GPU for quad displays

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Octogibbon, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Octogibbon macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #1
    Chaps, I'm sorry this is probably a fairly obvious question, but I have spent the last few hours reading endless threads both here and elsewhere and am now no closer to a "simple" answer, and in fact a whole lot more confused! Having spent years on PC this is my first Mac and I'm struggling a little with a lot of the terminology and finding things that were easy on the PC (upgrades for example!) a complete headache.

    I have a mid-2010 12-core MacPro which currently has a Radeon HD5770 installed and is running 10.7.5. After much shouting and endless changing of cables and adaptors I eventually persuaded it to output to three monitors, but I now want four... In a fit of desperation I tried one of the many USB-to-video boxes which was fine in the sense that it worked, but the latency is horrendous and it's really not up to the job.

    So I need to do something to get four monitors up and running. It seems the "easy" way would be to add a second card, however I have no free PCIe slots - quite why the MP has only four is beyond me! In looking at AMD/ATI and Nvidia options there seem to be quite a few cards which have quad outputs but then have smallprint which says on a Mac that only two will work.... not much use then.

    Would something like this do? http://www.scan.co.uk/products/2gb-...pu-1006mhz-boost-1084mhz-cores-1344-dp-dl-dvi - that seems to claim four outputs? But will it melt things?

    The monitors are 2x Dell 24" (1920x1080), 1x Dell 30" (2560) and 1x Samsung 42" Plasma (1920x1080). I don't game on the machine, hell I don't even do email on it, it's purely for A/V work, so whilst I don't care about Cuda this or OpenGL that, I do want to to be able to handle the resolutions above simultaneously and full screen video on any one of the displays. On the other hand if the card that fits the bill happens to be a gaming card, I simply don't care - I just need the right tool for the job.

    The whole EFI / no boot screen thing doesn't seem to concern me - I've never seen a boot screen on this rig other than all the screens going white and it sitting there forever and a day whilst booting, so I'm not sure what I'm missing on that score - mine just sits there for an age and then up pops the desktop.

    So, am I chasing an impossible dream, or is there something amongst the mass of information I have read today (which is now dripping out of my ears) which would fit the bill?

    Thanks in advance, and I'm sorry for the tedium of the question!
     
  2. jenzjen macrumors 68000

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    Aug 20, 2010
    #2
    I have a 7870 eyefinity 6 which has 6 mini display ports. It works fine for me supporting 3 apple 27" displays, but not sure if it will help your monitor setup.
     
  3. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Certainly looks like a brilliant solution, but I'm oddly struggling to find details of what res it'll support on multiple displays - max resolution is high enough for the 30", but it doesn't say if it can handle that plus 3x 1920! Off to google again! :D
     
  4. jenzjen macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Let me know, it is easily supporting 3 at max resolution (2560x1440) and have been thinking of getting a 4th display.
     
  5. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #5
    Will do, all the info I've found so far is for having big video walls for gaming, none of the sites seem to talk about running separate discrete monitors!

    ----------

    Aha!

    http://www.evga.com/articles/00730/#3682

    •Supports four concurrent displays; two dual-link DVI connectors, HDMI and DisplayPort 1.1

    Looks like it requires Mountain Lion though which is a pain as I've been avoiding upgrading.
     
  6. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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  7. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601

    OrangeSVTguy

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    #7
    GT120s are single slot GPUs and require no additional power. Not to mention they are cheap.
     
  8. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #8

    Thank you chap, cheap where from? In the UK they seem to be around £280ish, and only have one digital output? So would I need four of them? Also the notes seem to imply they're for 2009 MPs only, or do they work on the later ones too?
     
  9. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    I see this MacVidCards bunch in LA crop up quite often on this forum, indeed looking at Ebay US they list cards like these as GT 120s - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nvidia-GT-1...918?pt=PCC_Video_TV_Cards&hash=item35c5af789e

    In fact there's more pics here on their site - http://macvidcards.com/nvidia/nvidia-geforce-gt-120/

    Those looks decidedly like 7x and 9x series Nvidia cards? I have a handful of those or similar lying around from my older PCs - can I just slap a couple in and off I go, or am I missing something? Would they need to be matching pairs of can I have two dissimilar models like I did in my PC?
     
  10. sarthak macrumors 6502

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    Canada
    #10
    I had the same question a little while back, I was downgrading from a GTX670 which works nicely with quad monitors. It's quite powerful and is ideal for CUDA, I downgraded to GT120 cards since I'm using portrait monitors for documents so a 670 was overkill.

    I ended up going with 2X GT120 cards. They "run like dogs" with 2x 1920x1080 displays on each card. If you're not doing anything intensive or don't need GPU acceleration they are quite nice, can even play back 4K video quite well (YouTube).

    See thread:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=17057612#post17057612
     
  11. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #11
    Thank you, I'd started reading the thread then lost the plot when it started talking about games!

    That doesn't sound too encouraging - I'd have 3x 1920x1080 and one 2560x1680... the thread does seem to suggest a pair of 8800s might be an option though, perhaps they'd give me a bit more power.
     
  12. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601

    OrangeSVTguy

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    #12
    Wow those "unofficial" GT120s are more than the OEMs (in $US). In Windows a Mac GT120 will read as a 9600GT.
     
  13. sarthak, Apr 4, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013

    sarthak macrumors 6502

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    #13
    GT120:
    The GT120's are rather "SLOW"... switching between spaces is slightly laggy. I am not sure if it's laggy because I'm in portrait (1080x1920) as opposed to landscape (1920x1080). I am driving 4 monitors off two of these cards and they work just fine for documents, playing back video, even basic games like RC Mini Racers (link).

    Get the original Apple GT120's only if you find this criteria to be a requirement:
    - You are going to use the cards as GUI cards and not for processing, really not for CUDA.
    - The GT120's can playback 1080p / 2K video fine (YouTube quality 4K can sometimes be slightly slow, perhaps it's Adobe Flash) and that is all you need, just to play back video nothing more.
    - You need a Boot Screen in case of emergency where you need to get into OS X Recovery.
    - You don't mind occasional slight lag when switching spaces in Lion. (ML is smoother)

    GTX6xx or 5xx series cards:
    I used the GTX 670 (Zotac) and it worked fine with 4 displays connected. I found it to be overkill because I'm using portrait monitors for documents while, a 670 is intended for CUDA or high end gaming.

    You're going to end up spending around $150-200 for 2X GT120 cards. It might be better (if you don't care about the aforementioned criteria) to just get a GTX660 or even a GTX660 Ti.... These are 800-4000% faster than the GT120 (exaggerated slightly). Many have reported success with these cards and the 660Ti is often faster than a GTX580 and significantly faster than a 5770. Be sure to check whether or not that specific model will let you use all 4 displays (with adapters of course).

    These cards do not have EFI and you will not be able to get into OS X Recovery Mode. If you are keeping your Apple 5770 as a second card or a backup... Then definitely get the GTX660 Ti as you can swap the cards to access recovery mode when you do have an emergency. Best value with these cards.

    8800 GT or older:
    The 8800's are 40-50% faster than the GT120 cards (depending on the use case scenario) but are prone to extensively high rates of failure especially in intense heat. Since you will only be able to get a card that is used, it's most likely that it won't last as long as other cards.




    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I guess because the PC versions are "hard to find" or must have low demand (Econ.101). Strange, Zeus (OS X) shows it as a 9500 GT with 512MB of video memory.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Octogibbon, Apr 5, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013

    Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #14
    Thank you MSeth, I really appreciate the help.

    You say you used to use a GTX670 for four displays - they would seem to be about £300, which compares very well to a pair of GT120s or 8800s which second hand would be about £150 each....

    http://www.ebuyer.com/387004-zotac-...ium=products&gclid=CP_3r5bBs7YCFUnMtAodW3IA_Q

    Is any 670 just plug and play? Will they all give me four outputs? Anything in particular I should be looking for?! Then as you advised I would keep the Radeon thing around in case of needing a panicked recovery!

    Sorry for the ream of questions!

    ----------


    Welcome to UK prices :( ... usually dollars for pounds plus a bit, so if you pay $100 we'll pay £120... which is about $180.
     
  15. sarthak macrumors 6502

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    #16
    The 670 works out of the box in Mountain Lion ... It also works in lion once you install the nvidia drivers. That is the same card I have, works just fine with 4 displays. Most models will work, just be sure to get one that is reference design or one that uses 2x 6 pin power...
     
  16. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
  17. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #18

    Great because as I mentioned I'm in no rush to upgrade to ML! Hmmm, this is looking like a tempting option. Any pitfalls I should be aware of - the ones I linked earlier have the 2x 6pin connectors so that's all well.
     
  18. sarthak macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Nothing really other than no EFI.
     
  19. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #20
    Brilliant, I'm almost getting excited now!

    One thought - the mishmash of connectors on the back, are they going to be picky about cabling? With the current Radeon it appeared to be a form of Witchcraft, Necromancy and rude words to get it to work - cables had to be X, adaptors had to be Y and so on and so forth. With my combination of displays, the connectors on the back of those 670s would be fine - HDMI to the Plasma, DL-DVI to the 30" and DP->DVI and DVI-I for the remaining 24"s... assuming I don't have to chase my tail with endless active converters and so on?
     
  20. sarthak macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Sounds about right. You can use any adapters you want but be sure to connect the 30" 2560x1600 straight to the card's DVI port.

    30" 2560x1600 - DVI PORT
    PLASMA - HDMI
    24" Monitor - Other DVI Port
    24" Monitor - DisplayPort -> ?? Adapter

    Should work just fine. See this thread I posted a short time back for visuals on using adapters with single or dual cards.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1554825
     
  21. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2013
    #22
    Thank you so much once again!

    At the moment the trunking has 2x HDMI, 1x DVI-DL and 2x VGA in, I've got DP-VGA convertors and also DVI-I-VGA, so can run with those for the moment.
     
  22. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    #23
    Which driver should I be installing for the 670 under 10.7.5?
     
  23. sarthak macrumors 6502

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    Canada
    #24
    See this FAQ thread by Asgorath on everything about NVIDIA non EFI cards. You only need drivers if you're using 10.7.4, but if you update to the latest 10.7.5, the NVIDIA drivers are built in.

     
  24. Octogibbon thread starter macrumors member

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    #25
    Struck out, none of my "local" (within 40 miles) have one in stock, so will have to order next week....
     

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