Recommend graphics upgrade

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
846
70
Long Island, NY USA
I have two Mac Pro '09s which are both running 10.7.5 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB cards. Both have been flashed from 4,1 to 5,1. I've noticed lately that browser windows are starting not to refresh and showing mosaics. This is solved by creating a blank tab and switching tabs, which forces refresh, but I think it's time for a graphics card update. Maybe I'll put two existing cards in one of the machines for multiple monitors and upgrade the second for a 30" 4K monitor. My heaviest graphics use is Photoshop. I don't do gaming but may get in to some 3D modeling. Budget to mid range recommendations appreciated.
 

jimj740

macrumors regular
I have two Mac Pro '09s which are both running 10.7.5 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB cards. Both have been flashed from 4,1 to 5,1. I've noticed lately that browser windows are starting not to refresh and showing mosaics. This is solved by creating a blank tab and switching tabs, which forces refresh, but I think it's time for a graphics card update. Maybe I'll put two existing cards in one of the machines for multiple monitors and upgrade the second for a 30" 4K monitor. My heaviest graphics use is Photoshop. I don't do gaming but may get in to some 3D modeling. Budget to mid range recommendations appreciated.
If you want boot screen support: my vote is an AMD 7950 equivalent. A Nvidia 680 is also a reasonable choice...

I have a 7950 and am quite happy with it. I also have a 970, which is a better card but does not support boot screen and is subject to OS upgrade madness...
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
13,991
6,607
Hong Kong
I think the 7950 is not supported in 10.7.5. Otherwise, I will recommend to get a reference 7950 and flash it by yourself as well.

However, since any OSX after 10.9 is free, why not consider to upgrade your OS? For 10.6.8 I can understand that's due to its unmatchable stability and performance. However, unless you have software support problem. 10.10.5 is better than 10.7.5 in general (assume you have a SSD). Or you may go to 10.11 directly in few weeks. Then you can use a 7950 with boot screen / native driver support easily which only cost you $100. And it gives you 4K / Metal support as well.
 
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macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
846
70
Long Island, NY USA
I think the 7950 is not supported in 10.7.5. Otherwise, I will recommend to get a reference 7950 and flash it by yourself as well.

However, since any OSX after 10.9 is free, why not consider to upgrade your OS? For 10.6.8 I can understand that's due to its unmatchable stability and performance. However, unless you have software support problem. 10.10.5 is better than 10.7.5 in general (assume you have a SSD). Or you may go to 10.11 directly in few weeks. Then you can use a 7950 with boot screen / native driver support easily which only cost you $100. And it gives you 4K / Metal support as well.
If you want boot screen support: my vote is an AMD 7950 equivalent. A Nvidia 680 is also a reasonable choice...

I have a 7950 and am quite happy with it. I also have a 970, which is a better card but does not support boot screen and is subject to OS upgrade madness...
Too complicated to worry about updating the 970. The 7950 sounds good but I need to be careful about pulling the plug on 10.7.5 since applications can break. I know I can go to OS 10.8 without breaking anything expensive. Are there drivers for 10.8?
 

Fl0r!an

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2007
906
526
AMD 7950 (and some other 7xxx's) work fine in 10.8 without any additional drivers.

'64bit mode' = 64bit kernel
Lion was universal, so it could boot both in 32bit and 64bit mode, HD 7xxx drivers only work in the latter.

Choice of your card mainly depends if you want to have a flashed card, and if you want to do it yourself...
I wouldn't bet that any of the DIY flashable cards will reliably display a 4K bootscreen though.
 

Twimfy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 11, 2011
882
228
UK
Too complicated to worry about updating the 970. The 7950 sounds good but I need to be careful about pulling the plug on 10.7.5 since applications can break. I know I can go to OS 10.8 without breaking anything expensive. Are there drivers for 10.8?
Post a list of all your essential applications. I'm sure as a community we can confirm 10.10/11 compatibility for you.

Software breaks in OS X are rare past the PPC era. I'd rather switch to Windows than stay on Lion for the rest of my life.
 

IowaLynn

macrumors 68000
Feb 22, 2015
1,554
353
Too complicated to worry about updating the 970. The 7950 sounds good but I need to be careful about pulling the plug on 10.7.5 since applications can break. I know I can go to OS 10.8 without breaking anything expensive. Are there drivers for 10.8?
Great place to check for app compatibility is Roaringapps
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
846
70
Long Island, NY USA
AMD 7950 (and some other 7xxx's) work fine in 10.8 without any additional drivers.

'64bit mode' = 64bit kernel
Lion was universal, so it could boot both in 32bit and 64bit mode, HD 7xxx drivers only work in the latter.

Choice of your card mainly depends if you want to have a flashed card, and if you want to do it yourself...
I wouldn't bet that any of the DIY flashable cards will reliably display a 4K bootscreen though.
Probably a good idea to stay away from doing it myself.
 

Fl0r!an

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2007
906
526
To be a little more specific, the only cards with true 4K bootscreens come from MacVidCards, others are limited to DisplayPort 1.1 (=> 4K@30Hz) connections (at least as far as I know...). This includes both DIY options and eBayers selling flashed cards.
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
846
70
Long Island, NY USA
Post a list of all your essential applications. I'm sure as a community we can confirm 10.10/11 compatibility for you.

Software breaks in OS X are rare past the PPC era. I'd rather switch to Windows than stay on Lion for the rest of my life.
Thanks for reply. The one I omitted is Extensis Portfolio 8.5.7 which I know won't work beyond 10.8.x. I know I'll need to upgrade to studio version unless I stay put with the OS. Pity, since the upgrade will be less capable and will be expensive. Alternative is roll my own image database with Filemaker + Interarchy. That would also cost a lot.

Workflow programs: Adobe PS-DW-Bridge CS6, Lightroom 4, Filemaker Pro 12 Advanced Developer, Devonthink Pro office 2.7.6, Devonagent Pro 3.9.1, Wacom Intuos 2 Tablet, Interarchy 10, Script Debugger 5, Dragondictate 3, iWork '09, Canon Utilities
 

Fl0r!an

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2007
906
526
HD 5870 doesn't support 4K (well, 4K@30Hz might work, that doesn't count :p), so a Kepler-based Nvidia or one of the mentioned HD 7xxx's is necessary.
 

RAMtheSSD

macrumors member
I have the essentially the same setup that you have and I had those very same problems. In fact, for a while there I was going to go postal on the firefox people because it kept freezing whenever I closed a tab or two and I could not believe that this was happening in a Mac Pro! I had times when processor usage was at 2% and the screen was frozen and I could not use mission control; more than puzzling, the experience was disturbing: was my Mac Pro suddenly OLD!? Then, I saw the same current version of firefox running on a 2013 Mac Pro and no such problem; tried mission control and the response was more than instantaneous! While I had already decided that I needed to change the video card (an electronic text with 6000 pages took long enough to open that I could go and do other things -what people with lesser machines do, I can't say.) that experienced clinched the decision. The immediate implication was that the GT120 is simply not up to the task of the significant increase in rendering that El Capitan is passing on to the video card. For what I do, the GT120 was more than enough because UNIX (and OS X then) does not demand much of video cards; however, while OS X remains a POSIX compliant UNIX, the NeXT heritage allows/facilitates some changes in so far as video rendering that make Metal possible. The upside for Apple is more gamers and more frequent upgrades of enterprise iMacs.

My Mac Pro has had the Sapphire R9 280 Dual X (6+6) but (2x DVI, HDMI, DP -not a typo, full size, not mini) which I've been told in another thread is less than desirable. The difference is extraordinary and it is not just limited to eTexts, video rendering is near 50 fps and subjectively, WOW! What makes all the differences more dramatic still is that I have not done the resistor surgery yet!! This card will support UltraHD so I can only imagine what it would look like if I had a 5k capable monitor! The only problem so far is that the instructions inside leave much to be desired; there is nothing that says which position of the push button switch is Legacy and which is uEFI.

I had a plan: I would leave the GT120 in and use my monitors multi-input capabilities to do the boot screen when I needed to...no dice, the machine would keep logging me out the second I did anything other than stare. Taking the GT120 out solved that problem (during that time, the system report saw two GT120s for some obtuse reason!) and system reports the card as native 7950! somewhat crazy since there is still no boot screen!

Even if I did not do anything else, for $200, this card is more than fantastic considering the price of what must be the same exact card from Sapphire but sold for the Mac which is ~ $500. I am very happy with this card and happily recommend it. Also, given how much has been said about noisy video cards in these forums and elsewhere, I was concerned that I would end up sitting next to a jet engine; however, the card is surprisingly quiet and the temperature would seem to hover around 20 degrees above ambient.
 
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RAMtheSSD

macrumors member
MacMesser, supposedly, the card is not doing full PCIe2 but rather something between 1 and 2 were -as I understand it- the up speed is closer to but not PCIe2 and the down is more like PCIe1. Someone, in the past, discovered that clipping this particular resistor results in the card reaching its full PCIe2 potential and removing the blockage from maximum frames etc... that would otherwise compromise the machine's performance as a whole. It would seem to be delicate surgery so I am trying to get all the information I can before I even think about how I'm going to do this.
 

MacVidCards

Suspended
Nov 17, 2008
6,096
1,052
Hollywood, CA
The resistor mod is simply copied from the Mac 7950.

On PCIE 2.0 machines, it lets the card run at PCIE 2.0

On a 1,1 or 2,1 there is absolutely no point in doing it.

On 3,1/4,1/5,1 it enables PCIE 2.0 in both OS X and Windows. Just be careful.
 

lowendlinux

macrumors 603
Sep 24, 2014
5,239
6,484
Germany
Too complicated to worry about updating the 970. The 7950 sounds good but I need to be careful about pulling the plug on 10.7.5 since applications can break. I know I can go to OS 10.8 without breaking anything expensive. Are there drivers for 10.8?
Do a double and triple check. My Mac Pro at work is and will remain on 10.8 because if I upgrade I lose the ability to print to my plotter with CS3 even though CS3 runs just fine on 10.9 and 10.10.

Post a list of all your essential applications. I'm sure as a community we can confirm 10.10/11 compatibility for you.

Software breaks in OS X are rare past the PPC era. I'd rather switch to Windows than stay on Lion for the rest of my life.
Yes they are but it's worth the check.
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
846
70
Long Island, NY USA
Do a double and triple check. My Mac Pro at work is and will remain on 10.8 because if I upgrade I lose the ability to print to my plotter with CS3 even though CS3 runs just fine on 10.9 and 10.10.



Yes they are but it's worth the check.
I agree. One can't be too cautious about possibly shutting down one's workflow.
 
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