Please help VFX-Artist choose a new GPU.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Lone Deranger, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Lone Deranger macrumors 65816

    Lone Deranger

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #1
    Hi there,

    so I have a 2010 Mac Pro, 12-core 2.93Ghz with 32GB of ram and an ATI Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card running Mavericks. I’m looking for recommendations for a better graphics card, without having to:

    •add an additional PSU.
    •flash firmware or mess around with it in Windows to make it OSX friendly.
    •lose my boot screen.

    Considering these limitations, is it worth investing in a newer graphics card? Will I get any speed improvements over the current card I have? What are my options?

    My main GPU heavy hitter applications are: Maya 2014, PhotoShop CS6, NukeX 6.3, modo 603 and no, I don’t play games. :)

    One thing I definitely would like an improvement on is more ram on the card. The more the merrier I suppose. Maya’s ViewPort 2.0 and nVidia’s new offerings in Mental Ray are especially GPU-ram hungry.

    I’ve read through the various threads here on this forum debating Mac Pro GPU offerings and quite frankly, they are a bit of a daunting read for the likes of me. Hence this thread. Please be kind to me and thanks for reading. :)
     
  2. Robert Davies macrumors 6502

    Robert Davies

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Location:
    People's Republic of Wrexham
    #2
    A quick question before I head off out for the day.

    What concerns you about boot screens, or lack thereof?

    I ask because if you can get past that issue, there's almost the entire NVidia range that will just plug in and switch on with no faffing or flashing.

    Case in point - I bought my PC EVGA NVidia GTX 560 ti, I got it out of the box, removed the 5870 from my Mac Pro, fitted the 560, job done. The card is properly recognised in Mavericks (and probably 10.7.5 onwards) and 'just works'.

    -Rob

    ps My best guess as a cost effective card would be a GTX 660 - if you can afford better, so be it, but the 660 would be a good place to start, and there is a version marketed to/at Macs, for the usual Mac price premium, which should have boot screens - Though there is a PC version with 3gig of RAM if you can live without the boot screens.
     
  3. tayh macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2012
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    #3
    without having to:

    •add an additional PSU.
    •flash firmware or mess around with it in Windows to make it OSX friendly.
    •lose my boot screen.


    Then get a Geforce 680 Mac Edition or a Radeon 7950 Mac Edition, they are fully compitable with your mac, so you want lose boot screen or something like that.
     
  4. fhenry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    #4
    Macvideocards on eBay sells fully compatible cards better than 680 and 7950!
     
  5. riggles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2013
    #5
    One question: how much do you use Maya? I ask because if it's not your main application, the 680 or 7950 Mac Editions would probably fit your needs well. So would MacVidCards flashed cards, but I'm not sure if you feel comfortable with that.

    If Maya is where you make money, though, you might consider an NVIDIA Quadro card, like a K5000 for Mac. Only for Maya would thIs start to make sense, because the drivers have been optimized for much better viewport performance in this app (not MODO).
     
  6. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #6
    I can't imagine caring less about boot screens for my work. My machine boots in about 8 seconds so I would never see it anyway. That requirement really limits your possibilities.
     
  7. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Sagittarius A*
    #7
    A reference PC gtx 680 takes literally seconds to flash in bootcamp, anyone can do it. I paid £210 in total for a used unregistered warranty evga model on eBay with two new PCIe cables, under half the cost of a proper evga mac 680 card.

    Sticking a spare hard drive in sled 2 and installing windows 7 will take under an hour, you won't even have to have a windows licence key as you are only using it solely to flash the mac EFI bios then flatten the drive back to hfs+ afterwards. You will only need the 64 bit ISO burnt to a DVD.

    I had an 8800GT before which made far more noise and blurs on photoshop were a hell of a lot slower. It's a great card and bought the right way the best bang per buck!
     
  8. Lone Deranger thread starter macrumors 65816

    Lone Deranger

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #8
    Wow... thank you, everybody, for responding. Lots of helpful information so far.


    The EVGA Geforce 680 Mac Edition so far sounds like a good choice. Have folks here any experience with this card? How noisy is it compared to the Radeon 5870? I perhaps should have mentioned this in my original post, but I do appreciate quiet operation when under load.

    What about the Quadro 4000 and the K5000?

    I guess the best way to find out is to buy them and try them, then decide on one and return the others. It's a procedure I'm a little uncomfortable with (buy to try), but there is so little hard evidence out there that it seems the only way. Is this common practice, would you say, in the Mac GPU scene?

    I'm definitely leaning more towards nVidia than AMD, primarily for MentalRay CUDA optimisation reasons.


    I guess I like to keep my Mac as functional as I can. I suppose not having a boot screen won't detract from any vital functionality, will it? I mean drives for booting can still be selected from the System Preferences-->Startup Disk section.



    Thank you tayh. The GeForce 680 Mac Edition sounds like the best bang for buck, so far I think. Though I wonder if there are 680 cards available with a little bit more RAM than the EVGA's 2GB. Would you happen to know of any?



    Thanks, I had a look at his eBay store and there's a lot to choose from. Which models would you say are better than the 680? And how are they better? Faster? More Ram? Quieter?



    Hi riggles, I use Maya on a daily basis... I'd say anywhere from 2-6 hours or more a day, depending on the tasks at hand. So it's a major part of my toolkit. Modo only gets an occasional visit every now and then. I've been more than a little disappointed with Luxology's offerings of late.

    I did have a look at the K5000 and it looks like a serious contender. I could stretch my budget if I knew it would be a considerably better fit for me and my work than a GeForce class card.

    I am and Environments Artist/Digital Matte Painter. Which means my 3D scene files can get huge. Lots of polygons (10-100s of millions of 'em, GB's worth of textures, etc.) So Viewport 2.0 performance and modelling interactivity is hugely important to me.
    I have a Quadro 4000 in the HP Z800 Linux workstation provided to me by my employer and I'm quite pleased with it's performance in Maya. So if the K5000 can improve upon that, I'd certainly consider it. Then again, I read time and again that the GeForce cards are just as fast, if not faster than their Quadro equivalents for this type of work. It's a bit of a dilemma. :)



    Yes, I can see your point. I suppose it's not a huge drama to lose it. :)



    Hi Gav Mack. Well, I do have an authentic Windows 7 Professional disc + license key lying around somewhere. But I really don't relish the thought of this process at all. First of all, the license key as far as I can remember is registered to my old 1,1 Mac Pro, that I no longer have. The process of getting in contact with the MS folks to try and unlock and switch over the license key sounds fraught with frustration and rising blood pressure. :)

    Are you saying that if I installed my copy of W7 on a bootcamp drive I will be able to run the bios Flash software without having to activate Windows? How does that work? Apologies for my ignorance on this. It's been a few years since I've had to install Windows and the memories (those I haven't been able to rid from my brain) are hardly pleasant ones. :)
     
  9. Gav Mack, Feb 8, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Sagittarius A*
    #9
    Correct. Activation can be postponed for up to 14 days,when it asks for the licence key during setup press skip. Install the bootcamp drivers with your original card, download the nvidia driver for GTX680. Set bootcamp control panel in windows to make windows as startup disk, swap cards and install GeForce driver and reboot. You will have a black screen till windows starts

    If you have a 2gb card the rom thread is here, instructions on the second thread at netkas. There is also a 4gb rom thread if your card is a 4gb model.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=17132316&postcount=111

    http://forum.netkas.org/index.php?P...3thmb61k9gp6mg4l&topic=5709.msg21237#msg21237

    I purchased a used 2gb PC EVGA which was identical in appearance to the 680 mac card bar the mac logo, there are always some on eBay. Just make sure they have a returns policy in case the card is faulty. If your card needs an extra PCIe cable they are available on eBay for £6 each for Europe and I believe there's links to buy them from the USA in the thread too.

    After flashing power down and when you power up hold alt for white boot screen. If you see one it's success! Select to boot OSX, set startup disk in system preferences back to mac then run bootcamp assistant and remove the windows partition.

    You will need to install the nvidia CUDA driver, it's old but by the time you may do this Nvidia may have released a newer mavericks driver. 10.9.2 due shortly also has better OSX nvidia drivers on the way.

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/macosx-cuda-5.5.25-driver.html
     
  10. riggles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2013
    #10
    IMHO, if Maya Viewport 2.0 performance is hugely important to you and you're working on very large scenes, a Quadro for Mac is totally worth it. The drivers are specifically tuned for Maya and the performance compared to GeForce cards show it. However, when you venture outside those certified applications (like MODO), that advantage disappears. And when you move into CUDA territory, it swings in the opposite direction to favor the GTX. That's why your specific priorities really matter.

    I'm not trying to get you to buy an expensive card. I like trying to help people get the best tool for the best value. Sometimes the best tool for their needs is the one that costs more, and it's worth it. From my perspective, if you're inside Maya for 50-75% of your daily/weekly work with those kind of scenes, the Quadro is where you want to be.
     
  11. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #11
    And if you do decide to venture into the non-bootscreen land, just keep your old GPU around in the case you ever have any huge problems. I have my GT120 around just for that, but have yet to use it.
     
  12. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    Gotta say, I've been muddling over this question myself for a long while now. I have a 5870, and it's been great for the longest time now, but recently for reasons unknown to me, certain transitions in Premiere CS6 have stopped working for me on certain projects. I've not been able to figure out if it's due to an Adobe update (6.0.5 for CS6), or a Mac update (10.8.5). I'm tempted to try Mavericks, Adobe CC, and a new GPU.

    I've also been doing more 3D stuff, though not with Maya. Simpler objects are fine, but when I have a 3D file of a complete datacenter rack or set of racks with billions of shapes (such as every single part and screw in a set of racks), my system struggles to show movement. It will take a few seconds for a change to draw / display. Bleh.

    For 95% of my needs, a 680 would be perfect, and I'm leaning toward that, but I'm also tempted by a 780. Then there's the whole OpenCL is coming thing, and I wonder about a 7970. :(
     

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