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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Graphics card options for original Mac Pro...


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Lifeisabeach

 
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With Starcraft 2 on the horizon, and the likelihood of me being able to talk my wife into letting me get a new Mac being rather low, I'm looking at replacing my existing NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT graphics card with something a bit more capable in my Mac Pro tower, the first generation from 2006 (gawd… I hope I'll even be able to play it on this even with a GPU upgrade). My existing card pretty much stinks. Always has, and even more so by today's standards. At the moment, I'm looking at an ATI Radeon X1900, which was the only other original option aside from the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500. For games in particular, my understanding is that the Quadro isn't the better option. So aside from these, does anyone know of any other available graphics cards that would be a better choice, that would work in my Mac Pro? The slot is a "double-wide" 16-lane PCI Express slot, per Everymac.com.

Addendum: The bus is 667 MHz.

Also… I'm under the impression that you have to get a Mac-compatible graphics card even on the Intel Macs, thanks to the implementation of EFI. Am I correct on that? The Apple-branded cards are easily twice the cost of the "generic" PC ones. *sigh*


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I have the X-1900 video card in my 1st generation Mac Pro. Seems to do just fine...but then I also have not been doing too much gaming with it to see what it's limitations are.

I have also heard from someone else on this forum that they installed an ATI 4870 video card in their 1st gen. Mac Pro with no problems. This thread from another forum seems to go bad & forth on whether it will work:

Apple - Support - Discussions - 1st Gen Mac Pro vs. ATI 4870 ...

I've also heard that the Radeon 2600 will work in a Mac Pro.

Finally...it also seems that the ATI 8800 card is supposed to work in 1st gen. Mac Pros:

Apple offers GeForce 8800 GT upgrade kit for older Mac Pros

The GEForce 8800 GT seems to be (from what I've found so far) the highest end video card you can get for a 1st gen. Mac Pro.

Basically I've been researching this same question as well for my 1st gen. Mac Pro...since I would like to add a 2nd video card to drive a 3rd monitor. For my uses the NVIDIA 7300 (like you already have)...would be just fine.

Definitely before you decide to buy...confirm compatibility to make sure it will work.

Hope this helps,

- Nick

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Lifeisabeach

 
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Thanks for the info. I did find quite a bit of information about the 4870 being known to work with all Mac Pros, so that will definitely be high on my list. I haven't seen any mentions of the GeForce 8800 yet, so I'll certainly dig more into that.


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Lifeisabeach

 
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Update on this… I decided to spring for an ATI Radeon HD 4870. It seemed to be the better card vs the GeForce 8800 and was more readily available. I got off from eBay what was supposed to be a used Apple ATI Radeon HD 4870, but I'm fairly certain it's really a new PC version that has been flashed with the Apple firmware. The device doesn't look used by any stretch of the imagination, and still had a peel-off protector on top of the fan housing. It also didn't ship with the power cables, which are different for the Mac, from what I understand. I'm a bit miffed… though it is cheaper and I really don't see any downside to it. I'll have to test it out more thoroughly, but already my Mac is easily handling a very large custom map while previewing it in Sins of a Solar Empire (playing in Crossover) that it couldn't handle before without a LOT of choppiness, even with many details cranked down. Now here's hoping my updated specs will garner me an SC2 beta key.


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Just preorder the game (Starcraft 2) and you'll get a key. Thet's how I got mine. And with the beta out for OS X you should be ready to go. The SC2 app says it's universal so I would guess that means UB.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Update on this… I decided to spring for an ATI Radeon HD 4870. It seemed to be the better card vs the GeForce 8800 and was more readily available. I got off from eBay what was supposed to be a used Apple ATI Radeon HD 4870, but I'm fairly certain it's really a new PC version that has been flashed with the Apple firmware. The device doesn't look used by any stretch of the imagination, and still had a peel-off protector on top of the fan housing. It also didn't ship with the power cables, which are different for the Mac, from what I understand. I'm a bit miffed… though it is cheaper and I really don't see any downside to it. I'll have to test it out more thoroughly, but already my Mac is easily handling a very large custom map while previewing it in Sins of a Solar Empire (playing in Crossover) that it couldn't handle before without a LOT of choppiness, even with many details cranked down. Now here's hoping my updated specs will garner me an SC2 beta key.
Hey that sounds pretty awesome...that the 4870 works in your original Mac Pro, and (since the card appears to be a "flashed PC card) that that hasn't caused any problems thus far either!

I was a little confused by your "miffed-ness". Are you saying that the e-Bay seller said that it was a genuine Apple/Macintosh 4870...but you think it is a flashed PC card? Of course like you said...if the price was significantly lower than a true Macintosh 4870...that's a definite giveaway that it's a flashed card.

So just to be absolutely clear (your post didn't exactly say specifically)...you're saying that this "flashed" 4870 is working in your original Quad-Core 2006 Mac Pro?

Thanks a ton for the update...I may be considering one of these cards in the near future for my Mac Pro!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by the8thark View Post
Just preorder the game (Starcraft 2) and you'll get a key. Thet's how I got mine. And with the beta out for OS X you should be ready to go. The SC2 app says it's universal so I would guess that means UB.
Awesome! Just pre-ordered it. Now to impatiently await my key.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
Hey that sounds pretty awesome...that the 4870 works in your original Mac Pro, and (since the card appears to be a "flashed PC card) that that hasn't caused any problems thus far either!

I was a little confused by your "miffed-ness". Are you saying that the e-Bay seller said that it was a genuine Apple/Macintosh 4870...but you think it is a flashed PC card? Of course like you said...if the price was significantly lower than a true Macintosh 4870...that's a definite giveaway that it's a flashed card.

So just to be absolutely clear (your post didn't exactly say specifically)...you're saying that this "flashed" 4870 is working in your original Quad-Core 2006 Mac Pro?

Thanks a ton for the update...I may be considering one of these cards in the near future for my Mac Pro!
Yes… the seller said it was an Apple ATI card, though I thought it was odd that he said it was tested in a PC. The fact that it appears to me to be new, that the cables weren't included (which would have been a dead giveaway since the Mac-side has different connectors), and was easily a hundred bucks less than a new Apple-branded one, leads me to believe it was a PC model that was flashed. I believe there is a downside in that these re-flashed PC versions won't work properly with Windows in Boot Camp… I may reinstall Windows for kicks to verify that.

Anywho… yes… to be perfectly clear… this card, the 4870, is most definitely working flawlessly in my first-gen 2006 Quad-Core Mac Pro.

As a side note… from what I read, you need at least 10.5.8 (or so) just to use it on the original Mac Pro, and 10.6.3 to really take full advantage of it.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Yes… the seller said it was an Apple ATI card, though I thought it was odd that he said it was tested in a PC. The fact that it appears to me to be new, that the cables weren't included (which would have been a dead giveaway since the Mac-side has different connectors), and was easily a hundred bucks less than a new Apple-branded one, leads me to believe it was a PC model that was flashed. I believe there is a downside in that these re-flashed PC versions won't work properly with Windows in Boot Camp… I may reinstall Windows for kicks to verify that.

Anywho… yes… to be perfectly clear… this card, the 4870, is most definitely working flawlessly in my first-gen 2006 Quad-Core Mac Pro.

As a side note… from what I read, you need at least 10.5.8 (or so) just to use it on the original Mac Pro, and 10.6.3 to really take full advantage of it.
Hey thanks again for all the info. I am seriously interested in one of these...so that's why I'm asking so many questions & making sure everything is clear (plus you never know...there may be other folks out there that want to do the same thing in the future...and they may be reading this thread for help)!

One thing that always tips me off when I'm questioning if a video card is a genuine Macintosh card or not...is many current PC/Windows video cards have a round serial port of sorts along with the VGA or DVI ports. It's been years & years since I've seen a serial port on a Macintosh video card!

So a couple more questions:

- sometimes on flashed PC cards (used on a Macintosh)...1 or 2 of the "pins" before inserting into the PCI slot need to be covered to make the flashed card work on a Mac. Did or does this flashed 4870 require this?

- Is this 4870 a "double-wide card"? Takes up two video (PCIe) slots?

- Does this 4870 only fit into the Mac Pro's "main" video slot (I forget what this slot is called)? The reason why I ask is. I have an X1900 card in my Mac Pro currently...and would like to install a 2nd video card into one of the other PCIe slots to run a 3rd monitor.

- Do you mind saying how much you paid for the card?

Thanks a bunch,

- Nick

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
So a couple more questions:

- sometimes on flashed PC cards (used on a Macintosh)...1 or 2 of the "pins" before inserting into the PCI slot need to be covered to make the flashed card work on a Mac. Did or does this flashed 4870 require this?
I haven't read of anything like that. Unless mine was modified in advance (and assuming it even is a re-flashed one, I'm not 100% sure on that), then no.

Quote:
- Is this 4870 a "double-wide card"? Takes up two video (PCIe) slots?
Yes. The second slot is essentially the fan and exhaust porting out the back.

Quote:
- Does this 4870 only fit into the Mac Pro's "main" video slot (I forget what this slot is called)? The reason why I ask is. I have an X1900 card in my Mac Pro currently...and would like to install a 2nd video card into one of the other PCIe slots to run a 3rd monitor.
Hmmm... I'm not really sure about this. Here's what Everymac has as the specs:
Quote:
*The Mac Pro has four PCIe expansion slots (one double-wide 16-lane PCI Express slot is occupied by the NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT in the default configuration, and three full-length PCI Express expansion slots are open).
I don't know what is meant exactly by "double-wide". I think there was no actual port in what otherwise would have been the next slot up, so I think they just mean that you can use a big card like this 4870 without covering up a usable slot. If so, then you probably can use 2 cards... IF the x1900 doesn't take 2 slots nor have auxiliary power cables feeding to it.

Quote:
- Do you mind saying how much you paid for the card?

Thanks a bunch,
The card about $200, then another 20 for the power cables since they weren't included. I'm going to see if I can more definitively determine if this is an actual "Apple" card, or a PC one that was flashed.


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Here's one walkthrough of someone flashing their 4870. He has an original Mac Pro and moved his old card up to a different slot. So yes... you can use two (if the old one doesn't require extra power).

Oh yes... and the "double wide" slot looks to be 16x lanes vs 8x lanes.

How to Flash an ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Card PC Version To work in an Apple Mac Pro


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Ok, well I think I easily settled this. It looks like I do have a real Apple ATI 4870. Just looking over various stock pictures, only the Apple model has a metal bracket that slides into a support piece inside the tower at the front. The regular ATI and all the others like Diamond, Sapphire, etc who rebrand ATI's cards do NOT have this bracket in those photos. The Apple one (and mine) has only 1 DVI port. Pics of all the others have 2 ports. The seller had a couple more on eBay... you might be able to grab one still.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Ok, well I think I easily settled this. It looks like I do have a real Apple ATI 4870. Just looking over various stock pictures, only the Apple model has a metal bracket that slides into a support piece inside the tower at the front. The regular ATI and all the others like Diamond, Sapphire, etc who rebrand ATI's cards do NOT have this bracket in those photos. The seller had a couple more on eBay... you might be able to grab one still.
Thanks for all the info in those last three posts!

Great to hear that you figured out you got a genuine Apple card. Sounds like you got it for a decent price...especially if it's an Apple card.

Yeah that info about the 16 vs. 8 lanes is what I was looking for. My understanding is...the original 2006 Mac Pro has 4 PCIe expansion slots...1 of them is a "16-lane" slot...and the other 3 are "8-lane" slots.

What I'm still confused about is...my X1900 card I'm pretty sure is installed in the 16 lane slot...and because of the cards fan...it blocks a 2nd PCIe slot. Which leaves me with 2 "8-lane" slots still available.

What I'm not positive about is...if I can install a 2nd "double wide" video card in one of the 2 remaining "8-lane" PCIe slots...and have it work properly.

I know that if someone wanted to run the maximum of EIGHT monitors on one of the original Mac Pro's...you could install FOUR Nvidia 7300 cards (like the one you have I believe)...since they are narrow cards without a big bulky fan. So I know that I could just get a 7300 card & pop it in...but the 4870 is a much better performer.

Thanks again for the help,

- Nick

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
What I'm still confused about is...my X1900 card I'm pretty sure is installed in the 16 lane slot...and because of the cards fan...it blocks a 2nd PCIe slot. Which leaves me with 2 "8-lane" slots still available.

What I'm not positive about is...if I can install a 2nd "double wide" video card in one of the 2 remaining "8-lane" PCIe slots...and have it work properly.
That flashing tutorial I linked to touched base on that. He got a warning that having the 4870 in an 8x slot reduced the performance of the card. Also… just reading around, the x1900 requires the use of one auxiliary power cable. The 4870 needs two cables, and the Mac Pro only has 2 6-pin auxiliary power connections on the board.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
That flashing tutorial I linked to touched base on that. He got a warning that having the 4870 in an 8x slot reduced the performance of the card. Also… just reading around, the x1900 requires the use of one auxiliary power cable. The 4870 needs two cables, and the Mac Pro only has 2 6-pin auxiliary power connections on the board.
Well then it sounds like the whole auxiliary power cable thing is the weak link. Sounds like I can either have one X1900 or one 4870 (well technically I guess I could have two X1900's).

Looks like I may have to stick with finding an inexpensive Nvidia 7300 (or something similar) as my 2nd video card.

Thanks again,

- Nick

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