Upgrading MacPro 5,1 Graphics card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by stevelerro, May 1, 2017.

  1. stevelerro macrumors newbie

    stevelerro

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Location:
    Cape May, NJ
    #1
    My MacPro 5,1 has been using an AMD Radeon HD 7950 3072MB card for the 2 years that i've had it. It's performed well up to my expectations until recently now that i've been trying to do more of my 3d simulator running and video capturing in 2560x1440. I wanted to do a decent upgrade to the graphics card and got my hands an NVIDIA TITAN X 12GB card. I figured at 4x the power of the existing card, I would see some improvement. I found that the loading process on some things was better, but the actual performance of my 3D software and simulators was worse with the new card than the old one. Lots of periodic skipping and lag. I was told that my simulator game is an OpenGL based program which apparently is at odds with NVIDIAs cards/drivers. Not sure it that's exactly the case though.

    So my question would be: Is there an AMD Radeon card compatible with my MacPro 5,1 that would be maybe 4 or 5gb, be good to go out of the box, not require an external psu or modifications to run, and would be happy running an OpenGL based simulator? I am not too comfortable attempting to flash something. I've been seeing alot of posts about a Radeon RX 470 and 580. Would these cards be something that would work for me? Also, I am running 10.11.6 with a 2.66ghz 6-core Intel Xeon with 32gb 1333mhz DDR3 ECC Ram.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  2. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #2
    It's not unlikely that you're actually CPU limited, so you could get a bigger boost by upgrading to a 3.46GHz CPU.
     
  3. stevelerro thread starter macrumors newbie

    stevelerro

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
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    Cape May, NJ
    #3
    If I was to update the CPU to the 3.46ghz, do you think that NVIDIA card would perform better as well or should I stick with the AMD Radeon?
     
  4. jjjoseph macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #4
    I think you should look at the CPU and GPU as separate elements. I've been doing CG related visualization for a while, and unfortunately OpenGL is archaic and outdated and hopefully completely eradicated soon.. LOL! Did I mention I don't like OpenGL?? So in some ways modern cards will speed up OpenGL, but they are made for a better world that hopefully OpenGL won't be a part of.

    To invest in a beast like a Pascal Based TITAN you have to look at the specific App you are running and what that App needs. A TITAN will improve anything, but if you have a specific OpenGL need a TITAN will do it, but it might be complete overkill. You mentioned a "3d simulator" any specific one? Is their a system build guideline? Support Forums?

    Also you said you wanted to CAPTURE video? Some GPU's have capture cards via Quado SDI add on cards, but stand alone capture cards are much cheaper option. Capture Cards rely on RAM for the Card and it's capture App and Hard Drive Speed. These are pretty GPU indepenent.
    You can get a 4k Capture Card via HDMI from BlackMagic Design for $200. Is that what you are looking for?
     
  5. stevelerro thread starter macrumors newbie

    stevelerro

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    May 1, 2017
    Location:
    Cape May, NJ
    #5

    The simulator is called "Trainz A New Era". It's minimum requirements are: Intel Iris or better with 1GB VRAM supporting OpenGL 3.3. I do my capturing using Snapz Pro X. I was using 10.8.6 for the longest time with previous versions of this simulator and happy was with it, but apparently OpenGL 3.3 was required for this newer version, and was not a part of 10.8. So I was required to update to 10.9 or later to get OpenGL 3.3. I build additional content for this simulator, so I wanted to be able to smoothly run the newest version, so hardware upgrades seemed like the right thing to do for it.
     
  6. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #6
    The macOS Nvidia drivers (both Apple and Nvidia WebDriver) seem to have a higher CPU overhead, so the performance will be worse in CPU limited situations. Since you've seen a performance decrease when moving to the TitanX it's quite likely that you're in such a situation.

    From my experience it's quite likely that upgrading your CPU to the fastest one available (3.46GHz) will increase your performance almost linearly. It's also possible that you'll still be CPU limited with those CPUs (which would mean that the TitanX still wouldn't perform notably better than your HD 7950), but it's impossible to predict.

    Your best bet is finding someone with a similar setup who owns that game, so he could share his experience.
     
  7. h9826790, May 1, 2017
    Last edited: May 1, 2017

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #7
    Not much choice, both RX470 and 580 are NOT OOTB card. And they won't work on 10.11.6 anyway.

    If you need 4GB or above, AMD, OOTB on 10.11.6, 225W (or less). I think only R9 380 / R9 380X 4GB are possible. However, they are not much stronger than your current card. May be not much point to do so.

    And since the CPU are relatively cheap now. I agree that you should go for the 3.46GHz CPU. Rather than spend lots of money on the GPU but keep the CPU bottleneck at the same position.

    Anyway, if possible, open Activity monitor when you are working on your 3D software. If you see something like this (one of the process stuck at ~100%), then most likely you are CPU speed (single thread) bottlenecked. Bottleneck.jpg
     
  8. jjjoseph macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #8
    I hate to say this, but if you are building a system for a SIM GAME, Trainz A New Era. I would just build a PC. I have not many nice things to say about the CPU options to upgrade any of the MacPro's. BUGGY and EXPENSIVE are my only words. I have done two CPU upgrades for edit systems on a MacPro 5,1 and the amount of Kernal Panics we get on those computers is astounding.

    If you just want something for 1 game just build a PC. I have lots of computers that are built for one Task/Application etc.... Its gonna save you a lot of money and you could build with AMD parts, which I would never do on a Mac... use AMD parts that is.

    I am not sure how you "Got your hands on" a Nvidia TITAN, do people just hand those out??? Anyway, your kinda in a pickle.. I would just put that TITAN in an i7 build for a PC or sell it and build a new system with a faster CPU/MEM and BUS.

    I am not an AMD fan at times, but a RYZEN/RX 480 is cheap and plenty fast for games..
     
  9. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #9
    I agree that PC is cheaper and faster. However, I do not agree that CPU Upgrade will cause kernel panic. My 4,1 is flashed to 5,1 and I did the CPU upgrade. Zero kernel panic due to CPU for more than 2 years now. And lots of members here did the same upgrade without any issues.
     
  10. bitnaut macrumors newbie

    bitnaut

    Joined:
    May 10, 2014
    #10
    I also have been running with dual 3.46GHz 6 core CPU's and no kernel panics with 96GB of RAM and Titan X and Titan video cards in slots 1 and 2. No kernel panics, hell not even memory PAGE OUTs. It's only if something is wrong with your system should you get kernel panics.
     
  11. jjjoseph macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #11
    That is good to know the CPU upgrades went well for everyone. It was a while back and I haven't actually checked in on those systems in a while. It was a few years ago. I have some more 5,1 that could use an upgrade... and I do see the XEONS have gone down in price significantly since I did the last upgrades.. Maybe I'll do another upgrade and see how it goes...
     
  12. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #12
    If you do have kernel panics for any reason you could post the KP logs here and maybe someone can figure it out. Some times there are obvious clues as to the problem (sometimes not of course).
     

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