Overwhelmed By GPU Choice, Help?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MacCollege, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. MacCollege macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    I realized there are a million posts on video cards, so thanks in advance to anyone willing to reply and help me with this issue!

    I've read multiple forum posts and looked all over the net, so please don't think I'm just prematurely posting on this issue. And, I have no problem admitting I'm kind of ignorant on the whole thing as well.

    Problem: I have a mac pro that I want to replace the video card in. Here are my specs (I'll include as much as I can, I figure overkill is better than under):

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro1,1
    Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 2
    Total Number Of Cores: 4
    L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB
    Memory: 2 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz
    Boot ROM Version: MP11.005C.B08
    SMC Version (system): 1.7f10
    ATI Radeon X1900 XT:

    Chipset Model: ATY,RadeonX1900
    Type: Display
    Bus: PCIe
    Slot: Slot-1
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 512 MB
    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x7249
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    ROM Revision: 113-A52027-202
    EFI Driver Version: 01.00.202
    Cinema HD:
    Resolution: 1920 x 1200
    Depth: 32-Bit Color
    Core Image: Hardware Accelerated
    Main Display: Yes
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Quartz Extreme: Supported
    Rotation: Supported
    Display Connector:
    Status: No Display Connected
    This is my second Radeon X1900 XT card. Both have performed well, but this one is slowly dying in the same way the other did (glitches, asking for reboot, and extreme noise).

    1. I am still uncertain of what cards are compatible with my system. I would like to stick with ATI over Nvidia, just due to past experience ( also I hear ATI is now being rebranded?)
    2. My main concern is noise. I want a silent card, or a card that I can add an aftermarket solution to to silence.
    3. I don't really want to "flash" the card or do anything that will be difficult or cause bugs in the future.
    4. My budget is around $180. So, I'll get the best I can for around that.

    Any advice or clarification would be SO MUCH appreciated.
  2. chych macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    You can also find Mac Radeon 3870/4870s and Geforce 8800s on ebay, however all these cards were high end (at their time) and produce lots of heat, and require strong fans, and are certainly not quiet like a fanless card is (i.e. geforce 7300). If you want quiet, you will be getting something that is already a fair bit slower than your x1900xt.

    But also the mac specific cards are way more expensive than they should be. I just picked up a PC ATI 4870 for $100 and flashed it, and it works like a champ (it's over twice that for the mac oem version on ebay).
  3. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    The 3870 was known to be pretty noisy.

    Pretty much all the NVidia options are out in since he has a Mac Pro 1,1. The 8800 created for the Mac Pro 1,1 might work, but it is NVidia, and kind of noisy.
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the quietest compatible card is probably the NVidia GT120. the only ATI/AMD card that might fit your requirements is the 2600XT...which I know nothing about, so I can't help you there.
  5. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    I guess quiet or silent is a kind of subjective thing. When there's no other noise, I can hear fans going on my machine, but I'm not sure which fans they are and I consider my Mac to be the quietest machine I have ever owned. I find it hard to imagine a machine that makes any less noise unless it's a completely fan-less system. The fridge in the kitchen makes more noise.

    Given the above, I've found the 4870 to be perfectly acceptable....The noisiest my machine ever gets is immediately after it reboots for about 2 seconds.

    It's hard to find a flashable 4870 these days unless you want to go second hand which could be a false economy. If you do go this route, it's only worth doing so if you can find a reference card, ie one that is pretty much identical to the original ATI 4870 spec that will accept the Mac ROM without any modifications. Modded ROM cards are running into issues with the latest OS X update and will likely continue to be high maintenance.

    In your shoes, I'd go for a 5770, I believe they work with your model of Mac according to Barefeats. They also require 50% of the power of a 4870 and will likely run cooler and quieter. I know it's a little over your budget but probably the best option IMHO.
  6. MacCollege, Dec 5, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010

    MacCollege thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    Wow what a community here - I just posted this and have so many responses already. Thanks everyone! :)

    Is this the card you're talking about?:


    When I google ATI 5770, I find all sorts of different cards, so I'm a bit confused on how I can tell what will work with what I have? Thanks.

    EDIT: My more specific question is, how do I tell WHICH 5770s would work - And for that matter, what criteria do I use to see if any will work? Or is it not that cut-and-dry?
  7. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    120 won't work in a Mac Pro 1,1.

    Only the 5770 sold from the Apple Store (i.e. the Apple version) will work without flashing.
  8. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    in the OP you stated you didn't want to flash a card...if you buy a "normal" video card like that, you will have to do so. to avoid flashing you need to purchase a Mac-specific video card. the Mac cards are labeled as an upgrade kit for Mac Pros, and it's about $250 for a 5770.

    if the card isn't overclocked, it will likely work. however, I don't think there's a 5770 out there that will run perfectly after being flashed...the screen will be blank until the login screen (i.e. won't show the gray load screen) unless you use a VGA connection.
  9. gpzjock, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    $180 budget doesn't buy much.

    Your choices of new Apple GFX cards for your budget are about nil.
    A secondhand Apple HD4870 512 mb might be available on eBay but that is about it.
    If you are prepared to go down the flash a PC card route you have a much bigger choice but once again the market is secondhand.
    There you can find ATI/AMD Sapphire 4870 and 5770 Vapor-X cards that will flash to Mac OS X 10.6.5 safely if you do your homework.
    They will come in about the right price and be very quiet as they already have an excellent cooler fitted.
    Good luck on your search. Here is the Bare Feats comparison of the available cards: http://www.barefeats.com/wst10g5.html as you can see the 4870 and 5770 are about the same in most instances.
  10. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    The X1900 was recalled, so if yours is on the fritz, you can get a new Nvidia GT120 from Apple for free. Here are the details, I hope you qualify:
  11. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    GT 120 does not work in a 1,1 Mac Pro...

    I have heard in limited cases of them replacing X1900's with 8800s, but it's certainly not a guarantee. They have also been handing out replacement X1900's.
  12. maghemi macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Ok, definitely do not go with the 8800GT. It's loud, it's hot and it's slow (though quicker than the x1900xt)

    I think your best option is to spend a bit more and go for the genuine ATI 5770 from the apple store. I know it's above what you want to spend, but it is fully compatible with your machine. It will come with the full apple support. And importantly it is very quiet.

    If you are dead set that you can't go above $180 then if you hunt around you may be able to find a pre-flashed one on ebay for that price, however I personally would not go that way. I can't stand the idea of spending that sort of money for something that is dodgily hashed up using someone else's work and profiteered from by dodgy ebay sellers. That and the fact they aren't fully compliant, and good luck trying to get any kind of warranty on them.

    Another option is the 2600XT. You won't be able to get one of those new from apple anymore. But you will be able to get one from ebay. Though again they are flashed ones. Only they do tend to be fully compatible (unlike the flashed 5570 cards). But again you have warranty issues. You will however be able to get one for $180 or less.

    Not sure about the noise on them though. I do remember that the one I had in my 2007 Mac Pro was reasonably quiet in just general use, but that's all I can remember about it.
  13. gullySn0wCat, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

    gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2010

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