Dual Nvidia GPU Mac Pro Mod

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by biker4mac, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. biker4mac, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018

    biker4mac macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #1
    With no other viable options at the time, I made the following upgrades to a 2010 Mac Pro (5,1) about two years ago - primarily for rendering with VRay. VRay uses CUDA, so the AMD GPUs of the trashcan Mac were of little use and adding Thunderbolt chassis for external GPUs would have just added to the cost.

    So here are the parts and costs - since then prices have come down on a number of these components, so the costs would be even better for the comparisons:
    • 2010 Mac Pro $1900
    • 512Gb SSD $230
    • (3) 4Tb Hard Drives $315
    • 64Gb RAM $320
    • Sonnet Tango 3.0 $80
    • (2) GeForce GTX 680 GPUs $1240
    • (2) Intel Xeon X5690 $500
    • Thermaltake V1 Chassis $30
    • EVGA 750W PSU $113
    • PSU Daisy Chain Adapter $21
    • GPU Power Leads $104
    • Total $4853
    For comparison, a 2013 Mac Pro (6,1) with 12- core 2.7Ghz processor, 64Gb RAM, 512Gb SSD, and AMD FirePro D500 GPUs lists for $6400 – despite being unchanged in over four years. From there, I would still have had to add the additional hard drives ($315), Nvidia GPUs ($1240), and cases for both the drives ($430 - 4-bay RAID) and GPUs ($450 - 2-slot PCIe Expansion Chassis) for a grand total of $8835 – nearly twice the price of my system build.

    Apple released the iMac Pro since my build (12/17). Although it offers options of 8 to 18 cores and up to 128Gb of RAM, it still only offers two (proprietary) AMD graphics options and only 1, 2, and 4Tb SSD options for storage with a price of $5000 to nearly $13,500 fully optioned. To price a somewhat comparable system, I chose the 3.0Ghz 10-core processor, 64Gb RAM, 1Tb SSD, and Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics for a price of $6600. However, similar to the 2013 Mac Pro, I would still be faced with costs for additional drives, GPUs, and enclosures for a grand total of $9035. It would have gained me some speed, double the space on my boot SSD, and saved me the $290.00 cost of one 27” monitor, though (bringing the price down to $8745 and beating the Mac Pro).

    For the most part, the build was plug-and-play including the processor upgrades. A hex wrench, cleaner, thermal paste, and some careful work were all the tools that were required to swap the processors.

    However, to power the two GTX 680 cards, I added an external chassis for the 750W PSU controlled by the Daisy Chain Adapter and running the power leads back into the rear of the Mac Pro case. Others have stuffed PSUs into the optical drive bays or made other modifications, but this route seemed to be that of least resistance to me.

    With the rendering use, the two cards offers better distribution than a single faster card although I'd be interested in comparing it to what is available now.

    Although I have been looking at options to further upgrade the graphics cards, the current premiums caused by the bitcoin situation has that on hold until prices potentially stabilize. I will also likely paint the accessory power chassis to match the Mac Pro tower.

    So here are some images of the final product.

    IMG_2443.png IMG_2445.png IMG_2444.png IMG_0603a.JPG
     
  2. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #2
    That's for the sharing, but the numbers looks very wrong to me. $1900 for a 2010 Mac Pro? Another 1240 for 2x GTX680???

    That's insanely expensive for today standard :eek:. If you mainly need (and can utilise) CUDA, a $400 2009 Mac Pro should be good enough.

    And even my new 1080Ti only cost me $750 last year, which doesn't need any extra PSU to power.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/getting-my-5-1-ready-for-vive-vr.2046670/page-3#post-25429070

    And a single 1080Ti should be faster than 2x GTX680.
     
  3. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #3
    I put this together about two years ago, but just recently wrote up the description and thought I'd share. I made some changes to the original post to reflect that this wasn't built currently.

    I agree - now the costs would be even lower. I'm seeing prices of $1K to $1.2K for the 1080Ti - probably lower prices can be found for that as well, though. I'd be interested in how the render times compare between the single card vs. dual.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 24, 2018 ---
    Doing some online window shopping, here are some current prices:
    • 2010 Mac Pro $1200
    • 512Gb SSD $230
    • (3) 4Tb Hard Drives $315
    • 64Gb RAM $320
    • Sonnet Tango 3.0 $80
    • (2) GeForce GTX 680 GPUs $650
    • (2) Intel Xeon X5690 $500
    • Thermaltake V1 Chassis $30
    • EVGA 750W PSU $113
    • PSU Daisy Chain Adapter $21
    • GPU Power Leads $104
    • Total $3563
    As before, if you did your shopping you could likely lower that further. However, I'm not sure where that $400 Mac Pro is coming from when your 1080Ti is nearly twice that.
     
  4. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #4
    My bad, I didn't realise that you talking about the price that for 2 years ago. That make much more sense now.

    Anyway, this is the yesterday's 1080Ti price directly selling from Nvidia. $699

    https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...graphics-cards.1440150/page-176#post-25918676

    I bought mine about 5 months ago. As per the link in my signature, that's a after market card with triple fans cooler. So, a bit more expensive than the 1080Ti FE. But that really cost me "just" $750 for a new card.

    A $400 Mac Pro with the factory GT120, 640GB HDD, 3GB RAM, single W3520 is not impossible. In fact, quite a few members here got their 4,1 at this price range (or even lower) within this 2 years. And some computer stores in my city also selling used 2009 Mac Pro at this price range.

    But that's doesn't really matter. Price vary a lot on different location. Even we can buy the same item on the net for the same price, but transportation + tax can still make a huge difference. The main point is that you shared the exact hardware require to run dual high demand GPU. We can base on this setup to modify to whatever we want. Thanks for that.
     
  5. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #5
    That was my fault for not stating that when I originally posted.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 25, 2018 ---
    That was more to my point of posting. I see a number of dual GPU threads that went through a number of contortions to fit a second PSU in the optical drive bay or that made modifications to the existing PSU to get everything in one case. For me, the second case for the PSU seemed to make more sense. I likely could have found something more compact, but a rebate on the Thermaltake chassis at the time drove my decision.
     
  6. adam9c1 macrumors 68000

    adam9c1

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #6
    What’s the trigger to fire up the second PSU?
     
  7. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #7
    The Daisy Chain PSU adapter. It takes power-on from the Mac Pro and uses that to trigger the second PSU. You can see it on the right upper side of the third photo.

    Here's a link: http://a.co/27mYbL6
     
  8. Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    SoCal-Surf City USA
    #8
    That’s a very cool mod. Simple & Effective. The great thing is you have lots of power overhead for upgrading your GPUs if you decide to. You can put two or three of any type card you want. I always think it is wise to have more than enough power for your cards rather than relying on the Mac PSU to power everything. If you have more than enough power you will never have power related problems with your graphics card like many people trying to squeeze the power from the Mac PSU. If you do have any graphic card related issues at least you have eliminated the question of “Is it a power issue?”.
     
  9. itdk92 macrumors 6502

    itdk92

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2016
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    #9
    "Expensive" is a very relative concept.
     
  10. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #10
    Definitely. But even without considering the need for a Nvidia GPU (let alone two), the starting costs for a similar nMP or iMacPro are well above what I spent putting my system together.
     
  11. William_si macrumors regular

    William_si

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    Location:
    Croatia
    #11
    Nice thing :)


    You can get dual dual-slot GPU with no slots covered (using 1 and 4+HDD bays) but only with single slot IO GPUs in 4 (RX, 10xx Ti, Titan) (no upper DVI port) but with external power needed (the 700W usable after CPUs are not enough for me, even with cable mod) i did rather go full external, PCIe included.

    Bundled with a case on top and some PLX splitters (Amfeltec Squids for x4, cheaper ones or also Amfeltec for x1) i got:

    - 1 x16 in Mac (slot 2)
    - 2 x4 in Mac (slot 3+4)
    - 3 x4 external (expanded from slot 1)
    - 4 x1 external (expanded from slot 1 expansion)
    - 1 PCIe SSD in slot 1 (left 4th Squid port)

    Sadly it the 4 GPU limit is still very real and i cannot overcome it by EFI mods, so it kind of died out as project for me for now...

    EDIT: Signature is older; see for more recent here:
    https://prnt.li/f/030f3566202a71f2cab038f1b8ba1dd9-aa9ieshae2.html
     
  12. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #12
    I had considered moving the GPUs into the exterior chassis as well - particularly if cooling seemed to be an issue (it has not). The black on black on black in your photos is somewhat hard to follow and see detail, but good to know it can be done if I decide to expand further!
     
  13. William_si macrumors regular

    William_si

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    Location:
    Croatia
    #13
    Yea, ironically the picture quality is - for my phone - really good, but the brightness sucks; i have some other pics i'll get later up :)

    Cooling is for me an issue; i formerly had 3 R9 280X (~250W ea) which are hot cards sadly and my now preferred single slot 1070 is by design very hot also (150W) - the 480s now on top (~150W) would be fine nowadays. Summer can get 38°C (100F) here so even with AC it is hard to maintain ambient below 25°C (77F) in larger spaces (office).

    I was primarily looking to get more PCIe slots overall - Unshared 4 USB 3, 10G (both needing >2.5Gbps so cannot use the airport x1), 2-3 GPUs and PCIe SSDs are just needed to get a cMP up to new tech and with 4 slots you are severely limited (albeit at x16/x16/x4/x4 it is a good GPU centered config over eg. HP/SM at usually N*x8) :/
     
  14. adam9c1 macrumors 68000

    adam9c1

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #14
    It would be cool to get a G5 or another cMP case and install the additional power inside that.
     
  15. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #15
    I do have a G5. However, the Thermaltake chassis is about double the space I really need just for the PSU - although it does nestle nicely on top of the cMP case. That excess space would only be amplified using a G5 case.
     
  16. Surrat, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018

    Surrat macrumors 6502

    Surrat

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  17. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #17
    Thanks for the sharing. May I know which PCIe card you are using? And if this setup can work in the latest 10.13.4?
     
  18. biker4mac thread starter macrumors member

    biker4mac

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #18
    How much did that set you back? I saw new prices for the Quadro Plex 2200 around $10 to $11K.
     
  19. Surrat, Apr 2, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018

    Surrat macrumors 6502

    Surrat

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2014
    Location:
    United States
    #19
    The original new price on the Quadro Plex 2200 D2 was $11999.

    Mine has its original single channel Nvidia host card model P797.
    There was a dual channel host card for the rack mount 4 GPU QPlex or 4 GPU Tesla model.
    You could use that card, to run two QPlex 2200 at the same time using only one PCIE slot.
    Nvidia says not to use two single host cards, and use the dual if you need 4 GPU's.
    The PCIE link cable was available in 0.5 meter or 2 meter lengths.

    Due to having two Accelsior S cards in an SSD raid, I dont have High Sierra on this computer at the moment.
    High Sierra wont install on a software raid.

    With the newest Sierra 10.12.6, all its updates, and newest Nvidia drivers from yesterday, it all works perfectly. The EFI problems and acceleration problems I had before are all gone. I dont know if the Nvidia web driver fixed it, the newest MacPro EFI update, or the Sierra update, but something did.

    (edited for clarity)
     

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