Mac Pro 4,1 GPU Upgrade for 4K UHDTV

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by legacybk, Jun 9, 2017.

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Best NVIVIA GPU for 4K UHDTVs

  1. GTX 960

    9.1%
  2. GTX 970

    9.1%
  3. GTX 980

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. GTX 1070

    36.4%
  5. GTX 1080

    36.4%
  6. Sapphire 7950

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Radeon RX400 Series

    9.1%
  8. Radeon RX500 Series

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. Radeon R9 2XX Series

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. Radeon R9 3XX Series

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. legacybk, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017

    legacybk macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #1
    I'm looking to upgrade my current ATI Radeon 5870 to a 4K Card but don't know which would work best on my 4K TV. Can anyone recommend a good NVIDIA GTX card compared to the Sapphire 7950?

    My Mac is used mainly for watching movies and as a Plex server. Its connected to my 75" Sony 4K TV and It does great with 1080p media but I have 4K media and my current card isn't fast enough to play them.

    I'm looking to spend from $400-$800 beginning with one that's a direct comparison in speed to the Sapphire 7950 and comes flashed. On MacVidCards, the GTX960 4GB looks like a good card to start.

    Does anyone have experience using These GPU's cards on 4K TVs? :
    NVIDIA GTX960 through GTX980
    NVIDIA GTX1070 through GTX1080
    ATI Radeon RX540 through RX580
    ATI Radeon RX460 through RX480

    And do they need to be reflashed with every OSX update?

    My Current setup:
    Mac Pro 4,1 (2009)
    Quad Core 2.9ghz
    32GB RAM Memory
    Samsung Evo 850 on Accelsior-S PCIe As Boot Drive
    OS X El Capitan 10.11.6
    ATI Radeon HD 5870
    WD Red HDDs

    2017 75" Sony X850E 4K TV
     
  2. Synchro3, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    #2
    All the cards mentioned above are 4K capable.

    However the GTX 10x0 cards are more future-proof because of DisplayPort 1.4 (9xx cards have DP 1.2), and better HEVC support. For 4K UHD BluRay you need at least 3 GB of VRAM and HDCP 2.2.

    GTX 970 and GTX 980 have no HEVC hardware decode acceleration, though GTX 960 and GTX 950 (GM206) do.

    Nvidia.jpg
    nvidia-10bit.PNG
     
  3. h9826790, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

    h9826790 macrumors 603

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #3
    I am a 7950 users, no problem of playing 4k movies on my 84" LG TV. HOWEVER, MVC did an experiment some time ago, which proved that CPU can also make the difference, not just the GPU.

    You may search his post. Which is about he can't play 4k video smoothly on one of his cMP. And once he swap in the X5690, the same cMP suddenly able to play 4K video smoothly.

    So, just a heads up to you. You may need a new CPU but not just the GPU. Base on my experience, 7950 is a good choice because it's a OOTB card (If you mean the Sapphire 7950 Mac Edition card, that's NOT a flash card. This card come with the Mac EFI natively). However, if you ready to go for non OOTB card, and willing to buy flashed card, I vote for the 960. Because it's hardware decode HEVC ability, and for media centre, any higher end model just a waste of money.

    And NO, flash card means the ROM (firmware) is modified. The card will able to display by EFI even no OS installed. So, OS upgrade won't (and can't) disable the EFI injection done by MVC. However, you will have to re-install and activate Nvidia web driver after ever single OS update.

    Anyway, why don't just use the TV build in player? They are decided to play 4k video on your TV.
     
  4. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #4

    Thanks Synchro3 & h9826790 for the info,
    I did want to go with the Sapphire Mac edition at first but it is a couple years old (2013) and I want something that'll hold up well for the future in terms of new technology/software (a couple years at least). With this in mind, would you stick with the 7950, or go with a 960+ or 1070+?

    Synchro3, on my 75" Sony X850E it has only hdmi ports. In order to get the full 60hz from the GTX 960-980 or 10X0 GPUs, is it better to use hdmi cable, or a display port to hdmi adapter? MacVidCards site show that these cards only put out 60hz when using the display port.

    h9826790, can you explain a little on using the tv build in player? I'm not sure what you're referring to. Do you mean playing through the tv's Plex app instead of CPUs plex?
    You mentioned MVC couldn't get 4K to work on some of his CPUs. My Mac Pro 4,1 is a quad core 2.93ghz with 32gb ram. I'm upgrading the boot drive to a OWC PCIe SSD soon also to help run things faster. The MP is used as a dedicated media player now, so all computing power go to movies/media.
     
  5. Synchro3, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    #5
    Go with a Nvidia 960 or 1070. Radeon 7950 has no boot screen in 4K resolution, only HDMI 1.4, and no HEVC acceleration. You would need a DP 1.2 to HDMI2.0 adapter.

    If you use it only for movies I would recommend a GTX 1060.

    Use the HDMI port of the graphics card. 4K @ 60Hz is no problem. Your Sony X850E should support HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2. All Nvidia 9xx and 10x0 cards support HDCP 2.2 over HDMI 2.0.

    HDCP 2.2 over HDMI 2.0 is a condition for 4K DRM footage like Netflix etc.
     
  6. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #6
    Thanks Synchro3.
     
  7. h9826790 macrumors 603

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #7
    I won't recommend anyone to use 7950 on a media PC. No matter now or back in 2013, there is no specific benefit, Back in 2013, may be it's good if you want boot screen on a Mac, however, media PC do not need boot screen in general. Also, as Synchro 3 points out, you can't get boot screen on the 7950 with 4K 60Hz. In fact, 7950 Mac EFI + 4K 60Hz = no boot. It's much worse than just can't show the boot screen (4K 30Hz is fine).

    For media PC, I will get a card that support hardware decode HEVC, HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which means 7950 is out of equation now. In your list, GTX 960 is the cheapest card that meet this requirement. In fact, GTX 950, 1050 or 1060... are also OK. It depends on which card you can get with the best price. But anything at or above 1070 will be significant more expensive, and I don't think that you can utilise their power for just playing video.

    For the CPU, there are at least 2 limitations.

    1) total processing power
    2) single thread performance

    And usually single thread performance is the more limiting factor on our old Xeon. I couldn't remember 100% what MVC said in that post, but from memory. It's about he can play 4K video smoothly on his cMP with the 3.46GHz CPU, but not the slower one (can't remember what exact frequency of that CPU is, but very sure not 3.33GHz). So, Even though your new graphic card can hardware decode HEVC, may still require a fast enough CPU to support it. But due to hardware decode ability, the total CPU demand should be low. So the multi core performance should not be a problem at all.
     
  8. zoltm macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2017
    #8
    How about a Radeon RX460 for use as a HTPC? I heard people keep complaining that ATI has better video quality than Nvidia card. Is that still true?
     
  9. h9826790 macrumors 603

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #9
    I personally prefer RX460 more, because it work OOTB in cMP, still support HEVC hardware decode, HDCP 2.2, HDR, etc, but that's not on OP's list.

    Picture quality can be very personal, but I don't think Nvidia has any problem on this matter. It can be calibrated anyway.
     
  10. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2013
    Location:
    Houston, TX USA
    #10
    I haven't heard this since the Matrox G400 Max days (a long time ago - for general use now most folks would be hard pressed to tell the difference).
     
  11. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #11
    I was looking over MVC's site again and it shows that the GTX1070 requires Mac OS X 10.12.4 or later. Mine is only at 10.11.6. I am however thinking about upgrading my processors in the future via MacSales to one of these:

    Two x 2.93GHz Quad-Core 'Nehalem' (Intel X5570,8-Cores,QPI: 6.4GT/s)
    Two x 3.33GHz Quad-Core 'Nehalem' (Intel X5590,8-Cores,QPI: 6.4GT/s)

    So at my current 2.93GHz Quad-Core 'Nehalem' (Intel W3540, 4-Cores, QPI: 4.8GT/s), I cant use the GTX1070 because i cant upgrade to Sierra and itd be too slow to run it anyway. Would the next best GPU be the 980Ti 6GB, solely for media content?
     
  12. h9826790, Jun 14, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017

    h9826790 macrumors 603

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #12
    I personally won't recommend OWC because they are usually over price.

    Your 4,1 can install Sierra, even 3,1 can install Sierra.

    For 4,1, it's very simple, flash it to 5,1, then you can install Sierra natively.

    W3540 is same speed as X5570. If you believe that's too slow to run Sierra. Upgrade to dual X5570 won't help. Anyway, I don't think they are too slow for just the OS.

    From memory, 960 also support HEVC hardware decode. Therefore, for media content, 960 should be better than 980Ti. 980Ti has better compute / 3D performance, but not media support.
     
  13. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #13
    So I don't need to upgrade my quad core 2.93 processor to run a 960? I've been going through threads and thought that these 4K GPUs need a ton of processing speed to work properly. If that's true you just saved me a lot of money. I have a Samsung Evo 850 SSD on an Accelsior S coming in today that'll be used as a boot drive, so hopefully that'll help run things faster.

    As for flashing my os from 4,1 to 5,1 can you direct me to a tutorial or page with up to date efi firmware download links? I've been searching through this forum and netkas but they're mostly guides.
     
  14. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    #14
    You have to sign in as a member at Netkas to get the patch, but it is also available elsewhere, like here at MacRumors.
     
  15. Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    #15
    Yes, GTX 950 (Ti) and GTX 960 were the last Generation of Maxwell GPU's supporting HEVC decode acceleration: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-pro-4-1-gpu-upgrade-for-4k-uhdtv.2049842/#post-24668657

    No OS X upgrade needed. Maxwell GPU's are supported in OS X Yosemity and newer, working of course only with the Nvidia web driver.
     
  16. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #16
    MVC's site is out of stock of the 960 so ive been looking on amazon and found this one:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UOYQ9N4/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=&th=1

    These ones are gaming GPU's but they have a little better performance than MVC' site.
    The ACX+FTW seems to have the best specs of all their options. This one as better numbers than the one MVC sells and i can download the nvidia & cuda drivers myself.
    Would this be one youd recommend?

    As for powering it, do i need to buy a dual 6-pin to single 8-pin power cable that others suggest or do i need something else?

    $260 ACX + FTW
    Base Clock: 1304 MHz / Boost Clock: 1367 MHz | Memory Clock: 7010 MHz
    Memory Bit Width 128 Bit / Memory Speed: 0.28ns / Memory Bandwidth: 112.16GB/s


    $670 NEW | $280 USED Super SuperClock ACX 2.0
    Base Clock: 1279 MHz / Boost Clock: 1342 MHz. Memory Clock: 7010 MHz
    Memory Bit Width 128 Bit / Memory Speed: 0.28ns / Memory Bandwidth: 112.16GB/s
    $350 ACX 2.0
    Base Clock: 1127 MHz / Boost Clock: 1178 MHz | Memory Clock: 7010 MHz Effective
    Memory Bit Width 128 Bit / Memory Speed: 0.28ns / Memory Bandwidth: 112.16 GB/s
     
  17. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    #17
    I installed the GTX 960 ACX+FTW today and the 1080p material looks great. But my TV and system profiler still shows that that display resolution is 1080p instead of 4K. Its using the HDMI port with HDMI 2.0 cable. I have a Displayport adapter coming, but is the HDMI the reason its only 1080p? Ive installed both of NVIDIA''s (via MVCs site) and CUDA drivers (via NVIDIA).

    I also read that the 960 comes with its GPU acceleration disabled. How do i enable it? Are there other ways or settings to make the GPU put out 4K?
     
  18. Synchro3, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    #18
    Hold the Alt-Key when you select a resolution and you get all resolutions:

    large-20196-16.png.jpeg

    If that doesn't work use SwitchResX.

    If you installed the Nvidia web driver, and you can play 1080p footage, acceleration is probably on.
     
  19. dmylrea, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017

    dmylrea macrumors 68000

    dmylrea

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    #19
    Read through all these posts, and no one has mentioned that the OP could possibly do MUCH better by using a different, newer PC as a Plex media server instead of trying to make this old dog Mac 4,1 do duty as a 4k media server?

    While the Mac Pro may be capable (barely), it's big. It consumes a huge amount of power, even idle. My similar Mac Pro 4,1->5,1 draws almost 150W, not counting the monitor. Does this Mac run 7/24?

    The CPU, while can be upgraded to a decent clock speed, lacks any of the extensions that current CPU's have that would assist in the decoding or transcoding of video. Not sure where the Mac Pro sits, but it HAS to be audible if it's sitting near the TV.

    Instead of dumping money into an old Mac Pro, would it be wiser to put the money into a smaller Windows PC with a 7th Gen Kaby Lake chip that is much more capable of being a media server, uses just a trickle of power, runs cool, quiet, and would inevitably have a longer life than the old Mac Pro that has reached it's peak of upgrading?

    As an example, I use a Dell Optiplex 7040 MT with Core i7. Room for 3 drives plus m.2 SSD. Fully loaded with 3 drives and SSD and nVidia card, it draws about 18W idle. With such low energy usage, I let it run 7/24. It streams Plex to 3 TV's in the house. Since I don't watch directly from the PC, it has a lower power nVidia card, but that could be easily changed for watching 4K directly. And, you have a MUCH WIDER choice of cards using Windows instead of Mac.

    Looking at the 7th gen Kaby Lake here, you may not even need a video card, as the built-in GPU is capable of HEVC encode and decode, and up to 4Kp60:

    "Intel claims that Kaby Lake-U/Y can handle up to eight 4Kp30 AVC and HEVC decodes simultaneously. HEVC decode support is rated at 4Kp60 up to 120 Mbps (especially helpful for premium content playback and Ultra HD Blu-ray).

    I can't really think of a reason NOT to do this. There are even much smaller form factor units, but you can't fit a nVidia 1080 card in them (if that is what you want to do, but seems overkill).
     
  20. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2017
    #20
    Thanks dmylrea,
    I've actually been thinking about building a hackintosh with the exact i7 processor you have in your dell. My 4,1 sits right under my tv and is actually really quiet. But it does have trouble transcoding multiple streams for plex so it's time to upgrade.
     
  21. dmylrea macrumors 68000

    dmylrea

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    #21
    You say you use it mainly for Plex and watching movies....do you use this for other work also, or is it just a media server? I'm curious why you want to stick with Mac instead of Windows? Do you know of a significant difference between Plex for Mac and for Windows? I ask because it'd be a OOB easy setup for Windows, and a ton of work to put together a hackintosh and maintain it.

    Also, I didn't state, but I have a 6th gen Skylake i7...you'd want a 7th gen Kaby Lake to get the video advantages. Make sure macOS supports all the HEVC extensions of the Kaby Lake...I'm not sure...
     
  22. legacybk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2017
    #22
    Thanks for your input. I haven't used a pc since college in 2005 and have had all apple products since then. But lately with the computer specs they've been putting out compared to pc, it's hard to beat the prices. So I'll adapt.
     

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