Upgrade Nvidia 8800GT (3,1)?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by BigYellow, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. BigYellow macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    #1
    Hey guys,

    My Mac Pro seems to be bottlenecked when playing newer games in Bootcamp (Skyrim, Rage, etc). I can get pretty good performance about 95% of the time, but it seems to get choppy from time to time, and these 2-second "hiccups" are always accompanied by the 8800GT's fans slowing for a second.

    My machine only has 2GB of RAM, which especially in Win7 seems to be the biggest bottleneck so I'm going to add some more, but I'm wondering if I should also look at upgrading the Nvidia card and what my options would be. I actually had the original 8800GT replaced under Applecare in Feb or March this year (it fried itself), so I think I also want to look into my options BEFORE anything possibly happens to this one, since my Applecare is expired now.
     
  2. prowlmedia macrumors 68000

    Joined:
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    London
    #2
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

    See my post to the other guy asking about a card In this forum.

    Basically add min of 6gb ram - an ssd and this card and it will fly ...

    End time: 20 Nov 2011 09:13:19 GMT


    iPhone URL:
    Mac Nvidia GTX285 GTX 285 Mac Pro Video Card 2 Gig for DaVinci Resolve & Smoke

    Browser URL:
    Mac Nvidia GTX285 GTX 285 Mac Pro Video Card 2 Gig for DaVinci Resolve & Smoke
     
  3. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #3
    Do you think I'll see a noticeable performance gain, from 4GB ram to 8gb? I'm just thinking the $150 or so that another 4gb would cost me, could be better spent on maybe an ssd boot drive or something. I don't generally run multiple demanding apps, usually the only time I'm wishing for better performance is when I'm playing a newer game
     
  4. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    Sweden
    #4
    if you pay $150 for 4gb of DDR2 ram, you're buying at the wrong place
     
  5. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #5
    I've been looking on OWC and kind of using that as a baseline price.
    $72.99 for 2GB and $121.99 for 4GB (there are also two other 4GB kits that appear identical but are about $10 and $20 more for no apparent reason)

    Seems to be that RAM for this particular gen of Mac Pro is tough to find, and compared to other gen's, is a lot more expensive.

    I've found this as well, which seems to be comparable in price but I'm not sure if it's compatible. (This is a local outfit, that has the best prices in town by a long shot on everything from HD's to monitors)

    http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX14949
     
  6. Bwa macrumors 6502

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    Jun 20, 2007
    Location:
    Boston & San Jose
    #6
    The FB-DIMMs are expensive :-(. But I think $150 for 4 GB sounds OK for FB-DIMMs right now.

    Nothing will speed your experience up like an SSD. But I think 8 or 12 GB of RAM should be considered a minimum now. You should check your 'page out' count with top, iStat, or other tools to see how much you're swapping from disk.

    The way I looked at it, buying an SSD for my 2008 Mac Pro was an OK investment because it's something I can take to my next Mac Pro. Buying more memory than you need is a softer investment because we know that's not going to work in the next Mac Pro. :)

    P.S. I'd be wary to buy RAM without the big heatsinks if you care about fan noise.
     
  7. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #7
    Does the OWC stuff all have big heatsinks? Or no?

     
  8. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    Apr 16, 2008
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    #8
    Yes, OWC FB-DIMMs use the big, Apple-approved heatsinks.

    You can also try Trans Int'l. They sell FB-DIMMs for Mac Pros as well.

    As far as the video card is concerned, that really depends on your budget. The official Apple Radeon 5770 and 5870 cards would both be pretty significant upgrades over an 8800 GT. Many PC variants can be easily flashed as well if you wanted to save some money.
     
  9. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #9
    I looked at TransInternational and it seems a bit cheaper. Do they also come with the big heatsinks? The pics on the ordering page seem to indicate that they do but I don't really know where to check.

     
  10. CIA macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 17, 2003
    #10
    Fellow 3,1 owner here. Thanking my lucky stars I upgraded my machine to 16GB of ram back when prices were a bit more reasonable. Sadly this machine (given the FB nature of it's RAM) always had expensive ram. Once the Ram it uses went out of mass production (as memory specs increased for new machines) it only got worse.

    I just bought a 5870 from Apple. Yes I could have flashed one for way cheaper, but I don't want to deal with the hassle, I just wanted to slap in a new card and be happy. Works fine in this machine even though Apple said it won't. FCPX runs way faster. Still hate FCPX.
     
  11. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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  12. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

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    #12
    I complemented the original modules with two that have only big heatsinks on one side and eventually replaced them with modules that have no big heatsinks at all.

    I did not notice any increase in fan noise. Temperatures are a bit on the high side (between 66-80° Celsius according to Temperature monitor), but so far i have experienced zero problems with this config for about 3 years.
     
  13. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #13
  14. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    May 4, 2009
    #14
    I bought them.

    BigYellow said:

    "Wow that's cheap. Any insight into these places and their pricing? I keep seeing online stores selling what appear to be identical kits, ie. 2x2GB kits, at two very different price points."


    Let me yell ya a story:

    Memory America sold me 2 8GB sets, 1 in 2008 and another in 2009. They have large heatsinks on both sides just like the original Apple kit.
    Both sets came with a lifetime warranty and in 2010 1 module failed. I emailed them and they sent out a complete set of 4x2 GB modules with instructions to RMA the failed one and its 3 pack mates back to them. They have serial numbers and date of manufacture printed on them so you can tell which are which. It cost me $32 postage back to the USA from the UK. The replacement arrived in 4 days flat!
    The same thing happened earlier this year and they did exactly the same thing again, replaced all 4 matching modules with another 4 for the price of the post.
    Fantastic service! :)

    They do run hot 70ºc to 85ºc depending on stress and ambient temp. Hence the huge heatsinks.
     
  15. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #15
    That's great to hear, makes me feel a lot more comfortable considering ordering from them. I was lucky enough that my 8800GT failed while there was 2 months left on my AppleCare!

    I guess my question was more related to pricing within the same store, but I looked closer and it's just the "configuration" for a given memory amount, ie. 4x 2GB costs more/less than 2x 4GB, etc.

    The 6x 2GB set for $159 makes the most sense, I don't see myself EVER needing that much RAM but for the difference in cost... Plus apparently there's a marginal performance gain to be had by spreading your ram out across all 8 slots, versus if I were to install larger chips and take up less slots. Once I figure in shipping to Canada, minus a 5% coupon my good buddy Google found me, I'm still only looking at around $170.
     
  16. TinHead88 macrumors regular

    TinHead88

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    Oct 30, 2008
    #16
    I had to replace my 8800GT in a 3,1 and am now happily using a 6870. Performance is very close to 5870, no flashing required (10.6.8 and Lion), half the price and less power consumption. I have a GT120 as well so lack of boot screen is not an issue.

    If you're mainly concerned with game performance then any more than 4 Gig of ram probably won't make much difference.
     
  17. CIA macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 17, 2003
    #17

    Does your DVD player work with that card?

    /edit. Didn't notice you kept the GT120. Without that no DVD player right?
     
  18. TinHead88 macrumors regular

    TinHead88

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    Oct 30, 2008
    #18
    DVD player works on the 6870. There's a fix for that which I applied although I never actually tested to see if it was a problem before applying the fix.
     
  19. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

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    United Kingdom
    #19
  20. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    May 4, 2009
    #20
    Old Tech 2 GB sticks are not expensive to produce I assume.

    These are 2 GB ECC 800 MHz RAM modules, the manufacturing technique has been around for 4 or 5 years now. If it was 4 GB modules they would be more expensive. I assume other suppliers are still treating them as expensive Apple kit or have short supply of them which makes them more "valuable".
    Another possibility is Memory America has a more efficient manufacturing base but I doubt it.
     
  21. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

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    United Kingdom
    #21
    Interesting, but Crucial UK are doing 2 x 2GB for £120. The 2 x 4GB scale up exactly, at £240.

    *edit: actually the 8GB has come down to £220. So it's not like the 2GB modules are really 'cheap'?

    I currently have 12GB (4 x 2GB, 4 x 1GB) - I wouldn't mind getting the 12gb kit and keep 2 of my 2GB, to get 16GB in total - and sell the rest. But i'm not sure if i trust these guys!
     
  22. gpzjock, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    May 4, 2009
    #22
    Suit yourself Sharky, I've been using their RAM since 2008 and they have replaced complete sets for 1 bad stick without a quibble or delay... twice.

    The first set cost £200, the 2nd £150, back when Crucial wanted £400 for the same 4 x 2GB. It really was a no brainer. Apple wanted nearly a GRAND! :eek:
     
  23. dylin macrumors 6502a

    dylin

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    Jun 10, 2010
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    California
    #23
    Didnt read through everyone elses posts, but did you try looking on newegg?
     
  24. gpzjock, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    NewEgg sell Crucial too.

    Crucial RAM on NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148273

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148277

    Even they aren't as cheap as Mem USA. Compared to the UK the Yanks seem to get bargains.

    Mem USA charge more for 4 GB sticks: http://www.memoryamerica.com/fk251272800a.html $26.63 per GB to Crucial's $43.05 per GB in the UK.
    http://www.memoryamerica.com/2fk225672800at.html 2 GB sticks are only $18.12 per GB. Buy 12 GB of 2 GB and the price drops to $12.83 per GB. Somebody really wants cash and not 2 GB sticks by the looks of it.

    Recession economics often see cutthroat selling when a business needs to shift volume and create liquidity.
    Crucial don't need to worry as their reputation will have folks paying more for the same spec kit.
    Apple charge stupidly high prices compared and sit on their huge pile of cash laughing at every upgrade order. :mad:
     
  25. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2006
    #25
    So, I would assume 6870 > 5870, is this not the case?

    Also, I do use the boot screen to select bootcamp, as always leave the Lion disk as the Startup Disk selection, so if I held Option with only a 6870 installed the screen would stay blank?

    I don't ever watch DVD's on my mac, so that's not a factor for me.

    Are there Mac drivers built into 10.6.8 and later for the 6870? This is the first I've heard of using one in a Mac. I'm assuming you're referring to a typical "PC version" of the card.
     

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