MacPro / VMWare video card advice ?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mbower71, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. mbower71 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #1
    Hi all -

    I was hoping someone could give me some advice on video cards for my 2009 (Nehalem) Mac Pro. Currently I've got a pair of GT120 cards driving two 24" ACD displays via MDP. I know these are the lowest end cards, but I'm not a gamer, so I figured they'd be acceptable to me and most of the time they are. The problem comes when I use VMWare in Unity mode where the windows are taken out of the context of the guest desktop and placed on the host OSX desktop. Moving / resizing windows generates tearing, bleedthrough, etc and makes it all generally unusable. Fullscreen and Windowed mode both work fine.

    Due the changes in Lion (Mission Control vs Spaces/Expose) I now have the need (or maybe just a strong want) to use Unity mode, thus the research for a better card that would allow Unity to work in a dual monitor setup. BTW, if I disable one of the monitors, Unity works great with the GT120, it's when I have a double-sized virtual desktop spanning both monitors that it doesn't work.

    Anyway - I was hoping to find someone that had a similar problem and had a card recommendation for me. I'm looking at the Apple site and see the 5770 and 5880. My preference would be to stay with one of these cards (or two 5770s if need be) and not a flashed PC card unless it's totally reliable to do so. I'm not a tinkerer - I need my system to be reliable - it's why I switched to Mac in the first place.

    More details about the system if it matters - 8X 2.26ghz Nehalem 2009 MP. 32G. 120G Intel SSD boot. 4X 2T Caviar Black in software RAID0 internal. I run anywhere from 2 to 8 VMWare VMs at a time, ranging from Windows 2003 server to Win7 and everything in between. I turn off Aero in the applicable OSs and keep all of the Windows eye candy turned off in all of them to save on performance.

    Any other Dual monitor Unity users out there? I'd really appreciate a tip here.

    Thanks a bunch.
    mb
     
  2. kevink2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #2
    I've not seen this in my 2008 with the 8800 card and 2 monitors. Driver issue?
     
  3. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #3
    I'm guessing (really just a guess) but when you move an application from one screen to the other, you're also moving all of the applications processes/used memory from 1 card to the other. So when you use 2 screens, the OS is constantly moving all of that data and causing your issues.

    I run a 5870 and GT120. If i'm playing video in non-full screen window, I can drag the window from one monitor to the other, but when I release the mouse I get a pause because the buffered video moves to the other card.

    If I didn't already have the 5870, I'd be buying one of these:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1198896

    I'm actually tempted to do it anyway, but I can't justify it.

    It's not as 'beefy' as the 5870, but it is a lot cheaper. I'm not sure how it compares to the 5770.
     
  4. mbower71, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

    mbower71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #4
    Thanks guys. Minifridge - based on your comments, I'm thinking that the problem may not be in the quality of the cards, but rather the fact that there's two of them. I can test this out using the MDP and the VGA port on only one of the monitors - I have an older VGA interface monitor around here that I can try. That'll be a good test. Unfiortunately, the GT120 only has one MDP port so I'll need to upgrade cards either way.

    Kevin - are you running both monitors off of the same 8800 card?

    as for the drivers, I can't say for certain, but this is a standard Apple supported card, and I've never messed with them - this machine was purchased in the store, and the Genius bar guy dropped the cards in it before I took possession. Does OSX have any utilities to run to verify that all drivers are non-corrupt?

    Thanks again - I'll post the results of the 'both monitors on one GT120 card' test later today.
     
  5. kevink2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #5
    Yes, just the one video card.

    I upgraded to Lion, and notice some strangeness when dragging a windows window from one monitor to another. Not too bad, though. But more so than under SL.
     

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