PROs&CONs: RX 480 on 5,1 Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Caesar_091, Jan 5, 2017.


Which GPU would you choose for your cMP?

  1. AMD RX 480 (PC ver)

  2. GeForce GTX 980Ti (PC ver)

  3. GeForce GTX 980Ti (flashed)

  4. Other (please specify which one)

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Caesar_091 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2005
    Hi all,

    since it looks like nowadays the RX 480 is a very good upgrade for a 5,1 Mac Pro I'm wondering about any serious CONs of having a "no boot screen" GPU (PROs are obvious in terms of GPU power, lower TDP, etc).

    Here some raw numbers for comparison...
    • it consumes less than the 980Ti
    • it cost less than a flashed 980Ti (is a PC ver 980Ti a good option as well? will on-board ports works flawlessly?)
    CONs of having no boot screens
    • no CLI/super user access without a secondary GPU (GT 120 in my case)
    • will all the on-board ports will works?
    • any other issue I should take into account?

    Any comment will be apprecciated... I'll try to keep updated the PROs/CONs list ;)
  2. SurfNorway macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2017
    In the water
    Picked up an R9 Fury for ~$200. Much faster than the RX 480, but higher power draw. Works perfectly under Sierra. I have the original GT 120 in another slot in case I need a boot screen, which is pretty much never.

  3. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    I used a GT 680 in my 3,1 for a couple of years, without a boot screen and it made no difference to me. Of course, I rarely rebooted my 3,1 and I try to avoid rebooting my current 5,1 which also has the 5870. I've slowly been working my way up to Sierra, and can't say that having a boot screen makes much of a difference, except on these updates, I have a better idea of where I am in the update process and I may be seeing screens that ask questions that I wouldn't see without the boot screen, but I'll never know.

    The argument that led to the 680 was that it didn't make much of a difference not to have a boot screen, and it doesn't seem that it did.
  4. fendersrule macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    Personally, I would not consider an RX480 for a Mac Pro for the following reasons:

    1) I would fatham a guess that nVidia's web drivers are more stable than Apple drivers for the RX series. Nvidia is actually active in making drivers. AMD/ATI isn't, so you're limited to whatever apple does. That's not a position that i'd want to be in.

    2) Comparing the RX480 to a 980Ti is going to make the RX480 look like a sad, sorry, hurt rodent. There is nothing about the RX480 that is impressive at all. Is there any reason why you're not comparing it to a 1060 GTX? The 980TI is not even available to buy anymore. Even still, it's 40% more expensive than the RX480 even if you were about to go back in time to buy it. You should have your sights on the GTX 1060 instead since it's at a similar price point (even cheaper at $179) and it's roughly the same speed, while consuming less watts.

    You should NOT be considering the 980Ti either for the following reasons:

    1) It is over (by a little) the Mac Pro's available power limit without modifications and/or losing two sata ports.

    2) It is older tech right now. Sure, it's still blazing fast for 2D gaming, but VR is better suited for 1XXX series at this point.

    3) It is not available to buy brand new.

    4) It's stupidly expensive now.

    IMO, you should be considering the GTX 1060, 1070, or 1080 (1080Ti is too much draw for the 5,1) over the Radeon RX cards. AMD is very behind the curve in GPU performance, and it's pains me to say that.

    EDIT: I look stupid because I just realized this is an old post. Oh well.
  5. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    If the RX480 can have basic screen without kext edit. May be I will choose that. However, I think it's now same as the Maxwell / Pascal card. Without proper driver, it will only show black screen. In this case, I will go for the PC GTX 1080.

    If I have to deal with the black screen anyway, I will prefer to get a better card. GTX 1080 has similar performance of the 980Ti, but much lower power consumption, which fit the cMP more.

    Also, Nvidia web driver is more reliable than kext mod. No one know if the RX480 can still work with the next MacOS. Again, if I have to take a risk, I will prefer something has better performance.

    If you are looking for something like dual RX480 for FCPX, then I can understand why. However, unless something really optimised for multi AMD GPUs, usually a single stronger GTX 1080 work better. If only looking for a single RX480 for OpenCL, I will actually go for the R9 280X, which has similar performance under MacOS (for Windows gaming, yes, RX480 should be a lot stronger, however, that's not the case in MacOS apps generally), but work OOTB, and even flashable.

    For me, there are only 2 reason for the 980Ti.
    1) If I can get one much cheaper than the GTX1080
    2) If there are lots of issues with 1080 reported here, but the 980Ti works well in the same situation
  6. William_si macrumors regular


    Apr 4, 2016
    AMD supplies the drivers. They are signed and based on the Linux code, which AMD also supplies to the kernel tree.

    Remind me, how long did it take for 10xx support via web driver now, and what manufacturer worked out of the box on Sierra release...? Right, i remember: AMD.

    The RX480 beats a 980 Ti in power per watt consumed and AMD generally beats Nvidia in DP performance:

    980 Ti: SP 6700Gflops, DP 209, 250W, 300$+ = SP 26,8/W & 22/$, DP 1,19/W & 0.69/$

    RX480: SP 6100Gflops, DP 382, 150W, 250$+ = SP 40/W & 24/$, DP 2.25/W & 1,5/$

    It is not. A 980 Ti TDP is 250W (real draw up to 275W) - Up to 75W from PCI slot leaves 200-250W from 2 6+ pin plugs which are certified for 150W each, also in the Pro. Reality you can draw more even.

    It is not either. 1080 Ti TDP is same 250W as a 1080, reality 275-290W. Up to 75W again from PCIe slot leaves 200-250W on 2x 6+ pin which is inside the standard.

    The shutdown issues at some cards is overdrawing the standard to WAY more than 300W, even if just for some seconds, which is not allowed at all - most PC PSUs just dumb ignore that by being based on a single 12V rail.
  7. fendersrule, May 26, 2017
    Last edited: May 26, 2017

    fendersrule macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2008
    I think shut downs come from inconsistent power draw. To be truly safe with a Mac Pro, stick with a card that has 2 x 6 pin connectors, or a single 1 x 8 pin connector. This generally entails less than 225w max draw. You are free to think that 6-pin connectors do not have a max draw of 75w, but I would make sure to say "in my opinion" or "not verified" and not just state it as fact.

    Think about drivers in perspective to the user. I don't care if AMD provides them or not, or how that works. I'm not aware of the ability to go to AMD's site and download MacOS drivers for an RX card. You are stuck with whatever Apple provides. They're Apple drivers. There's plenty of threads on MR about certain sierra versions braking support for certain AMD RX cards. Here's just one:

    Regarding the benchmarks between a 980Ti vs an RX480, you are taking the PPW perspective. OK, fine, but the 980Ti is a generation behind the RX480 and it's not known for being amazing from a power efficiency perspective, so that's not a fair comparison if that's the only lens you are looking out of. My point is that the 980Ti still knocks the pudding out of the RX480 in gaming and VR. PPW specs are great with the power works for you. Otherwise, it's a useless spec if you have something that doesn't fit your needs. And the RX480 isn't all that powerful in gaming or VR when compared to the 980Ti, 1070, 1080, or 1080Ti cards. It's just not.

    Believe me that I am rooting for AMD. My last 2 GPUs have been AMD cards. I still am running with a 5770. But AMD's lackluster performance is only making prices stay high on the 10-series when there's nothing available to compete with them.
  8. irked macrumors member

    Apr 8, 2017
    It seems kind of disingenuous to discuss power per watt when we're putting these cards in the relatively power-hungry 5,1 and earlier Mac Pros.
  9. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    I never see any official document says that the 6pin on the cMP CERTIFIED for 150W EACH. And I never see anyone can really provide a proof that a single mini 6pin can deliver 150W.

    Nvidia official website says, 1080Ti TDP=250W, but 1080 TDP=180.
  10. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 601


    Jul 4, 2015
    Since cMP is heading for the trash you should use it as a simple mining rig. You can put 3 x RX 470/480 cards in there.

    Each card produces around 25-30MH/s for Ethereum. Better than 980Ti in mining, for half the price and less electricity.
  11. Prince134 macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2010
    The thread title and the vote description is not consistent.

    Not long ago we just have a poll for what GPUs running in MP:

    1080 Ti is not expensive, and is more future proof, why not in your list? You can use it with (efi flashed) or without boot screen. About power requirement, there are tons of discussions about it. Two on board 6 pin is enough if you buy the EVGA POWERLINK for it. You don't even need to sacrifice any SATA port.

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10 January 5, 2017