Which Video Card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by prairiefire, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. prairiefire macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2007
    I'm about to order a dual 2.66 Quad MacPro.

    I use Adobe's Master collection, mostly Photoshop but some video editing.

    I'm not sure which graphics card to order and would appreciate help in choosing between the NVIDIA GT120 and the "upgrade" the ATI 4870.

    How does one analyze which to buy? Suggestions?



    PS. I notice there have been threads predicting a quiet "update" with new card choices. Any solid reason to wait?
  2. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    Photoshop CS4 uses the video card to show big pictures. So you would say faster is better.

    However I believe (I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure) that snow leopard uses opencl only with nvidia. OpenCL is a protocol (or something like that) to use the power of the graphics card for other purposes than graphics, like scientific calculations.
  3. prairiefire thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2007
    New Video Cards with introduction of Snow Leopard?

    Do I understand correctly that Snow Leopard may use the video cards differently?

    If so, do people think new video cards will be placed in the Pro?

    I can wait -- not in a hurry at all -- but no reason to if nothing will change between now and Snow Leopard
  4. TK2K macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    Get a nvidia card. I know this is bias but they have 'faster' cards for open CL. it's like how the ps3 and xbox 360 perform about the same for graphics (DONT START A WAR) however the PS3 has a MUCH more powerful processor for numerical calculations (which has little to no impact on games, again, no one start flaming)

    The nivida cores are great graphcis cores, but also are designed to be easily accessed by open CL. I'd say look at a 285 if you want to spend that much, if not, a 120 is fine for now, really.
  5. eelpout macrumors regular


    Oct 30, 2007
    Silicon Valley
    If the CUDA enabled Badaboom encoder is any indication, there could be some dramatic advantages to OpenCL with the right video card. It looks like it will be worth the money to invest in a good one.

    OpenCL should theoretically work equally well on nVidia CUDA and ATI's Stream once all the kinks are worked out, which will undoubtedly happen well after Snow Leopard is released. :rolleyes:

    Here's a thought. Since you can't spec a Mac Pro without a video card (you have to at least get that overpriced-for-what-it-is GT 120), it's cheaper to add on the 4870 at $200 when customizing the initial purchase than buy it later for $350.
  6. Shiner macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2007
    Have you actually used that encoder? It is horrible for anything bigger than the iphone. I want my money back. CUDA video encoding just isn't there yet.
  7. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    No, I am not going to start a war. But, nVidia is definitely not simply the best, ATi is in with a huge shout.

    On the whole the ATi cards have performed better on Macs than nVidia's (especially in Pro-apps like Motion).
    And, of course, the ATi Radeon 4850 and Radeon 4870 are supported by Snow Leopard's Open CL.

    Snow Leopard's specs
  8. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Ive been waiting for months to upgrade my Motion Design box (new workstation) and still no upgrades. The only major card is the Quadro FX 4800. I have a 4500 but would like to stop using Maya on the PC which has a 5600. Now if this quiet update is the Quadro 5800 then its an early Xmas for me ;)
  9. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Uh, link? There will be no more cards from Apple until the Gulftown release.
  10. M&M macrumors regular


    Jan 22, 2008
    Joliette, Quebec, Canada
    What about the specs for QuickTime H.264 hardware acceleration that
    requires a Mac with a NVIDIA 9400M graphics processor.
  11. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I believe that requirement means, "Or better." A 9400M is worse than any graphics card you could get, as it's integrated, not dedicated. As has been pointed out before as well, we won't know whether the Nvidia card or ATI card has the performance crown until 10.6 arrives and the dust settles. Right now, the 4870 boasts a better price/performance ratio.
  12. bozz2006 macrumors 68030


    Aug 24, 2007
  13. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    In fact, "better" typically means to Apple that the card has better shader support.

    If you had an AGP G5 and you dropped $400 to get an X800 XT (or more for an X850) you would expect that card to be one of the "best" for your G5.

    However, if you fired up Photoshop CS-4 with that card and looked under the "performance" tab, there would be NO OPENGL VIDEO CARD DETECTED. If instead you put in a much lower performance 6600GT AGP (like the one XFX never brought to market despite claims to contrary) you would suddenley find that this tab would be populated and SOME CS-4 functions accelerated.

    The same holds true of the 6800 and 7800 cards, all CS-4 accelerated whilst the former heavyweights from ATI shrink from sight in CS4. (9800 and X800 not supported)

    So, it isn't just about speed, it is about shader support. ie...not who's biggest, but who is smartest.

    My money is on the GTX285 to end up holding the crown.
  14. pooryou macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    What about the reports that the 4870 draws excessive amounts of power and runs hot?

    I'm trying to decide GT120 vs HD4870 in a new Mac Pro and really want as quiet a machine as possible. Could it be better to buy a faster card in future that is more efficient than the 4870, and just use the GT120 for now?
  15. fjf macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
    I never notice my 4870, but I'm not doing anything intensive (yet). Of course, if I were doing anything intensive, I wouldn't want the GT 120. (That said, I wish I'd gone with the GT 120 because I'm thinking of adding a GTX 285 or perhaps Quadro, and I don't want to worry about power and temperature, so will need to buy a GT 120 as well.)
  16. 2002cbr600f4i macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2008
    Likewise, I never notice my 4870 either. The machine as a whole puts out a ton of heat (doesn't help that my home office doesn't have fantastic airflow, and I'm sure the 3 monitors don't help either.)

    It's certainly not loud, except when you first turn the machine on and all the fans spin up to max for a second or so. After that, it's basically silent.

    The 2600XT I put in along with the 4870 makes more noise than the 4870 does.
  17. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    In another thread I replicated a CS-4 Photoshop GPU test wherein I saw how many images could be opened with OpenGl acceleration by Photoshop.

    Courtesy an Ars Technica article, it seems Photoshop uses the GPU RAM to hold all windows drawn on screen.

    I used 14.7 Mp images from my new Canon. A 256 Meg card could open 4 images before the "Fail" mesage, a 512 Meg card could open 9 and a 1 Gig card could open 16.

    So, I would consider getting the GTX285. It will certainly have the most room to "grow"
  18. pooryou macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    Unfortunately they don't let you BTO with a GTX285. No idea why...
  19. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Possibly because it's not an  manufactured card? Only cards made/rebranded by  are BTO options. The 3870 wasn't. Nothing introduced mid-cycle was. The singular exception to this rule is the Quadro cards, because that market segment expects them as a built-in option - and because they cost half the machine.

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