Getting my 5,1 ready for Vive VR!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fendersrule, May 21, 2017.

  1. fendersrule, May 21, 2017
    Last edited: May 21, 2017

    fendersrule macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    Hi all,

    I've finally upgraded from a 3,1 in the past week. Specs:

    3.46GHz 6-core
    32GB Ram
    Radeon 5770
    BD-RW Drive
    500GB SSD @ 6Gb/s MacOS
    250GB SSD @ 3Gb/s Windows 10
    Random several TB spinners for Time Machine and Media Storage

    Windows 10 is installed full EFI installed. Runs perfect, not a single hitch in sight.

    First thing is first. As I understand, the Vive needs some USB 3.0 ports. I believe two USB dongles plug into computer. Any recommendations for a USB 3.0 card?

    Secondly, I obviously need to upgrade my GPU. As everyone knows, the Geforce 10-series is a perfect candidate for the Mac Pro 5,1 due to it's low watt TDP. The 1080 pulls 180watts max out of the 5,1's 225 watt capacity. May perhaps be the most impressive graphics card, ever. But it's also $500. I'm kinda wanting to sit in the $200 range for a GPU. The nice thing about nVidia cards is the web drivers, so it's possible to not have to swap cards in order to boot into MacOS.

    From what I can tell:

    980 = 1060. $220. All within the Mac Pro's power envelope and all VR capable. Used 980s go for $200, cannot buy them new anymore. A 1060 is $220. Might as well get a 1060 when it comes to these two options.

    980 Ti > 1070. $375ish. The 980 Ti is outside of the Mac Pro's power envelope, so it's a no-go, even though it's still very immensely powerful, close to the 1080 levels. The 1070 is a solid performer, but the 980 Ti easily bests it.

    AMD cards are for the most part, seem weak. Not only am I after VR, but 1440p gaming is a must. Seems like the RX480 is great for 1080p, but it likely will leave much to be desired for 1440p. But the RX480 can certainly be a candidate because it fits within the power envelop, and it's only $200. The RX580 could be an option too, but the RX5 series seem to be roughly close to the RX4 series. And both of the RX cards seem lackluster compared to the 10-series.

    Seems like it's an odd time to buy a graphics card in some ways. Does anyone expect GPUs to drop in price?

    Next question, has anyone ran a Vive with the 5,1 or am I going to have to be the guinea pig? :)

    I'm planning to get a Vive before Christmas, so I'm trying to do some planning. Not in a rush.
  2. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    Why not just buy a Vive VR approved system?

    The classic Mac Pro is a square peg.

    The world has moved to round holes.
  3. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    I do not think you are correct if you are implying that a 5,1 cannot do VR. And no, I do not want to buy a separate system for VR. THAT is a waste of money IMO.

    You did link something I didn't know. Looks like the Vive doesn't even need USB 3.0.

    So I'm really only a GPU behind.

    Attached Files:

  4. Prince134 macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2010
  5. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

    Jul 4, 2015
    With that old CPU you might not experience much latency problems now but by next year the graphics standards and VR requirements will be higher again.

    Oculus and Vive don't play well with USB add on cards unless each port has its own controller. If all 3-4 ports share the same controller that won't be enough sustainable bandwidth. It will work but the software will throw up red flags.
    --- Post Merged, May 22, 2017 ---
    You are using utilities and VR requirements that are already over a year old. Remember that.
  6. Squuiid, May 22, 2017
    Last edited: May 22, 2017

    Squuiid macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Just buy a Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0 card along with your GTX 1080 and you'll be set!
    (make sure it's the PRO version)
  7. bwinter88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2012
    I am running the Vive great on my 5,1 with a regular 980. Here is my setup.

    Mac Pro 5,1
    2 x 3.33 Ghz 6-core
    96GB RAM
    GTX 980
    Bootcamp on SSD with Windows 7
    USB through CalDigit FASTA-6GU3 Pro

    In the VR world, there is a setting called supersampling, basically it's a hackable variable inside the VR rendering software that increases the rendered resolution before it's resampled for the resolution of the headset. It makes a big difference in terms of eliminating aliasing and just generally making things look smoother. With my 980, I can usually get that number up to 1.3x on most games without losing frames. On a card like the 1080 people start trying out using 2.0x but I don't know if that's stable, usually its 1.5x. 980 can run VR great, you won't be disappointed, but if you do get something like the 1080 that extra power won't go to waste.
  8. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    Great information.

    To me, the 980 or the GTX 1060 is the baseline. But since I'm not in a rush (I have a few months), I'm wondering if it's worth waiting a little while longer to see if prices drop for the 1070/1080.

    Is it worth having the USB 3.0 ports for the Vive? Looks like Vive doesn't even require USB 3.0. Just wondering on that.
  9. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Dec 1, 2013
    Houston, TX USA
  10. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008

    1)Is there an app in Windows 10 EFI that lets you boot into MacOS Sierra?

    2) Is there an app in MacOS Sierra that lets you boot into Windows 10?

    I find myself switching back and forth more often than I thought. Could just be an initial thing. Would be nice to be able to point and click vs have to hold down the Option key. No, Bootcamp in Windows 10 does not restart into MacOS, it just restarts Windows 10.
  11. Prince134 macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2010
    1. boot camp manager
    2. startup disk in preference pane
  12. mwb macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    I have a 5.1 with an RX 480 and an HP Z800 with a GTX 1070, both running Ubuntu 16.04 on dual X5670s. I use the Vive daily and can tell you it's pretty unpleasant on the RX 480 at the moment. I recommend you go for a 1070.

    As others have said, there's no need for USB3.
  13. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    My last sentence though. You're talking about the boot camp icon on the task bar? That just restarts windows. Does not go to MacOS. Do I need to update it?

    Startup disk method...I'm aware of it, but was wondering if there was a faster/more usable method.
  14. bwinter88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2012
    Right-click the Boot Camp icon, and select "Restart in MacOS X" or some similar phrase. It should restart and boot into Sierra.

    I've looked into a faster method of switching to Windows from OSX, unfortunately there is none. This is because Apple added SIP (System Integrity Protection) in recent OSX updates which prevents 3rd-party apps from changing system parameters like boot disk selection. So going through the system preferences is the only way to do it.

    It sucks because for whatever reason all the disks have to spin up before I can make a selection, and when you have four external drives attached, that takes a while, it takes 30 seconds for me just to select my startup drive. But whatever, it's 30 seconds right?
  15. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    K, good to know that there's really not a way in MacOS to switch to Windows. At least not as of yet.

    But yea, switching to MacOS in Windows did not work last time I tried. It just restarted into Windows 10.
  16. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    I've been having this problem of late too, since the 'Creators Update'. I find that just asking it to restart again, after it's done this, puts me back in macOS.
  17. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    The good news is that if you have both OS's loaded on SSDs, it's not that painful. I remember back in the spinner days that going back and forth was a couple minute adventure. Now it's 10-20 seconds.
  18. fendersrule, Sep 15, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

    fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    Purchased an RX 580 Reference. It's just the best all-around card to use for MacOS, Windows, Cost, and VR. A nice balanced blend of everything.

    I'll start sharing some benchmarks of the current state w/ a 3.46 6-core. The first capture is with a 5770. The second is with an 7950. When I get the RX 580 in, I'll post it. I'm expecting about 7.2ish with it.


    7950 OC'd (1050/1395):
    (Realistically I got a 1.6-1.8 at these settings. Score as shown was unstable in other games).

    RX 580 (Factory):

    --- Post Merged, Sep 15, 2017 ---
    For poops and giggles Uni Heaven 4.0 in Windows 10 @ 1440p:


    7950 OC'd (1050/1395):

    RX 580 (Factory)--Incorrectly states that I have 4GB of Ram:
  19. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

    Jul 4, 2015
    Just remember that VR benchmark utility is 2 years old now and newest games already have twice the detail since then. The latest Unigene has a more intense VR benchmark in it.
  20. fendersrule, Sep 20, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

    fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    Superposition with my current 5,1 w/ 7950 OC'd (1050/1395). GPU was 100% utilized in all versions...

    7950 OC'd (1050/1395) Low:

    RX580 (Factory) Low:
    580VRMin.PNG 7950 OC'd (1050/1395) Optimum:

    RX580 (Factory) Optimum:

    7950 OC'd (1050/1395) Maximum:

    RX 580 (Factory) Maximum:

    --- Post Merged, Sep 20, 2017 ---
    Dirt 3 on my current 5,1 @ 1440p:

    7950 OC'd (1050/1395) High:
    DirtWindows_1440 high.jpg

    7950 OC'd (1050/1395) Ultra:
    --- Post Merged, Sep 20, 2017 ---
    Superposition Performance on my current 5,1 w/ 7950 OC'd (1050/1395) @ 1440p @ Medium Shaders/Textures:


    RX 580 (Factory):
  21. fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    I'm adding the MSI Reference RX580 in here as we speak these updates live!
  22. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for the update. It seems the RX580 really helps under High demanding situation. I bet that 8GB VRAM make the difference.

    On the high demanding test. The min FPS from the RX580 almost equals to the max FPS of 7950OC.

    For the low demanding test. The difference is there, but not that significant.
  23. fendersrule, Sep 22, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017

    fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    My observations thus far:

    1) For MacOS gaming, there is NO reason to go to a RX 580 from an R9 280 (aka 7950). MacOS drivers are awful to where the performance is going to be roughly similar. Pretty bad, as I expected more from MacOS.

    2) In Windows, the difference is definitely there, especially high demanding tests. The 580 is up to 60% faster in anything you'd throw at it. Not shown, but I did run a Dirt 3 Benchmark @ 1440p on Ultra and scored 133 FPS. That's 40 FPS higher than the R9.

    3) This blower-style cooler is the quietest cooler I have ever heard from a GPU. Blowers get a lot of bad rap, but this is just amazing. Out of all the benchmarks I've posted, I've yet to hear it. It's over 300% quieter than the R9 cooler was (which was OC'd, though).

    4) Recovery mode did not have drivers for the RX 580 for me. I had to do the blind method to disable SIP after the 10.12.6 update (which interestingly did not show up as an available update), thanks h98!

    5) From what I can tell, the 3.46GHz Westmere has plenty of juice to push the RX 580 to full capacity. There is no bottlenecking here with what Superposition is showing. 100% GPU utilization at 1440p in all quality settings.

    6) It's clear that 10.12.6 "accepts" the RX 580, but doesn't "truly" support it...yet. Your PCI-express tab will show an error. Your card will read as an "R9 xxx" in "About this Mac". And you can tell that Apple did absolutely nothing performance wise from the RX generation over the R9 generation with driver tweaks. Think of it as you're using an 7950 driver for your RX580, which means zero gains. It's plain jane in MacOS for gaming here, folks. Yes, I know it's been that way, but I you'd think with a 50-70% faster card you'd see an increase in MacOS, but no. Again, this is just a gaming perspective.

    All in all, the RX 580 is a solid upgrade if you're gaming in Windows and need VR, and just overall better performance. MacOS seems to run smooth and great with it, but at no benefit over the R9 for gaming. The RX 580's performance in windows is as-expected. Nothing blew me away (aside from the quietness of the cooler). It performed as I expected, no worse, no less. 50-70% faster.
  24. fendersrule, Sep 26, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017

    fendersrule thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    I've started to tinker a little bit to learn more about the RX 580.

    The card is rated at 185w TDP @ 1340MHz. It appears that they are heavy throttlers, at least my MSI RX 580 8G is (which I would assume would be the same for all RX 580 cards). The results that I posted above, are similar to other results on the web. What is going on is that the RX 580's results are likely from 1100Mhz or so average clock speeds for a given benchmark. The RX 480 probably has similar behavior, but probably averages lower than 1100Mhz.

    When you bump the power limit up to +20, you'll then sit around 225w TDP. Your average clock speeds will be more-so around 1250 or so, hitting the rated 1340 much more often. FPS jumps 4-5 FPS across the board in QHD. I verified this compared to the above benchmarks, which is a nice boost!

    The thing I am determining, is I'd like to see what +40/50 does, then dial it backward to see where the cut-off point is for stock clock speeds before it's more power than it needs. But that would be bringing the card above 225w TDP, which might be a bit risky for the Mac Pro (but not really risky for a nice PC power supply). Keep in mind that raising the power limit does not mean that the card will always sit at its new wattage. It just means that you're giving the card access to additional power when it needs it.

    I confirmed that the RX580 needs more power to perform really well. I've confirmed this first by turning the blower to 70% (to keep the card at 60c) for heavy bench-marking, and saw zero gain in performance. This confirmed that throttling is not heat related. I next decided to keep the power limit at +0, and up the CPU clock by 100Mhz, and saw zero gain in performance. So that confirms that the clocks are not reaching their full potential, even at stock speeds (which the afterburner graph also shows).

    As soon as I started playing with the Power Limit, I saw a tangible boost.

    This is Heaven 4.0 at +20 power limit. Keep in mind I was never able to hit 44.9FPS again like when I first posted above (not sure why). When I started this test yesterday, it kept hitting 41 FPS bone stock with no settings (and afterburner killed as the background task). Now with +20 power limit, it's 46 FPS:

  25. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    If you can undervolt the card, the card should perform even better.

    Once voltage decreased, total wattage also decreased, which means the GPU now can free to pull more to stay at higher clock speed.

    Also, less heat, less chance of having thermal throttling. And lower fan noise.

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