Mac Pro 3,1 Gaming Tune-up

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ae35unit, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. ae35unit macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2007
    I've seen a couple other threads the that have become a bit convoluted with what-ifs, etc. I have a pretty straightforward situation (I hope):

    1. I have a Mac 3,1 spec'd as follows:

    2. For the day job I work in OS X doing software development with two 30" displays. That pays the bills, so it's gotta work.

    3. On weekends and evenings I've got Boot Camp set up to boot me into Win7 for gaming.

    My project: bring this rig up to snuff for the holiday seasons' releases

    I can tell from reading other posts that we're lucky to have some knowledgeable folks on this matter. Most questions seem be in the "I want it to be faster, I have X, will Y work?" form. As I read through the answers I wind up thinking, "This person clearly knows the domain, I wonder what they'd buy in that case?" Seems like we'd benefit more people by reversing the question. So ...

    My question: given funding and a Mac Pro 1,3, what would you buy to whip it into shape for the 2011 fall/winter gaming season?

    Some variables you might address:

    1. Funding: Is there a sweet spot? What would you do under budget crunch? What if you just had a big pile of cash and could go nuts?

    2. Technical Proficiency: A geek comfortable getting their hands dirty? That geek's dad? Someone with $$ to pay to have it done (a la the pre-flashed Ebay sales I've seen mentioned)

    To finish fleshing out my particular situation - I'm technically proficient but would be happy to pay 10% more to avoid the work. I'm also thinking this might be the last tune-up for the 1,3 wrt/gaming, so I'd probably opt for spending a little more $$ knowing it's going to have to last.

    And, of course, if this has been covered well elsewhere feel free to just slap me with links to threads ;)
  2. paronga macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    you've got sweet memory.
    The CPU's are going to be good enough. And really hard to replace.

    only things to do:
    SSD. SSD. SSD.
    super fast. Make load times smooth.

    and the obvious, a graphics card.
    I don't know the best one, but you can got to the apple store and get the one that the latest mac pros come with and just drop it on.
    keep the old on in there too if you want to keep compatibility with current setup.

    but people probably know by now that i don't know anything about graphics, so wait for real knowledge to come in!
  3. HawkEye40 macrumors member

    Apr 8, 2008
    I have a 3,1 Octo with a 5870 and it runs BF3 great.
  4. Boneheadxan macrumors regular


    Jul 19, 2009
    I'm running a 2009 Mac Pro. Recently upgraded to the 5870 from a 4870.

    Runs Battlefield 3 on the high setting with super fluidity for multiplayer. I'm sure for the Single player, it should be able to tackle the Ultra settings too. Did some tweaks on ATI Catalyst as well.

    BF3's Frostbite 2 engine is one of the most epic engines in the market currently. :D
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    AMD 6850 or 6870 would be a good budget option. Quite similar to 5870 but can be had for 150-200$. There is some little thing that needs to be done to get it work but IIRC it was fairly simple.

    I have i5-2500K and 6850 in my PC and BF3 etc run very smoothly.
  6. Spacedust macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    I run two HD5770's in Crossfire mode and everything works great.
  7. damir00 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2011
    Have almost identical MP, only difference is amount of memory.

    I'm not ok with the the current state of 6870 support in Lion (not a criticism, I just need "complete" support on the OSX side).

    Is it possible to drop in a 6870 as a supplement to the 2600, using it only in Boot Camp until it becomes an officially supported option? It would obviously have its own display...
  8. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Sure. You can even use the same display if you are fine with unplugging and replugging the cable everytime.
  9. Ommid macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2008
    How have you crossfired them?
  10. swordfish5736 macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2007
  11. ChuckBlack macrumors member


    Jul 5, 2010
    I too have the same system but with less RAM. I just finished Battlefield 3 the other day, super smooth, everything on high. An SSD will load the games faster but a video card is the first place to spend, it'll give you more bang for your buck games wise.
  12. imacdaddy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2006
    Any of you have problems with power driving the 5870 Mac Edition on the 3,1 Mac Pro PSU?

    I had my motherboard replaced by Apple yesterday due to problems (grey boot screen no apple logo). At first I thought the problem was 4 x HDD (raid 0), motherboard battery, then the 8800 GT video card so I bought the 5870 (I was planning upgrading to upgrade anyway). When the Genius installed the 5870, my MP wouldn't boot. No video signal, PSU and fans not spinning. They said that the PSU was unable to drive the system. But they were able to boot the night before (using their HD 2600 video card). :confused:

    But seems like people here with the early 2008 MP (3,1), are able to use the 5870 video card with 4 x HDD AND an SSD (in 2nd optical bay) without any power issues. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    My MP is still with Apple and a new PSU is on order. :(

    Sorry for hijacking your thread OP. Thought I'd ask here since you are planning the upgrade route as I have.
  13. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I highly doubt a 980W PSU would have any trouble driving one 5870. Besides, the 2009-10 models use a PSU of the exact same rating. The Genius is blowing smoke.

    Probably a bad PSU...
  14. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    The 5870 is no match for the 980w psu. People are crossfiring 5870 with 850w PSUs.

    As for the 6850/6870, they are way slower than the 5870.
    Anything you buy will beat the 2600 by a mile, even the 5770 is much faster.

    If you want full mac support you want a 5870, GTX 285 or 5770.
    The 5870 is fastest with GTX 285 as a runner up and the 5770 behind there again. The 5870 and GTX 285 might be hard to get, unless you want to flash a PC version or inject them.
  15. ravennl macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2010
    I've got the exact same Mac Pro as ae35unit, only 6 gig memory though instead of 22. I do have the GTX 285 (mac edition) and I'm sorry to say that, even with the latest nvidia drivers, Battlefield 3 doesn't run all that well. It will run with all settings high, but only just. For smooth gameplay (in the native resolution of 1920x1200), medium is almost acceptable, but settings should really be set to low all around.

    Maybe only 6 gigs of memory is the bottleneck in my system, but I have a hard time believing this. As for graphics power, the GTX 285 should be good enough, so that's not it either. CPU?
  16. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Looking at your specs I'd say the one and only thing you need to upgrade is the GPU.

    For an official Apple card, I'd go 5870 or wait for the Apple 6xxx series to release. The latter probably will not happen in time for the fall/winter.

    If you don't mind unofficial cards and the extra steps they involve, I'd go with a 6870.
  17. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    The GTX285 is a DX10 card. BF3 will run on it, but it is designed as a DX11 app. DX11 apps will typically downgrade to DX10 functionality fairly well, but on your next upgrade, a DX11 card would be a good investment.

    The GTX285 has very nice Memory Bandwidth, but overall, you should be reading on Windows gaming forums about this game. When you are in Bootcamp, you are running a PC. So much of what is on those forums will be relevant.
  18. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Buy a 5870. That's all you'll need.

    (Kind of amazing for gaming you've gotten by on the 2600 XT, actually.)
  19. ravennl macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2010
    The 5870 was designed Mac Pro's from early 2009 and up, but I've read somewhere that it in fact is compatible with my system (early 2008). Am I correct? And would an upgrade form the GTX 285 to a 5870 be significant?
  20. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yes. It works in any Mac Pro.

    An upgrade from a GTX 285 to a 5870 wouldn't net you too much performance though. It would still be an upgrade.
  21. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    In your shoes I would wait to see what comes up in the next generation with AMD 6xxx or 7xxx series. Saw on Netkas that beta Lion drivers are showing early support for 7xxx series.
  22. ravennl macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2010
    I really hadn't expected my pro to be out of date so fast with all the new games coming out. I thought I had the ideal situation, a mac as basic workstation and a pc as upgradable gaming platform. Apart from some memory upgrades, I'm about maxed out, and it's not cutting it anymore. Disappointing, as I expected this rig to last a couple of years still. I can wait for a new card, but that doesn't really help me now, and probably will be a hefty investment once more.

    I really thought I had it all in one package. Now I'm contemplating selling the mac pro (keeping the cinema display) and buying a dedicated pc / mac mini combination.
  23. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Unfair expectations. If it weren't for gaming, your MP would be doing just fine. And demanding PC games have always meant getting a new video card every couple of years if not more often.

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