Should I upgrade my video card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MississippiMac, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. MississippiMac macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2012
    I have a early 2009 Mac Pro 4.1 8 core 2.93ghz with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285. Currently have 24gb ram in it

    I use it mostly for Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects and Premier Pro, most of the time more than one at a time.

    I don't feel like I'm getting the performance out of it that I should be. There are time when using multiple filters in Lightroom that it gives me the spinning wheel and takes a few seconds to kick in. In After Effects it stalls out often working in 3D space.

    Would upgrading my video card help with this process or is the only thing I can do is take my ram all the way to 32, which I plan on doing either way.

    I can't afford the Quadro FX4800 at the moment, but would the Radeon 5870, or any other card, be much of an upgrade? Should I just wait till I can afford the Quadro?

    Thanks for the help!
  2. CaptainChunk, Mar 26, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012

    CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I highly doubt your GPU is the culprit, from what you're describing.

    Photoshop and Lightroom both make very limited use of the GPU. While some effects (mostly 3rd-party plug-ins) may use the GPU for acceleration, most of what Photoshop/Lightroom does is CPU and memory bound. If you're running other things in the background like Premiere and After Effects, also watch for their memory footprint as well. Both programs hog a ton of RAM if you tell them to.

    In AE, you have to play around with the Memory and Multiprocessing settings until you find something that works well for your setup. Contrary to what you might think, using all available processing cores in AE doesn't always yield the best performance because a set amount of RAM must be assigned to each processing core. Starving a core of RAM in AE is worse than telling it to use less cores, but with more RAM per core. Ideally, you want a bare minimum of 2GB, and up to 4GB on more complicated compositions, PER processing core. On Nehalem Xeons, AE will see an 8-core machine as a 16-core machine because of Hyper Threading. Yes, it uses a LOT of RAM. I still feel like AE is more sluggish than it should be on my 16GB of RAM.

    On my 2008 8-core, I find that setting 4 CPUs (cores) with 2GB each in AE gives me decent performance, while leaving enough RAM free to have other things running in the background without the system slowing down to a crawl with page-outs when Cmd-Tabbing to other applications. But again, YMMV. Fiddle around with the settings to see what works best for you.

    As a side note, I've also found that the Windows version of AE doesn't have near as many unexplainable stutters and slowdowns in normal operation as the Mac version does. I can't really pinpoint what causes this, so I can only assume that Adobe spent a lot more time optimizing AE's performance in Windows. To a lesser extent, Premiere Pro exhibits similar behavior for me.
  3. MississippiMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2012
  4. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Chunks got it. Play with the memory to core ratio and find the sweet spot. The GTX285 is the best "supported" card for Adobe even still as it can use CUDA and Mercury engine.
  5. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Don't buy a Quadro 4800 unless you can quantify that your issue is one of these two things:

    1. Not enough GPU VRAM

    2. Apps you are using require Double Precision Float math.

    Those are the only 2 places a Quadro 4800 is better or faster than GTX285.

    It is in fact closer to a GTX260 in terms of other specs, a slower version of GTX285. (Has 384 bit memory bus, 192 CUDA cores, 77 G Memory Bandwidth vs 512 Bit bus, 240 CUDA cores and 159G Memory Bandwidth)

    For most uses, a Quadro 4800 is significantly SLOWER than a GTX285.

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