iMac possible with a GTX 970?

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
1,252
652
Hey folks,

first of all, do not crush me because of the suggestion of including a desktop card into an iMac. I'm well aware of the fact that until now, we "only" got mobile variants of NVIDIA cards in our iMacs (still clinging to the GT650m one). But I thnk that may change with the next refresh.

I just dug around the Webs and found the review of NVIDIAs new GTX 980. The TDP is only around 165 watts, whereas the GTX 970 comes down to about 140 watts.

So here's the question: With the current iMacs TDP'ing around 122 watts (as does the 780m), with a cooling system so good as it is (every reviewer says the iMac stays cool to the touch), would you think a desktop class GPU is still out of the cards for the 2014/2015 iMac? I'm not talking about powering a Retina class Display - we're not gonna get that, I'm sure. But Apple knows that there are some gamers out there, some professionals out there, some Folding at home/World Community Grid folks out there which would happily order the desktop class GPU.

What do you say?
 

macs4nw

macrumors 601
Hey folks,

first of all, do not crush me because of the suggestion of including a desktop card into an iMac. I'm well aware of the fact that until now, we "only" got mobile variants of NVIDIA cards in our iMacs (still clinging to the GT650m one). But I thnk that may change with the next refresh.

I just dug around the Webs and found the review of NVIDIAs new GTX 980. The TDP is only around 165 watts, whereas the GTX 970 comes down to about 140 watts.

So here's the question: With the current iMacs TDP'ing around 122 watts (as does the 780m), with a cooling system so good as it is (every reviewer says the iMac stays cool to the touch), would you think a desktop class GPU is still out of the cards for the 2014/2015 iMac? I'm not talking about powering a Retina class Display - we're not gonna get that, I'm sure. But Apple knows that there are some gamers out there, some professionals out there, some Folding at home/World Community Grid folks out there which would happily order the desktop class GPU.

What do you say?
You know, every time I look inside one of the newer iMacs, I'm amazed at how they get any airflow inside there at all. I think what makes it work despite the extreme crowding in there is the thermal paste coupled with the fact that the entire aluminum case is one gigantic heat sink.

Is Apple going to put desktop-class graphics cards in their iMac line-up? Only Apple knows, but for one, these babies generate more heat, so a complete re-design is probably necessary. And secondly iMacs, and for that matter all Apple's equipment is designed to give the great majority of users an awesome user experience, iow, they're not known for specifically catering to a smaller sub-section of their clientele.

Desktop graphics such as these newer NVIDIA cards would be the cat's meow for gamers, but what percentage of iMac users are gung-ho gaming 'addicts' and, is a complete redesign and the inclusion of considerably more expensive graphics cards a cost effective proposition considering the current mobile graphics solutions are more than satisfactory for the overwhelming majority of users?

Which brings up an interesting question, what are we going to see graphics-wise, if and when r-iMacs are finally coming, some time in the future. There's that possibility of a complete redesign when Broadwell comes to the iMac, or perhaps with Skylake around Q3-2015.
 

Mac32

Suspended
Nov 20, 2010
1,263
453
Well, a realistic hope is that Apple will repeat what they did with the late 2012 iMac, ie. when they put essentially an underclocked GTX680 card into the iMac - as 680MX. It Apple did this with the GTX980 (ie. a 980MX card), we would get a very capable iMac that could also work well for gaming. Considering the Maxwell GPU line draws less power, this should be a perfectly viable solution thermally. We'll see what happens...
 

omenatarhuri

macrumors 6502a
Feb 9, 2010
720
311
The leaked scores I found for the 980M seem to indicate its not that far behind the desktop 970. So you may essentially get your wish even with the mobile GPU.

http://www.legitreviews.com/nvidia-geforce-gtx-980-maxwell-performance-numbers-leaked_150067

980M SLI would be pretty awesome as well. In fact that is even faster than desktop 980. Apple already puts two cards standard in the Mac Pro so I wouldn't count it out completely. Definitely not standard, but perhaps BTO.

That said, the 980M SLI most likely has a higher TDP than a single desktop 980.
 

Serban

Suspended
Jan 8, 2013
5,159
926
anyway the 980M is really nice improve performance
and i think Nvidia will release the 9xxM versions in 2 weeks in october right?
 

joe-h2o

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2012
997
445
The TDP of the newer desktop GPUs from Nvidia is starting to approach that of the mobile chips - as you say, the magic number is 122W, which is the TDP of the 680MX/780M that is already in the iMac.

The question is, is there cooling overhead in the current design to accommodate a 160W TDP chip, and based on the version I have (the 680MX) I believe that they do. I don't think it would require major architectural changes to get a more powerful card to fit (assuming you can fit it into the same space on the logic board).

The question of whether or not they would actually do this though is more in doubt. They've done it before - the 680MX - but will they do it again? Who knows.
 

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
1,252
652
Discussion: go!

Only Apple knows, but for one, these babies generate more heat, so a complete re-design is probably necessary.
Hm, the 780m is a powerhouse, too, with 122 watts TDP. I don't think that a 9xx series chip would be that much more hot, especially when you take into consideration that every reviewer had absolutely no problems with their iMacs, all being cool to the touch (and that's the heatsink after all!).

I say that's the TDP of the graphics card only, not the entire machine...
Erm, yes: GTX 970 has around 140 watts TDP alone, the 780m has around 122 TDP watts alone. That's not a huge jump in my book.

The question of whether or not they would actually do this though is more in doubt. They've done it before - the 680MX - but will they do it again? Who knows.
Yeah, if they're doing so (and that's a big if), it'll be only BTO. And the MX was a little bit higher clocked and the memory bandwidth was awesome, if I recall correctly.

It all just struck me a little, because when I heard the numbers of NVIDIAs new flagships, I promptly thought of the iMac. And then I guessed: Why no new iMac mid-2014, but a small entry-level iMac? Waiting for Broadwell would take us safely into 2015. With the jump to Haswell-E, there should be iMacs waiting for us just around the corner - and why give us the 880M if there's a 980M (or possibly a full 970) to get? So thrilled for the rumored October event, here's hoping there's some news regarding Mac mini and iMac. Already got the budget for an almost full-specced 27 incher :)
 

MagicBoy

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2006
3,907
945
Manchester, UK
Erm, yes: GTX 970 has around 140 watts TDP alone, the 780m has around 122 TDP watts alone. That's not a huge jump in my book.
I thought it was a misquote and was the TDP of the full laptop or iMac. A "mobile" graphics chip that requires up to 122W. Cripes!

Doesn't sound very mobile to me once you add cooling. The ATI Radeon in my desktop PC with a big dual fan double slot cooler is 145W.
 

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
1,252
652
Yeah, I get what you're saying. Still, these mobile variants aren't too shabby when it comes to performance, and of course there's always more headroom left. And now where the TDP figures are converging so much, there's maybe a little surprise in there for us. I guess.

Which AMD card would that be? I'm figuring that a 780m would mop the floor with that card?
 

MagicBoy

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2006
3,907
945
Manchester, UK
Yeah, I get what you're saying. Still, these mobile variants aren't too shabby when it comes to performance, and of course there's always more headroom left. And now where the TDP figures are converging so much, there's maybe a little surprise in there for us. I guess.

Which AMD card would that be? I'm figuring that a 780m would mop the floor with that card?
I'm not surprised when it's mainlining over 120W!

I'm running an old 5850, upgrade is coming after I've paid off the iPhone 6! Despite the age it's not too shabby as it's got plenty of shader power. Runs what I need in decent detail at 60+fps. I guess a modern card would be a fairer comparison, so 150W would be around R9 270/270X level?
 

joe-h2o

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2012
997
445
I'm not surprised when it's mainlining over 120W!

I'm running an old 5850, upgrade is coming after I've paid off the iPhone 6! Despite the age it's not too shabby as it's got plenty of shader power. Runs what I need in decent detail at 60+fps. I guess a modern card would be a fairer comparison, so 150W would be around R9 270/270X level?
Well, the 680MX and 780M GPUs are effectively desktop chips, just under clocked.

They are the bridge between mobile and desktop cards - high performance, but lower TDP (which you then pay a premium for).
 

Mac32

Suspended
Nov 20, 2010
1,263
453
Well, the issue is also complicated with the fact that 780M got a lower TDP than 680MX, but the different design crippled the overclocking potential of 780M because of throttling. 680MXs large overclocking headroom is crucial, as it ads a big performance boost necessary for decent performance in 1440p IMO - enabling the 680MX to actually perform at the same level as a desktop GTX680@default.
 

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
1,252
652
Retina iMac incoming?

Well, just look at the news, a Retina iMac is rumored again - imagine a 5K beast on your desk :)

Which card would be potent enough to drive such a display, let alone 3D graphics? I'm thrilled. This gonna be an expensive October :D
 

Georgio

macrumors 6502
Apr 30, 2008
369
37
Essex, UK
If the next iMac refresh doesn't have a 980M as an option I for one will be disappointed.
There's no reason why Apple couldn't offer it as a high end option.
I have a 680M in my current Mac and it is an extremely capable GPU.
 

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
1,252
652
GTX 970 versus GTX 980M

If the next iMac refresh doesn't have a 980M as an option I for one will be disappointed.
There's no reason why Apple couldn't offer it as a high end option.
I have a 680M in my current Mac and it is an extremely capable GPU.
Yep, and I have found some sort of comparison, too. Seems like the 980M should do the trick nicely!
 
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