Mac Pro 3,1 Graphics Upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by GhostImage, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. GhostImage macrumors newbie

    Joined:
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    #1
    My Early 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 is a solid machine. A SSD upgrade, 32 GB RAM and AMD 5870 have kept it purring for me. As of late, I have been noticing some slowing in graphics performance when in online virtual environments and games.

    In searching online, it is unclear to me if there is an upgrade path beyond the 5870 that will improve my performance. I know that CrossFire X was not supported in the Mac version of the 5870. Has that changed with newer AMD drivers?

    (I am not a Nvidia fan since I have found my Macs with their graphics often crash or are unstable. This is a personal preference and I mean no disrespect toward those who have had good results with them.)
     
  2. Mr. Incandenza macrumors newbie

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    Jun 23, 2013
    #2
    I'm in the same boat with 16GB ram. Just bought a SATA III card, a USB 3 card, and an R9 380. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm a little worried about stability with the power draw of the video card but I went with the 380 vs. the 380x or higher to make sure it'd be okay.

    I know I'm going to regret buying the video card now as AMD's coming out with a new set of cards that offers 2.5x the performance per watt, but I'm sick of playing games at rock bottom specs to keep up with my 144hz monitor.
     
  3. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 14, 2007
    #3
    I wouldn't recommend any AMD cards for a MP3,1, the performance of newer cards will be really bad because of a power management bug in the system.
    This definitely applies to all GCN 1.0 based cards (most HD 7xxx and many R9 2xx), not sure about younger cards, only very few people are using them.
     
  4. GhostImage thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Can you give a bit more information about the power management bug? I have not heard of this before. I know it has been contraindicated to move above the 5870 but most cite compatibility issues.

    Getting clear and accurate information is rather problematic for Mac Pro 3,1.
     
  5. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 14, 2007
    #5
    A lot of information is in this thread: http://forum.netkas.org/index.php/topic,8206.0.html

    In short: OpenGL & OpenCL performance will be crippled, down to 20%-30% of the original power. The only workaround so far is deleting two PM related kernel extensions, which means having to disable SIP on El Capitan.
     
  6. GhostImage thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Are there similar problems with the NVIDIA cards as well? I am weighing my upgrade path and wonder if a 2012 Mac Pro is a reasonable investment. I welcome input.
     
  7. Mr. Incandenza macrumors newbie

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    #7
    I should clarify that I doubt I'll even install OS X on the Mac Pro as this machine is only going to be used for gaming, as a stop-gap before I build a more powerful machine.
     
  8. Mr. Incandenza macrumors newbie

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    Jun 23, 2013
    #8
    Sapphire R9 380 Nitro works flawlessly with the Mac Pro 3,1 with Windows 10. No power issues after running furmark for a few hours along with the processor burner.

    Computer does double duty as a space heater when you do that. Insane amount of heat output.

    Card stays really cool though, there should be a lot of headroom for overclocking.
     
  9. GhostImage thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Great that this has worked for you!

    I rely on the Mac OS and seldom use Windows. After reading the netkas thread it seems my only upgrade option would be a 79xx (50-90?) and delete the two ktext that seem to cause the performance drain.

    If there are other options, PLEASE let me know?
     
  10. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Pretty much any NVIDIA card works in your Mac, flashed or unflashed. GTX 680 can be easily DIY flashed.
     
  11. GhostImage thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    My reading of the netkas thread led me to believe the performance issue with MP 3,1 impacted both ATI and NVIDIA. Did I misread the thread?
     
  12. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    #12
    Are you running El Capitan? I noticed a good performance boost from switching to OpenGL 4.2 from 3.0 (Snow Leopard 10.6.8) while using the same flashed Sapphire Vapor-X HD5870.
     
  13. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #13
    Those issues with NVIDIA cards are just a result of the comparably high CPU overhead of the Apple Nvidia drivers in conjunction with the slow CPUs in the MP3,1. That's just how it is with a ~8 year old computer.
    In my experience the Nvidia Web Drivers will decrease those bottlenecks, which makes those cards a good choice.
     
  14. GhostImage thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    I am running El Cap (the latest official release) My 5870 mac version card is slowing down with each OS X upgrade/update.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 13, 2016 ---
    You have not experienced generalize system instability with NVIDIA? I have not done a scientific method based study of the differences but my NVIDIA machines crash more frequently than the AMD machines. Maybe I am doing something wrong?
     

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