Graphics upgrade w 2 x dual DVI?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Stephen23, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. Stephen23 macrumors member


    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Hey everyone,

    Once again, this forum has been super great in helping me get info, but I've done some searching and can't find any references to this.

    I use a Mac Pro tower to run large video art projects, running as many as eight or ten video projectors at a time. Due to a logic board crash, I had to jump from my first generation machine, which had 4 of the 7300 cards in it, to an Early 2008 model (2.8 x 8 cores). It came with the Radeon 2600 XT, and I know that's the stock card, which has a lower power useage, and which Apple offered as 4x upgrade with this computer.

    So... now I am looking at how to fill out the rest of these video slots, to get back to doing what I need this machine to do. For bandwidth reasons, I'll move the 2600 card, along with another of the same type, to the #3 and #4 slots, but ideally, I'd like to get something a little newer to run in the first two slots. I've been looking at my various options, and it seems that most of the better cards have three drawbacks - they are likely going to end up being rather loud, with fan noise, most come with one mini-display port, instead of two DVi ports, and many require not just one extra power connection to the logic board, but two.

    I was considering the 3870, but there is a lot of discussion about their fan noise in the various forums, and frankly, if I'm spending money, I'd rather buy something that is at least semi-current. Since there is talk about a 5870 for Mac, I really hate to buy something two generations old. But once I move to the 4870, I have to start dealing with mini-displayport adapters, which is just a pain.

    So... to cut to the chase... does anyone have any recommendations on a card that is relatively new, has two DVI ports, isn't obnoxiously loud, and doesn't require more than one power connector to the logic board?

    One final clarification, I know that fan noise is partially a product of how hard you are pushing the card. The installations I do don't tend to push the video much at all, so while I am running lots of different signals through the cards, they aren't all typically on at once, and they tend to be standard definition movies files, so they aren't things that push the hardware on the cards. In other words, I am not doing anything that should cause the fans to kick up to high speeds...

    As always, any help is much appreciated.

  2. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    The nVidia 8800GT does OK. The fan noise is reasonably low, it has two DVI ports, uses 1 power cable and were made for your 2nd gen MP.

    I realize that these were just dropped by Apple and they aren't exactly the newest thing out there.

    Otherwise, why not just get another HD2600? If you're used to the 7300 it's a far better card and fine for most uses.

    Here's something I came across:
    But that uses both of the power cables.

    It doesn't seem likely that Apple is about ready to drop the MiniDisplay port. Maybe ATI or nVidia will bring out another PC/Mac card like the 3870 PC Mac edition.

    Your other option would be to flash a PC 4870 (or 8800gt) with Mac ROM.

    Good Luck,
  3. Stephen23 thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Hi Keri,

    Yes, I just was looking at the barefeats test site, and found the 285. The game I'm playing, is that I would like at least one high performance graphics card to give me some ooomph when I do heavy photoshop, final cut and motion work. I know that photoshop and final cut don't take advantage of the gpu the way some other programs do, but I use that stuff just enough that a better card would help those real time effects. Also, the program I use to do installations - Qlab, does take advantage of some of the benefits that come with the new cards.

    And while the 7300's served my purposes, I did occasionally push them past their limits. That's why I didn't cry too much about moving to a newer machine with a lot more options in terms of video upgrades.

    I'd say that right now, my best option is looking like 1 of the GTX 285's or Radeon 4870s, and three of the 2600s... of course, I have no idea how much power those other two cards draw from the PCI slot, and if that setup would push me over the 300w power limit. I'd guess that since they are using two power cables from the logic board, they can't be drawing too much power from the bus, can they?

    But I'd still prefer to find something that I could use as a pair, in slots one and two. To get into even more screens than the 8, I sometimes have to use one or two Matrox Triple Heads, and the better cards would handle those better than the 2600s. The 7300s and the triple heads didn't get along well at all.

  4. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    You can't power two 285 or 4870 without doing some ghettomodding (drawing power from superdrive slot) which isnt recommended

    the 8800gt for mac is no longer sold

    the 5870 is a probably a minimum of 6 months away from reaching the mac pro, the only "talk" is from people with no clue.
  5. gugucom macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    I understand you are using eight single DVI screens like in a trading setup. That is going to be a challenge on any of the newer cards. Basically you are restricted to the 3870 Mac&PC and the GT120 using adaptors on the MDP. The 3870 is in principle a misfit because it really should have a proper 2 slot heat sink with heat pipes. Most people who use this card with higher requirements either fit a passive Accelero or an after market dual slot like the Akasa Neo Vortexx. This was the way I did it. It needs one PCIe cable but will pull a lot less than the full load on that cable.

    If you leave the 1 slot cooler on you can run four 3870 but you would have to split the PCIe cables. I believe that is possible within the spec if you do not let the cards do any hard work. Trading would most likely not exceed the spec.

    The GT120 is basically a 9500 if I can trust my Windows device manager. It runs without PCIe power but it would take a 20$ MDP to DVI adapter per card. This is about the same money as a PCIe cable will cost.

    Considering all circumstances you would probably be best served with one flashed PC 4870 (1GB DDR3, 2 Dual-DVI) in the first double slot and three GT120. Apple say that it runs only in 2009 MPs with 1066 MHz DDR3 RAM but OWC say different.

    I tend to believe OWC and do not really see a reason why the 120 should not run in a 2008 MP .

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