(Yet Another) Video Card for Mac Pro 3,1 (2008)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jasone6, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. jasone6 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #1
    I'm seeking some straightforward advice on improving my video card / displays situation.

    Usage: Graphic design, photo-editing and music production. (Adobe CS5.5 / Lightroom 3 / Ableton)
    Computer: Mac Pro 3,1 (early 2008); 8-core; 2.8Ghz; 24GB-RAM; tons of hard drives / space
    Apple Displays (x3): 30" / 23" / 23" (all matte w/ brushed aluminum bezel)
    Video Cards: ATI Radeon 5770 (slot #1, driving the 30") / NVIDIA 8800 (slot #2, driving both 23")

    I could connect all 3 Cinema Displays to the 5770 by using a pair of Mini-DP to Dual-Link DVI adapters (or Mini-DP to Single-Active-Link adapters). I've opted against that option because I want to allocate the entire 1GB of VRAM on the 5770 to my main (30") display. As I understand it, that means I can't connect anything else to the 5770.

    Unfortunately, that decision has some unpleasant repercussions. Maddeningly, Photoshop CS5(/5.5) refuses to acknowledge the 5770 as the primary video card—even though it's in the #1 slot, (the only double-wide PCIe slot in my machine). Instead, it insists on designating the 8800 as the primary card—even though it's an inferior card and in an inferior slot (#2). This is made clear by looking at the GPU information in the "Performance" section of Photoshop's preferences. Adobe insists this is an oversight on Apple's part. I remain unconvinced by that assertion—as Photoshop CS4 recognizes the correct card on the same system.

    In the end, what matters is that I'm currently forced to choose between the following:
    A) leaving things connected as they are now—thereby being stuck with a sub-standard video card (the 8800) performing the demanding GPU-intensive operations within Photoshop;
    B) removing the 8800 from my machine and connecting the 23" displays to the 5770 (along with my 30")—thereby sacrificing 2/3rds of the VRAM that is currently available for my 30", or
    C) removing the 8800 and disconnecting both 23" displays entirely (so my 30" gets to use all the VRAM of the 5770 and so the 5770 gets tasked with the GPU functions within Photoshop)—thereby sacrificing two full displays.

    None of those options is leaving me satisfied in the least. I'm not an expert (by any means) on graphics cards, but from what I've been lead to believe, I have a better chance of Photoshop choosing the correct card to use for the GPU if I don't mix brands. Thus, unless someone has a better idea, I guess I'm looking to ditch the 8800, replace it with an ATI card of some sort, and cross my fingers. At this point, I'm willing to pay a premium to be done with this annoying situation once and for all. (e.g. I'm willing to buy a pair of $100 cables, and/or consider abandoning my almost-new 5770 and replacing it with whatever will help resolve my issue.)

    What should I do??

    My first inclination was to buy another 5770—but from what I gather, it's too wide to fit in slot #2 of the 2008 Mac Pro. (Right?) Splitting power sources off the logic board or using an external power supply are very unappealing options to me. I guess I'm looking for the most straightforward means to achieve two main objectives, and potentially a third (less-critical) one:
    1. having one "power" display (i.e. lots of dedicated VRAM and GPU power on my primary/editing/30" display);
    2. being able to also connect my two 23" displays without degrading the abilities of my main display;
    3. being able to connect an HDTV and/or another display or 2 in the future.
    I'd be very grateful to receive some input on what to do. Perhaps it's best to assume that Photoshop will continue to err in identifying the right video card (to be used for GPU-assisted operations). I guess it may just come down to this: what's the best ATI card I can get (within reason, of course) to replace the 8800 in slot #2?
    • I still have one 6-pin power source available,
    • I think the card needs to be a standard height (i.e. "non-double-wide") to fit;
    • 3 (or more) inputs would be ideal, so I can continue to use the 5770 only for the 5770
    Thanks…

    -J
     
  2. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #2
    A second 5770 will fit fine. It will just block the PCI slot above it.
     
  3. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #3
    Oh sweet… then that sounds like my salvation. The only downside is that I now have to decide what to eliminate: 4 USB 2.0 ports, or 2 eSATA ports :confused: (those are what I have installed in the top 2 PCIe slots)

    Back to the topic of the video card… I did find a video on youtube in which a guy installed 2 ATI 5870 cards in a Mac Pro—without any complicated or external power—simply by using a couple of Y-splitter PCI-E cables. (link Ultimately, it seems that he adjusted his setup to a combo (one 5870 + one 5770), which only requires one of those splitters. I'm surprised that you can simply split one power-source and make two.

    In any case, I think this combo sounds like it might be the right way forward for me. I just need to get a 5870 and one Y-splitter PCI-E cable, it seems.

    Any additional thoughts on that?

    In the meantime, thanks very much for your input. You answered a question that I've spent the last 4 hours trying to answer (unsuccessfully) by poking around online.

    Cheers,

    -J
     
  4. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Definitely Adobe's fault. CS5 always uses an Nvidia card, even it no display is connected to it. Same in my system. As you said, CS4 works just fine and uses the primary display for rendering.
     
  5. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #5
    It should work fine AFAIK. The reason it you can just split it is that the voltage supplied is limited by the card's end (the 2 extra pins on an 8 pin cable are simply grounds to allow it to draw more current.) and the Mac Pro PSU is more than capable of handling a little bit extra draw.

    Enjoy your new cards ;-)
     
  6. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Although the PSU can certainly handle two high end cards (it has 980W so enough juice), the onboard 6pin connectors might not.

    Keep in mind that everything inside the Pro is custom made for the cards Apple provides and intends to be used in the Pro. 6pin provides 75W, so dragging 150W out of a single connector with a splitter cable might result in damage to the logic board.

    Now I don't say that it doesn't work (there is at least one person who has this setup running, the guy from YouTube), but it is risky (no long time confirmation yet). The safer bet is an additional 5.25" PSU.
     
  7. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 29, 2003
    Location:
    San Jose
    #7
    you can always replace the usb ports with a hub, so i'd pull the usb card instead of the esata.
     
  8. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #8
    No. It is well known that the 75w paper limit is extremely conservative (why? No one knows because PCI-E is a closed spec :rolleyes:)
     
  9. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    No what? First you say "it should work fine", now you concur "no"?

    :confused:
     
  10. mBox macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #10
    I suggest you stay with CS4. CS5 and up has been the most problematic upgrade for us. Besides the poor start with Quadro 4000 (not really Adobes fault but we got that card for CS5) the 2GB file limit QT bug still lingers and hasnt been fixed. Sorry for the off topic rant :)
     
  11. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #11
    No, it will work because the port and wire can easily handle a lot more than 75w without risk of damaging anything at all. Note that the guy who did this on Youtube was more concerned about heat than power with 2x 5870.
     
  12. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Is there any specification (from Apple, it is their own implementation after all) that confirms this?

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't say you're wrong, it would just be nice to be on the safe side. The backplane board isn't cheap. ;)
     
  13. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #13
    Despite my ongoing frustrations with the video card issue (plus a couple other bugs), I've been using CS5 for too long to revert back to CS4. I'm actually now helping out with development of CS6, so at least Adobe is showing signs of getting it right with CS6. Fingers crossed!

    Back on topic: I should get my Y-splitter cable tomorrow. I held off on ordering the 5870 because I decided I should first see if I can get my 4870 to work. (I purchased a flashed 4870 on ebay several months back, and it annoyed me (initially) because of fan noise, so it's been sitting here gathering dust. If I can get that to work, I may just stick with it. More than likely, I will go ahead and buy the 5870 no matter what...
     
  14. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 29, 2003
    Location:
    San Jose
    #14
    molex lists 600 volts/9 amps as the max for the connectors in their specifications.
    unless the wiring involved has much lower design specs this should be fine.
    I know from experience @ work, HP has us use a single pci-e power cable to power quadro 5800's, and those can pull up to 189 watts.
     
  15. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #15
    So here's an update…

    I received my 6-pin PCI-E Y-splitter cable in the mail just now. Shut down, opened her up, removed my 8800 from slot #2 and my USB card from slot #3 and connected the 4870 that had been sitting around gathering dust since I purchased it on ebay a year ago. I connected the Y cable to one of the internal PCI power cables… with one end of the Y cable going to the 5770 (in slot #1), and the other end going to one of the two inputs in the 4870 (in slot #2). I connected the other internal PCI power cable directly to the other input in the 4870. …then closed her up, reconnected the power cable and displays and powered up.

    To my delight, I'm up and running with no apparent problems! :) I have the 4870 powering both my 23" Apple Cinema Displays, while my 5770 is powering my 30" Apple Cinema Display. Photoshop is now recognizing my 5770 as the primary video card. (Previously, it was giving priority to the 8800.) While the 4870 is an improvement over the 8800, it's not something I'm likely to notice too often, since I frequently only use my 23" displays as extra space to stash stuff. The real wins in my case are that the 5770 is now recognized by Photoshop, and that the 30" display is the only display connected to the 5770.

    I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be installing a patch or testing something (and if so, how to do it). If anyone has any input on that, please feel free to point me in the right direction. I'm fairly tech-savvy, but clueless when it comes to flashing video cards, and usually find myself feeling lost when reading threads about this stuff.

    I may eventually pick up a 5870 to replace the 4870, but for now, as long as this continues to work, I'm a happy camper.

    -J
     
  16. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #16
    Another update:

    Perhaps foolishly, I downloaded and ran the patch installer from this thread. My Mac Pro 3,1 locked up, and I had to do a hard reset (power button), after which it wouldn't boot farther than the login screen. I could get to the login screen, and the mouse (bluetooth) would function, but neither a bluetooth or a wired keyboard would function so I could input my password. I've since booted in safe mode, which is where I am now as I post this.

    Any suggestions as to what may have gone wrong / how to return to the brief state of bliss I experienced before installing this patch? Again, I'm good at following instructions, just not well-versed in the world of graphics cards, kexts, etc.

    FWIW, I've pasted the graphics info from System Profiler below. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated… the sooner the better! :)

    -J

    SLOT # 1
    ATI Radeon HD 5770:

    Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 5770
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    Slot: Slot-1
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 1024 MB
    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x68b8
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    ROM Revision: 113-C0160C-155
    EFI Driver Version: 01.00.436
    Displays:
    Display:
    Resolution: 2560 x 1600
    Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
    Main Display: Yes
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Display Connector:
    Display Connector:

    SLOT #2
    ATI Radeon HD 4870:

    Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 4870
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    Slot: Slot-2
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 1024 MB
    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x9440
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    ROM Revision: 113-B7710C-176
    EFI Driver Version: 01.00.318
    Displays:
    Cinema HD:
    Resolution: 1920 x 1200
    Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Cinema HD:
    Resolution: 1920 x 1200
    Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
     
  17. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #17
    Time Machine covers system files too, so you should be able to just roll back a few days.

    If you don't back up, I'd try the Snow Leopard graphics update and hope it overwrites the exotic drivers with standard drivers. (Then I would start thinking about a backup solution.)

    I don't know if you can do these in safe mode. If you can't, you might have to pull the 4870 out.
     
  18. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #18
    Just run the combo updater for whatever version of OSX you have, then reboot and pray :D. I would uplaod the (correct) gfx drivers but am currently on my MBP which has new ones that aren't quite finished yet.
     
  19. IceMacMac, Jun 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011

    IceMacMac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    #19
    Incorrect.

    The same issue persists with Maxon's c4d, Vue, and other programs. The issue is Apple's fault.

    I have been mad at Adobe for a number of things, but this isn't a fair criticism.

    There should be a system preference. There isn't. Clearly if it was a properly implemented API we wouldn't see a whole host of apps from different vendros demonstrating this maddening shortcoming.
     
  20. IceMacMac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    #20
    Jason, thanks for sharing the info. I currently have a GT120 and a 4870, and have been driven nuts by how all my apps see the GT120 as the preferred card for OpenGL, not the more powerful 4870.

    I've been waffling between the 4870 and 5870 or just in waiting until Lion ships to see if new GPUs are supported.
     
  21. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    How can it be Apple's fault when it works flawlessly in CS4?

    I can't exactly remember but goMac (graphics software developer IIRC) said that it is a very simple function to select the correct graphics card, which apparently the apps you mentioned missed. Not Apple's fault.
     
  22. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #22
    I agree 100%.
     
  23. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #23
    Update:

    I meant to post this last night… I figured out the solution immediately after my last post. All I did (from safe mode) was to restore the ~/Library/Extensions folder and ~/Library/Frameworks/OpenGL (/OpenCL) via Time Machine, which had done its last backup only minutes before I installed the patch. (I was able to take a guess that those files were changed by examining the files found within the patch installer package, and then by viewing the modified date within finder, prior to restoring them.)

    Everything is back up and running smoothly now.Got my fingers crossed that it stays this way, because I've been dealing with various interrelated graphics card issues for almost a year now.

    My thread on the Adobe forums is here, if anyone cares to read it.

    -J

    P.S. To the extent that I can, I plan to hammer this issue with Adobe as I give feedback on CS6. Whether it's their fault, or Apples is irrelevant to the consumer. It's not as if this is a rare type of setup. It's a relatively recent Mac Pro, with (at the time of my post on the Adobe forums), two very popular/supported graphics cards.

    P.P.S. Believe me when I say that I've done a lot of reading on these forums about flashing graphics cards, etc…, but some things are still not clear to me. I've pasted what I think are relevant bits of info below. Any input on whether or not this is right/wrong/can be improved, would be greatly appreciated—as long as it's clear and doesn't require me to read a bunch more posts. I'd read more if it made sense to me, but I've read it all, and I've reached my limits of comprehension. :)

    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x9440
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    ROM Revision: 113-B7710C-176
    EFI Driver Version: 01.00.318
     
  24. mBox macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #24
    Maybe you cant answer this but wink if you can ;) Is the 2GB file limit fixed with CS6?
     
  25. jasone6 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #25
    One reason I can't answer that question is because I don't even understand it… haha! I'll take a wild guess that maybe you're talking about VRAM? Do they make cards with more than 2GB of VRAM? (I am a graphics expert… but not a graphics card expert)
     

Share This Page