World of Warcraft/Mac Pro/Sound Cards

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Tommy Wasabi, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Tommy Wasabi macrumors member

    Tommy Wasabi

    Sep 10, 2003
    I'm a big WoW player and I have a MBP when I'm on the road. My main PC rig is just about ready to go to the curb and I'm thinking of replacing it with a new Mac Pro 3GHz and an Apple 23".

    Here are my questions:
    Sound - is there a way to get more than stereo sound of of a Mac Pro? Can I add a Creative Labs sound board or is there a way to get 5.1 out of the optical port?

    Performance - anyone have any experience running WoW on the new Mac Pro's. I was wondering about frame rates and performance at the upper resolutions.

    Video Card Recommendations: If I have a 1900 and 7300 - is it possible to run WoW on the 1900 and other (open) applications on the other display (Safari, Mail, Vent, iChat etc.). Has anyone figured out if we can do SLI if we are running Windows XP?


  2. kered22 macrumors 6502


    May 26, 2006
    Torrance, CA
    Well in regards to WoW on the 7300 and 1900, here are a couple of posts:

    And this one:

    I was over at MacMall yesterday talking to the saleguy I usually buy my stuff from and he mentioning how they put WoW on the 3Ghz display machine. They threw the settings way up and it skipped pretty bad, granted this was on a 30" ACD, so the resolution was way up there. Even on a 30" at max settings though, the X1900 will be more than adequate it seems. :)

    And yes, SLI does work in Windows, just not OS X yet. Hopefully we'll get it in eventually.
  3. Tommy Wasabi thread starter macrumors member

    Tommy Wasabi

    Sep 10, 2003
    What about Sound Cards?

    Thanks for the tips on the 1900! Any thoughts or posts about sound??

    And - any good links regarding SLI on the MacPro for Windows?
  4. damado macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    I'd get a 2.66 and a 30 inch ACD instead. WoW is awesome on that size 2 feet from your get the cinema effect =) A 1900xt is a must.

    Anyway, as for sound, I have the creative S750 7.1 speakers and will get this as soon as I move.
    It supports up to 7.1 and will take the optical output of the mac pro.
    If you need speakers too, nothing beats the S750 for computer surround. =)
  5. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    Sound: Not unless Creative makes a PCI Express card for the Mac Pro. The Digital optical audio port can output 5.1 (and probably more) just fine, but you need speakers with a receiver to process the sound. I don't know if WoW is able to output 5.1 from the optical port.

    Performance: I don't know what performance is like first hand. The 7300GT can certainly run the game, but for top notch performance you definitely want the X1900 XT.

    Video cards: You can't use a Nvidia card and a ATI card in the Mac Pro at the same time, at least not in OS X.
  6. thebeephaha macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2006
    Seattle WA
  7. stapler macrumors member

    Sep 3, 2006
    Any sound card should work, in Windows at least.
  8. Fuzzy Orange macrumors 6502

    Fuzzy Orange

    Jul 29, 2006
    Well, I'm using a 7300 GT (for now) as my video card, and WoW runs fine using it. Just don't put the settings up too high and it will run smoooooth.:D
  9. G5guy macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2004
    I just received my new 2.66 Mac Pro with the Quadro card. It should be similar to the ATI card (ATI might be faster even with better clock speeds). I have 4 GB of RAM so no RAM issues as I intend to run Windows as well in Parallels when it is released for the Pro.

    The skinny: WOW at 1920x1200, maxed out settings gets around 30 fps in a very crowded IF and up to 120 fps on simple scenes. I thought WoW was locked to 100 but they must have changed it.

    On sound: I asked this question a long time ago. A WoW developer was really cool and answered all my questions with the following:

    1) You need a 5.1 sound card to get 5.1 sound out of WoW or even Doom 3. I had a pci M-Audio card in my old first-gen G5 and it worked great.

    2) The optical out port only has 5.1 sound when pre-recorded audio is present like on movies. Games do it on the fly and AFAIK no one yet makes a chip for computers to encode on the fly in dolby or DTS and output it thru the optical. If Apple was smart, they would do this as that gives multi-core cpu's another thing to do and eventually sound chips will all have it. Pay a license fee and be done with it. :) It goes in line with easy hookups they like so much. Everyone ask for this...

    3) PCI Express is not good for sound cards and that is why you do not see them from Creative after all this time. The firewire or USB 2.0 5.1 boxes would work great and even work with your laptop if you had one. Go that route with pci-express machines like the Mac Pro.

    For anyone interested:

    I ran Cinebench as well:


    Tester : G5guy

    Processor : MAC PRO
    MHz : 2666
    Number of CPUs : 4
    Operating System : OS X

    Graphics Card : QUADRO FX 4500
    Resolution : 1920x1200
    Color Depth : millions


    Rendering (Single CPU): 441 CB-CPU
    Rendering (Multiple CPU): 1388 CB-CPU

    Multiprocessor Speedup: 3.15

    Shading (CINEMA 4D) : 530 CB-GFX
    Shading (OpenGL Software Lighting) : 2115 CB-GFX
    Shading (OpenGL Hardware Lighting) : 4952 CB-GFX

    OpenGL Speedup: 9.35


    That is the first time I had seen an opengl number around 5000! Even on PCs that is rare. The 3Ghz would surely pass 5K on it.

    I can say the system screams and even running Office 2003 feels native. I have a 2.3 dual-core G5 and it seems at least as fast in Office apps. RAM helps a lot using powerpc native apps. It is also amazingly quiet and the Quadro has a beast of a cooler on it. My G5 with the 7800 GT is WAY noisier. It is even quieter than my G5 with the stock, fanless 6600 card in it.

    Here is a pic:
  10. Fredou51 macrumors regular

    May 23, 2006
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    Just curious, what kind of apps are you using that require the 1800$ upgrade for the Quadro?
  11. G5guy macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2004
    Pro/Engineer CAD program while running Windows XP. Quadro cards and drivers run it far better than gaming cards.

    I bought an HP for my first CAD workstation in 98 for $7000 (w/monitor), and I pretty much matched the cost with this beast (I bought the 23" CD). Interestingly, the HP had a 266 Mhz processor - exactly 10 times slower in Mhz) than the Apple I have now! I loved the support HP gave, although NT bluescreened every other day and the keyboard stopped responding and required a reboot constantly.

    I figured I can build a more reliable PC workstation for much less and did so three times after the HP was retired. The only drawback was I had no one to call when I did have a problem, and I ate up huge amounts of time fixing the OS, re-installing it, buying a new component, memory issues, etc. I used to try to use gaming cards, but I had lots of issues. Then I modified the Geforce cards to "act" like Quadros but that lasted only one year. So now I bite the bullet and get Quadros.

    Now I have a warranteed machine again to run my CAD work and I have OS X to play with. The XP issues I still have to deal with, but any hardware goes south and I am covered for three years. Time to let someone else fix things for me. :)

    BTW - I have a developer subscription so the Quadro only cost me $1450! ;) If you check the price of the card online - you will see it is a good price.
  12. damado macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    But I don't think that works on the windows side =/

    C5guy, the creative decoder won't work with the optical? I thought optical just outputs an untouched signal and leaves it up to an external box to decode into 5.1 or whatever.
  13. thebeephaha macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2006
    Seattle WA
    Get a creative usb port one then for windows if u need it for windows. I dunno, I dont think there is a cross platform one yet.
  14. damado macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    Well that creative one I linked just feeds off the optical so it's platform-independent.
  15. G5guy macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2004
    I am sorry, I had the same questions when I bought my first G5 and it will not work. You need discrete 5.1 channels on an external card that comes from usb or firewire and has the 5.1 drivers. The optical is stereo only unless it is pre-encoded per rbarris from the WoW team in these forums. I do not know if he is still around. I found one mac-pc usb 5.1 unit by googling. There might be more out there.

    I may be wrong, but Creative might be coming out with a cross-platform unit based on what I read in the OpenAL forums which Creative supports. I would guess by the Leopard rollout. There are a LOT of pci-e PCs now and they need something nice for them too.

    Don't get me wrong, you can get 5.1 sound out of optical ports playing DVDs. Just not WoW. I have a 5.1 setup I switch betwen my mac and pc and I use the optical in on the mac and it is stereo only with a little help from the other speakers to make it sound nicer.
  16. Doctor Suarez macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    I'm looking for a gaming/final cut 5.1 solution for a Mac Pro as well.

    The Griffin Firewave looks pretty good, but I don't know if it would work when booting into windows. The M-Audio Sonica Theater works in both OSes, but people say it's a bit... well, crappy.

    Can we reasonably expect a PCI-Express 7.1 sound card that will be Apple compatible? That would be an ideal solution, and worth waiting for since I'm not going to really futz with bootcamp until it goes gold as part of Leopard.

  17. damado macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    A nice creative PCI-E 7.1 card is what I would love to see too =)

    ....and a cablecard-capable dual tuner clear-QAM ATSC PCI-E card but I'm not holding my breath :p
  18. Trekkie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 13, 2002
    Wake Forest, NC
    Creative is on my permanent do not buy list. Hopefully someone else will release a nice sound card.

    I've been playing WoW on my Mac Pro 2x2.66GHz with a 23" ACD and ATI1900XT. I've got every possible setting turned to max and average about 50 - 60 fps.

    I turned off one feature so when in ZG and you get drunk by the spider bites the screen doesn't go screwy, but other than that works great. Compared to the 14 - 18 fps I got on my iMac G5 this sucker screams.

    Personally I've not seen the value of 5.1 on a game, besides I'm on Ventrillo with a headset so the game sound is secondary to the experience.
  19. Doctor Suarez macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2006
    5.1 in gaming becomes more important in shooters and other first person games. Hearing precisely where enemy fire comes from can be a (simulated) lifesaver. Also, speed games tend to incorporate some groovy effects that incorporate the back channels as well.

    Also, like beefed frame rates and eye-candy options, it may not be essential, but it's more immersive, and more fun.

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