Mac Pro / Second Graphics Card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hnobrian, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. hnobrian macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    #1
    Hello all!

    I have a 2011 Mac Pro, 6 Core. We have about 300$ to spend and would like to upgrade it. We do a lot of video editing / 3d vfx and I wasn't sure what would be the best upgrade for us.
    We have 16gig of Ram, and an HD 5770 / 6 Core 3.33

    Second Question, can the Mac Pro add a second Graphics Card?

    Thank you in advance,

    Brian
     
  2. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #2
    I'm running a pair of EVGA GTX 970's (One SuperClocked and one For The Win, essentially the same card). Both are running internal on the internal PS using 6 pin splitter cables I picked up off eBay. Works fine and massive performance improvement over the GTX 285 that was in there.

    I don't game so don't even use it for video, just the GPU's for rendering.
     
  3. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #3
    Yes and no. Dual GPU in OS X works very different than under Windows. Both GPUs can't handle video output/onscreen render jobs at the same time. One can do CL/CUDA while the other can do video and if necessary CUDA/CL. For this reason, and others, I suggest one stronger GPU over two weaker ones. Same goes for Windows users, although their benefits/disadvantages from multi-GPU setups are different. Do you use Windows on the Mac or just OS X? And specifically what video software do you use? Because some software that relies a lot on CUDA/CL will benefit greatly from multi-GPU solutions, while some other software will literally see no difference. If the machine has no SSD, but relies on spinning platter drives, I'd consider that a priority over a new video card. Trust me, everything will see a performance boost there. And writes and reads from hard drive is important for video work as well. When I work with Final Cut, I am more often than not limited by storage, not GPU/CPU/RAM. Depending on what you do, 16 gigs of RAM isn't the world either. Hyper threading considered that's less than a gigabyte per logical core (Adobe apps like thinking in RAM per logical core). Priority list: SSD - GPU (depending on software, another 5770 or just a new faster replacement) - RAM, and if you have the know how, a CPU upgrade could potentially be a good idea somewhere down the line as well, should you desire greater performance. With the six core model, you should be able to add a second CPU, so you won't have to waste the part already in the machine by replacing it.
     
  4. xcodeSyn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    #4
    Since there are 4 PCIe slots inside a classic MP, theoretically you can install up to 4 single wide video cards as explained in this post, assuming you provide enough power to drive them all. There are plenty of threads in this forum discussing how to install multiple cards with external/internal power supply. The real issue is how you are planning to use both graphics cards.

    There is some misinformation in your post and I wonder if you have ever used/owned a 2009-2012 MP.

    1. In OS X only one GPU is recognized for a single graphics card with twin GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 590/690, and you can certainly use multiple video cards for video output and/or GPU computation if the software has the support for the OP's 2010/2012 (there was no 2011) MP. Your statement regarding the dual GPU may apply to the Late 2013 MP, i.e. nMP, but certainly not to 2006-2012 MPs.

    2. For 2009-2012 MPs they use either single or dual-processor board to connect to the motherboard, and it's quite clear the OP's machine has a single-processor board and has reached the CPU upgrade end more or less. Therefore there is no way to add a second CPU as suggested without first getting a dual-processor board and dual heatsinks. And only the Xeon 56XX processors can be used for dual CPU setting, not the 36XX series.
     
  5. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Location:
    Poland
    #5
    Both GPUs of 590 are recognized in OS X. This I can confirm personally.
     
  6. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #6
    As noted above an SSD should be your number 1 priority upgrade. Whether you need a better graphics card depends on your software & whether your current graphics is slowing you down. If you are editing in Premiere Pro then you would do better with an Nvidia card for CUDA. A used GTX570 is a great low cost upgrade. More RAM is always nice so if you can stretch to 32GB go for it.
     
  7. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #7
    Regarding number 1, are you entirely sure that both GPUs would work for output? I'm aware they'd both be able to do compute simultaneously, but not output render tasks.
    To answer your question, no, I've never owned a Mac Pro, sadly, but I have worked with a few.
    Number 2, well, fair enough. I seem to have spewed ********, so thanks for correcting me.

    ----------

    If CUDA is the end goal, I'd actually suggest a GTX 780, in spite of the massive price difference. There are a few refurbished models on Newegg for around $300. The reason I'd suggest this over the 570, is not so much about graphics performance, but about the compute capability. The GK 110 GPU in the 780, is essential the same used in the Titan, and is a derivative of a Tesla card (their compute oriented, screw the graphics GPUs). Especially when it comes to double precision FP64 calculations, the 780 beats pretty much everything, except for Titans and Teslas. And yes. This includes the 980, which uses a more graphics oriented GPU.

    TLDR; 780 way more expensive than 570, buttloads better CUDA performance, and I mean buttloads. No budget for other upgrades for now, but worth it if GPU is main concern,
     
  8. xcodeSyn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    #8
    You are right that both GPUs would be recognized in OS X. I was thinking only one would be used for gaming since OS X doesn't support either SLI or CrossFire, and that is different from Windows. It was my mistake not making it clear.
     
  9. hnobrian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    #9
    We have an SSD and it helps quite a lot. We do video editing with Premiere, some RAW workflow stuff from a Mark iii, and basic 3D visual effects in AE with Element from videocopilot.


    I feel like the play back lacks a lot when the videos have a lot of effects or with AE 3D stuff.
    We just bought a MacPro Cuad Core 2013 with better graphics card so we will probably do the graphics heavy stuff on that one. Can you just add another CPU to the 2011 version?

    And we only use OS X - no windows.
     
  10. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #10
    If the box was already a Dual CPU, yes. Depending on the model (3.1, 4.1 or 5.1) you might have to upgrade the firmware (which is trival, reversible, takes less than 5 minutes and is utterly safe) at which point the box will think it's a 5.1. If the machine was originally a single CPU you'd need a new processor tray that has dual CPUs.

    In terms of the upgrade path, in order of priority if you're doing CUDA based work, I'd start with a SSD for the boot volume, then a pair of GTX cards (I went with GTX 970's, for about $700 total), then CPU upgrades (replaced the quad core 2.4's with hex core 3.46's). Once you upgrade the CPU's you may want to go to triple channel memory (bear in mind they are incompatible with what shipped with it, and you have to install them in banks of 3's).

    After all that I've got what feels like a brand new machine. The Geekbench scores are WELL over double what I started with, and my render times have gone down by over a factor of 10 by moving from CPU to GPU renders. For less than 1/4 the cost of a bare bones nMP, I have a VERY fast production machine. I think I really hit the sweet spot in the price / performance ratio. Granted I could have gone with GTX 980's or Titan's but in reality that would have only bought maybe a 15-20% additional decrease in render times at well over twice the price, just for the cards and that's not counting the jacking around with a second power supply and hacking up the box to power the GPU's. IMO, that's just not worth it. By picking GPU's that I could parallel off the existing 6 pins without hitting the 75W limit on those lines, I have got the best of both worlds. Much faster machine, no hardware hacking required, no nMP price tag to pay for a decidedly non upgradable platform.
     
  11. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #11
    Wait, wait, wait. What? Tripple-channel? Isn't only dual-channel supported?
     
  12. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #12
    To get the speed advantage you need the registered version, and have to install them in banks of 3. You can install all 8 slots but lose the triple channel bit. You can't mix registered and unregistered chipset dimes on the same box.

    From DMS's page:

    NOTE: The Mac Pro uses triple channel DDR3 memory, achieving peak performance in multiples of 3 modules at a time. Data Memory Systems' DDR3 ECC Modules are manufactured using an Apple qualified Thermal Sensor. Supports 64GB of RAM using eight 8GB memory modules. The Mac Pro supports 16GB registered DIMMs (RDIMMs) for up to 96GB of memory in 8-Core and 12-Core systems. RDIMMs cannot be mixed with unregistered DIMMs. The DMS 16GB RDIMMs can not be mixed with other chips on this page.

    To use more than 32GB of RAM you must boot into 64 bit mode. Standard 32 bit will show you all the memory in the System Profiler but Activity Monitor will only show you the utilized RAM.

    MEMORY TYPE: DDR3-1333MHz ECC 240 PIN DIMM
     
  13. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #13
    Thanks for the information! I was so sure it was dual-channel, primarily because of the maximum number of slots. Seems a bit counter intuitive to allow a max configuration which doesn't deliver maximum performance
     

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