Looking for recommendations for graphics card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by misalo, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. misalo, Mar 18, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016

    misalo macrumors newbie

    misalo

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    #1
    My graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 2600XT) is on it's last leg and I need to replace it ASAP. Looking for recommendations. Do I need to look for something compatible with my OS (El Capitan)?

    MacPro - Early 2008
    2x2.8 Ghz Quad-Core Xeon Intel
    Running OS 10.11.3 El Capitan

    UPDATE: Thank you all for your suggestions and comments, it has really given me a better understanding of the process. TheStork made a very good point... time and effort must be factored in to get the real cost of DIY. I am a busy parent with a home-based graphic design business (i.e. I don't work, I don't get paid) so I don't have a lot of spare time. Add in the fact that I am not a very technical person (this is my first foray into installing hardware) and the decision is pretty clear: I need to spend the extra cash to get a plug-and-play card that's for Mac. That said, what are your suggestions for a Mac-ready card?
     
  2. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    I installed a EVGA GTX680 2GB in my 3,1 Mac Pro, flashed easily under Windows, and works like a charm (giving boot screens like an Apple Card). Highly recommend if you can find one, and if flashed you can just sell your 2600XT to recoup some of the cost.
     
  3. misalo thread starter macrumors newbie

    misalo

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    #3
    Thanks. Where did you end up buying it, if you don't mind me asking? Also, what does "flashed" mean? Sorry, I'm not a very technical person.
     
  4. Machines macrumors 6502

    Machines

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    #4
    What programs do you run on your Mac ? That would help to know . Almost anything is faster than an ATI 2600 .
     
  5. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #5
    eBay is your friend. Anyway, "flashed" means make the card from a normal "PC graphic card" to a "Mac Edition graphic card". The PC card will work fine in OSX, however, it won't work BEFORE you boot to desktop. That means you won't see the Apple logo during boot. Which is no big deal for most user. However, it also means that you can't use the recovery partition, and the boot manager (hold "option" during start to choose boot partition).
     
  6. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I bought my card from eBay, and flashed it myself. If you are not very 'technical', you may find it easier to just buy a pre-flashed graphics from somewhere like MacVidCards.com (if you are in the US). He is on this forum - he may be able to advise on a particular model of card for your needs.
     
  7. misalo, Mar 18, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2016

    misalo thread starter macrumors newbie

    misalo

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    #7
    Okay, I'll check it out. Thanks.

    --- Post Merged, Mar 18, 2016 ---
    I am a graphic designer so I use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver every day.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 18, 2016 ---
    I see. Thanks for explaining it. I will also check eBay for cards... though I am nervous about buying from a private seller - especially if the card is used/refurbished.
     
  8. Machines macrumors 6502

    Machines

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    Jan 23, 2015
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    #8
    I would obtain a reference PC Edition AMD 7950 for around 200 bucks on eBay . You might need to install it in PCIe slot 2 in a Mac Pro 3,1 (2008) .

    It meets all the minimum system requirements for the apps you listed , assuming you are using CC 2015 .

    I would also rebuild your 2600 for EFI purposes , if you have the need and install it in the Mac's other x16 slot .

    7950 looks like this :

    s-l500.jpg
     
  9. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #9
    The two really popular cards around here are the AMD 7950 and Nvidia GTX 680.

    There are a few options for getting it working:

    Both of these have official Mac versions, if that's important to you, but they cost quite a bit more than the PC version. The Mac versions are plug-and-play, and ready to go with everything you need.

    Alternatively, you can buy PC versions of these cards, which cost substantially less. However, these will not be active during boot time. They only start working after the OS has loaded the graphics drivers. This means you won't see the boot screens, can't use a boot selector, verbose mode, single user mode, etc. These also will not come with the right power cables for your Mac Pro, so you'll need to get two of the proper power cables. I bought mine here.

    You can buy a PC card that has been "flashed" and possibly hardware modded in order to be a Mac card. These are sold on Ebay and elsewhere. I bought mine from Macvidcards, who has a nice selection, good information on his website, and a warranty for I think 30 or 60 days. Sometimes these sellers will include the right power cables and sometimes they do not. So if they are not included, or not offered as an add-on, you will have to get the cables yourself. Some places, like Macvidcards, also do a flashing service where you buy your own PC card and then send it to him for flashing. This is usually cheaper than buying a flashed card.

    You can also buy a PC card and flash it yourself. The GTX680 is very easily flashed if you have Windows, and very forgiving about which model of GTX680 you have. It works on all but a few of the more unusual models. There is a step-by-step procedure I wrote somewhere that I can find for you if you want to try it. The 7950 is a little bit harder, and you need to be more specific about which model you get. At the very least I think you need to get one with video output ports that all match the reference card, but I am not familiar with the process for the 7950 and someone else would have to help you.
     
  10. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

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    Feb 11, 2009
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    #10
    Same here. I run three screens on my GTX 680: two 1080 x 1920 and a Cintiq HD 22. No problems at all with the 680, but to be honest, my former card was an ATI 5770 and it worked fine also, as long as my monitors were connected using the proper adapters. I even have an old gently used 5770 lying around here somewhere.
     
  11. jdryyz, Mar 18, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016

    jdryyz macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #11
    Thanks for saving me the trouble of posting this thread. There's a lot of information out there regarding Mac Pro graphics cards but I was hoping to narrow it down some more. The stock GT 120 card in my 4,1 -> 5,1 Mac Pro is probably adequate for most of what I will be doing, but I went after this Pro partly to explore what other possibilities are out there. Maybe I could finally have a decent gaming platform as well as a great system to handle the small, but tedious video chores I often do. I realize the Windows side of the machine is still best for gaming so whatever card I go with will have to work smoothly in both worlds.

    I see the EVGA GTX 680s are not too pricey as was stated. So if flashing this card is relatively easy, will there be anything missing/not working once it is flashed? I.E. ports not showing the boot screen or reduced PCI-e bus speed? Does flashing basically transform it into a "Mac Edition"?
     
  12. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #12
    The GTX 680 2GB is somewhat unique in that it is the only card that becomes a Mac Edition card in every way by simply flashing. Nothing is missing, all ports work, and full speed PCIe in Windows and OS X.

    The GTX 680 4GB is very close. Same as above except one DVI port does not work.

    Most 680's flash fine, but to be sure pick one that someone has already verified. For the most part they work unless you have a very unusual one.
     
  13. TheStork macrumors regular

    TheStork

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #13
    Last year, I decided to do as you are doing, update/replace my 2008 graphics card. I read everything I could about PC vs. flashed PC vs. Mac cards. Years ago, I flashed cards for my G4 Macs, and, after that experience, I decided that I could spend my time doing other things more rewarding.

    Flashing the card is part one. Second part is removing Resister #17 to get the proper PCI speed in the 2008. (Long story cut short. No pun intended) You can read more about that in this forum, if you're masochistic. (You have to watch out for how these cards are powered as there are power limits that your motherboard can supply - 75 watts from the PCI and 75 watts from each 6-pin power motherboard connectors which equals 275 watts max.)

    So, I found a PC 7950 in the Reference Card configuration (same monitor connectors) on eBay and eventually won the bid at $125 USD. I, then, took advantage of MacVidCards.com's flashing service for the 7950. For $90 USD, he flashed the card's BIOS and cut the R17 resistor. (I told him that the card was going to be used in a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1).

    To me, it was well worth the cost of mailing the card to MacVidCards and the flashing. I charge myself to do things by an hourly rate (pick yours). I estimated it would cost me much more than the $90 to research how to flash the card, flash the card, remove the resistor and test/debug my work. (Now, you can get the 7950 directly for $240 USD, which is close enough to what my total cost was last year.)

    Oh, BTW, it works great. So, much so, that I upgraded my 2010 Mac Pro with a PC flashed Gigabyte 280x using the same procedure as I used to get a 7950 working.

    In conclusion, I post my experience to illustrate to you, a non technical (hardware wise) person, that there's an opportunity cost associated with the "so easy it's like falling off a log" stories for doing it yourself. (Note: I'm not knocking those that do it themselves. I'm just saying for working prosumers, there's a cost of doing it yourself - your time is worth something.)
     
  14. jdryyz macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #14
    Good to know! Looking at EVGAs right now. There is one report I read about slightly increased boot time after the "chime" but that may have been a different brand.

     
  15. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #15
    I can highly recommend the EVGA GTX680 2GB. Might be hard to find (I guess I was lucky), but it is the closest to the Mac card (which is also made by EVGA) so works perfectly after flashing. If you can find one then go for that, though as ActionableMango said other brands will also work. I just went for EVGA for peace of mind. I have not experienced increased boot time or anything.
     
  16. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #16
    HD 7xxx cards perform like sh*t in MP3,1 due to a power management bug, so I'd recommend the GTX 680 as well.
     
  17. misalo thread starter macrumors newbie

    misalo

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    #17
    Thanks. I'm still on CS6 for now (Abobe changing things to the subscription pisses me off). Though, that sounds like more than I can handle - I'm not a real technical person and this will be my first foray into installing something inside the tower. I watched a YouTube video and replacing the card seemed simple enough that even I could manage it ;).
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you all for your suggestions and comments, it has really given me a better understanding of the process. TheStork made a very good point... time and effort must be factored in to get the real cost of DIY. I am a busy parent with a home-based graphic design business (i.e. I don't work, I don't get paid) so I don't have a lot of spare time. Add in the fact that I am not a very technical person (this is my first foray into installing hardware) and the decision is pretty clear: I need to spend the extra cash to get a plug-and-play card that's for Mac. That said, what are your suggestions for a Mac-ready card?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Thanks. I am trying to avoid the DIY aspect of transforming a PC card to a Mac card. Not a very technical person.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Thanks, this helps me understand what's involved in the process. I think it would be worth it for me to get the Mac-ready card as I don't have much spare time and am not very technical. You'd said the AMD 7950 and Nvidia GTX 680 have official Mac versions... what's the difference between the two - is one better than the other for graphic design purposes? I use Creative Suite 6 (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, DreamWeaver, etc) on a daily basis. Thanks again.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Good idea, thanks. I will check out the website. After reading all the posts I think my best bet is to pay a little more for the Mac-ready card.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    I thought I replied to this post but I don't see it so I am posting again (sorry if it ends up being a duplicate). You make an excellent point... I do not have much spare time so I want to avoid DIY beyond installation of the card (which, from the YouTube video, seems like a simple swap out of the card). I wasn't aware there was more involved beyond the flashing; even more reason for me to just bite the bullet and get a Mac version. Thanks for the insight and reminding me that there is a cost for DIY; in my case, I have a home-based graphic design business so "time is money" definitely applies here (if I don't work, I don't get paid).
     
  18. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    Feb 3, 2010
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    London, UK
    #18
    Unfortunately the official GTX680 Mac version is very hard to find and is not manufactured anymore, but you can still get a flashed PC card which will behave just like a Mac card. As previously stated, MacVidCards.com is your best bet. The GTX6802 GB costs about $300 I think.
     
  19. Machines macrumors 6502

    Machines

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    Fox River Valley , Illinois
    #19
    The thing that really upsets me as a System Builder is not so much Adobe maximizing their income flow by going to a cloud subscription business model (which I personally do not like , either .) What I really dislike is Adobe's lack of transparency in hardware requirements that can be of actual use to my clients . What alarms me is, what if these programs (at least in OSX) cannot be optimized very much anymore ? It's like Adobe needs to completely rewrite a lot of their app code to run on modern hardware , especially PS . Nothing is improving , Adobe still has quasi monopolies and I think the environment is ripe for underdog to come to the rescue . But at least we have the Cloud :rolleyes: . The last time I chatted with a creative client about Adobe apps he went so livid I thought he was going to take a bite out of his phone . :mad: Installing a graphics card is so easy , even a kindergarten student could do it . ;)
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Quite possibly the last dragon's hoard of non-workstation grade NOS real Mac Edition video cards is found at OWC , for a price . And only the AMD 7950 is left for $550 .

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Sapphire/100352MAC/

    The Quadro K5000 Mac Edition is still in production , the last time I checked , for a prince's ransom .

    The situation is not good , folks .
     
  20. misalo thread starter macrumors newbie

    misalo

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    #20
    Oh, man, now I'm wondering if I should just put the money into a new system instead of replacing the graphics card in my 2008 MacPro. With my luck, the 3,1 won't be compatible with the next Apple OS upgrade and then I will have wasted $300-$500. Thoughts?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 19, 2016 ---
    Now that you mention it, since upgrading to El Capitan I have noticed more Adobe software crashes (at least once a day). I'd assumed it was a compatibility issue with the newer OS and my old Mac Pro but, maybe it's actually an Adobe compatible issue? Or am I reading your post wrong?

    BTW, I have a Kindergartener... should I ask him to do the install? ;) Seriously though, is it more than just unscrewing the old card and replacing it with the new one? Like this video shows:
     
  21. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #21
    It's much better value & more fun to buy a used GTX680 & flash it yourself.
     
  22. misalo thread starter macrumors newbie

    misalo

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    Mar 18, 2016
    #22
    More fun? LOL Maybe for you. I am not a real technical person so the thought of jumping through technical "hoops" isn't real appealing to me. If it's just a matter of replacing a part, sure; but beyond that - I'm too afraid to mess with the hardware.
     
  23. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    Feb 3, 2010
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    London, UK
    #23
    Keep in mind that if you do decide to upgrade to a newer Mac Pro at some point in the future (to a 4,1 or 5,1 for example), you can put the GTX680 in it, so it's not 'wasted' in that sense.
     
  24. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

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    near Spokane, WA
    #24
    Not much more. You'll need to connect two power cables for the 680. It's not hard, but it was a tight fit to get my hand into the unit to make the connection to the motherboard. I recommend removing the middle two hard-drive trays to give your hands more room to move.
     
  25. Machines macrumors 6502

    Machines

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    #25
    Hehehe you have entered , the "Tech Zone," you mere mortal . :p Most of the older guys here have torn down Systems for the fun of it . Actually, I'll tell you something amazing . Most of my clients are creative content editors / scientists / IT pros / academics . 30 years ago they were a hopeless lot at servicing high performance gear . Today , 80 percent of them can do 80 percent of my job . The younger they are , the quicker they naturally take to all this . There's actually a YouTube video of a 5 year old girl tearing down and reassembling a modern HP workstation , complete with a pretty decent narration . You need to find out what a gem your kid is :D .

    I would not recommend running El Cap yet , as it is the latest OS . Run OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite . The third party app coders will have had enough time by now to fix most of the bugs and optimize performance , if they are going to do so at all ...

    I see your MP 3,1 being supported for some time now . She's true 64 bit and plenty powerful .
     

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