Radeon HD 5770 on a pre-2010 Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by chapinbk, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. chapinbk macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi, I'm one of a slowly shrinking crowd of 1st generation (2006 release) Mac Pro users. In 2008, nVidia teamed up with Apple to release a long-awaited "gaming class" video card for the 2006 Mac Pro -- the first real alternative to the ATI Radeon x1900. The GeForce 8800 GT for Mac was considerably quieter than the x1900, and I've been using it ever since. That is, until yesterday, when (just in advance of Portal 2's release, no less) one of my newer 3D games (a Feral Interactive offering) "bricked" it. Blame Feral if you like, maybe Apple's engineers for some firmware flaw -- I can only speculate. The real problem is, what to replace it with, OR might the old Mac Pro finally be ready for retirement.

    Like the good Apple customer that I am, I called up their sales team and asked them what to do. After consulting with the tech. deptartment, the sales rep. told me that the GeForce 8800 GT for Mac has been retired (Not entirely true since they're still available on backorder directly from nVidia), and suggested that I buy the "Radeon HD 5770 1GB-ZML" to replace it. So, fine, no big deal, well-used video card is fried, shell out a couple hundred bucks and buy a new one -- except for the time when ATI actually recalled one of my cards and replaced it for free, I've become pretty well accustomed to this pattern, extended warranties be damned.

    But wait, hold everything. I thought the Radeon HD 5770 only works on newer Mac Pro's? It says so right there under specifications. So what is Apple selling me? I Googled the "ZML" part, hoping to uncover some firsthand accounts from other people in my position, but no luck so far.

    Does anyone know what's going on here? Does the newer Radeon card run OK, but at some limited capacity on an older Pro machine? Could it possibly be that Apple is just feeding me a line, even after they confirmed my system's serial number, etc.? I doubt THAT, since they surely know I'll just return the thing if it doesn't work. I think the likeliest scenario is that the newer Radeon card IS fully backwards compatible with older Mac Pros, but isn't advertised as such, in order to maintain its image as a premium device, used exclusively on state-of-the-art machinery, not on some 6 year old clunker. This seems pretty far-fetched too, though. Why would ANY company voluntarily disguise backwards compatibility?

    So there's my rant. Curious what anybody might think about that. Old "clunker" users unite! Or, if you'd like to cast your vote to say I should smarten up and quit coddling old machinery, I'd welcome that advice as well!

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
  3. chapinbk thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Well, friggin' sweet! Appreciated. I blame the marketing gremlin.
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Just don't expect any support from Apple should anything go amiss; this means even if the video card fails immediately, Apple will not replace it since you're using it in an "incompatible" Mac Pro.
  5. FireArse macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2004
    Shrinking my arse - this 1,1 Mac Pro was possibly the best purchase I've ever made :)
  6. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    They will still replace it if you can prove it's broken.
    But yeah, if you want as much support as possible, you shouldnt mention the mac pro model.
  7. chapinbk thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    I gotz 14 days to run that puppy into the ground, sistah. Rental card abuse, failurr, abort abort.....
  8. chapinbk thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Been there a time or two, sorta' done that. Quite the trick. Callback loop x10, begin... now!
  9. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Actually, I don't think NVIDIA manufactures G92 based GPUs anymore at all. Backorder status could mean "backorder for eternity".

    Simple, really. They want you to buy a new machine.

    But in either case, 5770s and 5870s work just fine in all Mac Pros. Several have done just this. Just don't expect Apple to provide any support on an unsupported machine, that's all.
  10. chapinbk thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Lol, I believe you've cracked the code! But seriously, thanks to everyone who responded for answering all my questions. I'm very glad that I don't have to worry about the new card being incompatible. I never REALLY doubted Apple's sincerity. I merely had an incredulity itch that needed scratching. Cheers!
  11. tnbriggs macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2008
    Me too

    10 months later, I am also considering replacing my original and functioning 7300GT with this Radeon 5770 upgrade to my Mac Pro 1,1 (2006). It's working fine, but I would like to run FSX a little faster. Did you proceed with your upgrade? Did you have any problems? My impression of the ATI cards over the years has been less favorable than for the nVidia equipment. Thanks.
  12. chapinbk, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012

    chapinbk thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    It has worked great, no compatability/performance issues at all, and it's very quiet. During boot, it wants to default to my HDTV as the primary screen, connected by mini-DVI (not my Apple Cinema w/ full size HDMI hookup), which caused some initial confusion, but OSX sorts everything out once boot has completed. Just unplug/leave off any mini-DVI, if it's a secondary screen, when performing boot diagnostics. My advice is to buy.

    Also, regarding performance, I haven't run any legitimate benchmarks, but it's certainly on par with, if not faster than the nVidia GT8800 and would greatly outperform your stock 7300 for HD rendering, video games, and such. Portal 2 ran perfectly, btw. 30+ fps all the time. :thumbup:

    I have a similar hangup with regards to the Radeon line. I have lost two x1900 models to brickage on this machine in past years. It seems that ATI/AMD has turned over a new leaf with this set of devices.
  13. Mhaddy macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2005
    Sorry to necro this thread, but I'm considering upgrading the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB to the 5770 in my 2008 Mac Pro and wanted to know if you've run into any issues on your 2006?

  14. tnbriggs macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2008
    Works fine

    Works fine. No significant adverse issues at all. I did notice that the text on the Garmin GPS display in FSX was a bit more misshapen than it was with the nVidia in the 7300, but that's about all.

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