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MacPro 1,1 6870 video upgrade ?


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#1 MadDog

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 07:04 PM

I have a MacPro 1,1 (dual dual 3.0), OS X 10.7.5 with an Apple Radeon 4870 HD/512.  I was considering wringing a bit more life out of this workhorse by upgrading the video card 1 more time.  From what I can gather the
4870-->5870 jump isn't really worthwhile from a gaming point of view.

Is there any consensus about whether or not a 4870 --> 6870 transition is worthwhile ?

thanks,

Mad Dog

#2 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:17 PM

There are other cards that should work in that machine.  Unless there's a limitation im unaware of on the PCIe slot (is it only v2?) most modern cards would still fit in it.  You can get a Radeon 7850 for less than 180$ and it is a great modern card for 1080p gaming.  

Also, does the MacPro 1,1 not support Mavericks?  It may not, i just dont remember anymore.  If it does, that would open up your range of cards some as there are newer drivers for a wider range of cards (those supported in the newer iMacs and Mac Pros).

#3 jgwdoc

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:51 AM

I had a 6870 in my 1st gen MacPro  and had a lot of trouble with stability/frequent crashes, so I backed off to a 5870.
And it does not support Mavericks, which complicates things.
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#4 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 08:33 AM

The 5870 is more powerful then the 6870. They changed their naming scheme with the 6xxx generation so the 68xx is a midrange card, and the 69xx is the flagship one. the 5870 is the flagship card for the 5xxx generation, and performs at aroudn the same level as the 6950.

So don't upgrade to the 6870, you'll get more performance from the 5870. The 5870 is a massive upgrade from the 4870. It is roughly twice as fast, and is capable of maxing most games at ultra settings at 1080p
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#5 macdude22

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 09:08 AM

FYI, there are ways of getting 10.9 on a 1,1 Mac Pro. Not having a 1,1 Mac Pro I couldn't attest to how well it works.

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#6 Tetsuya

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 12:44 PM

Yeah, i'd say a 5870 or 7850 are probably your best bets, if you can get Mavericks to work, the 7850 can be had flashed and cheap on eBay.

#7 MadDog

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:01 PM

Thanks for the info.  I hadn't thought about the 7850 (do you mean 7870 ?) as I am stuck on 10.7.x (I didn't want to hack the 64 bit system onto it - yet).  THe 5870 is still pretty expensive.  

thanks,

Mad Dog

#8 Tetsuya

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:45 PM

No, i mean the 7850.  There's one in my wife's machine, and it works very well for all modern games at 1080p.  Though, if you can score the 7870 for the MSRP, the extra 30 bucks might be worth it.  

It's also really cheap right now, as it is being replaced by the R9 series GPUs.  You can find them already flashed on eBay.  

Same with the 5870, if you decide to go that route - dont buy from Apple whatever you do, theyll gouge you to death.  Check eBay for flashed cards - theyll be WAY cheaper.

It also looks like you'd have to get Mountain Lion or Mavericks working for the 7-series cards to work - the drivers only exist in Mountain Lion and better.  

So, if you're dead set against getting Mavericks working (itd be worth it, i think, as every machine ive put it on has had a serious performance boost) you're stuck with the 5870.

From what im seeing, if you can get ML or Mavericks working, you can use a non-flashed 7-series card, you ju st wont see a boot screen.  You can pick up 7870s on eBay for l ike 120 bucks.  I cant find a 5870 for much less than 200, and the 7870 will run rings around the 5870 all day and night.  Methinks it might be time to consider getting Mavericks working.

#9 MadDog

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 01:22 PM

I thought about upgrading past 10.7.5, but I am a little leery for the moment.  I can't afford to bork the computer for now.  I will keep reading up on it.

What about NVIDIA cards ?  Are those any easier to get working with 10.7.x  and a 1,1 ?

thanks,

Mad Dog

#10 Tetsuya

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 01:29 AM

I found some decent links to what works in Lion, Mountain Lion, etc.  

Here's a link to a decent GPU thread for nVidia:  

http://forums.macrum...d.php?t=1440150

Note the section that says what you can use in Lion with no modifications:  

GTX 570 (hella expensive) or a GTX 560 or 560Ti.

Now, for performance:

http://www.videocard...h_end_gpus.html

Notice your current 4870 scores about 1370 (keep in mind these are synthetic benchmarks, but they do give a good idea of how powerful cards are generally)

The 560Ti, which is very affordable (less than 200 brand new, often less on sale and even cheaper used/on ebay) scores a respectable 3542, making it a fair bit more powerful than that 4870.  

However, reading this thread:  

http://www.reddit.co...11_21_20062007/

Installing Mavericks on a 1,1 Mac Pro doesn't seem difficult at all - nor it is likely to bork your machine in any way.  All it involves is building a customized Install USB drive that has an edited file that lets the installer work on the older machine - basically, the only reason Mavericks wont just install on your Mac Pro by default is because the Installer has a file that lists which machines are "supported" and if your computer isn't in that list, it wont let you install.  The method in that thread basically just replaces this list in the installer and adds your machine.  Mavericks appears to work fine without any actual modifications to the OS itself or your machine's firmware once it is installed.  Apple just didn't want to have to support those older machines so they excluded them.

If you get Mavericks up and running, your world opens  up to basically ANY modern nVidia card (most are supported by the OS or you can get nVidia's web driver from their website for the newest cards) - you wont get a boot screen with most of them, but any off the shelf PC cards will work, which opens up your options a lot.  For your machine, (since it is older and doesn't support PCIe 3.0) i'd say the best fit would be a GTX 760. (Notice that benchmark - just over 5000) They're affordable (~229 on sale frequently) and run most modern games at max settings at 1080p no problems. (I have a factory overclocked 760 in my gaming PC and i have yet to find a game that ive played other than Metro that doesnt max out at 1080p/60fps no problem)  

It seems worth the 5$ investment in an 8GB Thumb Drive and the ~20 minutes it will take to make the modified Mavericks Installer to upgrade to Mavericks.  And your machine will probably see a pretty decent performance boost from Mavericks at the same time.  If you dont want to destroy your existing install, install Mavericks on a second drive (or partition).

#11 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 01:55 PM

Keep in mind, you may have to do some flashing or something. Apparently all 7xx series cards work with mavericks, but that wasn't the case for me. My GTX 760 did not work in mavericks with the latest drivers installed on my 2008 Mac Pro (3,1). So your mileage may vary. Don't purchase a 7xx series card thinking it will 100% work first try. It may work, or you may have to do some additional troubleshooting.

A GTX 570 is dirt cheap if you buy it used. In Canada I often see them for around $150 CDN on hardwarecanucks buy and sell forum (Canadian PC site). In the US I would expect it to be cheaper.
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#12 Tetsuya

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 08:39 PM

Were you using the default Mavericks drivers or did you install the nVidia Web Driver, Snake?  It seems that for it to work in most cases you need to be using whichever is more up to date, which is usually nVidia's driver unless Apple has JUST released a point update.

If Snake is right though, and you can get a GTX 570 cheap on eBay - that might be by far the easiest route.  Gets good benchmarks (4k+) on the synthetics, and pretty much any card at the ~3500 range will do 1080p at max or high settings in most modern games.  It should even work in 10.7 without much trouble so it would be ideal, and probably all the GPU your old Pro can handle without it becoming starved.

#13 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 12:32 AM

View PostTetsuya, on 03 May 2014 - 08:39 PM, said:

Were you using the default Mavericks drivers or did you install the nVidia Web Driver, Snake?  It seems that for it to work in most cases you need to be using whichever is more up to date, which is usually nVidia's driver unless Apple has JUST released a point update.

I installed both the normal driver and CUDA driver from Nvidia. That's all I tried though.
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#14 MadDog

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 06:05 PM

Wow.... it looks likes the NVIDIA choices are way better than ATI.  I think I will look into this further as well as the Mavericks.

Are there any known problems with having a soft RAID in 10.7.x going into the Mavericks boot ?

thanks,

Mad Dog

#15 Tetsuya

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 08:11 PM

on the RAID issue, i couldn't say.  Mavericks itself doesn't like installing on a RAID - it complains about not being able to create the recovery partition, but will still install if you override the warning.  

On a machine that supports Mavericks, installing to a soft RAID isn't an issue.. on your MacPro, im not sure if it would be an issue or not.

#16 MadDog

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 10:12 AM

I bought a GTX570/1280MB from Ebay, and it has been drop-in compatible so far (10.7.5, MacPro 1,1).

As I continue to read more of the NVIDIA faq (see post#10), it says that you should use the latest NVIDIA driver even if it is for a later OS version.  Has anyone here tried using a later driver with 10.7.5 ?  Any issues at all ?

thanks,

Mad Dog

#17 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 11:21 PM

Reviving dead thread to post some relevant info about the original topic.

I was able to drop in a 6870 into my Mac Pro 3,1 (2008) running Yosemite. Didn't have to install or tweak anything. I don't get the boot screen, but I don't really care about that. I'm keeping the 4870 around in case I need boot screen access.
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