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Recommendations on GPU

philm001

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 29, 2018
46
1
Hello all,

I am looking for a 4 or 8GB video card new or used for my 2009 Mac Pro. I was thinking about getting this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/XFX-Radeon...236870&hash=item21490fc8bd:g:jr8AAOSwr3xbs3QG

But I think that there are some power draw issues with this particular model. I only have a budget of $200.

So, I was wondering, what are some popular 4GB and 8GB cards people use in there setups? I know that the Sapphire Pulse series is very popular and works well for mac pros. Also, having metal support would be a plus.

I was considering Nvidia but it looks like I would need to install web drivers which is causing issues for some people.

Ideally, I would like to not have to install drivers for the Mac because if the OS updates, I would like to continue to use the machine.

I am having a bit of a difficult time with this because there are so many caveats with the graphics card in mac pros.

Thank you.
 

TheIguana

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2004
659
419
Canada
Mac Pro's of this generation are project computers at this stage, rather than turn key solutions. You should have a look at this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mp5-1-what-you-have-to-do-to-upgrade-to-mojave.2142418/

If you want Mojave, Metal support is more than a plus it is an absolute requirement. Given you have indicated continued updates are a priority, there are 5 cards that Apple has indicated they support with Metal. There are other graphics cards in these lines, such as the one you linked to on eBay, but the reality is your mileage is going to vary.
 
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ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,603
6,855
Hello all,

I am looking for a 4 or 8GB video card new or used for my 2009 Mac Pro. I was thinking about getting this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/XFX-Radeon...236870&hash=item21490fc8bd:g:jr8AAOSwr3xbs3QG

But I think that there are some power draw issues with this particular model. I only have a budget of $200.

So, I was wondering, what are some popular 4GB and 8GB cards people use in there setups? I know that the Sapphire Pulse series is very popular and works well for mac pros. Also, having metal support would be a plus.

I'd be wary of XFX AMD cards in Macs.

In any case, Apple has named two specific models that they support for Mojave, so those are about as close to a safe bet as you can get:
  • MSI Gaming Radeon RX 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5
There are older supported cards as well. Apple's list is here:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208898

Although they are supported and use native drivers, they won't have boot screens.
 
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philm001

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 29, 2018
46
1
I see, so I should definitely be going for the RX580 it looks like or the 560.

Now does it specifically have to be Sapphire? What if I find a Gigabyte RX580? Would that still work? Or are macs still picky about the manufacturer?
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
I see, so I should definitely be going for the RX580 it looks like or the 560.

Now does it specifically have to be Sapphire? What if I find a Gigabyte RX580? Would that still work? Or are macs support picky about the manufacturer?

The Gigabyte card should work (Apple use the terms "might" work).

If there has no big difference in cost, better to get the exact model that Apple recommended.

TBH, when I files bug reports. If I mentioned that bug is associated with the "Apple recommended Sapphire PULSE RX580 8GB card". I usually get faster and more positive respond.

Anyway, don't worry, this card works well in Mojave and High Sierra (10.13.6), those bug reports are mainly about the hardware decoding / encoding ability in Mojave, not any malfunction for any daily use.
 
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philm001

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 29, 2018
46
1
Oh I am sorry, there was a minor typo in there. I could care less about Apple support. But I was wondering if Macs are picky about the card manufactures?
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
Oh I am sorry, there was a minor typo in there. I could care less about Apple support. But I was wondering if Macs are picky about the card manufactures?

AFAIK, not that picky for RX580. In the old days, it seems quite a few XFX HD7xxx card can't work properly in cMP. But RX580 seems not suffer from this issue.

Anyway, stick to Sapphire cards or reference cards usually the safest bet (if there is no return / change policy for your purchase). But Gigabyte and MSI cards usually can work without any issue as well.
 
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ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,603
6,855
I could care less about Apple support.

Well you should, even if you don't make use of it yourself. Apple's being responsive to those two cards is a good sign that bugs are being addressed for them. Apple is motivated to ensure those work. All of the "might" cards may or may not work as a matter of luck, or how close they are to the supported cards.

But I was wondering if Macs are picky about the card manufactures?

That's too generic of a question. It depends on a lot of things. You don't necessarily need the exact card they recommend, and many other cards may work, but that doesn't mean you can get any card. And a card that works might have issues later, or work only partially, like some ports working and some not. I have seen countless examples here where unsupported cards have had their compatibility change in some way.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
Oh I am sorry, there was a minor typo in there. I could care less about Apple support. But I was wondering if Macs are picky about the card manufactures?

Actionable Mango is right. You should care about Apple's support. The cMP is just an Intel computer, you can install a RTX2080Ti onto it now. Your cMP will accept that, however, it will only work in Windows because no support from Apple. If this is what you want, then almost any graphic card can work on cMP.
 
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philm001

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 29, 2018
46
1
Wow, ok so the safest bet would be to stick to the Sapphire cards as those are the most compatible*.

Now, my next quesiton would be what about different edition of the cards? Like OC edition or XXX edition, or (whatever thing) edition? I remember seeing that some macs have issues with those types of cards.

For example, this is an OC edition of the RX 580:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sapphire-P...323325&hash=item260323cea2:g:kKEAAOSwWtBbnrtb

Concerning support, when I state that I don't really care much, I mean, I am not going to submit tickets to apple. For sure, I need to make sure that the hardware I get is compatible with Apple because I intend to use it in a mac OS.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
Wow, ok so the safest bet would be to stick to the Sapphire cards as those are the most compatible*.

Now, my next quesiton would be what about different edition of the cards? Like OC edition or XXX edition, or (whatever thing) edition? I remember seeing that some macs have issues with those types of cards.

For example, this is an OC edition of the RX 580:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sapphire-P...323325&hash=item260323cea2:g:kKEAAOSwWtBbnrtb

Concerning support, when I state that I don't really care much, I mean, I am not going to submit tickets to apple. For sure, I need to make sure that the hardware I get is compatible with Apple because I intend to use it in a mac OS.

Forget about the terms OC, that's compare to the standard reference card, not to other PULSE. All PUSLE RX580 factory set at 1366MHz.

Also, the Apple recommended one is the 8GB version.
[doublepost=1538687749][/doublepost]If you really want the Apple "blessed" RX580. Read this one.

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...x580-pulse-into-the-mac-edition-card.2101909/

For real OC (or high performance mod), read this one.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/sapphire-pulse-rx580-8gb-vbios-study.2133607/
 
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philm001

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 29, 2018
46
1
I see, sorry, I was only using that card as an example. I am learning this stuff as I go along
 
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TheIguana

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2004
659
419
Canada
The OC and Nitro+ versions tend to be taller (take up closer to 2.2x or 2.3x PCIE slots) as they have larger heat sinks. This means you may not be able to use slot 2 with those style cards as it is blocked. The standard Sapphire Pulse is a 2x PCI slot card ergo it won’t get in the way of the second PCI slot.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
I see, sorry, I was only using that card as an example. I am learning this stuff as I go along

No worries, if you want to be safe, stick to the Sapphire PULSE RX580 8GB is the safest.

If you want something cheaper (or easier to acquire in your city), then you can try almost any other RX580.
 
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Dewdman42

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2008
201
23
Anyone have any thoughts about these two cards and when it makes sense to use the 580 over the 560?

In any case, Apple has named two specific models that they support for Mojave, so those are about as close to a safe bet as you can get:
  • MSI Gaming Radeon RX 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5

I'm not playing any games, so I'm not sure I need the RX580, but I may have two 4k displays in HiDPI mode eventually...well at least one of them in hiDPI. I don't know if the RX580 would gain any advantage for common desktop use. No Final Cut Pro, not Photoshop. No gaming. But perhaps lots of pixels between several 4k HiDPI screens. Is the RX580 needed or 560 enough? I'm also wondering if either one runs quieter. The RX580 has two fans, but on the other hand the GPU's might not be breaking a sweat in my situation and especially so with the RX580.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
Anyone have any thoughts about these two cards and when it makes sense to use the 580 over the 560?

I'm not playing any games, so I'm not sure I need the RX580, but I may have two 4k displays in HiDPI mode eventually...well at least one of them in hiDPI. I don't know if the RX580 would gain any advantage for common desktop use. No Final Cut Pro, not Photoshop. No gaming. But perhaps lots of pixels between several 4k HiDPI screens. Is the RX580 needed or 560 enough? I'm also wondering if either one runs quieter. The RX580 has two fans, but on the other hand the GPU's might not be breaking a sweat in my situation and especially so with the RX580.

RX 560 should be more than enough for normal desktop use
 
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Dewdman42

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2008
201
23
what if I'm using hiDPI mode with a large size?, potentially on two monitors that way?

Also curious if the RX580 is actually quieter then the 560, I have seen some reports along those lines...
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
My UI rendering resolution is at 7680x2160. That's identical to 2x 4k monitor side by side. And if you run them at 1080P HiDPI, then will be identical to my GPU's demand.
Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 02.05.27.png


And for desktop usage, my VRAM demand stay just below 50%.
Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 01.57.25.png


By considering my RX580 has 8GB VRAM, that means 4GB VRAM should be "just enough". And this already included few browsers opened, with 3 Safari windows active, another 10+ tap in the background.

So, a RX560 4GB should able to do the work without any issue.

And the GPU usage is really low in normal desktop environment. So, don't worry about the GPU power.
Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 02.00.08.png


RX560 consume way less power, so, even has smaller cooler, most likely it's still quieter. However, this is really base on that particular card's design. If you have any target card, you may google their review and see if they are noise under stress.

Anyway, for most Polaris card, the fan shouldn't need to spin at all during normal desktop usage. I just check my current fan speed. As expect, it's zero. I believe no matter you choose RX580 or RX560, the noise should be still the same in desktop environment.
Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 02.02.50.png
 
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Dewdman42

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2008
201
23
I think you are probably talking me into the 8GB RX580 card. Does the Rx560 even come in an 8gb version?

I will not be running my monitors at 1920x1200 (hiDPI), they will probably be 2560x1440 (hiDPI) or possibly even larger resolution HiDPI, which means rendering something around 6000x3000 per monitor. Maybe the second monitor I would avoid HiDPI, but not sure yet, but still that is over 10,000 horizantal pixels.

I don't like buying anything that is "just enough". I do audio production with LogicPro and other audio apps, mainly. I doubt its using the GPU anymore then other typical desktop apps, but you never know. Sometimes I will have to deal with video to the second monitor..which might use a bit more GPU, but still I get your point about not really needing the GPU power to handle all the pixels and desktop use. But I don't really like that you're filling up half of your 8GB of vram during normal desktop use. That definitely points me to an 8GB card.

I also did read some scattered reports about fan noise, with both of them, glad to hear yours is quiet. That points me to Rx580 also. Fans come on when GPU is working. It doesn't look like the 560 would ahve to work too hard either though, but it does have less of a heat sink so who knows. I read some people with 560's thought the fan came on a lot. I dunno.

Guess I'll probably get the big one to be safe...but I'd liek to hear from Rx560 users or from someone that has used both would be really helpful.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
I think you are probably talking me into the 8GB RX580 card. Does the Rx560 even come in an 8gb version?

I will not be running my monitors at 1920x1200 (hiDPI), they will probably be 2560x1440 (hiDPI) or possibly even larger resolution HiDPI, which means rendering something around 6000x3000 per monitor. Maybe the second monitor I would avoid HiDPI, but not sure yet, but still that is over 10,000 horizantal pixels.

I don't like buying anything that is "just enough". I do audio production with LogicPro and other audio apps, mainly. I doubt its using the GPU anymore then other typical desktop apps, but you never know. Sometimes I will have to deal with video to the second monitor..which might use a bit more GPU, but still I get your point about not really needing the GPU power to handle all the pixels and desktop use. But I don't really like that you're filling up half of your 8GB of vram during normal desktop use. That definitely points me to an 8GB card.

I also did read some scattered reports about fan noise, with both of them, glad to hear yours is quiet. That points me to Rx580 also. Fans come on when GPU is working. It doesn't look like the 560 would ahve to work too hard either though, but it does have less of a heat sink so who knows. I read some people with 560's thought the fan came on a lot. I dunno.

Guess I'll probably get the big one to be safe...but I'd liek to hear from Rx560 users or from someone that has used both would be really helpful.

If you want a quiet GPU even under high stress. You can go for the PULSE RX580 8GB and then follow the mod I wrote here.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/sapphire-pulse-rx580-8gb-vbios-study.2133607/

The section about "Use the WX7100 setting" will make the card very quiet.

There are still more parameter can play around to make the card even quieter (especially you don't really need those extra power daily, but just mainly want the VRAM). However, I don't recommend to make it too complicated until you really need to. If that happen, I am more than happy to discuss with you how to further lower the noise.
 
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Dewdman42

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2008
201
23
Thanks for your information. I did buy this card and so far its pretty darn quiet, I can't imagine its going to ever been an issue for me unless I play games, which I don't.

One question, this card has a switch on it, to manually configure it for gaming mode or compute mode. By default its on gaming mode. What are the ramifications of using compute mode on OS X?
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
Thanks for your information. I did buy this card and so far its pretty darn quiet, I can't imagine its going to ever been an issue for me unless I play games, which I don't.

One question, this card has a switch on it, to manually configure it for gaming mode or compute mode. By default its on gaming mode. What are the ramifications of using compute mode on OS X?

The difference is tiny, no need to touch that. Just consider the 2nd ROM as backup is fine.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,957
7,323
Hong Kong
what do you mean by 2nd ROM as backup?

That switch is actually a ROM switch

Rom 1 - Gaming mode

Rom 2 - Compute mode

So, that switch only works BEFORE you power up the Mac.

The difference between the two ROMs should be very little. Very negligible to you.

So, e.g. if for whatever reason, your card can't boot with ROM 1, you can always try to switch to ROM 2 (serve as backup ROM) and see if it helps.
 
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Dewdman42

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2008
201
23
what exactly is the difference between the two ROM's? Does OS X even support the compute ROM?
 
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