- that's why I wanted the ATI. Suggestions as to what to do will be greatly appreciated.


  2. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    If you have more than one card in, one is the primary card and the other is not used for additional graphics processing (Yet. Maybe in the future. Nobody knows for sure about Snow Leopard yet). I suggest the 4870 for the applications you list, because ATI drivers are better for Core Image (used in Final Cut, etc.) at the moment. It's also cheaper than the 285. However, there are a few ifs here:

    The 285 may get better drivers as time goes on. It also has two DVI ports instead of the one DVI port and one Mini Displayport you get on 's 4870. You can, if you are so inclined, flash a PC 4870 to work on your mac with DVI ports, but that's another process outlined elsewhere in the forums and somewhat less simple.

    In reality, as of right now, the cards won't make a huge difference in Photoshop or video editing, but we all expect that to change as GPGPU becomes a bigger thing.

    Installing cards will not void the warranty or AppleCare, though I do suggest keeping the original card on hand just in case. Leaving the original card in serves no useful purpose unless you want to run more than two monitors. It will increase your Mac Pro's power draw, too.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    1) No. As mentioned above it will only increase power draw. However, when Snow Leopard is released it may become useful...

    2) The 4870 is supported directly by Apple, the GTX285 by EVGA. The 4870 is slightly better than the GTX285 for professional stuff, and the GTX285 is much better for games and such.

    Hope that helps.
    - Michael
  4. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I would buy the 4870, ATI seems to work best under Apple OS.

    Also depends on your monitor set up. The 4870 has a DVI and a Mini Display Port out. If you have the 24" LCD from apple, you must buy the 4870, as the 285 only has dual dvi out, no MDP.

    I have the 4870 and it was simple to install. Runs well under leopard.
  5. prairiefire thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2007
    Thanks to all for the answers.

    Thanks for the thoughtful, clear answers.

    I appreciate your taking the time to educate me and help me out.


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