nVidia 8800GT wonderings - differences b/w 'original' Apple and refurbished PC cards?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by pullman, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. pullman macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #1
    I need a new 8800GT to my Mac Pro 3,1.

    Are there any differences between "original Apple video upgrade kit" nVidia cards and "refurbished" PC cards with Apple firmware? There are usually big price differences on the Bay.

    My original 8800GT broke down two years ago and I then bought a used Apple-spec HD5870 which is now sadly also giving up the ghost. So reliability would be good but at reasonable money.

    TIA
    Philip
     
  2. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    I can't speak for that specific card, but in many cases Apple users are happy to pay a huge price premium just for an Apple logo on the box, thinking that makes the card magically superior. :D

    As far as I know, the 8xxx Nvidias were never very reliable due to bad solder. I'd advice getting a more recent card with lower TDP. Which performance do you need? Are boot screens important? 4K?
     
  3. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #3
    Thanks very much for the reply Florian.

    I do boot into a 10.6 volume sometimes because I run the old Nikon Scan software (Rosetta-based). If I didn't do that I wouldn't need a boot screen I guess, but that was the reason I went for the used HD5870 - to get the most recent boot-screen capable and Mac Pro 3,1-compatible Apple-"original" card I could find.

    I would only pay a premium if an Apple "original part" card would somehow be better compared to a non-Apple card of the same model.

    The reason I'm am thinking of the 8800GT is that I believe the video errors and crashes I've experienced are related to the Sonnet Tempo Pro SSD stripes I use for boot. The screen has gone black a few times when I've booted into 10.6.8 with the HD5870 and I've also experienced crashes. So going with an old 8800GT would seem a safer bet than going with a newer card.

    4K isn't important as I only do photo editing of scanned film photos. And for any movie watching HD is enough.



     
  4. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #4
    Fl0r!an is correct. The 8800 GT cards were prone to failure due to heat. A fairly common fix was to place the cards in to an oven to heat it up and "reflow" the GPU. When I see "refurbished" 8800 GT cards, I always believe it is a card that has gone through this reflow process.

    From what I've read, cards that have been repaired with this method can last for a long time. I've done it once myself, but I did not continue using the card for too long after having it reflowed.
     
  5. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #5
    Thank you very much for the reply. Hmm I'm wondering what I should do.

    If I decide to skip boot screen which current/new card should I use? I don't play games or do any video editing, 3D rendering etc. I only use Photoshop CS6 (on sometimes largeish TIFF files). So I don't need extreme speed or anything. I'd prefer reliability to be honest.

    But, without boot screen, what if there's a problem during boot - how can I find out what it is? Can I screen share using my Macbook?




     
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #6
    If you can find a working PC version of the 8800 GT for cheap, you can flash the firmware on it to display boot screens. It's not very hard to do, however, you will need to have either a Windows desktop or Windows installed on your Mac Pro.
     
  7. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    That's exactly one of the reasons why it's desirable to have a boot screen. :)

    You've also implicitly mentioned another reason: OS X 10.6 doesn't support unflashed PC-cards, so you'll need a flashed one or a genuine Apple card. OS X 10.6 also greatly narrows down your choices to the cards that were available 5 years ago, younger cards won't have any drivers. This makes HD 5xxx generation already the most recent cards.
    I think a HD 5770 is a better choice since you don't care about performance. It's cheaper and also runs cooler which makes it less likely to fail.
    Flashable PC cards should be available for ~$50.
     
  8. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #8
    Thank you, super helpful. An HD5770 sounds like a good one then.

    When I search there are lots of brands - Diamond, Dell, Sapphire, ATI - with cards called HD5770. Are certain brands better than other? Also did my setup limit me in terms of the memory on the card?

    And can all of them be flashed?

     
  9. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #9
    Only EVGA brand 8800Gs can be flashed easily, they were only ones to regularly use right size chip.

    Don't know if Florian released a 5770 EFI with DVI boot screens, if not just get an Apple one.

    The early Fermi cards (GTX470/480/Quadro 4000) can be run in 10.6.8 if you install the Nvidia Driver.

    There are flashed ones with boot screens but they do run hot and may not live long. Note that the "Quadro 4000" name can refer to many cards, the Kepler and Maxwell versions won't work.
     
  10. 321estrellas macrumors 6502

    321estrellas

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    #10
    I remember buying a cheap ($150-200) PC video card that worked out of the box on my Mac Pro 3,1. It was a MSI Geforce GTX 550ti. I can't remember if I had to do anything particular to make it work but it worked very well!

    If you want reliability though, the HD 5770's are great and since they aren't in demand, you might be able to score a used one for cheap. I bought one in mid-2012 for about $100-150.
     
  11. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #11
    A PC 5770 would be a lot cheaper, like 50€. The question is only if flashing is easy and reliable enough, esp when upgrading to Yosemite/El Cap at some point. I've seen info here about Zeus and other tools. Is that what I would use?

    An Apple spec 5770 will be 150€ but saves me the trouble. Presumably both would be equally reliable.

    Hmm


     
  12. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #12
    Apple 5770 has 2 @ MDP ports and can thus run 2 @ Apple MDP displays.

    Flashed 5770 will have one DP port, but very very few can run an Apple display, as far as I know none have boot screens via DP, Florian knows how to get DVI port to give boot screen, not sure if anyone has done on one yet. For longest time, only boot screen on flashed 5770 was via DVI to VGA. This is one place that real Apple card is worth the extra $$ I think.
     
  13. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    The improved 5770 EFI is available over at netkas.org in that 'radeon port mapping' thread.
    Gives boot screen on DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.

    I think any card with standard port layout (2x DVI, 1x HDMI, 1x DP) should work. I'd recommend a Sapphire Vapor-X, very cool & silent.
     
  14. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #14
    Great news. Was this tested on actual DP? As you know, the DVI feed on a DP output is completely separate thing. Most 5770 and 5870, even when DP works, will not function with an Apple MDP display, or have you found differently?
     
  15. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I tested both with a real DP display and with active/passive adapters, all were working. I don't have any Apple displays though, so I can't test this.
     
  16. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #16
    Thanks for the further info. I use an ACD and might get a second one at some point so I'd certainly want to be sure the card works with that. I think I've found a good HD 5770 in Germany so will go for that one.

    I'm really grateful for all the help and truly insightful information you've all given me.

    Philip
     
  17. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Is it a newer one with displayport? They might be incompatible with HD 5xxx as MVC pointed out. The old DVI ones are no problem.
     
  18. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #18
    Um I'm not sure. It's this one.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: I think it has a DVI port if I understand Everymac correctly.

     
  19. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

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  20. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    Brilliant, thank you very much for your help.
    br
    Philip

     
  21. orph macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    id go for the 5770.
    you can also pic up a mac official gt120 quiet cheep if you dont need speed.
     
  22. jantoman macrumors newbie

    jantoman

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    #22
    Answering to your first question... I got two 8800 in my Mac Pro 1,1. The first one was a legit Apple card, I bought it new on eBay for 180 euros. It worked very well for three years, then started to flicker causing system crashes. I backed it in the oven... and I got it working for another year, then it finally passed out. The second one was a PC Alpha Dog Edition card and I bought it used for 30 euros... I flashed it in a friend's PC and it worked fine for two years and a half, then began the same routine again. Comparing its lifespan with the previous one (that was NOS) there's not a big difference: I don't know how much it worked before I got it, but I doubt it was less than a year. I'd say they lasted the same, in the end.

    I backed it as well, just to help me in the flashing process for the 5770 I just bought, and now it's working again. But as soon as I can get the new card up and running, I'll get rid of it, hoping that the 5770 would be much more reliable.
     
  23. pullman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pullman

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    #23
    Thanks for the further replies and sharing your thoughts.
     

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