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Old August 15th, 2009, 07:14 PM   #1
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Mac Pro video card GT 120 vs HD 4870

I'm getting ready to upgrade from my G5 Mac Pro to current model and I'm trying to decide between the GT 120 vs HD 4870. It comes standard with a NVIDIA GT 120 which is merely a rebranding of the 9500 GT model or for $200 more get the ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB.

Since I don't do any fancy animation or color, I'm thinking the GT 120 should be enough although I'll be moving up to a 24" monitor with a second 19". I find it irritating spending $2,500 and finding it comes with a cheap low end $50 video card having to pay an additional $200 to get something state of the art. Maybe its because the high end cards consume a lot of power and generate lots of heat and aren't needed for video editing, still I think its a little greedy charging that much for a system and not putting in a video card to match. I could never figure out why Mac is always at least 2 years behind the video card curve.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; August 15th, 2009 at 08:13 PM.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 08:47 PM   #2
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Just my opinion but I always get base everything from the mac store and upgrade with other vendors, like OWC has a nice selection of RAM upgrades that are markedly cheaper than apple.

As for Video Cards - You really don't need something fancy unless you are a gamer or plan on heavy VFX. Even the new FCP will be compatible with that base card you listed.

If you want to upgrade in the future, newegg.com has Mac compatible video cards in addition to OWC- upgrading things like video cards, ram and HD's is super easy on these computers and paying top dollar at Apple seems like a waste to me.

Hope this helps,
-C
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Old August 15th, 2009, 10:23 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Just my opinion but I always get base everything from the mac store and upgrade with other vendors, like OWC has a nice selection of RAM upgrades that are markedly cheaper than apple.

As for Video Cards - You really don't need something fancy unless you are a gamer or plan on heavy VFX. Even the new FCP will be compatible with that base card you listed.

If you want to upgrade in the future, newegg.com has Mac compatible video cards in addition to OWC- upgrading things like video cards, ram and HD's is super easy on these computers and paying top dollar at Apple seems like a waste to me.

Hope this helps,
-C
Yeah you're right I should stick with the base configuration and upgrade else where when needed. Just helps to hear it from someone else. thx

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; August 16th, 2009 at 12:02 AM.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 11:05 PM   #4
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Keep in mind that all FxPlug filters are rendered in the GPU, not the CPU so the more VRAM you have and higher-end GPU processors the less time these filters and effects will take to render. You'll also want the most VRAM you can get if you plan on multiple monitors.

Snow Leopard is also designed to leverage more GPU power and save CPU clock cycles for more base-level and app-critical tasks which will make things more stable and possibly even a tick faster. (Read up on things like Grand Central Dispatch, OpenCL and even the new Quicktime X).

Paying Apple for plug-in components is never a good idea. Let them supply the CPU, power supply and mainboard and get everything else from OWC or other reliable, cost-effective vendors and save the extra buck-age for.... toys! (laughs)

NOTE: Another "benefit" of Snow Leopard (depending on your perspective) is that native gamma will now be 2.2 rather than the current 1.8. That means things will be WYSIWYG in FCP canvas and then in Quicktime without having to use the "match Final Cut color" option in QT now. That should also take care of color dispartities between PC and Mac since native PC gamma is 2.2 (unless you're using older nVidia hardware for VFX).
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Old August 16th, 2009, 01:11 AM   #5
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Paying Apple for plug-in components is never a good idea. Let them supply the CPU, power supply and mainboard and get everything else from OWC or other reliable, cost-effective vendors and save the extra buck-age for.... toys! (laughs)
It makes sense instead of buying RAM from Apple to buy it direct from Crucial (who Apple buy from) & save a bundle. However when it comes to graphics cards for the Mac Pro there aren't any alternatives except for the ATI HD 3870 which shipped last year & comes in a version for both Macs & PCs. The other current graphics cards for the Mac Pro are all Apple branded & one cannot e.g. take a generic ATI HD 4870 designed for Windows & use it in a Mac Pro. I just checked & OWC don't even list any Mac Pro graphics cards. It is better value paying an extra $200 to have your Mac Pro built with an ATI HD 4870 rather than replacing the GT120 at some future date.
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Old August 16th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #6
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I just checked & OWC don't even list any Mac Pro graphics cards.
Mac Pro cards:

Search Results for PCi Express Video Mac Pro at MacSales.com

There are other companies offering Mac Pro-compatible cards, they're just not nearly as plentiful as PC vendors. BareFeats usually has a few of their advertisers that carry Mac video accys.
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Old August 16th, 2009, 10:34 AM   #7
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Keep in mind that all FxPlug filters are rendered in the GPU, not the CPU so the more VRAM you have and higher-end GPU processors the less time these filters and effects will take to render. You'll also want the most VRAM you can get if you plan on multiple monitors.
Are you saying any FCP plugin or only FxPlug Is that a brand of plugin?
Both cards have 512mb of vram.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
It makes sense instead of buying RAM from Apple to buy it direct from Crucial (who Apple buy from) & save a bundle. However when it comes to graphics cards for the Mac Pro there aren't any alternatives except for the ATI HD 3870 which shipped last year & comes in a version for both Macs & PCs. The other current graphics cards for the Mac Pro are all Apple branded & one cannot e.g. take a generic ATI HD 4870 designed for Windows & use it in a Mac Pro. I just checked & OWC don't even list any Mac Pro graphics cards. It is better value paying an extra $200 to have your Mac Pro built with an ATI HD 4870 rather than replacing the GT120 at some future date.
I have to agree with you the Mac compatible version of that card is more than $200, making it not worth buying else where. I'm sure Apple made it that way so you would have to buy it from them. If you could buy a PC card it would make sense. Just burns me how Apple does this crap to milk more money out you.
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Old August 16th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #8
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Nividia 285 is compatible with the New Mac Pro
http://www.barefeats.com/nehal11.html
, but as far as performance it is hard to say since every test seem to be based on games rather than professional video, price is also a bit steep last time I checked. ATI released the 4890, which I can get much more than gamers tests on it! If anyone knows more, I'd love to know.
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Old August 16th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Mac Pro cards:

Search Results for PCi Express Video Mac Pro at MacSales.com

There are other companies offering Mac Pro-compatible cards, they're just not nearly as plentiful as PC vendors. BareFeats usually has a few of their advertisers that carry Mac video accys.
Apart from the ATI HD 3870 which I already mentioned as being the exception those are the self-same cards that are for sale in the Apple store. Displays & Graphics - Apple Store (U.S.) The EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 is even $5 more expensive. There are no other current Mac Pro graphics cards that I am aware of
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Old August 17th, 2009, 04:41 AM   #10
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Not that this will help anyone here but FYI:

There are WAY more cards that will work in your Mac Pro and drivers built (rebuilt) by the hackintosh community. It just takes some searching, patching [adding EFI Strings w/ OSX Tools specific to your card] and porting the power connector (albeit most won't like the porting part).

You'd be surprise what cheapy, no-name china stuff works.
-C
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