Rare PowerPC Video Card

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by bunnspecial, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #1
    Since buying my first Cube, I've been looking for ways to push the performance of them within the original design parameters.

    As folks who have worked on Cubes know, the selection of video cards that will physically fit without modifications to either the card or the computer is quite limited. Most Cubes shipped with a Rage 128, which is a decent card in OS 9 and earlier versions of OS X but starts choking somewhere around 10.4. One popular upgrade is the GeForce 2MX, which fits the same faceplate as the Rage 128 but performs somewhat better.

    To me at least, one of the "holy grail" Cube cards has always been the GeForce3. This is a drop-in card that will fit the stock Cube faceplate and is one of the better OS 9 cards available.

    Unfortunately, it's quite an uncommon card, and I've been searching for one for about a year.

    A few weeks ago, @LightBulbFun found one on Ebay, but the seller wouldn't ship to the US. He generously agreed to relay it to me(after he'd played with it a few days :) ). Probably a week later, he found another for sale elsewhere on the internet, and I was able to make a deal on that one.

    I'm still waiting on the one from the UK, but the US based one arrived today. I've already had fun installing it in a Cube and using it. BTW, the one from the US seller came pre-installed with a Cube faceplate-apparently the last user had the same idea as I had :)

    IMG_2672.jpg IMG_2676.jpg Geforce 3 sys profiler.png Geforce3.png
     
  2. WalkerTexasRanger macrumors member

    WalkerTexasRanger

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    #2
    How does it do with actual games? I have heard that the AGP bus on the cubes is rather limited.
     
  3. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #3
    I haven't done any gaming with it yet, so can't necessarily give a direct answer.

    The AGP slot on the Cube is 2x, which is the same as the Sawtooth and Gigabit Ethernet. Space aside, there are not that many cards which support Core Image(very beneficial in Tiger and Leopard) and will work in a 2x slot. A Radeon 9800 and GeForce FX6200(both flashed) will work, but there aren't a lot of choices beyond those.

    For what it's worth, the above benchmark was done in Tiger. @LightBulbFun benchmarked the other card in an MDD(4x AGP slot) and got exactly the same number(1311) in Tiger. Based on that, it would seem to me that the card isn't "choked" by the bus.
     
  4. WalkerTexasRanger macrumors member

    WalkerTexasRanger

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    #4
    Hmmh, I had heard in a youtube video (reliable source, I know) that that particular benchmark was completely Vram resident, so if your AGP bus was limiting you, that test wouldn't show it.

    Congrats on the upgrade, nonetheless. I would like a G4 Cube, but the cost of upgrading them puts me off a bit. PowerBooks are much cheaper than hunting ebay for (now somewhat rare) CPU upgrades.
     
  5. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #5
    @WalkerTexasRanger The best card you can put in a G4 Cube is actually a GeForce 6200 provided you can make do without GPU acceleration in Mac OS 9. These cards need to be firmware flashed in a PC to work in a Mac, and it's a little project which I'm still working on. You can, however, buy one already flashed if you look on eBay.

    That doesn't solve the problem of the CPU upgrades though, which are somewhat rare now. You can get a Sonnet Encore designed for a G4 tower and put it in a Cube, but you run the risk of overloading the VRM. I did this with mine, but also upgraded the VRM.
     
  6. JRDN macrumors member

    JRDN

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    Oct 24, 2015
    #6
    This looks great. What did you end up paying for it? I'm debating on picking up a 6200 vs the geforce3. This is definitely a slick looking card ;)
     
  7. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #7
    If you are lucky enough to even find a Mac GeForce 3, the advantages you get are Mac OS 9 support, ADC, and not having to flash. I suppose it depends how badly you need those.
     
  8. swamprock, Apr 20, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016

    swamprock macrumors regular

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    Michigan
    #8
    Gee... that card looks awfully familiar :)

    I'm glad it went to someone who could use it. It was just sitting around here gathering dust, and I wasn't looking to make a ton of cash off the back of a fellow PPC enthusiast. Funnily enough, bunn was the only one who responded to my offer to trade the card, and I had posted it in a couple of different, fairly highly-visible places (unfortunately, the forums here weren't able to be included, but everything worked out to mutual benefit)...

    ... and yes, the faceplate came from the original Rage 128... :)
     
  9. LightBulbFun macrumors 6502a

    LightBulbFun

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    #10
    Just thought id drop in and say a few things :) first of all while the GeForce 6200 has a good GPU core and supports core image making it a good GUI card it sadly has a crippled VRAM bus making it quite slow for games and in some applications, the Geforce 3 (And even a suitable FX5200) can come out ahead of the 6200 the Best Video card you can fit to a G4 Cube with a VRM move is a very rare Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro built on a 9700 Board that can be flashed and fitted to the cube (the Mac edition 9700 can be fitted to the cube but requires not only a VRM move but for you to modify your AGP slot)
     
  10. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #11
    I can only speak anecdotally, but I know that in Openmark I got the exact same number(both in the same and different computers) with both a Radeon 9600XT and Radeon 9600 Pro. I'm working from memory, but XT is the higher clocked card while the Pro has double the VRAM.

    We dickered around primarily on trades, but in the end it cost me a mid-range 240gb SSD(of the seller's choosing).

    It's a small world :)

    With that said, I was shocked when I emailed you and you said that you hadn't had any interest in it.

    You can rest assured that it will be given a good home!
     
  11. MikeatOSX macrumors regular

    MikeatOSX

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    Mar 26, 2007
    Location:
    Austria
    #12
    I'm using the new Japanese VRM (from ebay seller artmix) with base fan and a Geforce3 video card with fan.
    A Sonnet 1.2GHz processor card and I also swapped the 3.5" HD with a 2.5" SSD and removed the modem card for better cooling.
    My wishes are fullfilled, but I'm a Mac OS 9 junkie. :D
     
  12. LightBulbFun macrumors 6502a

    LightBulbFun

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    #13
    all you need is a 2Ghz 7448 CPU upgrade :) (even at that clock speeds 7448s run much cooler then 7455s/7447As so should not be an issue in a cube in fact one member who i cant remember right now has a Dual 1.8Ghz 7448 upgrade in his cube the lucky guy :) )
     
  13. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #14
    I love Cubes for OS 9. Even though I have five of them, it should tell you something that I chose to put this card in what is my officially OS 9 dedicated Cube. The 800mhz/2mb(thanks @jbarley ) combined with this card really make for a peppy OS 9 system.

    When my other GeForce 3 gets here, I'll likely put it in my Cube with a 1.8ghz Sonnet, or at least do so until I can get around to flashing my Wang. I do have one of the Wang-branded 6200s that are desired for use in a Cube, but flashing nVidia cards is enough of a pain that I've put it off. The card is actually in my PC that I use for flashing video cards. I have a couple of others that need to be flashed(including the somewhat rare PCI Quadro equivalent to the FX5200, which has 2xDVI rather than the 2xVGA of the GeForce).
     
  14. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #15
    Guys I am very ignorant as regards video cards... But I was wondering, are they really worth the buy? I mean i have an ATI radeon 9000 pro on my PowerMac g4 mdd and it handles 720p videos only with coreplayer. As regards games it works good but with low resolutions and low settings. I want to know if you have noticed improvements in movies playback or/and in playing games
     
  15. mode11, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016

    mode11 macrumors member

    mode11

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    #16
    The graphics cards and OS's of the PPC era will not provide any acceleration whatsoever for video codecs (other than MPEG2). So don't expect any GPU upgrade to help with playing back HD (h.264) video - only a better CPU and / or more efficient software (e.g. CoreAVC) can help.

    A better graphics card will help with 3D games. Generally, the frame rate will ultimately be capped by the CPU, but a more powerful card will run games at higher resolutions while maintaining decent fps. The Radeon 9000 Pro is only a middling card - good for a Cube, but not compared to a 9700 / 9800 Pro, GF4 Ti etc. in a tower.

    The other way a better GPU can help is support for Quartz Extreme and Core Image. The former leverages the 3D hardware to accelerate 2D screen drawing (essentially by acting as if windows etc. are textured polygons, then feeding them to the 3D engine). It debuted in 10.2 and is supported by the original Radeon / GF2 and higher.

    Core Image provides GPU acceleration of sophisticated effects and filters. Although introduced in Tiger, it was used extensively in Leopard's UI, and Macs without it will feel sluggish in Leopard. The 'Dashboard ripple' is an example of CI in action. CI needs a Radeon 9550 / FX5200 or better.

    Flashing video cards is easy enough, but for Nvidia cards you need a pretty specific version of NVFlash for the card you want to flash. A version that is too old or too new either won't see the card, or won't be able to write to it.

    I flashed a 6200 WANG for my Cube. The performance was great, but the Cube would never wake from sleep. The fans would spin up, but the screen would be blank, requiring a force-reboot. I looked widely for solutions, but there appear to be none. Although many people say how great the 6200 is, on further research, sleep problems do seem pretty common, and were never solved (though many 6200 card / Mac combinations worked fine).

    I gave up on the 6200 and flashed a 5200 instead (technically, a 256MB 5500). This worked well. It always wakes from sleep and seems even faster for games like Quake 3 (typically 90fps+ at 1600x1200 with a 1.2GHz G4). Unfortunately, in Leopard 3D games seem to hang the Mac (with a moving cursor) on exit. I never got to the bottom of this, but there is no problem in Tiger. Tiger is arguably better for games anyway - higher average FPS, and Classic compatibility for old games (like Star Wars Racer).

    In both cases, I used generic ROMs from the Mac Elite. There may be better ROMs out there, but I wouldn't know where to get them. If someone has a flashed 6200 WANG that successfully wakes from sleep in a Cube, that doesn't use the generic ME ROM, I would be very interested to find out more. Note that later, flashed GPUs like these are only properly supported in Tiger onwards (10.4.5+?). OS 9 does not have driver support for them, which probably means limited resolution options and screen tearing.
     
  16. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #17
    Wow what a mega reply, thanks! :)
    Anyway you said there is no hardware acceleration for video playback on PPC hardware, but neither on Leopard? If yes, why? I am on Mac os Leopard, i have a 1.25 GHz g4 and 1 GB of RAM, and the system is smooth, i prefer it to tiger due to new software. I can play almost everything with good fps except 1080p which Mplayer osx PPC seems to handle better than coreplayer does. The fact that there is no hardware acceleration for video playback on PPC hardware would explain why even that beast of G5 quad can't play some videos in the proper way.. Again Thank you for your reply
     
  17. mode11 macrumors member

    mode11

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    #18
    Video hardware acceleration is generally for specific codecs. Rather than a piece of software running on a general purpose processor (like a CPU), it uses a simple co-processor inside the GPU that is only capable of this one job. Simplicity = few transistors = low power consumption + tiny amount of die area.

    In the PPC era (<2006), HD codecs like h.264 were new and therefore this kind of custom support in silicon wasn't in the graphics cards. And Leopard couldn't have driver support for hardware that didn't exist.

    Are you saying you can play 720p smoothly on a (dual?) 1.25GHz G4? And yet (your?) quad 2.5GHz G5 struggles with some 1080p files?
     
  18. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #19
    thanks again for your explaination. I do have a single core 1.25 GHz G4 and i can play 720p smoothly with the help of coreplayer. unfotunately I don't have a G5 but i read on the web about it .
     
  19. mode11, Apr 22, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016

    mode11 macrumors member

    mode11

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    #20
    Coreplayer may only be single-threaded, which means it can only use one CPU at a time. So for this task, a quad G5 is effectively a single G5. G5's did have architectural improvements over G4s, but clock speed seems to be their main advantage - people with fast (e.g. 2GHz) G4s have reported performance in G5 territory. So a 2.5GHz G5 CPU may only be 2-2.5x faster than your 1.25GHz G4. 1080p has over double the number of pixels than 720p. In addition, whilst films are 24fps, some content is 50 or 60fps. So even a quad G5 will likely struggle with 1080p/60 content.
     
  20. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #21
    CorePlayer apparently heavily leverages the Velocity Engine (aka Altivec) found in G4s and later which is why it's very efficient on PowerPC hardware.

    OS X didn't get H.264 GPU assisted decode until 10.6. Therefore it's Intel only and requires an nVidia 9400M GPU or later, which limited support to mostly 2008 onwards hardware. It also means my 2009 Mac Mini makes an awesome HTPC...
     
  21. mode11 macrumors member

    mode11

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    #22
    Just gave CorePlayer (available here: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/coreplayer-is-no-more-rip.1397374/page-5) a go on my 1.2GHz Cube, and it is really quite impressive. One get decent playback, with a few dropped frames, of 720p/24 content. Seemed to be better with files that fit into RAM (1.5GB in my case), though it's probably h.264 Level, B-frames etc. that is actually key.

    To test, I'm currently encoding a film at 720p in Handbrake using simple settings (e.g. suitable for a gen. 2 AppleTV), and will update later with my findings. If it still drops frames, there is an option for Fast Decode in HB that I'll try.
     
  22. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #23
    My G5 Quad plays a 1080P 60FPS h264 .mkv file using around 30-35% on each core in VLC and slightly less with Coreplayer.
     
  23. havokalien macrumors 6502a

    havokalien

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    #24
    ya but what he is getting on the cube is impressive for being a G4.
     
  24. mode11, Apr 23, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016

    mode11 macrumors member

    mode11

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    #25
    So are coreplayer and VLC multitreaded then? If so, are they making use of all four of your cores?
    --- Post Merged, Apr 23, 2016 ---
    Yes and no. Some 720p videos work pretty well, others are very choppy. The one I encoded with ATV2 settings didn't work well, though the ATV has hardware h.264 decoding, so may not be as wimpy as it looks.
     

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