MP '09 -- Advice on GPU Upgrade. $ tight & Not sure about it

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by DarrylFest93, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. DarrylFest93 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2017
    I know there are countless threads about this, but I really need to update my graphics card as mine isn't doing so well. And I would not mind being able to run Sierra & my other apps with some more umph. I'm on el capitan now. any help would be super helpful & appreciated. here's what I have now..

    Mac Pro 4,1, Early 2009 (Which I'll flash to 5,1 for Sierra)
    2 x 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    32 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 1024 MB, the EVGA Mac Ed. it has 240 cuda cores.

    My needs & uses..
    I am not much a gamer. So super fast FPS in games isn't the top priority for me. My biggest priority is using it for more professional needs. What I do & need most is..

    - - well, just doing normal stuff which this card has a tough time with right now. or something is wrong because in Activity Monitor the WindowServer is constantly eating up 90% to 200-300% & things are just real sluggish. Even switching apps with multiple open windows is slow. I have a PCIe Accelsior drive running as my boot & most other things so that isn't the slow down. I'm hoping that it's some what at least because of my graphics card and it being old & OS X wants or needs a faster graphics card but even if not I still need a new card since mine is dying & I would like a boost while I am at it.

    - - I also do lots of design work. Photoshop, After Effects, Final cut & the like. Also I some times do bits of 3D work in Maya & Cinema 4D. Those can all use much more gpu power & most if not all of them take advantage of cuda. my current card only supports cuda version 1.3 which is super old. heck maybe even OS X can use cuda?

    I'm budgeting about $300 at the top end. if needed. I've never used an AMD card before but if someone thinks one of theirs would be better pls tell me.

    I know nvidia makes drivers for their Pascal series cards but most are out of my price range. But there are a few. Yet I get confused with all of the different manufacturers & kinds & wild price differences. Some offer more RAM but less cuda cores. some offer more cuda cores. here's just a few I saw if any one could see what I mean, I'm not limited to these if you know something better. I just don't & don't know which part or what to look exactly for..

    On Newegg (card titles are linked)..
    EVGA GeForce GTX 1050. 2 GB, 640 cuda cores -- $109 (with multi versions of it similar price. not sure which I even would get. But why so cheap??)

    MSI GeForce GTX 1060. 6 GB, 1280 cuda cores -- $299 (much more everything I think & price is ok if worth it)

    The only other thing that I see is something from the MacVidCards site. Their page for 4,1 & 5,1 MPs has options but they are more expensive. Except for mostly this one..
    Nvidia GTX 960. 2GB or 4GB, 1024 cuda cores -- $285 or $330 (I could spend the extra $30 if it would be the #1 top pick)

    With that last one -- the macvidcard one it wouldn't be the Pascal chipset since it is a 960. I know it would work right now but what about in the future? How do I know that High Sierra 2 will still be compatible? At least with the Pascal based ones in the 10 series, well I think I have a better chance if I'm thinking rightly about it.

    Or am I thinking about it all wrong. If I knew what to search for beside these which is something better then I would go for it too if someone has an idea.

    I think any of them will work in my PCIe 2 slot even though they're made for PCIe 3. I think.

    After reading a page about upgrading a 4,1 graphics card at..
    Their final conclusion was this -- "Was it worth it? Hell no!"

    ..So now what :confused:

    If my CPU & PCIe 2 is really going to be that slow for it, is it worth even doing? I've read many mixed pages on this & cannot make up my mind. It seems that many ppl think it is worth it. some do not.
    Just like many Mac Pro users out there with older models like mine, ideally I'd like to just buy a new Mac Pro. but not the current Mac Pro. one that's more expandable. I've seen the report about a possible new Mac Pro coming sometime in 2018 but thats a long time from now. Too long to wait for me for this, if I do it. But just long enough to where I don't want to sink more than about the $300 into my current model.
    I just go in circles not knowing what to do so if anyone can help with just helping make a choice of what's out there, please please post it. I'd thank you so much

    I'm not a super computer tech person, but I am pretty sure I could get at least a supported card like the Pascal ones to work or a one from macvidcards since they come ready to go. Unless there is a ton to it, even then..I with adapter cables I think I can do it.

    And that's my last question which is about power requirements. That iMore link above says that my Mac power supply should put out roughly 225watts. I'd rather not have to get another power supply or use an external one if possible. But if I have to I have to. And with the 10x series cards I think I will have to..question mark?..:rolleyes:

    Please please help. thank you thank you
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2017 ---
    A couple fast things I forgot to mention:
    I forgot to say that I'd be driving 2 Apple Cinema Displays right now. A 23" and a 30", both using the Dual-DVI cables. I noticed most cards these days don't have 2 DVI ports on them. usually just 1 if lucky. But I think I can easily drive at least the 2nd monitor or even both using DisplayPort adapters as long as there aren't drawbacks besides buying an adapter. but I have no experience with Displayports just to mention it.

    HDMI out, if it came at a very cheap price or none extra at all would also be nice. But is definitely not a deciding factor.
    sorry for the mess. it's my first post. thank u all again.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2017 ---
    OK last edit for me.
    Just want to add that yes I want a powerful card, but not at a massive electricity bill price. I know you can't have both. So maybe even jumping pages here, but something as old as an Nvidia 680?
    It is on the macvidcard site, so it should work right out of the box, has 2 dual link dvi ports, plus an hdmi port, and a displayport & 1536 cuda cores, and 2GB of memory. And at least a some what newer supported version of cuda, to v 3 I think.
    ..LINK to it..
    But, it lists it as in the Mac Pro "3,1" category. which makes me think it isn't going to be good enough. My main concern is that my current card -- the 285 requires the 2 extra power connectors coming off of my motherboard for power (I assume in addition to what it can get from the PCI lane itself).
    ..However this 680 card or at least their version on that site does not require ANY extra power. Only the PCI lane power itself. Did technology just leap in that amount of time between when I got my 285 & the 680? Or am I missing something? More power seems like it'd be needed for more power.
  2. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Here are 2 questions you must answer before we can give you suggestions.

    1) do you need boot screen?

    2) Do you need a OOTB solution?
  3. DarrylFest93 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2017
    Thanks for your help & reply!

    1 other thing I sorta said but didn't say much about is power. I said that it'd be nice to have a card that would work with the power supplied from my Mac as-is. Instead of using an external power supply or some thing like that, again though if the benefits outweigh the downside then I think I could deal with it.
    And I know that asking for a powerful card is the opposite of having a power friendly card that won't rack up my electricity bill. But that is a concern that I have. I really don't want to get something that's taking up a ton of power all the time when I don't need it to be full power mode all the time, if you know what I mean.

    I hope that answers your questions. if not please post whatever you want & I'll do my best to get all of the info I know back on here. 1 feature in GPUs that I didn't mention before when comparing cards was the texture/fill rate and such. When looking at a few of the cheapest cards, my card was actually faster than some of the newer ones. not new-new. but newer. So that plays a role in the 3D part of my design stuff (which isn't much these days but it could be again depending on my job). I know that stuff matters a lot to gamers, which I'm not. I don't know how much it affects other things like the uses I said in the orig post.

    I haven't really looked at AMD cards much. But saw many threads about them on here. I forgot which models they were and they were from 2016 & mentioned driver issues I think. I assume that stuff would be figured out by now in macOS? Maybe not? I just don't know if an AMD card would work better or more natively since Apple uses them in their products. Again though I would like to put performance & those things at the top of the list, maybe you would lean one way or the other -- AMD or Nvidia? Just curious really.
    thank you for your advice. my head is spinning just looking through all of the different versions of each card. What i mean is that Nvidia makes a card/model. But then it's sold by 10 other companies with random changes and mods to them. It just really makes things confusing even if I found a card model to buy I wouldn't really know which sub-model to go for. any way. thank you
  4. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Boot screen is required for few things. e.g.

    1) Boot manager
    2) Recovery partition (if no native driver in the OS)
    3) single user mode
    4) file vault
    5) firmware upgrade

    Since after the GPU upgrade, you can still keep your current Mac Edition card. So, unless you need boot screen very often, I agree that's just something nice to have on the new card, but not really necessary.

    If you don't need OOTB card, then I personal believe 1060 is a good chocice. That's a pretty good balance between power, efficiency, cost.

    If you upgrade to Sierra, RX460 is a great idea OOTB option, but that considered a bit weak. If you further upgrade to high Sierra, RX580 should be another OOTB option (required kext edit in Sierra).

    In terms of power, all new cards which below $300 should fit inside the cMP power envelope without any issue. If somehow you get a really high performance card for cheap (e.g. $300 for a 980Ti), those card usually still able to run with only 2x mini 6pin. Also, you may consider go through the Pixlas mod which will allow your cMP can power any single GPU graphic card.

    For drivers. In fact, Nvidia is more reliable. They keep providing web driver in the last few years even Apple didn't use their product anymore. They even provide driver support for Maxwell / Pascal.

    On the other hand, AMD is totally rely on Apple driver. And Apple occasionally remove some GPU support. e.g. A particular GPU may work OOTB in a beta OS, but totally blocked in the official release. It's rare, but occasionally happen. The worse case, you may stuck at the current OS.

    For bug fixing, of course Nvidia do better job. However, the most up to date Nvidia card usually suffer from more bug in MacOS. May be due to immature driver. It may require months before all annoying bugs to be ironed out.

    On the AMD side, OOTB card usually OK, but for cards that require kext edit, it's a gambling. And don't expect Apple will fix anything because they never supported. All you can do is just follow the news / sharing from here, and decide if that's good enough for you. In general, for production machine, I personal suggest only go OOTB option if you choose AMD card.

    And a more powerful card in fact won't cost you more (power bill). A card that provide 2x performance can finish the job also 2x faster. So, even the card draw 2x power, the total power consumption still the same for a job. However, since the time cut half. The power draw from the other components actually become less significant, you may end up save some money. Also, a modern powerful card won't draw power unless required. They all idle at very low power consumption.

    Anyway, since you are a Nvidia user, and nothing wrong to go for 1060. I believe that's one of the good option for you. But you need to upgrade to Sierra. And you have to make sure all your software can work with Sierra.
  5. Kris Kelvin macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2005
    macOS Sierra 10.12.6 should have support for the Radeon RX 480 and RX 580, too (without requiring kext edits). In my opinion, this would be the most convenient upgrade: Good performance, fairly efficient and OOTB compatibility.

    The Nvidia Pascal cards are great and more powerful, but the Web Driver is a pain in the ass because it breaks with every macOS update and you'll have to use a supported graphics card or Remote Desktop to get it updated and working again. The only other way is to modify the web driver beforehand and hope it'll be compatible with the macOS update.

    You might also want to wait a few weeks for two reasons: 1) AMD's Vega GPUs are to be released soon and 2) the market should be flooded with used RX 580 when Ethereum mining gets less worthwile. :)
  6. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

    Jan 6, 2004
    United Kingdom
    The whole Ethereum mining this is bumming me out - is it really predicted that the graphics card prices/availability should level out, or will there just be the next 'big thing' in mining, and so on?

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