Mac Pro Graphics Card Upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by NsearchOf, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. NsearchOf macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2015
    My current Mac Pro is in need of a graphics card upgrade. The computer will be used for 2D/3D CADD and word processing type software. AutoCAD for Mac version lists Radeon 5870 as the only certified (not recommended) card; however, on the Windows side, there is a long list of Quadro cards which are certified and recommended. From this list, the Quadro 4000 has a Mac version and should work well for 2D projects with either Windows or Mac OS. Also, I want to add a second card for more graphic intense projects, such as, Quadro 5000 or GTX 660 card. The cards use one power cable (each) and have a combined power consumption of less 300 Watts. A Quadro K5000 is on the wish list but not in the budget. My questions are as follows:

    From these parameters, are there other cards which I should consider?
    By installing two cards, will this create problems for the processing of data?
    Should the cards be matching pairs (2-4000, 2-5000 or 2-660) for better performance and fewer possible problems?
    Could a card be used for one drive or software?
    When two graphics cards are installed, is this similar to a dual processor with data being channelled through each card as space becomes available to complete the task? Is it then sent to the monitor? If there is one monitor, is the data redirected to it?

    The many postings have been helpful to reduce the number of questions; however, these questions, some far, I have not been able to find an answer. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for your assistance.

    My computer System is:
    2009 Mac Pro 2.66GHz Quad Core
    12GB Memory
    4 Hard Drives-OS10.8, 10.10, Windows 8.1, Storage
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Aside from upgrading the GPU, you may also consider upgrading your CPU to a six core 3.33ghz or 3.46ghz and add more ram. Some apps are probably more CPU bound than GPU bound. I don't work on 3D though some 3Ds are still CPU bound with minimal GPU unless I am mistaken. As far as I know, dual GPUs works better under Windows.
  3. Mic-M4c macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2015
    Paris, FRANCE
    @NsearchOf : Hi. I recommand you the GeForce GTX 680 (CUDA is very usefull for your work+++). The card is fully natively supported by Yosemite 10.10 and will probably soon be 4K@60Hz compatible.
  4. NsearchOf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2015
    Thank you for your responses. In regards to CPU upgrade, this upgrade will have to wait until sometime into the future. As it will improve performance; my budget is first for the computer's basic needs (a better graphics card above the current GT 120 to meet AutoCAD's requirements. AutoCAD does not certified or recommend the GeForce line of graphics cards. This line is what Autodesk considers a consumers or gamer line and not a workstation level card. However, GTX 680 was one card which I had as a possible card to buy previous beginning my research. Also, this card requires two power connections preventing me from installing a second card specifically for AutoCAD.

    One line of graphics cards that AutoCAD recommends is Quadro. I would be interested in hearing from individuals using this line of cards and their experience working with 2D/3D applications.
  5. sboydturner macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2014
    A high performance graphics card will have little impact on AutoCAD for 2D use, I have a basic Quadro FX1800 in a HPZ400 and work with reasonably large architectural drawings (hospitals) screen redraws etc do not impact on my work.
    Multi core processors upgrades will also do little to improve speed as AutoCAD is not optimised for multiple cores/processors,
    best improvement you could make is installing fast SSD and RAM.
    The addition of a second card will have absolutely zero impact on AutoCAD and I am not aware of any CAD program that would benefit from a second graphics card for processing tasks, only a GPU rendering engine like Octane would benefit from additional cards (max 12 GPUs)
  6. NsearchOf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2015
    Thank you for your answer. The 2D portion of my work; a basic card is all I need. However, it is my 3D software (FormZ) that wants some additional muscle. That software recommends a minimum bench score over 1500 for small to medium files and 3500 for large files. These cards can be either workstation or consumer (gaming) cards. Autodesk's list of approved graphics cards appears to be based on accuracy (workstation) and less on performance-computing speed (gaming). If I go with a second card and can have each hard drive directed to a specific card or cards, the second card would be for 3D activities, to reduce rendering time. My first card, I thought a Quadro 4000 or 5000 would meet Autodesk's recommendations (workstation card) and FormZ's minimum bench scope for now. The 4000 has a PC and Mac version with the 5000 being only PC based.
    I wanted to explore the use of a GTX660 or 680 card but they are not shown on AutoCAD's list and the GeForce line is not listed for Revit. I would like to know if there are individuals using the GTX 600 or Quadro series cards for AutoCAD or Revit and their experience with the combination of card and software on the Mac or Windows platform, preferably on a Mac Pro.

    Yes, better and faster hard drive(s) and more RAM; these are on the wish list and are future investments after the basic components and softwares are installed and up and running. Twelve GB is the starting point with 24 or 32GB being the next stop.

    The interesting thing, my prior experience with AutoCAD on PCs, I had not idea which or what graphics card was inside the computer and had no problems. But, I want to make sure the Mac hardware work with these softwares.

  7. Tucom macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2006
  8. NsearchOf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2015
    Thank you for your response. From its specs, the K5000 Mac Edition appears to be an excellent selection with the only problem being it does not fitting into my current budget. However, it is on the list of future buying options.
  9. sboydturner macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2014
    Graphics card will not speed up rendering in FormZ will only improve on screen performance, get a gtx card and spend the difference in the ram and ssd as these will speed up everything.
    I would recommend a minimum of 32GB of RAM, especially for Revit which can easily use this up, our Revit workstations will be upgraded to 64 GB and 128 for machines also used for Navisworks

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