Mac Pro (early 2009) - 3 Monitor GPU Suggestions

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Vudo2, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. Vudo2 macrumors newbie


    Feb 7, 2017
    I am in need of some good advice on GPU cards for my Mac Pro (early 2009) v4,1 for a 3 Monitor set-up (no extra power supplies please).

    I am currently running Snow Leopard v10.6.8 but will be installing El Capitan v10.11.6 on a separate drive soon.

    Right now my video set-up is as follows all utilizing 3- 21" Samsung 213T Monitors:

    ATI Radeon HD 4870 512GB (MAC OEM) 150w - Running:
    CENTER Monitor DVI (this is my main monitor for graphics and video work)
    RIGHT Monitor MAC Mini DisplayPort with DVI adaptor (used for mostly graphics image review and file searches)
    NOTE: this card utilizes both spare 6 pin power outlets on this box

    Nvidia GeForce GT 120 25watts - Running:
    LEFT Monitor DVI (usually used for overflow windows and open e-mail)
    NOTE: no additional power outlet required

    1) Presently I hoped to avoid any video card upgrades but would like to know if any good upgrades to my configuration would show noticeably achieved performance with plug & play ease? - OK I know this is asking allot but is it possible - I have to ask :)

    I will need to be able to see the boot screen as well simply because I will be booting in different OSs (Snow & El Cap)

    2) In Snow Leopard I have been noticing in my over-worn Safari and Firefox (both un-updatable versions) that the browser window scrolling has been having "slow down & hangup" issues when running pages with embedded video or other active elements. Could these just be conditions of the outdated browsers and will this be cleared up in the new El Cap OS or could there be a more sinister graphics hardware deficit/wear-down in play here that would require me to upgrade my graphics cards?
    Will El Capitan require new cards anyhow for performing properly?

    3) Is it more efficient to run both side monitors on the GT 120 (DVI + Mini DisplayPort) and utilize the full power of the ATI for the center monitor where most of my critical work is done..meaning do cards that support multiple monitors like the one I have perform better running just single monitors?

    Any suggestions on UPGRADED performance configurations for this setup utilizing new graphics cards (ether 1, 2 or 3 cards) that will work well with limited issues and be kind to my power supply would be most appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
  2. mattspace macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2013
    I suspect the top of the list you'll be recommended as turnkey options (and this is only because I'm researching this myself at the moment) would be Nvidia GTX 680 Mac Edition, 680 PC Edition (a dual 6-pin model) that you can self-flash to mac edition, or possibly a GTX 770.

    But I defer to the judgement of anyone who's actually used any of these cards.
  3. Synchro3 macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2014
    Only a note: GTX 680 and GTX 770 have only one DisplayPort connection. If all three monitors habe DisplayPort a Maxwell Card (GTX 970/980/980Ti) is needed.
  4. JeanLCP macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2015
  5. owbp macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2016
    Belgrade, Serbia
    It also depends of your work and apps you're using if you need nVidia or Radeon.

    I have experience with HD7950 and HD7970 (R9 280 and R9 280X respectively). They are highly optimized OS X cards since new Mac Pro's are using them (D500 and D700) and have DVI, HDMI and 2xmDP ports. Im running at the moment two displays (DVI to DVI and mDP to DVI). You can use it unflashed and leave GT120 in drawer for boot screens or flash it in Win or Bootcamp and sell both of your original cards (but I would keep 120 since it is quite cheap and AMD's are known for dying out of the blue).
    If you plan to flash it be sure to get reference output layout card (DVI, HDMI and 2xmDP) and if you want to have 4 working outputs be sure that next to reference output layout it has reference board (6 resistors where R17 is are arranged like a box), otherwise you'll have dead HDMI after flashing.

    P.S. Since i moved from one monitor setup to two monitors, R9 280X is idling at 50˚C instead of 40˚C as before and PCIE expansion fan is at 880RPM instead of 800RPM. Nothing crucial but worth mentioning.
  6. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    If you ever find Sierra will work for you, the AMD RX460 (reference ports version) is a plug and play option. Sierra is required, however. Using a Gigabyte version of the RX460, I am currently driving a 4k TV @60Hz from Display Port plus a 1080 display via DVI.
  7. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    The Samsung 213T monitors have DVI connectors which is why the OP uses a mini-DP to DVI adapter for one. The best solution as already mentioned is a PC GTX680 flashed with the Mac firmware. You can only buy them used nowadays but there are plenty available on eBay. It's better using a single card for driving three monitors as the desktop will be sharing the same video memory not to mention that the GT120 is much slower than a modern Nvidia card

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6 February 20, 2017