New 30" Apple Cinema Display :-)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jasone6, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. jasone6 macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2008
    I was lucky enough to check the online Apple Store at the right time yesterday, and came across a refurbished 30" ACD for $1,299. Ordered it with next day shipping, and less than 24 hours later (i.e. now), I've got it up and running. MAN—this thing is awesome!!! :D

    I've been using a pair of 23" ACDs—both suspended via an Ergotron dual mount (which is great). Now, I've got some reconfiguring to do. If anyone would be so kind as to tell me if the following moves make sense, I'd be truly grateful. FYI, I've got an early 2008 Mac Pro (3,1), and I do lots of graphics work (mainly Photoshop + Illustrator, CS5—but increasingly dabbling in Cinema 4D—and no gaming whatsoever). Here's what I've been thinking about buying to "refresh" my 3-year-old system:

    • ATI Radeon HD 5770 Graphics Card
    • SSD (120GB Mercury Extreme Pro) + "IcyDock" mount
    • 2 PCIe cards (both by Sonnet Tech.):
    — Allegro Express USB 2.0 Adapter Card (adds 4 ext. USB ports)
    — Tempo SATA E2P Serial ATA Host Adapter Card (adds 2 ext. eSATA ports)
    • NewerTech Voyager Q- (SATA Hard Drive Dock)

    What I'd like to do (if it makes sense) is replace one of my 4 Hard Drives with the SSD—which I'd use for my boot/system drive. The addition of the SATA card (PCI Express) and the SATA hard drive dock would give me quick-and-easy access to my "extra" hard drives—including the one I'd be removing to make room for the SSD. The USB card (PCI Express) would give me 4 additional USB ports. My main questions—perhaps, not surprisingly—deal with the new graphics card. I've read that the 5770 is a great card, and that in addition to being cheaper than the 5870, it also requires one less power connection to the logic board. Seems like a smart choice for me, right? I'd like to be able to connect both of my 23" ACDs + my new 30" ACD. I'd also like to be able to connect a small HDTV, if possible. Would I be able to use my GT8800 card in addition to the new 5770 to achieve this? :confused:

    Is the following possible(?):
    ATI 5770:
    - DVI — connects to 30" ACD
    - MDP1 — connects to 23" ACD #1 — via: Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter
    - MDP2 — connects to HDTV — via: Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Video Adapter
    NVIDIA GT8800:
    - DVI — connects to 23" ACD #2

    Again—any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance! :)

  2. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    That's not possible and not recommended anyway.
    You really want to keep all your working displays on a single card if possible.
    I've got a 4870 and a GT120 in my Pro, the 4870 drives a 30" and a 20", the GT120 another 20". When you move videos around the displays that are connected to the 4870, everything is smooth as butter. Once you I hit the display connected to the GT120 with a running video window, the playback stutters. If the windows is completely on the GT120, everything's smooth again.

    So it seems as if OS X has some issues with moving (performance demanding) windows from one graphics card to another. Static windows are no problem, though.

    So keep your 23", 30", 23" setup on the 5770, and the TV on the 8800. The triple setup on the 5770 requires active miniDP to DVI adapters, which you can find for $30 on amazon.
  3. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    If you're doing Photoshop work, yeah, sure, that's an ok setup.

    If you're doing video or heavy 3D work, this is a horrible setup.

    Every time you plug another monitor into a GPU you divide it's total VRAM. This setup would cause your 5770 to have 1/3 of it's total VRAM available for any application.

    If you work in creative fields that use applications that like VRAM, it is incredibly important to try to give each of your displays it's own GPU, or at least segment your less important displays onto a GPU while keeping your primary displays well fed with their own GPUs.

    For heavy creative work I would definitely suggest against putting 3 monitors onto one card, and I would caution against using two. There is a reason Apple offers a dual 5770 configuration.

    This setup IS possible, but not recommended for entirely different reasons. Again, single card = bad.

    The above posters issue sounds like a bug in the software he uses. If you do things properly under OS X, sessions transfer cleanly between GPUs. I run a 5870 and a GT 120 configuration at home. I've noticed iTunes doing this but all my other apps are fine.
  4. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Is it? I don't know of any active miniDP to HDMI adapter and I'm not sure if you can use an active miniDP to DVI and then use a simple DVI to HDMI adapter. Might be worth a try, but I'd rather stick with working displays on a single card.

    That software I use are normal video players such like Plex, VLC, QT or iTunes. As I said, all apps besides video players do just fine. It's definitely not a bug within the software, rather than just badly handling of multiple graphics cards of OS X. Windows performs such tasks without any problem.
  5. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2008
    Here is a MiniDP to HDMI Adapter on OWC. It doesn't say anything about "active," so I'm not sure how suitable it would be.

    I didn't realize that connecting multiple monitors would be splitting my VRAM. In that case, it sounds like I may want to connect the 30" ACD to the 5770, and both 23" ACDs to the GT8800. As for the HDTV, perhaps it's not a big deal to connect it to the 5770 as well—but only when I plan to use it as a monitor and not as a TV. The only utility I was hoping to get out of it was to have a display for when I want to use audio apps with my DJ gear on the other side of the room. In those instances, I wouldn't be concerned about splitting VRAM anyway, since I'd be using only the HDTV for low-intensity graphics (i.e. Ableton interface, etc.). Sound reasonable?

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Please feel free to keep the comments coming. I'm learning a lot from this thread.

  6. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2008
    That OWC adapter is a passive one, so that won't do. You need this one.
  7. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    It doesn't matter what kind of display, what resolution, or what you display on that display, once you connect it to the card, it gets assigned a 100% of the VRAM. If there is another display connected, it gets 50% of the available RAM. You can easily scale this up.
    To sum this up, VRAM is shared equally between connected displays.
    If this will be an issue to you or not, depends on your work, goMac already gave you an indication about the VRAM issue related to graphics work.

    I've got 2 displays connected to a 512MB card, and never experienced any issues with this, but than again, I don't do any graphics related work.
  8. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    It really depends on what kind of work you do. If you do 1080p video work, you want to make sure you probably have 512 megs of VRAM per display that you're working on...

    Photoshop doesn't really use VRAM, so Photoshop is fine for splitting like that onto multiple displays.

    Not sure about 3D rendering. Really depends on your software.
  9. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2008
    10-4. I understand—although I realize that my response didn't make that clear enough.

    What I was saying is this: in those moments during which I want to use the HDTV as a monitor for my computer (i.e. not as a TV), then I really don't care about VRAM—since at that moment, the only display I'd be looking at would be the HDTV, and I'd be using it to output non-intensive graphics (e.g. the Ableton Live interface, etc.). When it comes time to do graphics, I understand that I'd be wise to disconnect that HDTV from the 5770 so that the 30" display is able to take advantage of all the VRAM on the 5770.

  10. 20eman macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    Hey, question.

    If I have two monitors connected to one graphics card, and I'm running a VRAM-intensive application fullscreen on one of them, then the application only gets half the VRAM, correct?

    What if I switch off the second monitor but leave it plugged in? Will the graphics card send 100% of the VRAM to the application then?
  11. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Nope. It is still recognised by the system.

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