Graphics Card Compatibility for Windows/Linux

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jujoje, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. jujoje macrumors newbie

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    May 17, 2009
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm currently looking to buy a new graphics card for my 2006 Mac Pro. I'm not going to be using OSX at all on the computer, only Windows/Linux, so I'm wondering what PC graphics cards I can use on if OSX drivers aren't an issue?

    I've done a search and found a fair few answers, most of which have been more than a little contradictory and have got me somewhat confused. So any clear answer as to what's what on this would be much appreciated.

    As a quick aside, just to explain why I'm doing this, in case anyone can think of a better idea, the situation is thus:

    I work in VFX, primarily using Houdini. The main reasons to switch to Linux/Windows were OSX's lack of support for OpenGL 3 and 4 and the overpricing and unavailability of the new Ati 5870. Also Houdini is just that much snappier on Linux. So this mac pro is becoming a render/work box and I'm going to replace it for everyday stuff with a mac mini.

    Thanks,

    Julian
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    Any GPU that uses PCIe interface should work. Not sure what GPUs are good for Linux though
     
  3. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    #3
    Over the years nVidia has had much better linux performance and support,
    then again I've heard several reports that ATI/AMD is really shaping up these days with drivers for linux.

    I'd go with nvidia anyways, since they have always had the best linux support.
     
  4. jujoje thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 17, 2009
    #4
    That's really good to hear :)

    Just to make doubley sure, the two main things I was worrying about were whether the I have the appropriate power connectors in the mac power the card and what would happen if I got an nvidia card - the whole efi 32/64 only applies to booting in osx I assume?.

    I just want to check that it'll all be good before I rush out and buy an expensive shiny new card...

    Oh and on the linux front my Ati 4870 is currently doing a stellar job, although I suspect nvidia would be better.
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #5
    What is your current GPU? IIRC Mac Pro has only two power connectors so if those are already in use, then you need to get some splitters or take power from SuperDrive etc. Someone else should be able to help you with this.
     
  6. jujoje thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    I've currently got an ati 4870, which is using one power connector. I think I'd probably go with an nvidia cards and remove the ati one. So that shouldn't be an issue. Looks like I should be relatively set :)

    Thanks for you help.
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #7
    Ahh, so you would get rid of the ATI 4870 and only have the PC card in it? In that case, you will be fine because no current GPU uses more than 2x8pin, I think. You will need some power adapters but those won't cost much.

    What GPU are you getting? Or what is your budget?
     
  8. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    #8
    The 4870 is still a very fast GPU, unless you'll get a GTX480 you won't upgrade much
     
  9. jujoje thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Looks like I'm out of luck (I was vaguely suspicious that there was reason I hadn't done this before): the monitor I'd be hooking it up to is a 24" Apple Cinema Display which uses a mini display port. I might be wrong, but I don't think that there's any way I can connect the mini display port from the monitor into the hdmi/dvi port on the video card?

    In terms of games and general performance, I'm still more than happy with the 4870, but with the new release of Houdini pretty much requires a card with 1GB of memory on the card. Aside from plain drawing speed a lot of programmes (particularly Mari and gpu based renderers such as Octane), are all unfortunately using CUDA and thus simply don't work on Ati cards. Which is really frustrating. Oh and the card that I would have been looking at is the 470GTX, since it seems to offer decent price/performance.

    Anyways, this is kinda a moot point if I'm correct on the hdmi/dvi -> mini display port connection. Had a look on google and apples site but the adaptors appear to be from mini display port to hdmi/dvi not the other way around. Have a missed something?
     
  10. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #10
    Just BTW, the 4870 uses two power connectors.

    Check out the Atlona converter.
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #11
  12. jujoje thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    I checked a few minutes before you posted that and, yup, two six pin power connectors.

    The GTX 470 has a display port not a mini-display port. I thought it would be relatively easy to get an adaptor that goes from one to the other (since I think it's just a smaller connector at the end, nothing else), but there doesn't seem to be any straightforward way.

    The Atlona adaptor seems to be the main solution, but it's really expensive here in the uk ($280+).
     
  13. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #13
    Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable costs a whopping 4 bucks.
     
  14. jujoje thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    My google skills are full of fail today: spent a fair while going around in circles looking at entirely the wrong cables. Thanks for the link.

    As Apple decided to build the cable into the the monitor I think it's something like this that I'll need (sadly not 4 bucks, but not too bad). Just in case someone comes across this thread a bit later :).

    Looks like my search for a decent graphics cards at a reasonable price are at an end (I hope): the 470 GTX is.

    Thank you all for all your help.
     
  15. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #15
    I too am thinking about getting the PC version of the ATI HD 5870 to replace my Mac version of the ATI HD 4870 since the apple store keeps saying its unavailable.

    I have no problem with running windows only since I still use mac on my macbook pro at work and am using windows lately mostly for games :p


    However Since I read that 8-pin power connectors are needed, I was wondering if this is really required?
    Can't I just plug the 6-pin power connectoprs that are currently connected to my ati hd 4870 into the pc version of the hd 5870?

    and if not, which specific part connector type) do I need? I have no idea which part nr it has nor do I know which kind of store would have this since its not a common thing, right?

    As for my current specs: I have the mac pro 2009 BTO with ati hd 4870, and I feel duped by apple because the 5870 is out for a year now and I can't have it yet and now AMD is about to release the 6 series :(
     
  16. Mackilroy macrumors 68040

    Mackilroy

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    Jun 29, 2006
    #16
    It's a non-issue - buy the 5870, plug it in, and it'll work. 8-pin connectors are not required.

    Just in case you're doubting me, I ran a 4890 in my Mac Pro that 'required' one 8-pin and one 6-pin and I always used two 6-pin connectors. Didn't have an issue.
     
  17. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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  18. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #18
    That is correct. PCIe slot can provide 75W and 6-pin PCIe power is designed to provide 75W so that would be 75W (PCIe slot) + 2x75W (2x6-pin power) and that equals to 225W. ATI 5870 has TDP of 188W so 6-pin power adapter are more than enough to fulfill the power needs of 5870.

    Just wanted to backup your statement with the technical point of view ;)
     
  19. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Interesting :)

    Will this also be enough for the 5970?
     
  20. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #20
    ATI 5970 has TDP of 294W. However, according to this, 6-pin PCIe power cables can provide more than 75W.

    They would need to provide 109.5W each, hard to say can they do that. It would work since the TDP is the theoretical maximum power consumption but it might not be able to run at full speed. If you draw the power from SuperDrive, then it should work. No idea how you do that though
     
  21. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Hmm, ok, then I'll play safe and get the 5870 :)
     
  22. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #22
    Apparently this seems to be a problem.
    I contacted all the stores in belgium I know and looked even at XFX's site in UK but all models of the HD 5870 1Gb are out of stock or listed as discontinued.

    The 2 Gb model is a bit more readily available, "requires" 1x6 and 1x8pin and as you described should work, however in case I might want to flash it, might not work.

    Plus I can't take XFX's model since it has 6 DisplayPorts and I only have DVI-I :s
     
  23. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #23
    Is eBay an option? Looks like 58xx is being replaced by 68xx and 69xx so stores are no longer getting them. BTW, 2GB version of ATI 5870 has the same TDP, I don't know why it requires 8-pin but you can connect 6-pin to 8-pin connector and it should work. Dunno if the 2GB version is harder to flash but the power won't be an issue
     
  24. incubator01 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #24
    Not really, had bad experience with it.

    The only card that is still not out of stock is this:
    Sapphire ATI 5870 1GB DDR5 (11161-10-50R)
    There is a rom for it but the fan is quite noisy apparently
     
  25. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #25
    It's possible for the cable itself to actually handle more than the 75W rating, but it's dependent on the +12V rails it's getting power from (total load on that rail), if there's sufficient power. In the case of the MP, the PCB traces are important as well, as they're used to move power from the PSU connector to the graphics card connector (mini 6 pin connectors on the logic board/backplane board <one that has the actual PCIe slots on it>).

    So it's not a good idea to expect or attempt to draw more than 75W over those cables in a MP (Hot Air Leveled Solder over the traces will melt, causing a short; this has happend according to at least one post on MR IIRC).

    Fortunately, there is an inexpensive solution if needed in the form of a 5.25" Graphics card PSU (450W), here. For only $20USD, it's not a bad solution, and is cleaner than running a normal computer PSU outside of the system, and having to jump the green and black wires together in order to get it to turn on (but this is still workable, if the user is willing).
     

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