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Best graphic card for Mac Pro + CS6

Explorer ,
May 28, 2012 May 28, 2012

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Hi everyone,

I'm sorry if this question has been asked several times... But it seems technology moves so fast... And also I found lots of cards that seem to me being PC only... That's why I'm having this question for Mac only.

I'm on a Mac Pro, Snow Leopard CS5.5 , and I want to re-instal a clean new system with Lion and CS6... mostly to edit 5K footage from the Epic (+ VFX and grading)... So it is mostly about PPro and AE (not quite sure about Speed Grad, still have to try it out).

What are my best options, as of today, in terms of graphic cards... ? I'm talking about boosting the Mercury Playback Engine through CUDA, as well as supporting the softwares as much as it can in term of OpenCL and OpenGL...

In this chart from nVidia's website, I only see the quadro 4000 and 4800 being available for Mac...

http://www.nvidia.com/content/PDF/product-comparison/product-comparison-master-revised.pdf

But we do have a GTX 285 in one of our computer at the office, and it works too...

Then I know some CS6 users are referring to other cards, like the GTX 570... and there is probably more to the list.

I'd like to to be able to compare what card gives you the best performances, at which price point.

Thanks in advance for sharing

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LEGEND ,
May 28, 2012 May 28, 2012

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Unfortunately, with a Mac Pro, your choice of GPUs is extremely limited. None of the GTX 570 cards are compatible with any official Apple Mac Pro at all (or put it this way, the card will require major modifications that will completely break compatibility with Windows if you want it to be Mac-compatible). With NVidia you are limited strictly to a GeForce GTX 285 or a Quadro 4000 or FX 4800 (but both the GTX 285 and FX 4800 are old-generation GPUs). You see, a Mac-compatible graphics card absolutely requires a BIOS that's fully compatible with the Mac Pro's EFI in order to even access the EFI or see the boot screen. None of the Windows-compatible graphics cards are compatible at all with the Mac's EFI.

In other words, all of the users that you have noticed that are running a GTX 570 are all using Windows, not Mac.

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Explorer ,
May 28, 2012 May 28, 2012

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Thanks for this very detailed answer...

So the GTX570 for Mac that we find online are only for Mac Pro running Windows on Boot Camp? Or have they been "re-configure" to fully work on Mac?

I found this on eBay, and it's my understanding that it work on Mac... hoppefully as well on both Snow Leopard and Lion

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nvidia-GTX-570-Apple-Mac-Pro-2-5-GB-CUDA-DaVinci-Resolve-Adobe-Premiere-570-...

Thanks again for the answer...

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Advocate ,
May 28, 2012 May 28, 2012

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Julien_deka wrote:


I found this on eBay, and it's my understanding that it work on Mac... hoppefully as well on both Snow Leopard and Lion

That video card has been prepped by a known good Mac video card hacker.  He adds the appropriate EFI-compatible chips to PC nVidia cards so that they'll boot properly in a Mac Pro.  In order for them to run properly, you must be running Lion and the latest nVidia-provided drivers (NOT the Apple-provided ones).  They won't work properly in Snow Leopard (really: it's time to move on).

I have one of his cards and it works wonderfully well in CS6 with the appropriate text file edit.

jas

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Explorer ,
May 29, 2012 May 29, 2012

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the latest nVidia-provided drivers (NOT the Apple-provided ones).

Hi Jason, thanks a lot for this answer... I think I have most of the infos I was looking for when posting in the forum...

Except that I don't know where to find those drivers for Mac... If I visit the nVidia website, I can see there search engine to select the graphic card... but then the choice is obviously limited to PC only.

http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us

Or were you talking about this page (CUDA Drivers for Mac), which is more generic drivers for CUDA cards (not card specific)

http://www.nvidia.com/object/mac-driver-archive.html

Thanks in advance

Julien

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Advocate ,
May 29, 2012 May 29, 2012

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Julien_deka wrote:

Except that I don't know where to find those drivers for Mac... If I visit the nVidia website, I can see there search engine to select the graphic card... but then the choice is obviously limited to PC only.

http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us

You have to be smarter than nVidia in this case.   Start on that page, pick the Quadro 4000 for Mac, and then in the Operating System section: 10.7.4.  It'll take you to the download for version 270.00.00f06, which was released on the 10th of May, this year.  That driver encompasses a bunch(!) of nVidia chips, including what's on the GTX570, GTX580, etc.

You will also need the generic CUDA drivers installed as well.

jas

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Explorer ,
Jun 14, 2012 Jun 14, 2012

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Hi Jason,

so thank you for helping me up...

I did install the card, and followed your advices. Installed the Quadro for Mac driver for OS 10.7.4 (the one I'm running on indeed). Then I installed the latest CUDA drivers.

First think strange... I used to run my Wacom Cintiq from a second graphic card - NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 - through mini-dispaly port, and this stoped to work... I have to use another port (DVI) from this same card to have a display on my Cintiq.

Second thing: I have 4 ports on the GTX570 (2 DVI, 1 HDMI, 1 Dipslay Port)... I plugged my 2 main screens for UI into each DVI but only one worked (the bottom one). For my second screen I had to use the Display Port and use a bunch of adaptors.

Long story short, not all of my ports are properly working, on BOTH graphic cards... any idea why ?

Then, and it is the most important to me: when in Premiere CS6, I'm not allow to change the Mercury Playback Engine configuration... I'm stuck in software mode only. Is it because I'm still running on the trial? I'm going to pay for my upgrade anyway, so it would be a relief to know that is the case.

I actually bought this card for CUDA performances inside of CS6, so it would be disapointed to realise it's not working...

EDIT: I think I need to change something in a file to add the name of the card in order to get Premiere use its CUDA technology... I will dig into that a bit more

Thanks in advance

Julien

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Advocate ,
Jun 15, 2012 Jun 15, 2012

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Julien_deka wrote:

First think strange... I used to run my Wacom Cintiq from a second graphic card - NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 - through mini-dispaly port, and this stoped to work... I have to use another port (DVI) from this same card to have a display on my Cintiq.

Second thing: I have 4 ports on the GTX570 (2 DVI, 1 HDMI, 1 Dipslay Port)... I plugged my 2 main screens for UI into each DVI but only one worked (the bottom one). For my second screen I had to use the Display Port and use a bunch of adaptors.

I can't really help you out regarding the GT120 and why the DP went dead.  I suspect it has something to do with the Mac not wanting to power more than 1 DP, but I'm not 100% sure of that.  With the GTX570, only 2 of the ports are going to be active, as you found out: the first DVI and the DP.  It has to do with the EFI on the card and the driver, I believe.  The MacVidCards guy can explain it more thoroughly.  He's fairly responsive via email and PMs on the MacRumors forum.

I actually bought this card for CUDA performances inside of CS6, so it would be disapointed to realise it's not working...

EDIT: I think I need to change something in a file to add the name of the card in order to get Premiere use its CUDA technology... I will dig into that a bit more

Right, you need to edit the CUDA text file and add it in as:

GeForce GTX 570

mrfreeze$ cat /Applications/Adobe\ Premiere\ Pro\ CS6/Adobe\ Premiere\ Pro\ CS6.app/Contents/cuda_supported_cards.txt

GeForce GTX 285

Quadro CX

Quadro FX 4800

Quadro 4000

GeForce GTX 570

jas

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Advocate ,
Jun 15, 2012 Jun 15, 2012

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I think benchmarks are very relevant when choosing a graphics cards for an editing business situation. But so is performance over time. Failures due to overheating or frugal system design is harder to measure but just as important to evaluate. We are told that the Quadro line is better built and ventilated than the GTX line. It would be nice to see some hard statistics on performance over life in products as well. If a GTX craps out from constant use, its speed is not enough of a good reason to buy it.

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Advocate ,
Jun 15, 2012 Jun 15, 2012

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lasvideo wrote:

I think benchmarks are very relevant when choosing a graphics cards for an editing business situation. But so is performance over time. Failures due to overheating or frugal system design is harder to measure but just as important to evaluate.

True, but if you think that professional video editors put their rigs through more abuse than hard-core gamers do, you're greatly mistaken.  The GTX line continues to expand and succeed purely due to the crazy gamers out there (far more of them than there are editors).  And those gamers aren't having any issues with the GTX line.

People constantly overclock the snot out of the GTX lines so that they run even faster (and even hotter) than stock.  And the cards just eat it up and keep chugging along.

That all said, if you would rather spend $800+ on a Quadro 4K and get half the performance out of it than you would a card that costs less than half that much: it's your money.

jas

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Advocate ,
Jun 15, 2012 Jun 15, 2012

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Jason, I appreciate your speculation on the subject, but I need real facts to support your position. Talk (and GTX cards) are cheap

And if a gamer experiences a failure, it isnt quite the same thing as an edit session getting stopped in its tracks. I would love to save money and get better performance, but not at the risk of having an edit session shut down.

Show me the the money ( statistics) !

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Explorer ,
Jun 15, 2012 Jun 15, 2012

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Thanks you Jason!

I was confused a little bit about the text file you need to modifie... But I found this Vimeo link where the guy runs you through out the whole process, and how to use the Terminal... It is actually quite simple.

In my case for some reason, there were no cards at all listed into Premiere, and adding mine didn't work. Went back into the process a second time, and all the supported cards were there (except mine that I had to add again). And this time it did work. As far as AE goes, it worked right away on the first try.

https://vimeo.com/43420088

It does improve the abilities of Premiere (full rez playback on DSLR footage + text and chroma Key), and I can now move Ray-Traced objects around more easily in AE (and faster preview on that too).

Now, I'm reading here and there people talking about an OpenCL fix... What does it fix? where do I find it? And do I even need it? Is it going to enhance performance in AE or what?

Once again, thanks a lot. Realy appreciate.

Julien

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Advocate ,
Jun 16, 2012 Jun 16, 2012

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Julien_deka wrote:

Now, I'm reading here and there people talking about an OpenCL fix... What does it fix? where do I find it? And do I even need it? Is it going to enhance performance in AE or what?

I'm glad things are working well for you.

The OpenCL 'fix' actually requires using a hex editor and editing the binary OpenCL drivers.  Apple, by default, disables OpenCL on any nVidia card, from what I understand.  By editing the driver file, you enable OpenCL for your card.  However, for what you're using your card for, I doubt you'll see any benefit whatsoever.  And the risk of mucking up your system by improperly editing the file is rather large.  I'd recommend ignoring that.

jas

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Explorer ,
Jun 17, 2012 Jun 17, 2012

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Thanks Jason. Makes sense. Thanks a lot!

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 21, 2012 Jun 21, 2012

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Jason,

For those who do want to apply an OpenCL fix, any easy guide?

I have seen these strings recommended (Netkas):

find:

EB A8 83 F8 02 7C 15

replace 02 with 03 to get:

EB A8 83 F8 03 7C 15


find:

78 E8 83 F8 02 7C 11

replace 02 with 03 to get:

78 E8 83 F8 03 7C 11

I can find the GEForce Driver Bundle and assume I have to edit it in terminal but have balked at this until I find some reassuring instructions (per that vimeo.com clip re CUDA).

Cheers,

M.

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Advocate ,
Jun 22, 2012 Jun 22, 2012

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Boy ... I say Boy wrote:

Jason,

For those who do want to apply an OpenCL fix, any easy guide?

I have seen these strings recommended (Netkas):

If you're brave enough to perform the edits yourself, you'll want to first make a backup copy of the driver.  Then you'll need a hex editor that runs on OS X.  Open the driver up in the hex edit, and perform those search and replaces as outlined by Netkas.

Unless you need OpenCL, I really wouldn't bother.

jas

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 23, 2012 Jun 23, 2012

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Thanks Jas.

Seems safe enough if I can revert to a back up version if I slip up with the edit.  Only looking at this because of the OpenCL boost in CS6 Photoshop (probably minor) and then subsequent versions (hopefiully more).  Not really needed but, with a new NVIDIA card on the way for my Mac Pro I figure I may as well gild the lily by switching on OpenCL.

M.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 26, 2012 Jun 26, 2012

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All done: card installed and OpenCL enabled (took a few goes to replace the old driver with edited version, but no real drama).  My old GEForce 8800GT now replaced by an NVIDIA GTX570 with mods to give OS X boot screen.

Easy enough to do for any other Mac Pro 3.1 owners out there.

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Guest
Sep 30, 2012 Sep 30, 2012

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This whole thread was very helpful. Thank you.

I came away understanding that I need Apple to release a new Mac Pro. I really don't have time to hack video cards and such.

I've been confused that my current Mac Pro is three and a half years old, and yet new machines don't seem to be significantly faster for Photoshop. So I'm confused and looking at benchmarks and specs. I'm really surprised that the consensus seems to be that Apple has not released a significant update to the Mac Pro in about three years.

Are Windows machines really that much faster and cheaper for Photoshop now for a power user? When I say power user, I mean we have a scanner that generates 800 MB tif files, so we can bring a machine to a crawl pretty easily.

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Enthusiast ,
Oct 06, 2012 Oct 06, 2012

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Intel hit a MHz wall a few years ago. The only thing that is increasing now is the number of cores per chip.

so yes there really isn't a big difference in cpu power over the last few years. They are mostly running at less and less watts for the same speed since it's on smaller and smaller silicon process technology.

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New Here ,
Oct 06, 2012 Oct 06, 2012

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Jason,

Try to update as you have so kindly instruct it above BUT whe I try to load Quadro 4000 drivers installer notes "no drivers needed for this system. This system already has drivers which support this NVidia graphic solution. This is happening when I am using my 5770 - so I am in a little of a catch-22. Can see anything on the 120/570 so I can not interact (update drivers) unless I am using the 5770

My Mac Pro (5,1) 2.4GHz 12core has originally a ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB and a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB graphics. Both of them work fine. Try for over an hour to install the GTX-570 and GT120 BY:

1) remove all video cards and install GT120 on slot-1 (computer ON Video card-fan is ON but black screen - Monitor is power ON )

2) remove all video cards and install GT120 on slot-2 (computer ON Video card-fan is ON but black screen - Monitor is power ON )

3) remove all video cards and install GTX570 on slot-1 (computer ON Video card-fan is ON but black screen - Monitor is power ON )

4) remove all video cards and install GTX570/GT120 on slot-1/2 (computer ON Video card-fan is ON but black screen - Monitor is power ON )

Put back my ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB and a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT - everything is dandy!

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Enthusiast ,
Oct 06, 2012 Oct 06, 2012

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It seems to me that this is missing one key required feature.

Mac Pro since the "Early 2008" aka "3,1" model have required firmware on the graphics card that is UEFI 64bit.

The shipped ATI card has that.

The official "nVidia for Mac" cards that do exist have it too.

The eBay vendor "macvideocards" re-burns the firmware to have it too.

So, just plugging in normal nVidia cards (ie for the PC market) won't work.

They will only work if

1: you have a Mac capable card (and I think it needs to be in PCIe slot 1)

2: you want to use it as a secondary screen (or no screen at all to just use it as a CUDA card)

3: the total wattage of all PCIe cards does not exceed 300W.

If you look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_comparison#GeForce_400_Series you'll see that the power requirements for a Fermi GTX 4xx are pretty high - in the 250ish Watt range.

So as long as you have a Mac supported card and the optional second card don't exceed the max PCIe power of 300 total Watts you should be good to go.

hope that clarifies.

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New Here ,
Oct 06, 2012 Oct 06, 2012

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LATEST

Thx for the info,

we found out that the GT120 is simply not working. But the gtx570 is (in slot 1) - so at this point I need to get the gt120 replace

THX

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