PC 5870 any good in a Mac Pro 3,1 running Mountain Lion?

Gomff

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 17, 2009
802
1
Hi Everyone

I have the chance to pick up a cheap ATI 5870 card. It's a reference design PC version and I'm wondering whether to snap it up and replace the flashed 4870 that's already in my machine.

If I were to grab it, what would be my options? Can it be flashed to show a proper boot screen? Will Mountain Lion support it natively (unflashed) but with no boot screen? Am I right in thinking the performance increase between a 4870 and a 5870 is worth it?

Many thanks for any advice.
 

El Awesome

macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2012
471
0
Zurich
The 5870 is a very good card and is even unflashed running out of the box.
Flashing it is not too hard - check Cindori's app called Freya.

There will be a huge speed increase in comparison to the 4870.
Do you have another GPU left that doesen't need power from the MoBo?
Then you can put that one in and it will provide the bootscreen, so no need to flash it.
 

DanielCoffey

macrumors 65816
Nov 15, 2010
1,190
24
Edinburgh, UK
If you need to swap between OS X and Windows, remember you can download the FREE app, BootChamp from http://www.kainjow.com

It will sit on your top right menu bar and allow you to swap into Windows without needing to wait for the boot screen. If you really find it useful, just throw the author something on PayPal to say thanks.

EDIT : I should just add that you will need to Control-Click on the app and select Open the first time you want to run it since the author has not yet put a version on the App Store. This is a security feature from Mountain Lion where you need to explicitly declare you Trust an App if 10.8 doesn't recognise it.
 
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Gomff

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 17, 2009
802
1
Thanks for the replies....I hadn't seen that anybody had done so until just now.

Great, so out of the box in Mountain Lion it will work but without boot screens, but it is also flash-able which would make it indistinguishable from an official Mac 5870, boot screens and all?

It's becoming more and more tempting an offer :)
 

gpzjock

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2009
798
33
I replaced my flashed 4870 with a flashed 5870 back in 2010, the performance boost was about double. Today the only thing preventing me upgrading to a newer Nvidia card is that I need Rosetta support and still use Snow Leopard. IF I was running Mountain Lion I would go for a GTX570 or 670 instead. The performance boost and CUDA support would be even better.
 

combo

macrumors newbie
Aug 22, 2011
9
0
Hey Gomff,

Crazy, I'm in the same boat (you're not in NYC area, are you?). Mind letting me know how it goes if you do pick up the card?

Also, I never was able to figure out what a "reference" version of the card was. Do you know what it is?

Also x2, I'm running Lion still. I'm pretty sure Lion has the same drivers as Mountain Lion, so I should be good to go if I do pull the trigger. Any readers have any thoughts on this?
 

MacVidCards

Suspended
Nov 17, 2008
6,096
1,052
Hollywood, CA
Flashed 4870s offer DVI boot screen.

Flashed 5870s only have boot screen via a DVI to VGA converter on lower DVI port. When Netkas modded the EFI to work he didn't have a Mac Pro to test on, so amazing that it works as well as it does. In some OS versions the DP will work, in others, no.

Used in a 4,1 flashed to 5,1 you can actually send Audio via HDMI or DP.

REFERENCE BOARD EXPLANATION:

When a GPU manufacturer (NVIDIA OR AMD/ATI) first creates a new GPU, they send out a completed design for the board and cooler. This is the "reference" design. All the "board partners" (EVGA, XFX, HIS, etc) buy the GPU chips and use the original design to start production.

Since all electronics (except Apple) go down in price as they age, the board partners start looking for ways to cut manufacturing costs. They figure out that removing a power stage only adds 10% instability so they do it. Removing a bunch of capacitors means lower clocks but 5% cheaper, so they do it. They also frequently remove the pricey rear exit 4 wire fan designed into the reference board. They replace it with a 2 wire center mounted cheapey blasting air all over the inside of your machine. With no speed controller the 2 wire fan will fry it's little self right around the time the warranty runs out. Perfect for them.

Apple gets cards from GPU companies when they are first released and starts working on their version. SO they get a "reference" version and make their changes. Hence the reason that reference PC boards make best candidates for flashing as they have the most in common with the board Apple started with.

This became painfully obvious for people who bought later 4870s. While the early XFX ZDFC ZHFC 4870S with reference cooler were the BEST to flash. (only 1GB model to have Dual Display in 10.5.8) the later XFX models are literally the WORST models to flash (The ZWFC is basically unusable )

So there is the story behind "reference" board for Mac GPU flashing. Someone sticky that or something.
 

combo

macrumors newbie
Aug 22, 2011
9
0
Thanks MacVidCards. I've been plowing through your thread on the GTX 570 and got a good idea of what a reference card was. Still, thanks for the in depth explanation. It definitely cleared up a few questions still lurking in my mind. Also, drooling over your modded card on your eBay store.

Gomff—any updates? You get that 5870? Honestly, after doing the reading, I'm not sure the 5870 is where it's at anymore. Comparing prices and stats, I think I'm jumping the fence and headed for a GTX 570. A new one sets you back around $200. 5870s I've been seeing have been hovering around $120 with the cheapest I know at $100. And those are all used. In my book, the added performance gains of the GTX 570, with warranty, are well worth the ~$80 price difference.

My two cents.
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
The numbers on that site is some serious BS. The HD5870 is significantly faster than what that chart indicates. HD5870 is easily faster than the HD6870 and is slightly slower than the HD6950. Anyway I suspect that the site does not differentiate between single card and SLI/CF setups and scores are just all averaged together.

Before I sold my Mac Pro I had the HD5870, GTX570 and GTX670. The HD5870 is slower by about 10-20% compared to the GTX570 and both gets demolished by the GTX670 in 3d performance. It comes down to your needs. If you need to play the latest games I would just get the GTX670 to call it a day. If you need CUDA performance get the GTX570. If you just need an upgrade on the cheap to play today's games reasonably well the HD5870 is hard to beat.
 

GermanyChris

macrumors 601
Jul 3, 2011
4,185
2
Here
The numbers on that site is some serious BS. The HD5870 is significantly faster than what that chart indicates. HD5870 is easily faster than the HD6870 and is slightly slower than the HD6950. Anyway I suspect that the site does not differentiate between single card and SLI/CF setups and scores are just all averaged together.

Before I sold my Mac Pro I had the HD5870, GTX570 and GTX670. The HD5870 is slower by about 10-20% compared to the GTX570 and both gets demolished by the GTX670 in 3d performance. It comes down to your needs. If you need to play the latest games I would just get the GTX670 to call it a day. If you need CUDA performance get the GTX570. If you just need an upgrade on the cheap to play today's games reasonably well the HD5870 is hard to beat.
So passmark is full of crap?? I think the opposite is more likely true.
 

GermanyChris

macrumors 601
Jul 3, 2011
4,185
2
Here
Go look at the chart yourself if you don't believe it lol. That is assuming you have some basic idea of what the performance hierarchy should look like...
I did

"The HD5870 is significantly faster than what that chart indicates"

Right, so what I said stands
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
I did

"The HD5870 is significantly faster than what that chart indicates"

Right, so what I said stands
Errr maybe something is lost in translation but I have no clue what you are getting at. I am assuming that you are saying that the chart is correct and the HD5870 is that much slower. Anyway to give you an example. Lets compare the numbers with the GTX480, which was the HD5870's direct competition at time of release:

Passmark for GTX480 = 4,272
Passmark for HD5870 = 2,537

That is nearly an 80% improvement in graphical performance...
 

GermanyChris

macrumors 601
Jul 3, 2011
4,185
2
Here
Errr maybe something is lost in translation but I have no clue what you are getting at. I am assuming that you are saying that the chart is correct and the HD5870 is that much slower. Anyway to give you an example. Lets compare the numbers with the GTX480, which was the HD5870's direct competition at time of release:

Passmark for GTX480 = 4,272
Passmark for HD5870 = 2,537

That is nearly an 80% improvement in graphical performance...
Being that I'm American nothing is lost in translation..
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
Being that I'm American nothing is lost in translation..
I apologize for assuming you are German. I just found it a bit incredible that you would agree with the numbers when pretty much every review using a controlled environment disagrees with it.
 

Gomff

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 17, 2009
802
1
Gomff—any updates? You get that 5870? Honestly, after doing the reading, I'm not sure the 5870 is where it's at anymore. Comparing prices and stats, I think I'm jumping the fence and headed for a GTX 570. A new one sets you back around $200. 5870s I've been seeing have been hovering around $120 with the cheapest I know at $100. And those are all used. In my book, the added performance gains of the GTX 570, with warranty, are well worth the ~$80 price difference.
My two cents.
Sorry for the delay in replying....Just noticed this thread has had a growth spurt now.

I haven't bought the card yet as its current owner is still deliberating which new card to get. From looking on hwcompare.com, it seems like the 5870 is still a pretty decent card but that isn't the general opinion here....Interesting.

I already have a GTX 570 in my Hackintosh machine, but I was attracted to the 5870 because I thought I'd be able to flash it into a Mac version like I did with my 4870....Since it emerges that I can't, I've cooled on the idea of a 5870. If I have to live without a boot screen anyway, I may as well go for another 570 although I think I might wait for them to come down in price as my Mac Pro is a 3,1 so it's long in the tooth and probably not worth sinking too much cash into.

For the record, I'm in London town, UK ;-)
 

gpzjock

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2009
798
33
There are lies, damn lies and Windows Benchmarks.

Errr maybe something is lost in translation but I have no clue what you are getting at. I am assuming that you are saying that the chart is correct and the HD5870 is that much slower. Anyway to give you an example. Lets compare the numbers with the GTX480, which was the HD5870's direct competition at time of release:

Passmark for GTX480 = 4,272
Passmark for HD5870 = 2,537

That is nearly an 80% improvement in graphical performance...
Passmark is a Windows based synthetic measurement.
For a realistic view of Mountain Lion's GFX card performance Bare Feats tells it like it is:
http://www.barefeats.com/rogue01.html
http://www.barefeats.com/rogue03.html
I believe these numbers.
The 5870 does well in Photoshop, Motion and most games, any Pro app that needs CUDA gives Nvidia the chops.
 
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lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
Its not even that Passmark is a Windows based benchmark, it is just a bad benchmark in general. Typical use for it is CPU performance. No one ever use it in a GPU review for good reason: it sucks. Add to that the performance "ranking" on that site using no control whatsoever...

Anyway that Barefeats review is pretty telling, the HD5870 is still pretty good these days even though people have trouble wrapping their heads around that fact due to its age. I bought a GTX570 to upgrade from the HD5870 and was underwhelmed by the upgrade so I got a GTX670.
 
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