GPU setup for maxing the number of Display Port outputs on a Mac Pro 2009 in OS X

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ngingric, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. ngingric macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    The Desire
    I have a 2009 Mac Pro. I want to drive, in OS X and Windows (Linux would be great as well), at least eight 15.4" retina displays at 2880x1800 that require display port input.

    Current Setup
    Currently I have two ATI Radeon HD 5770 cards and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 installed. I am able to drive 8 displays in OS X and Windows.
    The ATI Radeon HD 5770 cards currently appear to have no issues driving the 15.4" retina displays at 2880x1800 in Windows 8 and OS X 10.9.
    Currently the first 5770 card sits in slot 1, not blocking anything. The second 5770 card sits in the second slot blocking the third slot. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 card sits in the fourth slot.

    The Problem
    My problem is that I cannot physically install four ATI Radeon HD 5770 cards without modification due to the cooling fan.

    Three 5770s?
    My current plan is to hack the second part of the bracket off a third ATI Radeon HD 5770 card and draw power from the SATA ports for the PCIe 6 pin connector.
    This would potentially solve my physical and power issues, but only gets me 6 display ports total.

    Four 5770s?
    I was thinking about modifying a fourth 5770 card and the 5770 card in the second slot by removing the fan, removing the extra bracket, and replacing the heat sink with some water cooling that could be physically placed to not block the adjacent expansion ports. Then powering the extras with a second power supply.
    The end result would be four 5770 cards that can boot into OS X and drive 8 display ports at 2880x1800. But it seems like quite a bit of hassle.

    Alternative Solution
    I have an AMD FirePro W600 that works great in Windows in the Mac Pro. But I have not found an EFI upgrade for he card. I am hopeful that the support for the FirePro in the new Mac Pro would mean my W600 would have no driver issues once the EFI problem was resolved.
    I would love to use two cheaper VisionTek 7750 Eye 6 cards.

    After reading this thread I was disappointed to only find two nVidia cards with multiple display ports on newegg: HP GeForce GT 630, HP A7U59AT. And neither card can push 2880x1800.
    Found the PNY VCQK2000-PB Quadro K2000 at MicroCenter, does anyone know if it would work in OSX without modification?

    Picture of 15.4" Retina Monitor 2880x1800 Display Port input

  2. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
  3. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    Do you have a source or reference link for the card?
    I have not been able to find a XFX 5770 single slot with two display ports on Newegg, Amazon, MicroCenter, or EBay.

  4. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    There were indeed XFX 5770 single slot cards, they were Eyefinity cards. They are long gone now.

    In this thread someone gets 10 monitors going using two 5770 Eyefinity cards with 5xMDP outputs each, a dual-slot Powercolor and a single-slot XFX.
  5. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    Very exciting info, thanks for the link to that thread!
    It seems I just need to track down two 5770 or 5870 Eyefinity cards.
  6. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    There's a 7870 eyefinity 6 that has 6 mDP outputs but requires 2 6pin power, so you'd have to get more power to run 2 of these cards, but then you'd have 12 mDP ports.
  7. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    Can anyone confirm that following is true:
    As expected I could not track down a XFX HD-577X-Z5F3 eyefinity 5 nor even PowerColor Eyefinity 5.

    I did however find a ATI Sapphire HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition Graphics 2GB and a Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 5870 (GV-R5876P-2GD-B) 2 GB Eyefinity X6.

    If I understand correctly, I can throw two of the 5870 Eyefinity cards into the Mac Pro, unmodified and without an Apple Card installed, and boot dark into OS X. Before I drop the money, I was hoping someone could confirm these cards work in this manner since they are not cards that I have found anyone specifically mention.



    I have seen the 7870 Eyefinity 6 cards and some 6870 Eyefinity 6 cards. Do you know what is needed to get two of those cards working in OS X? What do I need to resolve the power issue, and what about the EFI booting and driver issue in OS X?

    I intend to resolve the power issue with the following: A SATA to 6 Pin PCI Express cable or a Dedicated Graphic Card and CPU power Supply

    EFI/OS X
    But the big concern I have is getting the 7870 Eyefinity 6 cards to work in OS X. What modifications are needed to get the cards working? Can I flash the ROMs with EFI and get them booting without modifying files in OS X? Can I just modify something in OS X and get the cards to boot dark and work in OS X? Or by any chance will they boot dark in to OS X without me tinkering with something in OS X? I am running Mavericks if that is of any concern.

  8. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    Take a wander over to and ask if 2 x AMD 7870 will run all ports in Mavericks. They will likely have tried that by now.
  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Another alternative is to use an external PCIe expansion chassis.

    I'd much rather have two eyefinity cards of course, but it's just another possible solution in case you can't find suitable cards.
  10. netkas macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    Hmm. Does normal user can get access to such retina displays...
  11. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    Or you could use a 7870 plus a gt120. This way, you'd have boot screens plus no need to draw extra power.

    The 7870 alone works fine in Mavericks as long as you are ok booting dark. It required no flashing or OS tweaks.
  12. ngingric, Nov 5, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013

    ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    I will be scouring those forums this evening and report back my findings, thanks!
  13. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    Interesting idea!
    I found some references in other threads, but the price has put it lower on the list of options.

    With no PCIe expansion directly available in the new Mac Pro, I am looking at this to drive my monitor array over Thunderbolt in the future. Plus I should be able to hook it to my MacBook Pro as well.
  14. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013
    Yep, I have purchased some from eBay and other from Ali Express:
    "A1398 LCD Assembly Display", it is the top half of a 15" Retina MacBook Pro.
    The cost from $200-$250 used to about $350-$450 with shipping.


    I was really hoping that would be an option, but I worry after reading what jkheit says in this thread about the 57X0 Eyefinity cards have issues along side Apple cards:

  15. ngingric thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2013

    I have managed to drive 12 displays via DisplayPort in OS X from a 2009 Mac Pro! Thank you to everyone who provided insight!

    Current Solution
    I grabbed two Eyefinity 6 VisionTek Radeon HD 6870 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E Video Graphics Cards off E-Bay. Each card has two PCI-e power inputs on the card. I used a PCI-E splitter to provide power to each card from a single PCI-E power supply on the motherboard.

    The solution boots dark (no apple boot menu or EFI changes yet to the cards) and works in OS X 10.9.

    I had only planned on getting 8 display port monitors to work, but figure since I can possibly drive 12 with the solution I would give it a shot. I attached an image of my test to this post for fun. I grabbed 4 27" DisplayPort Apple Cinema Displays to add to the two I already had on my desk, plus 4 custom built 15" 1920x1200 HDMI displays, plus two of the 15.4" MacPro retina displays I am prototyping for a total of 12 displays.

    Display Arrangement Issues
    One issue I observed in OS X was that under the System Preferences -> Display -> Arrangement window I could only see 10 displays. I was given 12 Display windows to change the Display options for each display, and the screens were detected and driven, but I could not arrange two of the displays. I wonder if Apple just never expected more than 10 displays and never tested the option. In Windows 8 this is not an issue, under Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Display\Screen Resolution I am able to see and arrange all 12 displays.

    Power Consumption Concern
    From what I have gleaned the Mac Pro provides 300W on the PCI-E bus for the four PCI-E slots, I assumed that is shared across the four ports. In addition the PCI-E 6 pin power ports on the motherboard are rated at 75W apiece. At worst the 300W is divided by four and the rating is to be slpit evenly across the four ports at 75W a piece, limiting the minimum safety power draw for each GPU to 150W. At best the 300W can be drive safely to one card and split as needed along the bus giving each card a maximum of 225W a piece at full draw.

    I could not find specific power draws at maximum for the specific cards, but I found two tests of 6870 class cards I would assume would represent the cards I am using:,10.html

    The results suggest that the 6870 cards at full load would be under 150W a piece, within my minimum max safety limit. I would love to get a power meter on the PCI-E bus power source in addition to the PCI-E power connector and test one card in the system to see if I am pushing 150W or 225W. I would also love to trace the PCI-E power bus to determine if 300W is shared across all four slots and available to a single slot.

    But for now I am not sure it is worth my time. If anyone things I should be concerned and has a suggestion for testing, please let me know.

    I also tried to use a dual SATA Power to PCI-E 6 pin power, but it failed to grip the SATA power connectors on the motherboard to my satisfaction. I am not sure I consider that an option since it may come loose in the case. I was disappointed because this would afford me another 75W a piece power capacity by my calculations, 75W per SATA power port by the SATA specifications.

    This is not a gaming machine, plus the 6870 is not the most powerful card out there anyway, but I would not mind being able to push it hard if I wanted to. For now I will just watch for smoke from the case...

    My next objective is to see if I can get EFI installed on the Eyefinity 6 VisionTek Radeon HD 6870. However it is not a super high priority. I have two Apple official GT120 cards and two 5770 cards if I need to see the boot menu. However I would love to sell off some or all of those cards to fund other projects, so an EFI mod is appealing.

    In addition to the EFI mod my focus is on getting more MBP 15.4" Retina displays working. I have two boards that convert the eDP to DisplayPort and control power to the backlight, and 6 more boards on the way. I need a proper mounting solution for the boards and the display. I was only planning on 8 15.4" Retina displays, but with the 4 additional display ports I may keep my four 15.4" 1920x1200 displays around for a twelve display wall.

    OS X and Windows both allow the 15.4" Retina displays to be driven at 2880x1800, however OS X does not offer the same controls that my MBP Retina offers. The MBP actually will not drive the display at a 2880x1800 resolution in the directly one-to-one, it instead drives the screen at 2880x1800 but displays the content as if it was 1920x1200. The result is text and menus are big enough to read on a 15.4" screen, but have 2880x1800 retina sharpness.

    In contrast driving my modified screens from the display port does not induce this special scaling option in OS X, I can drive the displays at 2880x1800 and squint, or I can drive them at 1920x1200 or lower and give up the sharpness.

    In Windows I can set the screens to 2880x1800 but set the display item size from small to medium or large, as a result I get the retina sharpness but large elements just like the MBP Retina in OS X does. The only issue is that Windows does it across all screens, not individually like the MBP Retina option in OS X.

    I would love to trigger OS X into treating the display similar to the MBP Retina screen, and get Windows to allow individual screen item sizes so I can mix screen and resolution sizes.

    Attached Image
    Sorry the desks were in my way keeping me from getting a better shot, and the 27" Cinema displays take up a lot of room. Once I get the retina displays setup I will post a better picture.

    Attached Files:

  16. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    This is an interesting project and I appreciate that you came back to do a followup.

    I believe the application "Hardware Monitor" will provide you with the power draw numbers you are looking for, on OS X anyway. My only complaint with it is that the labels for slots and aux power lines appear to be mixed up.

    What is all this for, if you don't mind saying?
  17. jkheit Guest

    Aug 27, 2010
    This is really interesting. I assume you got the two 6870's to work with no driver/bios updates? Good to know. I couldn't get two 6770's working (which are single slot cards by XFX, but I might give them another try on a fresh install of 10.9).

    I did get two visiontek 7750's working. These are great cards in that not only are they single slot cards, they don't even require extra juice, the slot supplies all they need. However, everything worked, but there were some artifacts with the in 3d work. I might give that another try, but right now, the xdx 5770's have absolutely no artificating.

    Have you noticed any artifacting on the 6870's?

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