Mac Pro 5,1 Best GPU for Smoothest macOS Animations and Everyday Use

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JeDiGM, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. JeDiGM macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2018
    #1
    Hello MacRumors community. I have a very specific question I'm hoping to get some answers to. I'm debating making the switch from my GTX 1070 to an AMD card. I'm really liking the Radeon PRO wx 8200 card or even the wx 9100. My specific needs are as follows. I do not do any rendering and do not need it for those reasons.

    Needs:
    -Smoothest macOS animations graphics (Mission control, launchpad, spaces transitions). I run a lot of windows simultaneously in multiple spaces so I need the smoothness to scale as i work
    -Clearest picture for long work sessions
    -Smoothest day-to-day everyday graphics needs (web browsing, videos, etc)
    -Running 3 monitors at present, 1 - 4k, 2 - 1440p. Would eventually be moving up to 4k x3
    -VM simulation environment testing of various systems. Can require GPU memory
    -Low TDP on the card. Not interested in doing any modding to get this working
    -Quiet card. Don't want any noise because i'm not doing rendering as i said

    I basically just want the smoothest animations possible for my everyday work environment. It's been hard to find specific information comparing AMD and NVIDIA macOS animations performance (no lag, smoothness, responsiveness, etc). I picked the 1070 because it's TDP, noise levels and performance were ideal, no problems with it, and in 10.13.6 the animations are great right now but i'd like to move up to Mojave for the dark mode features. Any recommendations? Thanks everyone.
     
  2. OneyedK macrumors member

    OneyedK

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    #2
    I'd stick with the 1070 unless nVidia wouldn't release webdrivers for Mojave in a reasonable amount of time.
    I chose the RX580 Nitro+ because of it's bigger cooler, most of the times, the fans don't spin at all, unless I'm playing a game. Even then the Nitro stays pretty quiet.

    If I were you, I'd invest in higher refresh rate 1440p monitors rather than 4k's wich are bound to 60Hz without costing an arm and a leg.
     
  3. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #3
    Appreciate the advice :) The higher refresh rate is definitely something to consider. Any experience to compare the animation smoothness between your AMD card and an NVIDIA card?
     
  4. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #4
    For OS animation, Sapphire PULSE RX580 8GB is smoother than PNY XLR8 1080Ti on my cMP. And my monitor is the CHG90 144Hz monitor.
     
  5. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #5
    Thanks h9826790. Do you find it maintains smooth performance when you're doing a lot and running a lot of windows?
     
  6. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #6
    I have 2 profiles log in with 10 desktop (space) and few more full screen apps 24/7. Usually around 20 finder tabs and 15 Safari tabs opened. No problem on the OS animation.

    But if you want the best, you should really consider 10.14 with RX580. This definitely give me the smoothest OS UI so far.
     
  7. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #7
    Excellent. For the price, what you guys are suggesting seems like a great option. I'm just wondering about animations over multiple monitors now on an RX580? What's the TDP on an RX580?
     
  8. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #8
    Not sure about multi monitor setup, I choose the 49” 32:9 CHG90 mainly because I want to avoid multi monitor setup.

    Anyway, the RX580 is around 180W TDP. I never try the Nitro+, it has better cooling, should be quieter. But my PULSE is quiet enough. I know that you don’t want to mod anything, so, won’t suggest you go though the low power mod. But even with the stock setting, you should not able to hear anything from the card in desktop environment.
     
  9. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #9
    Picked up an RX 580 Pulse 8GB. There are some differences in performance but now I'm having an issue where the fans run at full speed on wake from sleep? Any idea what's going on or how to fix?
     
  10. bsbeamer macrumors 68020

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    Sep 19, 2012
    #10
    Until more is known about the future of NVIDIA cards on Mac, I'd be very hesitant to recommend anyone run out and purchase an NVIDIA GPU. Even the officially recommended EVGA/NVIDIA GTX 680 Mac Edition cannot use CUDA in Mojave without Web Drivers available. The RTX cards look great and something was done to make them work better with firmware updates in Mac Pro 5,1 but they are useless without drivers.

    The Sapphire Pulse RX580 8GB is the card I would recommend for 5,1 users on Mojave. It's Apple's recommended card and it is easily powered internally with dual mini 6-pin to standard 8-pin. I've tested it on my personal machine and documented several "fit" issues on this forum and the workarounds used to make it meet my needs so I can still use all available PCIe slots.

    I'm still on 10.13.6 for daily OS and waiting until at least 10.14.1 or 10.14.2 (likely mid to late November) before I make a final decision on how I'm using this 5,1 moving forward. I use CUDA daily, but think I'll be forced to update this machine to Mojave before 2019 for client purposes. Have been granted a temporary extension from the "update within 2-weeks of release" policy, but that will not last forever. Hoping for clarity after the upcoming Apple event. Lack of CUDA for Mojave may ultimately push me from macOS for at least one client and then I'll need to seriously evaluate how and where I'm spending money for hardware across the board.
     
  11. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #11
    You mean the GPU's fan?
     
  12. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #12
    Yes. GPU fans.
     
  13. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #13
    TBH, I never sleep my cMP, so, not sure if this a common bug.

    Do you install Mojave yet? And what you see at here?
    Screenshot 2018-10-23 at 02.29.38.png
     
  14. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #14
    Installing mojave now. Will post when it’s installed. Thanks.
     
  15. JeDiGM, Oct 29, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018

    JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #15
    UPDATE: So I tried a few things and wanted to report back with my findings.

    -Purchased RX 580 8GB Pulse on h9826790's suggestion. Card definitely showed an improvement over my 1070 8GB with everyday graphics. Graphics in mission control, spaces (switching, moving windows between, creating new), watching videos and web browsing (scrolling and page transitions) all showed improvement. Card was louder than the 1070 though not by much. It felt like the card had to work harder than the 1070 so that's probably why the fans ran a little higher and louder. Some graphics were still choppy when I first ran them I would find. My GPU's RAM was always full or 80-90% full according to iStat

    -Purchased Vega Frontier Edition to test. No mods done yet. Running with regular 6 -> 8 pin cables and it's fine so far. I'm using the normal bios (the one facing away from the graphics ports). I don't do any graphics rendering or gaming on it, just desktop graphics, browsing and watching video. I tried running heaven benchmark and it got mad at me and starting beeping so I stopped LOL. The card works OOB in 10.13.6. Have not tried Mojave yet but I will be within the next few days. Card runs everything beautifully so far. Really nice card. Graphics are smoother and consistent. The OS experience is definitely smoother, more fluid and more responsive. It's a small but VERY significant difference that's worth every penny. I would definitely recommend running a 16GB card if you have a setup similar to mine - 3x monitors 1x 4k and 2x 1440p all @ 60hz. My GPU RAM is usually around 50-60% used. The only downside is that these stupid blower fans are terrible for noise. I don't know why these reference models keep using them. Nvidia seems to finally be getting a clue with the 20xx series. It's louder than the Pulse RX 580. It's not unbearable but I’m looking for solutions to get it quieter. The nice thing is the card feels a lot more powerful and like it can handle anything I’m throwing at it without breaking a sweat. Power levels never go over 2.2A and the slot shows a pretty stable 0.82A according to iStat. One other issue is that the card makes a very low clicking sound, similar to that of a 2.5" HDD when I do any of the graphics tasks I mentioned. When I look inside, I notice that there are 2 LEDs under the PCIe power ports. One is solid blue and the other flickers when performing graphics tasks. The one that flickers (the one farthest from the interface ports) is what's causing the low clicking. Looking for a way to disable or smooth this problem out.

    Overall, seems like AMD is the way to go for Mac graphics, at least for my needs. Just wish there were more options out there. 16GB made a huge difference for me. Now I just need to get the noise levels down. Does anyone know if I can flash the BIOS on this card to get the fan to slow down and be quieter? I don't mind some extra heat and wear if it quiets down a bit. I've read that there are undervolting options with this card. That seems like that might be a good solution for my needs. The last time I tried to flash an AMD card (probably 4-5 years ago) the Mac would override the flashed settings anyway so it was ineffective. Are there ways to modify bios settings now that will stick in MacOS? I was also considering aftermarket coolers but the only one I found was the Morpheus Vega from rajintek. The cooler is huge though and I don't want to lose a slot because I use the second slot for an NVMe drive.

    EDIT: There is a switch on the bottom of the card to turn off the LEDs to the PCIe power ports. That turned off the clicking noise. 1 thing fixed :)
    --- Post Merged, Oct 29, 2018 ---
    The sleep issue had to do with running my old GT120 with the Radeon in parallel. Once I took out the GT120 and just ran the RX 580 the fan speed issue stopped when waking from sleep.
     
  16. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #16
    You can only mod the RX580's VBIOS, Vega's VBIOS is locked (or signed), mod it will "break the seal" and make it useless.

    IMO, downvolt the Vega via kext edit is the way to go. In my own experience, AMD cards are always come with too high voltage. That's why I wrote this post.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/sapphire-pulse-rx580-8gb-vbios-study.2133607/

    For old AMD cards. e.g. HD7950, when multiple monitors connected, the card can never go to the real low power state, which will make the card draw 3x more power even just idle. Therefore, the GPU will be warmer, and the fan have to work harder. I am not 100% sure Polaris or Vega still like this. But from your description, I bet they do. My RX580's fan rarely need to spin up in normal desktop environment. I just check it now, and no surprise, Fan Speed = 0 RPM.
    Screenshot 2018-10-30 at 00.24.45.png

    I just modded both my RX580 and 1080Ti with liquid metal. The cooling performance improved a lot. My downvolted RX580 can now run OpenCL rendering for hours but the fan speed still below 800RPM. That's pretty quiet actually. In fact, even Furmark now can't make the GPU go beyond 75C (target temperature) and the fan still a bit below max.
    43624225_312723032649799_5840841148133801984_n.png

    My PNY XLR8 1080Ti is even more crazier. With liquid metal, it can now run at 2000MHz but the GPU never goes above 71C.

    From both graphic cards. I can now understand that the stock cooler is actually very decent, and can do the job well. The problem is the thermal paste bottleneck. In fact, the same thing applicable to Vega.
    Screenshot 2018-10-30 at 00.48.25.png

    However, I won't recommend anyone do this mod. It will void the warranty straight away, and poor liquid metal application can kill the PCB because they are electrically conductive. But just want to let you know that the cooler isn't that bad......usually.

    For the reference blower. Yes, they are horrible noisy. However, they are really very reliable, usually can work for many many years. Most likely that's why the GPU manufacture prefer the blower.

    For VRAM, AFAIK, AMD card still spilt the VRAM by monitor count. e.g. If you have 3 monitors, then each of them will have their own 2.66GB VRAM, regardless how heavy the duty is.

    So, if any one of them require more than 2.66GB, there will be a big performance hit. In this case, 16GB of course is way better.

    Anyway, I highly suggest you try Mojave ASAP. My RX580 provide noticeable smoother UI in 10.14.0 than 10.13.6. I am so surprised that Mojave initial release can do this well.
     
  17. JeDiGM, Oct 29, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018

    JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #17
    Thanks so much for the info and feedback h9826790. The only issue with downvolting via kext is that I have to re-apply the settings every new release of macOS correct? How do I do it? Is it easy? The thread you pointed to seems to talk about VBIOS setting modifications instead of kext changes or did I miss something?

    I take it liquid metal is a thermal paste or similar solution? Would silver produce similar results?

    Just ran the terminal command you did. My temps are 38C and the fan speed is 2000 RPM. So stupid. Total power is 58W.
     
  18. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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    #18
    That post is only for PULSE RX580 8GB. Not for Vega. And for RX580, mod the VBIOS is easier. As you said, no need to re-apply after any OS update.

    For kext edit, you better check the Vega thread, some info at there.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...u-macos-support.2083168/page-34#post-26607844

    Yes, liquid metal is a kind of thermal paste, but due to it's base on gallium, it has super good thermal conductivity and electric conductivity.

    For thermal paste like AS5. Despite the manufacture says it has 8.7W/(mK), the lab test shows the actual performance in real world is just 0.94W/(mK).

    But for gallium, its thermal conductivity is 40.6 W/(mK). Even AS5 can perform as expected, gallium still 5x better. And in real world, gallium can be 40x better.

    Silver of course can conduct heat very well. However, how to apply is the issue. Gallium can be used as thermal paste because its melting point is about 30C. And gallium alloy can easily stay at liquid form in room temperature. Therefore, easy to apply with a little brush.

    Anyway, I really wouldn't recommend anyone apply liquid metal because of the risk, unless he know exactly what he is doing and how to avoid them. e.g. Before I apply liquid metal to my graphic cards, I actually applied some clear nail polish on the resistors that right next to the GPU die. Just in case if there is any liquid metal spillage, they still won't easily short the circuits and kill the whole graphic cards. Despite lots of review said liquid metal is hard to apply. IMO, it's not hard at all, just "very less margin for error", but the process itself is very straight forward. I've done that to all my 8700k, W3690, RX580, 1080Ti, no difficulty at all. Even I almost kill my 1080Ti, but those nail polish work as expected, protected the resistor, and the card still running flawlessly at this moment. The risk is there, but avoidable.

    Also, please take some time to read though that Vega thread. 38C, but 2000RPM, your card is suffered from the fan speed bug. Some work around was discussed in that thread, you may give it a try.
     
  19. JeDiGM thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2018
    #19
    Booted into Mojave Beta 5. GPU fan is quieter, PSU fan is louder lol. No progress.
     

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18 October 20, 2018