Which graphic card?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jardins de Vin, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. Jardins de Vin, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014

    Jardins de Vin macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #1
    I have a 5,1 Mac Pro, it came with an HD 4870 1 GB. Sadly it seems to be the PC version of the card, so I'd like to swap it with something that has two Mini Displayports.

    The thing is, I know absolutely nothing about graphic cards, and I'm unsure which to go with or which ones are even compatible with my Mac.

    What I use the Mac Pro for: mainly music production with Logic Pro X, and lots of third party plugins.
    The screen: I'm currently looking for a second hand 27" LED Cinema Display.

    I want it to run smooth on the 2560 x 1440 resolution.
    Also, I have a game that I used to play here and there between sessions. It requires a quite high resolution as well (also 2560 x 1440) and it's a full 3D game. But that's less important of course :D

    Any recommendations? I've been thinking about the HD 5770 or 5780 (the price difference seems to be big). But my previous 2011 iMac had a HD 6970 M, which, according to tests, is apparently better in many points than the 5770.

    Thanks a lot.
     
  2. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #2
    For Mac edition card. The choices are 4870, 5770, 5870, 7950, and GTX680. By considering best gaming performance, EVGA GTX680 Mac Edition Card should be the best choice (assuming you play game under Windows). However, it only has display port, no mini display port. So, the best option for you will be Sapphire HD7950 Mac Edition Card.

    However, if you don't mind to use PC Card (or flashed card), you can use 7970, R9 280X, GTX780... The main difference is that you won't get the boot screen (the apple logo), that means you can't use boot manager to choose boot disk. But you can pay much less, get a much better card, and with 2 mini display port.

    Anyway, for 1440p 3D gaming, better get at least 5870 or above.
     
  3. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #3
    Hi, thanks a lot.

    I found a 7950 and I'd like to buy it. Good price and still almost 2 years warranty. It's by Saphire, will it work in my Mac Pro? It has 2x mini Displayport, is this the proof that it is the Mac version of the card?
     
  4. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #4
    Many PC editions oft he 7950 have 2x mini Displayport outputs on the card. However, the 7950 is easy to flash with the Mac ROM for boot screen/etc. check out netkas.org for guides on that.
     
  5. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #5
    Thanks! I sadly couldn't find a tutorial on netkas.org though :(

    What if it's Displayport only by the way, is there some quality loss if I use a cable for Displayport (mac) -> Mini Displayport (screen)? Any disatvantages? Even if just really really really small ones?
     
  6. phairphan macrumors 6502a

    phairphan

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    #6
    There's no quality loss going from mini DisplayPort (mDP) to regular DisplayPort (DP) (or vice versa). DP and mDP are the exact same standard/signal, mDP simply has a smaller connector. It's analogous to mini/micro/nano/pico/etc. USB vs. regular USB. It's easy to find a DP to mDP adapter or a cable with DP on one end; mDP on the other.
     
  7. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #7
    Help!

    Perfect, thanks!

    So, I decided to go with the HD 7950. I'm still confused because there's so many different versions, but somebody may be able to enlighten me.

    I found an HD 7950 "with Boost" version by Sapphire, which also has "Dual X" (two fans apparently). It has 3GB GDDR5, 2 x DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.

    Apparently it's this card here: http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1157&pid=1841&psn=&lid=1&leg=0
    Although there seems to be many other "HD 7950 3GB GDDR5 WITH BOOST" in the drop-down menu.

    The question is: will it run on my Mac? (see signature)
    It doesn't say anything about the OS requirements on that page.

    And then there's this one:
    http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1157&pid=1777&psn=&lid=1&leg=0

    Mac Edition? I thought there was just a switch on the card, which would make it either compatible with Mac, or PC. This "Mac Edition" is almost impossible to find for sale (second hand) and seems to be very expensive.

    What's the deal? How is it different from the standard 7950 Sapphire sells? Why would one pay twice the price, or even more, if he could use a normal 7950 and just turn the switch to the other side?

    I appreciate all inputs!
    I'm a bit stressed because the one I found seems to be a good deal and I'm scared it will be gone soon.
    I already "lost" a 27 Cinema Display at a really good price this week.

    Thanks a lot!
     
  8. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #8
    The white one is the Mac Edition Card. It has a BIOS switch to make the card provide boot screen in your Mac Pro natively.

    The 7950 with twin fan on it should work in your Mac Pro as well. However, it won't give you a boot screen (no apple logo), that means you can't use the boot manager (holding option during boot to select book disk). It's should be OK for normal daily use (the login screen is available).

    Anyway, you can flash it with to make it provide the boot screen like the Mac Edition Card does. You can get all the information / software from the netkas forum. However, I can't see any switch on your target 7950. It will increase your risk to do so (apart from the Mac Edition Card, there are still lots of 7950 have dual BIOS for OC purpose), it's better to get a dual BIOS card if you want to flash it.

    The pros of getting the Mac Edition Card is...
    1) Dual ROM available
    2) Native boot screen support
    3) Guarantee Mac compatible
    4) No hardware modification to get 5.0 GT/s link speed
    5) Lower power consumption
    6) The 2x6pin power cord work natively in your Mac

    Cons...
    1) Expensive
    2) Hard to get a used card
    3) Only reference cooling fan (noisy under load, not good for OC)

    For a normal 7950 card, pros...
    1) Much cheaper
    2) Easy to get one
    3) Lot's of different choices
    4) May get a better cooling version for OC (and more quiet)
    5) The card may run at higher core and memory speed natively

    Cons...
    1) May need resister modification to get 5.0 GT/s link speed (not guarantee)
    2) May need modification (or external PSU) to power that 8pin cable
    3) Draw more power than your Mac's spec (the PCIe slot and both 6pin port are designed to provide 75W each, total 225W), the PSU is OK (980W), but drawing 150W from a 75W 6 pin line may burn your motherboard
    4) Flash required to get the boot screen
    5) For single ROM version, if anything goes wrong during flash, you may brick your card
    6) Not guarantee supported by your Mac Pro

    If you prefer to flash a 7950, you may consider to flash a 7970 and lower it's clock and voltage in order to make it draw less than 225W, run quieter / cooler, but still give you very good performance.
     
  9. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #9
    Thanks man you are great! :) Your posts helped me a lot and I feel more "comfortable" in this field of graphic cards now, which I was completely new to. You should have a username we can remember easier, but the "h98" at the start made me already recognise you from your earlier post, so in the end it might not be hard to spot you in the future! :p

    I think that also narrowed down my choice. I'll go with the Mac Edition because it was made for that and there's less risks!
     
  10. h9826790, Aug 10, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #10
    Haha, you may not able to remember my user name, but should be very easy to spot me since it's not a name :D

    By the way, before you make that decision. An extra info for you. There is a small issue with the 7950. You may see your screen flickering occasionally (may be few times a day when using browser or on desktop). Which is NOT a hardware fault, but the driver's problem. It may happen when the 7950 change it's memory clock speed. The work around at this moment is flash the card and force it to run the VRAM at constant speed (1250MHz), rather than let it drop to 150MHz under 2D environment.

    I already made an image file for this card to permanently fix the flicking issue. Furthermore, I OC it a little bit to 850MHz, lower the voltage to 0.975V, and modify the fan profile to make it run cooler and quieter.

    I attach the ROM image View attachment HD7950Mac.rom.zip here for you (unzip before use). All you need is just use bootcamp (or any PC) to run Ati_winflash, and flash the ROM to your card (you may use Ati-flash in DOS as well). I recommend you backup your PC ROM (by using GPU-Z in Windows) and flash this image to replace the PC ROM. Leave your native Mac ROM untouched will keep your card safe and always bootable.

    Of course, you can try the native setting first. May be Apple will fix this flickering issue on the next OSX update.

    [Updated 1: In order to avoid someone flash this ROM to their 7950 card, and then sell it on eBay. The chipset name and ROM revision was modified. Which will not cause any performance /stability issue (I am using this ROM now), just a different name in the system profile.]
     
  11. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #11
    Advance Congrats on your upcoming new 7950HD GPU! Here are some source of Inspirations for your card.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v717TXerQ0c
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gUKpOJoJD4
     
  12. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #12
    Haha great! That definitely looked easier than I thought it would be!

    Yeah I rear about the flickering and that it was a driver's issue. Some people seemed to have it all the time, others only all 30 minutes or so, like you said. But I also heard it was completely fixed in Mavericks. Which version of OSX are you using? The reviews I read show that some people which had the flickers only here and there didn't have it at all anymore after upgrading to one of the versions of Mavericks, I don't know which, however.

    Thanks for the ROM! That starts to get complicated again now for me haha. I'll look into it once I have the card, but I already know that I'll be far from pushing the card to its limits!

    The problem now is just to find one. Is €200 an okay price for this card? Is it okay to be more expensive than normal 7950s? I know it's harder to find, but it cost around €450 new, which is also the new price for a standard 7950 on amazon right now. But you can find normal ones for €130-170. With me buying a Cinema Display right now, I have to see how much I can spend on it.
     
  13. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #13
    I am now with 10.9.5 beta. Haven't try the 10.10 yet, so don't know how it perform. The flickering issue is much worse under 10.8, and greatly improved under 10.9 (but not completely eliminated in my case). My Mac Pro run 24/7, without memory clock hack, the flickering usually happen only few times a day. And mostly happened when using Safari.

    That ROM is not a must item. May be your card run perfectly under 10.9 and beyond. But it can save you many hours if you suffer from flickering and look for a permanent solution.

    Another easy option for you is go to MacVidCard's (he is a well known member in the Mac Pro forum) online store and pick which ever card you want. You can get a card with a more resonable price and let him do all the complicated job for you.

    I am not familiar with the 2nd hand market. I got my brand new card from OWC. However, by considering it's quite hard to find, i will say 200 should be a reasonable price for this particular card.
     
  14. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #14
    Yeah I if do have some flickering I'll get back to this and check it out! Let's hope I don't have it though, but let's also hope it's a big help for anyone who does!

    As for MacVicCards, I checked them out (apparently they're two?) and they don't seem to have this card for sale. I guess I'll simply buy it from the other guy, it's not even half the price of what it cost new and still has warranty until mid 2015 or so. :)
     
  15. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #15
    MacVidCards mainly supply flashed card, not Mac edition card. But he is the expert in this area, so you can get a flashed card from him, and basically still plug and play.

    Anyway, the Mac edition card is always a good choice. It's very good if you can get one for that price with warranty.
     
  16. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #16
    I know for next time then! I always prefer "official" stuff, even if they are flashed and everything is well done, etc.
    I just bought the other card for €200 with warranty and all the extras. I hope all goes well! :)
     
  17. Jardins de Vin, Aug 20, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014

    Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #17
    Hello,

    I received the card a few days ago. I tested it on my Panasonic TV but couldn't really judge if everything was okay, as I rarely connect a computer to the TV.

    Anyway, today my 27" Cinema Display arrived, where I could judge things more easily. On the TV the screen was flickering – now I don't know if that's the problem we talked about (I'm still under Mountain Lion here, so I need to update) or if it was the TV. Or temporary. Now on the Cinema Display I have no problems. WOW! Just while writing this, the screen suddenly flashed very weirdly, with grey bars and things like that. Okay, this is weird.

    This kind of stuff already happened earlier, usually when I start the computer. But I ran the Apple Hardware test, and it didn't find any errors for the graphic card. Then again, I heard of people who had graphic card issues, even though the Apple Hardware test didn't show any problems.

    I did have one error in the test, however. Apparently a memory temperature sensor problem.

    Also, I think the fans are acting weirdly. I'm not sure which ones, but I hear a sound that goes up and down sometimes, mainly when I boot up, or when I tested the system by watching a few videos on Youtube. So I thought it may be the HD 7950.

    The last weird thing is the attached screenshot… I wanted to send my new specs to someone. So I opened Preview, went to the screenshots menu, and chose "window". This made a perfect screenshot while keeping the shadow behind. I opened it in iPhoto to remove the serial number, and see what happens with the transparent / the shadow.


    I'm not sure if everything's alright here, but I believe I should act quickly.

    All help is greatly appreciated!

    PS: I'm not sure why there's such a weird bar between "Mitte" and "2010" (Mitte means "Mid" in German)
     

    Attached Files:

  18. h9826790, Aug 20, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #18
    The flickering issue is just like a momentarily flash of the screen in less than half second. Usually happen when using browser or may be somethings at the desktop (finder). Strongly recommend update to Mavericks. It use a much better driver, provide better performance, and should be much less flickering.

    You are right about the fan. It's native fan profile is very sensitive to the temperature. When you using browser like Safari (VRAM intensive software), it will have a lot of VRAM operation and increase the card temperature. Therefore, the card automatically increase it's fan speed to cool itself down. You should just able to notice the fan speed when keep scrolling in Safari (but not very noisy), and that little noise go away when you stop scrolling.

    I upgrade from the stock 4870 to this 7950 Mac edition as well. So I know that you will feel weird about this fan characteristic, but this is completely normal. In fact, the fan is much more quiet than the 4870 when under full load, but just a little bit more noisy under 2D environment. If you prefer to keep everything running at stock setting. This little fan noisy should be there.

    For the screen short issue. I am unable to reproduce the issue. I perform the exact operation, but everything is normal.

    Screen shot.png

    My recommendation is upgrade to Mavericks first before you start to trouble shoot anything. This simple update may save you lots of time and effort. If you have an extra HDD, make a clean install of Mavericks, boot from that disk and see if there is still any strange issue.
     
  19. Jardins de Vin, Aug 20, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014

    Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #19
    It's weird but today, the whole day, nothing has been flickering at all anymore. :) It really seemed to be only when connected to the Plasma TV. It also doesn't flicker under Safari or anything else, and I'm still under Mountain Lion.

    Right now, the card is a bit noisy, but running at a constant level. Even when watching videos on Youtube, weird…

    So the mod you uploaded made the fan run slower, right? Is this bad for the card? Bad on long term maybe?
    Thanks anyway for sharing your experiences, and good that there's someone who made the same upgrades as me. :)

    I'll upgrade to Mavericks of course (and Yosemite as soon as available), but the thing is, there's some other weird issues with my Mac Pro, that's why I'm a bit scared of leaving it turned on the whole night to download Mavericks (it takes ages, I have slow internet): http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1766501

    Perhaps you know what's going on there too :)

    PS: In the Apple Hardware test, the 7950 is not recognised. I'm not sure if it is normal, it just says "Unknown", but it does recognise the 3 GB VRAM.
     
  20. h9826790, Aug 20, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #20
    May be I keep updating from the beta OSX, and some buggy software left in my system to cause flickering. Anyway, it's good to know that's not happening on your Machine.

    For the fan, yes, I made it run slower (most of them time at or below 27%. I pick this number because I can't hear anything in my room if 27% or below). However, since I decrease the voltage from 1.094V to 0.975V as well. The card actually run cooler when under full load (and perform better, because I give the GPU an extra 50MHz clock speed). It may run a little bit warmer during idle, but that shouldn't be a problem at all.

    I only modify the fan speed below 75C, and the card basically max at 75C (under Furmark stress test, and the fan will stay at around 31%). If it get above 75C, the fan will go back to it's native profile for regaining the stock protection to avoid any damage due to overheat (under stock setting, my card always go above 75C under Furmark test, therefore, 75C should be very safe).

    The card is calibrated according to my room environment. If you want anything else, I can make another ROM image for you. (e.g. stock GPU / memory clock, lower the voltage, and whatever fan speed you want).

    If you want to test what fan speed you want, the easiest way is boot into window. Run ATI afterburner to hard tune the fan speed (since the card is at idle stage, this is 100% safe to alter the fan speed). You can simply tell me the highest fan speed that you can't hear, and I do the rest for you.

    Just a friendly remainder for you. My mod did actually lock the memory clock speed at 1250MHz to completely avoid flickering. However, it will make the card constantly draw 25W from the PCIe slot, it may cause your PCIe fan speed run at about 800PRM during idle. In my room, that doesn't matter, since I can't pick up anything below 1000RPM under normal noise level. For you, that may be another concern. Anyway, since you don't suffer from the flickering, I can easily make a low noise level ROM image for your card which won't increase your PCIe fan speed.

    I think the Apple Hardware Test was available way before the 7950 exist, it's normal that it can't recognise a "future" graphic card.

    [Update 1: The ROM image attached in post #10 is now further improved. 2D environment VRAM clock speed hard tune at 1000MHz to avoid flickering, and 1500MHz under 3D environment to improve performance. My card with this ROM pass OCCT error test with zero error. After lots of tested, I find that my GPU can work stably up to 93C. So I further lower the fan speed to reduce noise, and remain few degrees buffer when GPU fully loaded under extreme condition.]
     
  21. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #21
    Thanks for all the tips :)

    Actually now the "noise" of the card does go up and down, for example when using Google Maps. I just tested it.

    But I kind of got used to it already haha. I'll let you know if I need your help to make it run quieter - the Mac will be used for Music Production actually, which means the chances I'll hear the "noise" of the card are very small. But when working on quiet stuff, it may be disturbing. I'll have to test then in order to be able to judge, so we'll see I guess! But in trust you for your tricks, so I know who to approach I guess :apple:
     
  22. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #22
    It's normal that the fan speed keep changing according to the loading. This aggressive temperature control may be quite annoying (or disturbing). It's not hard to get use to it. I modify the fan profile just because I can, there is no necessary to do so. The card is not that bad. At least it's much quieter than the 4870 under 3D environment.
     
  23. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #23
    Not that bad? I thought it's the best official Mac card :)
     
  24. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #24
    Sorry for my poor English. I mean the fan noise. ;)
     
  25. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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