Which video card for 2008 Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by magicgob, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. magicgob macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008

    I'm planning on buying a mac pro. Now the question is which video card should I get. The choices are

    - ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB GDDR3
    - NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB GDDR3

    I will not play games on my mac. It's gonna be a machine strictly for work, meaning Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Flash, Email, web, eventually maybe also Cinema 4D.

    What would you guys suggest? Is the NVIDIA worth the extra 120 euros for what I'm planning to do?

  2. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    No. The drivers for the NVIDIA make it slower in many CoreImage/Video based tasks (like some FCP/Motion filters, etc.) The ATI will offer better performance for that stuff.
  3. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    The 1900XT and 2600XT have proven to be better than the 8800GT at this stuff, its on barefeats. Unless your gaming don't waste your money on the 8800GT.
  4. gluckstaler macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    The issue is fairly simple: Are you going to do 3D or not.

    If yes, then the more graphics memory (for the textures) you have the more it can take advantage of a fast graphics processor.

    Let me also point out that the two NVidia offerings basically differentiate themselves by the graphics driver quality. With the Quadro you get a good Open GL driver, with the 8800GT you get a good gaming driver. You can install the gaming driver on the quadro but not the Open GL on the GeForce. And that´s what makes all the 1500 dollar difference.

    If you want to run the final cut studio suite you don´t even need the power of the ati card.
  5. magicgob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
  6. tourneur macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2008
    As mentioned in the article they hadn't tested either card at the time of writing. The advice was based on the specs.

    These are there findings after testing both cards:
  7. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    It should be clear at the moment:

    nVidia GeForce 8800 GT for gaming.
    ATi for the Pro stuff. Get the X1900 XT if you can.

    Unless nVidia / Apple get some drivers done right, the 8800 GT card's potential is absolutely wasted. It *should* be the winner...
    Anyone tried the performance in the dev. seeds of 10.5.3?

    It should be repeated that the GeForce 8800 is a better card than ATi's X1900 XT (thus alot better than the 2600 XT), so it's software that is throttling the performance. So, maybe a simple update would leapfrog the GeForce 8800 GT ahead in the Pro apps aswell...
    Tough one to call at the moment.
  8. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    From the barefeat article..."This performance deficiency will extend to other Apple pro apps like Final Cut Pro video effects and Aperture functions that invoke Core Image."

    What sort of deficiency should I expect? I have an early '08 3.0 with 10gigRAM and the 8800. I am an old time gamer (actually, Flight Sim geek), but very much a new-bee to video and photo editing.

    I have installed Final Cut Pro, Aperture, and Logic Pro (I've been sound editing for 20 years, on PC)...and am just now learning the basics of video editing.

    So how significant is this "deficiency?" Is it only a matter of a few seconds here and there while rendering effects, etc. Or is there a "real" deficiency? Deficiencies that will truly malicious to the editing and production process? Are we splitting hairs on these results of those tests?

    And Lastly, other than the if you are only "Frame buffering..." why in the hell would anyone buy the FX5600:confused:

  9. markusm macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    Studio City, CA
    If I didn't have to worry about the price I would buy the high end nVidia card in a heart beat. But then again, I run high end 3D apps on my workstation and want to be able to interact with something where the fidelity is as close as possible to my over night software renders. Add the stereoscopic aspect to that, well, I wish I had the money.

    Having said that, I am happy with my ATI X1900. It serves me well. But... d'oh!
  10. dfran1 macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2008
    NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB GDDR3

    I purchased my first mac pro early 08 2 months ago (amazon.com).
    2 quad core 2.8's, 2 gig apple 4 gig OWC total 6 gig ram,2-WD raptors (1st mac 2nd boot camp winxp 32 bit), apple care.

    I had all my problems with the ATI card (I always purchased ATI, never Nvidia, for all the PC's I built) a couple of times I bought the first ones out, these had all kinds of problems until good drivers that actually worked were released (usually 6-12 months after the release of the card).

    So I try not to buy routers, graphic cards, etc.. for at least 6-12 months, but back to my 2600 card!!

    When I received my mac the graphics would freeze, I did a lot of online reading only to find out the ATI 2600 was the problem, the cure was to hook up 2 monitors to the card (and that worked!!:D).

    Then they came out with the firmware update, now my main monitor would after 2 days on a reboot be scambled (samsung syncmaster 213t, NEVER had ANY problem with it before on any PC I had, so I knew it was not the monitor) to fix the problem I had to either turn power off to the syncmaster or resetting PRAM (worked for a couple more days, then the same problem).

    I called apple and they sent a tech out within days to replace the ATI card, the replacement did the same thing after a couple of days, so I called Apple back and they took a bunch of info from my computer (BTW not much at all loaded in the mac side) and said to call back in a week, so I called back a week later and they said they were going to exchange the card for either another ati 2600 or the Nvidia 8800, I said 8800 and a day later on a saturday I received it, swapped the card and NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS at all!!

    So I don't know if the ATI card has problems with certain monitors or they are just poorly made (maybe AMD is mad with Apple that Apple did not use AMD processors).
    I have read others that swapped with the 8800 and their problems went away also!!!!;)

    Maybe some have no problems with the 2600, but I would not recommend it to anyone, if you can avoid the 2600 GO WITH THE 8800, the drivers will get better (and the 8800 will eventually outperform the ATI)and you will not be sorry;).

    Apple is awesome, they are 2nd to none, their is no other company like this anymore that I have dealt with in a long time (not just because they gave me a 8800), like I said in the beginning of this post I always purchased ATI cards and would have kept it if it would have worked but 2 doing the same, ATI [AMD] has lost my support until they prove otherwise.

    I recommend Mac's to everyone:)
  11. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    I run maya, vue, final cut, after effects, photoshop and the graphics intensive Mail program.

    I have the 2600HD and haven't noticed a single time when i've thought, damn i wish i had the 8800

    I also run a couple of games in Bootcamp (Call of Duty and Battlefield and others) and the card is fine. It's a Direct X10 card. It's just fine for most games. If you want to be really anal and run crysis at full res then you're probably not looking to buy a mac pro in all reality.

    Save the money on the graphics card and spend it on extra RAM. That will be a much better investment imo.
  12. gluckstaler macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    fluidedge: did you try play crysis? I doubt you could have played with it on the 2600xt.

    I bought a 8800gt for my pc in order to play crysis. Or let´s rather say in order to look at the future of gaming and 3D-Interaction we know of.

    As I stated earlier, for most creative suites you don´t need a graphics card costing more than 50 $ (Intel integrated graphics costs 10 $).

    If I can give some piece of advice, buy the 8800gt, buy crysis.

    With the 8800gt you get the best graphics chip currently in production. With crysis you also get a non-commercial license of their superb gaming engine and their 3-D tools. Just look at it as a form of inspiration of what is possible in the future.

    As I mentioned earlier, the quadro performs about 2-3 times faster in 3-D pro applications (like maya) than the 8800gt, not because there is a phyisical difference in the cards (beyond the vram), but because of the driver. Don´t let yourself fool by low level graphics benchmarks or a not higly 3-D intensive pro application like motion.

    The bad performance of the 8800gt in the mentioned motion benchmarks shouldn´t worry you because the 8800gt driver will improve over time.

    From my own experience with a MBP (8600gt) I can tell you that apple routinely underclocks the nvidia chips, so they are less power hungry.

    And as a final piece of advice, if you are on a budget, buy only things from apple you cannot do otherwise (like the graphics card). Getting yourself more ram or harddrive space is always a good idea, not buying it from apple will save you a lot of money.
  13. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    no i haven't had a chance to play crysis yet. I've been snowed under with uni work for the last 3 years lol!

    But i do intend one day in getting an 8800GT (when they get cheaper, like ~£70-80) as it's a card that will perform well for a good couple of years yet and i can flash it to run in OS X quite easily by all accounts
  14. Roy macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2006

    Not to be disagreeable, but can you cite cases, involving Macs, where this is the case?
  15. magicgob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
  16. Roy macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2006
    The discussion you posted was in Jan and early Feb. 2008. This testing was done much later and more completely:

  17. magicgob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    Great, thanks for clearing that up. That totally makes sense.

    I'll go with the ATI then... :)
  18. gluckstaler macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    @roy: I'm not an expert on mac driver development, but I can generally tell you that the ATI-Card is way previous generation, and that the 8800gt should outperform the ATI. On a PC one would wait for the next driver release. I do recall however that apple update offers new drivers from time to time.

    I also re-checked the benchmark results concerning open-gl optimized-cards. Maya is basically the only application which takes most advantages of a fast graphics card.

    @magicgob: Since you are already have the money to spend a fortune on a mac pro, ask yourself whether you would need the extra memory vram (provided by the NVidia) in the future. Because you need this extra memory if you're using more than one high resolution graphic display [2x full HD for open gl].
  19. magicgob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    @gluckstaler: Right now my thinking is that I don't need such a high powered card. I'd probably go for it if the drivers weren't as bad though. Anyway, right now I'm not doing any 3D yet .Cinema 4D *might* be something I get into in the future. But I'll just wait for now. In a year, prices for graphics cards will come down, and I can always upgrade to something reliable then (e.g. the 8800 with updated drivers). Makes sense?
  20. toke lahti macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2007
    Helsinki, Finland
    If you want to do fullHD graphics in Motion, you'll need more than 256 GB of GPU memory. (And there really is need for faster card than 1900xt designed in 2005...) If you want to use Color with 10/12/16-bit colors, you'll need ATI.
  21. toke lahti macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2007
    Helsinki, Finland
    Or it won't improve. It is pretty special situation. First nvidia screwed up firmware of 8800. Then they couldn't fix it, so Apple did working version by themselves. So it could well be, that this card's driver development is out of normal way to do it...
  22. Roy macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2006
    And that's what I'm thinking.:(
  23. gluckstaler macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2008
    nobody has seen the future (at least to my knowledge).

    It is improbable however that NVidia is not further devoloping its driver for its 8000 & 9000 series. Especially when considering that apple is switching from ati to nvidia.

    The 8800gt should outperform the 2600xt by at least the factor 2. :(

    I do agree therefore, that at the current time the nvidia driver can only be called 'junk'
  24. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    there will almost certainly be further development on the 8800 drivers. nVidia have really hit the bullseye with that card and it has sold in huge numbers. It would be foolish for nVidia to abandon R&D on one of their best ever selling cards
  25. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    Apple Sales are up HUGE
    8800 Sales are incredible...one of the better selling cards in 4 or 5 years from NVidia
    Apple has switched to NVidia
    The outlook with Pentium based Macs is phenomenal...especially with PC "conversionists," like myself.

    And who's having problems with their 8800's? Other than in "non-real-world" benchmarks?

    My early 2008 Mac is absolutely flawless...unless I try turning on or off my Edirol Firewire capture box:) while the Mac is running! Seriously, I have had no issues running FCP, Logic, Motion, Color, Itunes, Safari, no problems of note and gorgeous graphics.
    The plus side is the integration through BootCamp with Windows and the new line of DX10 games...


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