Mac Pro - Which graphics card to go for?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by caseys, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. caseys macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2007
    Hi all,

    I'm just about to swap my MBP for my friend's MP,

    The MP has a 1900XT graphics card in it (it's a 4-core 2.66 Intel).

    I'd like to upgrade the card to occasionally play games in XP, sometimes in OSX. Otherwise I mainly play games on my PS3. I have been wondering which graphics card to purchase to upgrade to and want to stick with just one GPU to use under both XP and OSX. Nothing too intensive, but I'd like to play things like Fallout 3, Civ4, Call of Duty etc and a few others at a decent resolution. It's gonna be hooked p to 2 x 1920x1200 24' monitors. Also I will be doing a few bits in CS3 and RAW photo editing. It's got 3Gb of ram in it which I'll be adding another 4-8Gb.

    Which is best card to purchase? Cost isn't too much of a factor, but I'd like the best delta between cooling/noise/performance. Is the 3870 the best way? Or will an 8800GT suit my needs?

    EDIT: Can I even in fact install a 3870 in a phase 1 intel MP?


  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    The 8800 GT is better for games.
    The 3870 is better for professional apps.

    Get either.
  3. pwn247 macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2008
    West Virginia, USA
    Nailed it. I would shoot for the 8800GT, as it seems to be a better allaround card. However, for a lot of Photoshop and Aperture work, I think the 3870 would suit you better.
  4. ghoztman macrumors regular

    May 23, 2008
    I had the 1900XT and it was noisy and a pain in the ass. I bought and installed the 8800GT. Boy, what a difference.

    Lose the 1900.
  5. caseys thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2007
    Thanks for all the useful feedback :)

    Have read a few websites looking at 8800/3870 and some games the 3870 wins, but mostly the 8800GT.

    Knowing my luck I'm gonna order the 8800GT and the 4870 range will be announced next week :p
  6. Bubba Satori Suspended

    Bubba Satori

    Feb 15, 2008
    Probably won't be next week. Apple video card availabilty usually trails PC availabilty by a year or two.
  7. Infrared macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2007
    I've been very happy with the 8800GT. It runs super quiet
    when not under heavy load and seems to cope pretty well
    with most of the games I've tried. I think the 8800GT has
    proved itself to be one of the great cards of the last few

    But there are newer faster cards out there now and if you're
    patient, Apple may have a new offering soon (for the next gen
    Mac Pros). It's impossible to say at this stage whether it would
    be compatible with your machine, though.
  8. caseys thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2007
    Looks like I may not be going through with the swap now after all :( Can't get apple to install an airport module in the system as they don't sell it. They've also said that anyone else installing it will invalidate the applecare left on it. What fun!

    Apple Retail, the online store and technical support have all been giving me conflicting information today as to whether I could/couldn't get it done by them, but it now seems I cannot after 4 hours of arguing! :mad:
  9. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007

    That is what is stated, but I have owned both in a MP and at least for the games I play (BF2142) the 3870 is WAY faster.

    I would buy the ATI in a second. My new MP has the 8800 in from the factory and I hate it.
  10. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    It's a simple install and should you have to take it in, just remove it and they'll never know.

    For a desktop, best to just use ethernet anyway, unless you don't have a wire at your desk.
  11. claimed4all macrumors 6502

    Sep 26, 2008
    There are other options besides Airport for wireless.
  12. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    Ugh, the X1900 XT. Painful memories.

    8800GT, hands down. It's a great card, even if it is overpriced and outdated. Compared to the X1900 and 3870 it's *so* quiet. It runs completely silent during idle and the fans barely spin up while gaming. I've kept an eye on temps and it doesn't get too hot.

    I've been playing Fallout 3 and Call of Duty: World At War in XP. Fallout 3 runs pretty well at the High quality preset (with AA off @ 1920x1200) and CoD runs smoothly at max settings (again with AA off @ 1920x1200). The 8800GT is just a bit faster than the 3870.

    I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a 4870 or Geforce 280 for the 1st gen MP. Who knows what we'll see, but it's a least a few months still before any MP update.
  13. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    The 3870 was silent in my system, the 8800 is no noisier, but not less so either. The 3870 had much better performance in a mac only environement (I don't bootcamp, etc).

    I have the 8800 now, so I'm just telling it how I see it, no personal bias.

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