Recommended 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 Upgrades (Video Card in particular)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hartleymartin, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. hartleymartin macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #1
    Hi Everyone!

    I recently acquired a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 - Quad 2.8GHz. I was surprised to discover that when the seller described "dual graphics card" that he actually meant that there were two 2600XT Video cards installed and the machine supports up to 4 displays on DVI ports!

    I'm doing some of the well-known upgrades: dual processors (3.0GHz), more RAM and an SSD for the boot drive. I'd like to know what are the recommendations on graphics cards.

    Things I would like:

    - DVI or HMDI output
    - Suitable for 1080p and 4K display
    (I am using 1080p now, but would like to be prepared for a possible future 4K display)
    - Would be suitable for basic video editing/rendering in 1080p.
    (I would like to start making videos for YouTube in 1080p)
    - Suits Mac Pro so I get boot loading screen
    - Price? No more than about $150 US if possible.

    Thanks in advance!
    --- Post Merged, Jul 15, 2016 ---
    By the way, the upgrades which I have currently planned (and paid for):

    - Additional 2x4GB RAM sticks to bring RAM to total of 16GB
    - SSD in Bay 1 for Boot Drive (2.5" SATA with bay adaptor)
    - Dual 3.0GHz Xeon CPUs (to replace single 2.8GHz) - yes, I have also purchased the heatsinks.

    Possible further upgrades:

    - USB 3.0 Card (nice but not entirely necessary as all my USB peripherals are USB2.0 anyway)
    - Wifi Card (to use computer also as a media server for the two Samsung Smart TVs in the house)
     
  2. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Illinois
    #2
    You can get an PCIe card for the SSD, which is better than putting it in the bay. I have the Apricorn Velocity Solo x2, which will take two ssds. There are a number of other PCIe SSD solutions out there.

    You can get the processor and fit it with the heat sink, and there isn't that much of a difference in performance between a pair of 2.8's and 3.0, plus you save some money and effort. Just make sure that you have the right tools.

    USB 3.0 cards are inexpensive, they are frequently throw-ins when you buy external drive enclosures from Newegg.

    If you are interested in a media server, I went the Toslink/hdmi route to connect my computer to the TV, wi fi isn't that good a quality and as long as you have the Toslink connections on the 3,1, you might as well make use of them.

    I upgraded mine a couple years ago with a GTX 670, which has the DVI, and hdmi outputs, but without it being flashed, you have to content with no boot-up screeen. There are a number of threads on here about 4K cards, but I've only seen them concerning 4,1's and 5,1's, not 3,1's. I do know that there is a more limited power supply in the 3,1, so you might need an additional power supply to power one of the new cards, even if if it does work with 4k, but you should explore the threads on here to find out more.

    Good luck
     
  3. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #3
    I've got 4 cores @ 2.8GHz. I'm upgrading to 8 cores @ 3.0GHz

    I am hoping to find a card that will support a 4K display, though I am using a 27" 1080p display for the time being. Basically, I know that the Mac Pro is now "vintage hardware" but I am hoping to get a few more years worth of use out of it.
     
  4. owbp macrumors 6502a

    owbp

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    #4
    All classic Mac Pros (2006-2012) have 980w PSU and can support 225w graphic cards (unofficially 250w).
    If you want GPU that you can flash yourself, HD7950(70) or R9 280(X) are choices on AMD side, or GTX 680 on nVidia side.
    If you don't need boot screens than you can buy almost* any pic card (*but first check here if it works).
    Also, check out macvidcards for even more choices on flashed cards.

    Everything else LorenK mentioned is great advice.
     
  5. filmak macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Location:
    between earth and heaven
    #5
    Imho, I think that you 'll have the most benefit from the RAM, SSD and GPU upgrade, honestly there is no need to upgrade the CPUs, the difference is so tiny. You could use the CPU money for a better GPU, of course you know better if this extra hassle worth it. Good luck!
    --- Post Merged, Jul 16, 2016 ---
    Oh! sorry. :)
    I thought you had 2x2.8 octocore, as you have the quad it is a nice upgrade. You could also just buy a single 2.8 quad core, and add it inside for 2x2.8.
     
  6. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #6
    Well, all too late because I already paid for the two CPUs and Heatsinks.

    I was looking for an 8-core Mac Pro, but couldn't find anything suitable in my price range. About 2 days after I paid for the Mac Pro that I had, a new listing came up for an 8-core for exactly the same money I paid for the 4-core (such is life!)

    That said, it came with much less RAM, only one HDD and only one Graphics Card. The one I bought turns out can support up to 4 1080p displays each on their own DVI cable, but as my desk is only 36 inches wide, I can only fit the one 27" 1080p display on the desk (bargain purchase, ex-display when Dick Smith Electronics went bust and liquidated their stock.)

    The GeekBench3 score is higher than my MacBook Pro (2011 model, with a RAM and SSD upgrade) so I am quite happy to use the 2008 Mac Pro as my desktop machine where everything from the laptop gets backed up.

    At the moment I am having some struggles getting WINE to run old windows games. I love Age of Empires II with the Conquerors expansion, and the only machine that can run it at the moment is an old HP5102 running Lubuntu.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 16, 2016 ---
    I bought an ATI HIS Radeon HD 7950 graphics card for the Mac Pro. 3GB of VideoRAM is certainly an upgrade from the 256MB on the stock cards that I am running. I might be able to sell off one or even both as tested and working spares to off-set the cost of the new card.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. TheStork macrumors regular

    TheStork

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #7
    There's also a resistor you need to cut/replace on the 7950 to make the card work at PCI 2.0 speed. I'm not knowledgeable about this, but I, too, bought a PC 7960. I sent it off to MacVidCards.com to have it flashed and the resistor attended to. I think it's worth the money to have MVC convert the card for a MP3,1 use.

    P.S. You'll have to contact them to see if they still offer the service for the 7950 because it's not on their web site any more.
     
  8. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020

    BillyBobBongo

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    #8
    I'd only bother flashing the bios on the 7950 if I was you. It's incredibly simple to do and, if I'm not mistaken, your card has a dual bios (look for a switch) so that gives you a safety net.

    The resistor mod to get the PCI 2.0 speeds requires removing the R17 resistor on the board, although there are mixed reviews if this is even worth doing. Basically you just grab a small screwdriver and pop it off. I have not done this to my card.

    For the record I had never flashed a graphics card before in my life and I had zero issues doing it, hence why I think you'd be wasting your money sending it to MVC. Just take the time to read up on what you need to do before going for it.

    Plenty of information can be found here: http://forum.netkas.org/index.php/topic,5619.0.html

    The user called 'Rominator' in that thread is in fact the guy behind MVC.
     
  9. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #9
    If it works with El Capitan out of the box I might not worry about it too much. I would like to have a boot loader screen though!

    I will be interested to see how it scores with GeekBench3 after all the upgrades. I'm sort of hoping to get over 12,000 although that's kind of like saying I want to have over 500HP out of a V8 in a street car. It will still be awesome even if it isn't quite at that magic number.
     
  10. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #10
    GCN-based AMD GPUs (e.g. this HD 7950) are a bad choice for the MacPro3,1 because of a still unfixed power management issue, which will make the performance drop by approx. two thirds.

    Since you already bought the graphics card, you'll want to read up here: http://netkas.org/?p=1325
    This workaround should still be possible in El Capitan, but you need to disable SIP/rootless to delete the files. You'd most likely have to repeat that after every OS update.
     
  11. owbp, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016

    owbp macrumors 6502a

    owbp

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    #11
    Tried it with 3,1 a month ago on El Capitan and it works great after removing those two kexts (SIP has to be disabled).

    Can't believe that Apple still hasn't fixed that. 3,1 is supported Mac for both El Capitan and HD7950...

    Btw, I remember Netkas' post about avoiding reference AMD with cooler in the middle, but can't remember if it was about HD79xx or some other series (5000, 6000?).
    Sorry for the incomplete info but I hope someone, who remembers exactly what I'm talking about, will confirm or deny.
    I hope it all ends well!
     
  12. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #12
    I was previously looking at some graphics cards with 1GB or 2GB of RAM, but the one I have purchased comes with 3GB. From what I can tell, apparently a lot of 4K monitors require the use of two display ports (or two HDMI/DVI) to get the number of pixels pumped through. Either way, I am certain that the stock 2600XT cards will not handle it. They are okay for 1080p display at the moment, as I have not yet tried to play games on this Mac Pro. I would like to get Age of Empires II to run, but at the moment I am not having much like with WINE or PlayOnMac. I get to the start screen with WINE, but the graphics do all manner of strange things. I may have to start another thread about it or look on the STEAM forums to get some answers.
     
  13. filmak macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Location:
    between earth and heaven
    #13
    If you buy SST 4k monitors you only need one mDP or DP (mini DisplayPort / DisplayPort) cable.
    Only the older MST require 2 cables as the 5k ones.
    Imho, prefer the SST monitors.
     
  14. hartleymartin, Jul 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016

    hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #14
    In case the 7950 does not work out well, I have put a bid on a ATI Radeon HD 5770 (1GB) which was taken out of a Mac Pro 5,1. Hopefully it will work properly on the 3,1! My 1080p monitor is only a few months old, so I will probably not bother with a 4K display for at least another 2 or 3 years. Until recently, I was still using a 16:10 1050p display! (You would be surprised what turns up in people's rubbish piles sometimes.)

    As usually happens with my hobbies, I acquire a few things, test to see what works best for me, then sell off the excess on eBay.

    Just looked up a review, and apparently it supports DirectX11 which may be the issue I am having with the stock cards and playing old Windows games through WINE.
     
  15. CapnDavey macrumors 6502

    CapnDavey

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2015
    #15
    EVGA GTX680 work well for 4k and they are easy to flash with a mac rom. I got one last month at the hamfest for 90 dollars flashed it its in my 2009 mac pro works great
     
  16. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #16
    I put in a bid for one of these. Since it is one originally supplied in a Mac Pro (though a later model) it should work find for me. I've figured that since it will be at least another 2 years before I go to a 4K display, this one will suffice with my 1080p display for the time being.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Carl LaFong macrumors newbie

    Carl LaFong

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    #17
    I've been hunting around as I'm not a computer builder yet and found this post. Very informative and exactly what I've been wanting to find and also very recent. I was wondering how you were finding this card? fyi I'm a film editor and want to rebuild my MacPro 3,1 to edit video with Avid and Premiere CC. I'm installing 32 gigs of ram and an SSD drive for my boot drive. .Cheers
     
  18. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #18
    I was hunting around eBay for most of my parts.

    I can highly recommend going for the maximum RAM and an SSD for the Boot Drive. I was using a Samsung 750EVO, but I swapped that into my Laptop because I am back at college this semester and I now have a 240GB Sandisk for the boot drive in the Mac Pro.

    I would recommend getting at least a 500GB SSD for the boot drive if you're going to be video and sound editing. You can use an ICY DOCK adaptor bay to mount them. If you've got the big money to spend, look at getting a PCIe SSD, because this will run a heck of a lot faster than a SATA SSD. You may also want a USB 3.0 card for your camera, unless you can use the FireWire IEEE1394 ports.
     
  19. MacStu09 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    #19
    For what it's worth, you can just get a PCI adapter for your SSD and it will be much faster (and cheaper) than an ICY DOCK adapter. *Edit, I didn't realize ICY DOCK's were only $10 now, so they can be had for about the same price. PCIe's can be found on sale for $15-20 frequently. Definitely worth going the PCIe adapter route.)
     
  20. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #20
    You can get PCIe cards which will hold m-SATA or m2 SSDs which are faster than your traditional 2.5" SATA drive (more expensive too)
     
  21. Carl LaFong macrumors newbie

    Carl LaFong

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    #21
    Thanks. Yes I've ordered an OWC 480 gig SSD with adapter for my boot drive , is this what you guys are talking about? https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/ADPTA3G480/

    I'm getting 32 gigs of RAM

    Glad I don't have to buy an Imac to upgrade for Premiere Pro and Avid, I've been using my MacPro 3,1 for years now cutting films with FCP 7. with two cinema displays. I hate throwing stuff away and am happy to try this upgrading to get Premiere Pro specs. all that's left for now is the graphics card which I'm leaning towards the
    Nvidia GTX 680 2 GB

    http://www.macvidcards.com/store/p8/Nvidia_GTX_680_2_GB,_4_GB.html
     
  22. MacStu09 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    #22
    What I was referencing was the PCIe adapter for standard 2.5" SSD's. No need to get the more expensive m-sata or m2 ones. And don't even waste your time with ICY DOCK or that adaptadrive kit. Get a PCIe adapter (it takes all standard 2.5" ssd's) like this :

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...846&cm_re=ssd_pcie-_-9SIA1JM33B7846-_-Product
     
  23. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #23
    You are spending too much.

    A Samsung Evo 850 is the recommended SSD & cheaper than the overpriced OWC drives. The difference in price will go most of the way to purchasing a PCIe card like the Capricorn Velocity.

    You also don't need to pay such a ridiculous price for a used GTX680 from macvidcards. Buy a regular PC GTX680 used for half the price from eBay then flash it yourself.
     
  24. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #24
    I took a look at the OWC SSDs. In the end I just started using either Samsung or Sandisk ones as these two brands seemed to be getting the best overall reviews in terms of performance and value.
     
  25. Carl LaFong macrumors newbie

    Carl LaFong

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    #25

    Thanks again for the valued info. seeing that the owc is coming today I'll live with that SsD drive decision. the prices seem comparable and not that much more expensive than Samsung (40clams). . I've never had a problem with OWC drives, maybe I'm just lucky. I will need another SSd drive or drives so I will make those Samsung or Sandisk. Also will take your recommendation on a used GTX 680/
     

Share This Page