What video card should I get?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Ack, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. Ack macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    I have a 2008 Mac Pro 8-core 3.0 GHz with a Radeon 2600 HD video card. I want to upgrade to a better video card, mainly to get better framerates in World of Warcraft. :eek: Here are my considerations:

    --I run two 1920x1200 displays, both connected by DVI. I'd really like a card with 2 physical DVI connectors built in, not one DVI and one mini display port.

    --This Mac is used mainly for work, so I need something very stable, problem free, and well supported by Apple. I can't afford to be down while looking for new drivers or firmware every time OS X updates come out.

    --High framerates for playing WoW at 1920x1200 at max quality.

    --Good for native Mac games, reasonably future-proof so that it will run new games well for some time to come.

    --OpenCL support would be nice.

    Based on the above, what card should I get?
  2. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Your choices are the Nvidia 8800 GT, GTX 285 or the Radeon 4870. Some PC cards could be flashed (see respective threads about this).

    My leaning is towards the 4870, but it's your call. They all support OpenCL.
  3. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I thought there were some problems with the 285 in WoW.

    I would go with the 4870 as well. I used to play and it worked great. All on high, no problems.

    Using a MDP to DVI converter has never been a problem and I run at 1920 as well.

    8800 if you can find it may be a cheaper alternative as well.

    Not sure about flashed cards and updates, but if you are okay with that and play under windows, possibly a flashed 4890?
  4. Ack thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    The 4870 "only" has 512 MB. Do you think it will still handle top of the line games for the next couple of years?
  5. Sharangad macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    No, because the Radeon HD5870 is coming out next Tuesday for the PC supporting DX11 and that will be significantly faster.
  6. Brazzan macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2009
    My 4870 runs WOW fine (>30 fps) at 2560x1600, almost everything maxed. It slows down a little in Dalaran, but that isn't a GPU problem, it's a "getting all the data about player movements down teh interweb" problem.

    Will it run other games as well? No idea. I haven't tested it.
  7. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Since you want 2 @ DVI displays, you don't wnt the Apple 4870.

    Flashing an XFX 1 Gig would give you best of both worlds....2 @ DVI (can run a 30" and a 24") while also giving you 1 Gig of VRAM instead of Apple's miserly 512 Megs.

    No time to waste, the "good" XFX 1 Gig cards are drying up like dew in the morning sun.

    A guy posted a link to an Amazon site that still had them.

    NOW is time to act.
  8. Ack thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    I'm hesitant to buy a PC card and flash it. I'm worried about compatibility issues popping up in the future. I'm not sure if it's a justified fear or not, just my gut telling me to keep it simple...

    Sounds like I'm down to the GTX 285 or the Radeon 4870. The Radeon is just right for what I need now, but may become outdated faster. The GTX 285 seems perfect, but I've seen posts about driver issues and someone else said it has problems with WoW. It is being sold on the Apple store though, so I guess that means that they plan to support it. The apple store has it for the same price as OWC, which is shocking!

    Can any of you comment on the compatibility and stability of the GTX 285 under Leopard and Snow Leopard? Both for general Mac usage and for WoW and other native Mac games?

    Thanks a lot for all of the help!
  9. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Flashing an XFX 4870 1 Gig has been the best easy, cheap GPU for Macs in awhile.

    Until about 2 weeks ago it was a sure fire thing.

    Now they have switched to a much cheaper board and nobody has written a good ROM for it.

    But if you could find one of the XFX ZHFC or ZHDC cards, they are BEST for what you ask now.

    I think in long term, the GTX285 will be better.

    Everyone has been parroting the "ATI has better Core Image support" mantra for so long that there was a collective gasp as the AWFUL TRUTH about ATI OpenCl support came out.

    Now it seems Nvidia's CUDA has given them a MASSIVE jump on ATI for this emerging Mac tech. Tables have turned, we're waiting to see fallout of which path is best.
  10. akadmon Suspended

    Aug 30, 2006
    New England
  11. akadmon Suspended

    Aug 30, 2006
    New England
  12. Ack thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Thanks for all of the info everyone!

    So, if I get a PC XFX 4870 1 Gig and flash it, I still use the standard OS X 4870 drivers and get the exact same stability and performance, but with 1024 MB instead of the 512 MB in the Mac version, correct? It still works properly with core image, openCL, etc? Future Mac 4870 driver updates won't break it?

    Rominator, you mentioned that someone posted an Amazon link where they still had the "good" cards available. I've searched around and can't find the link. Can you point me to it?

    Are there any reputable companies or individuals out there who I can pay to set this all up for me and send me a correctly flashed and tested card with the proper power cables, etc.? That might be a nice little business for someone to start up...
  13. matthewtoney macrumors regular


    Aug 17, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Since I know how much Rominator likes it when you say you can't find it in search... :)

    This is the one that was linked (and that you want):


    Unfortunately, it looks like they are already gone again on Amazon. (they're also gone on Newegg which is where a number of us got them)

    There are often people on ebay doing just what you described - selling one of these pre-flashed with the power cables, etc., although the ones I've always seen are asking too much IMHO
  14. vicentk macrumors regular


    Feb 24, 2008
    Hong Kong
  15. zepharus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2007
    The GTX 285 is HORRIFIC in WoW right now stay far away from it. Do what I did and buy an XFX 4890 and flash it. you get better overall performance and MUCH cheaper as well.
  16. xiovoix macrumors regular


    Jun 2, 2009
    Maybe Ned Ludd was Right?
    Flash any 4800! Priced them on novatech uk for £129. :apple: are asking £280 for the same card. I think not oh fruity one:).
  17. Ack thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Thanks for your help everyone!

    I found a pre-flashed 4870 ZHFC that includes the Mac power cables on eBay. I asked the seller about differences between this card and the ones sold on the Apple store. He said:

    I hadn't realized this. So it looks like the tradeoff is higher bandwith vs. more memory. The only reason I really need the upgraded card is for gaming, but I also run multiple monitors with multiple virtual "Spaces" going at once with apps that use video card memory like Photoshop and games.

    My goal is to have the latest native Mac games running as smoothly as possible at max settings on one screen while I also switch between my other apps running on other monitors and Spaces. Should I go for more bandwidth (Apple store card) or more memory (flashed PC card)?
  18. Macinposh macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2006

    AFAIK,photoshop practically dont use gpu at all.
    Only canvas rotating/transfer and zooming uses it.
    So no dont worry.
  19. lannister80 macrumors 6502


    Apr 7, 2009
    You want the PC card.

    This 2.5GT/s vs. 5.0GT/s difference was discussed TO DEATH in the 4870 mega-thread. As a gamer, the 1GB of memory is MUCH more important than the bandwidth. There are very, VERY few applications that can saturate a standard PCI-E bus (2.5GT/s), think rendering/modeling programs like Mudbox.

    The bandwidth is a non-issue except for hard-core render folks. For gaming, you want the PC card. Plus it's a ton cheaper.

    If you want to read further discussion, just search the mega-thread.
  20. Ack thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    I skimmed the mega thread and read all of the latest 2 or 3 pages, but it sounds like I need to go back and read the whole thing. Thanks!
  21. lannister80 macrumors 6502


    Apr 7, 2009
    Yeah, the discussion about bandwidth is in the middle somewhere. :)

    But seriously, for your needs, get the PC card and flash. I went that route and am very happy with my decision.

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