Mac Pro 4,1 > 5,1 (Early 2009) Mid-Budget GPU Upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by chiefsucker, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. chiefsucker macrumors newbie

    chiefsucker

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    #1
    I have a 2x2,66 GHz Mac Pro (Early 2009) with a GT 120 and HD 4870. I’m looking for a mid-budget GPU (about 200 € / $280) upgrade that won’t be much of an hassle. These are some of my requirements:

    • I use FileVault and I need to enter a password on boot, this is a definite requirement.
    • EFI-modified or official cards are probably too expensive for my needs.
    • I don’t want an external power supply and I’m not sure which cards I could safely run and which cards have 6-pin connectors.
    • I want a better GPU mainly for playing games. The HD 4870 isn’t bad, but it really starts to show its age.
    • I have two 30″ Cinema Displays which require Dual-Link DVI connectors and I don’t want to use one of these unreliable adapters.
    After researching for a couple of hours I found the GTX 660 or 760 appealing (both are more or less within my budget).

    1. Are both choices OK? Can I get any card with those chips or do I have to pay attention to something (e.g. the power connectors, Dual-Link DVI) or do all modern cards come with my requirements by default?
    2. As I understand I won’t get the password prompt with a PC card, but I still could get it by leaving the GT 120 in my Mac Pro and driving the second display with it, right?
    3. I don’t care about second display performance as I mainly use it for research purposes, a task list etc. It’s only used as an aid while I work. I would probably get a better performance by driving both displays with one of the newer cards, but I would lose the ability to enter a password for FileVault?
    4. Is there a better GPU for my needs or a better overall choice, especially regarding performance vs. price and ease of use / upgrade?
     
  2. Studio K, Nov 3, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013

    Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Location:
    United States
    #2
    I dont have experience with FileVault. When are you prompted for the password? Is it during the boot process? Or is at the login screen?
    If the OS has loaded before the password prompt, then the PC card will not cause any trouble. But the GT120 should still give you a boot screen, so you will be covered.

    I have been looking at EVGA GTX 660. It requires only one 6-pin connector.
    The prices have come down on the 6xx cards now that 7xx are here.
    Just make sure to get a version with the 2 DVI connections.
     
  3. chiefsucker thread starter macrumors newbie

    chiefsucker

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    #3
    The password prompt is before OS X boots, because you have to unlock your SSD/HDD in order to read data, i.e. boot OS X.

    Why do I need a version with 2 DVI connections, especially if I have to keep an EFI-compatible card around?

    I took a look at some GTX 760 models and there are versions that come with 2x6 pin power connectors. The reference design uses them, but some manufacturers like EVGA use 1x6 pin and 1x8 pin which still should work fine if you consider the TDP which is below 200W. Does anybody have experience with a GTX 770 in a Mac Pro without a second power supply?

    NVIDIA lowered the prices for the GTX 770 & 780 a couple of days ago and also includes three games in a bundle. While the former is slightly out of budget, it could be a more future-proof choice than the GTX 760. The only problem is the TDP, which is about 250–270W and too much for the Mac Pro. I can’t find a second 5¼″ power supply anymore (which would also add to the total price). I read some tests and—besides FurMark—the GTX 770 doesn’t draw more than 200W which is in the 225W Mac Pro limits. Again, does anybody have experience with this card without a second power supply?
     
  4. Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Location:
    United States
    #4
    Sorry, I thought I read something in your post about wanting 2 DVI ports. I read it early this morning before having any coffee, so I may have misinterpreted.

    The filevault thing means you will need that GT120, it looks like.
     
  5. chiefsucker thread starter macrumors newbie

    chiefsucker

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    #5
    Nope, it’s two monitors and each of them needs one Dual-Link DVI connection, but I’ll probably have to stick one of them to the old GT 120. From what I see every PC graphics card has at least one of these connectors (most of them have even two), so it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m still torn apart and would love to see some hints and more answers to my questions.
     
  6. chiefsucker thread starter macrumors newbie

    chiefsucker

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    #6
    Due to the lack of responses on this thread I decided to start a research by myself and ordered a Gigabyte GTX 770. Some of my initial questions are still open, but I’ll observe the outcome after installing the card in my Mac.

    The only thing that would probably make the setup even better is an EFI ROM for the GTX 770. This way I could get rid of the second GPU, the old GT 120.

    Do you know if there’s a ROM floating around or if one can create it with some 3rd party tools?
     
  7. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #7
    http://forum.netkas.org/index.php is the place for that kind of thing.
     

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