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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > GPU or SSD?

View Poll Results: Best bang-for-the-buck upgrade for 2006 MacPro
Poll Options:
GPU (ATI RADEON 5770) 2 votes (40.00%)
SSD (Samsung 840 Pro 256GB) 3 votes (60.00%)
Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll
GPU or SSD?
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cgc
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Dec 31, 2012, 11:35 AM
 
I'm looking at two upgrades for my 2006 1,1 MacPro to make it last longer. My primary uses are a couple games (solitaire, Avadon [RPG], Portal 2, etc.) and Handbrake transcodings in OSX 10.7.5; Office 2010 and Fritz 12 chess in Parallels 7 w/ Windows 8. I'm thinking about getting X-Plane 10 but am content playing MS Flight Sim 2004 in Parallels, not a big deal right now.

I'm debating between getting an ATI Radeon 5770 or an SSD and am leaning towards the GPU. What would you recommend for best bang for the buck? My specs are:
  • CPU: two 2.66GHz Xeon 5150s
  • GPU: nVidia 7300GT (256MB) - my 8800GT died a year ago
  • Monitor: 23" LCD @ 1920x1080
  • HDD: two 640GB WD Blue and one 250GB WD drive
  • Memory: 7GB ECC RAM

BTW, both upgrades are about the same price (e.g. ~$250) . Thanks.
     
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Dec 31, 2012, 12:34 PM
 
$250 for a 5770, yikes.
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Dec 31, 2012, 01:05 PM
 
It's time for a whole new tower. 6 years, jesus Handbrake on 5150s must be slow. Wait for Apple to release the new Mac Pro.
     
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Dec 31, 2012, 01:53 PM
 
(flashed 5850, 2x faster than 5770 in many games) http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Apple-Mac-Pro-ATI-Radeon-HD-5850-1GB-PCIe-Video-Card-5870-5770-/150965599335
(Cheaper 5770s, first one is flashed) http://www.ebay.com/itm/Single-Slot-5770-1GB-Dual-DVI-16x-PCIe-PCI-e-for-Apple-Mac-Pro-2006-thru-2010-/180997573903
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-ATI-Radeon-HD-5770-MC742ZM-A-1-GB-GDDR5-SDRAM-PCI-Express-x16-/121045450507
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATI-Radeon-HD-5770-1GB-Video-Card-for-Apple-Mac-Pro-Tested-Works-Great-/251202258814
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cgc  (op)
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Dec 31, 2012, 03:37 PM
 
I know you can buy flashed 5770's but they won't display anything until OSX is running (e.g. login screen IIRC). OSX 10.7 should run most of-the-shelf PC 5770's without flashing along with a bunch of nVidia cards but I want something 100% apple branded/sanctioned. $250 is a lot of money but so are all Apple products. It rips a DVD about 45-60 fps for a normal movie so rips are about 1/2 the play time or less. Happy Handbrake can queue rips up after I prerip with RipIt so they're on the desktop.

BTW, not much benefit for 5870 over 5770 on my bus, the 5770 basically saturates it.
     
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Dec 31, 2012, 03:39 PM
 
For everything but the gaming, the ssd will be a huge improvement. For the gaming, don't know.
     
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Dec 31, 2012, 03:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I know you can buy flashed 5770's but they won't display anything until OSX is running (e.g. login screen IIRC). OSX 10.7 should run most of-the-shelf PC 5770's without flashing along with a bunch of nVidia cards but I want something 100% apple branded/sanctioned. $250 is a lot of money but so are all Apple products. It rips a DVD about 45-60 fps for a normal movie so rips are about 1/2 the play time or less. Happy Handbrake can queue rips up after I prerip with RipIt so they're on the desktop.
BTW, not much benefit for 5870 over 5770 on my bus, the 5770 basically saturates it.
I posted 5770s that are original Apple cards, it seems they sell for well less than $250. $150 or less seems typical.

http://www.ebay.com/csc/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_Complete=1&_nkw=apple %205770&rt=nc&_pppn=r1&_mPrRngCbx=1&_udlo=50&_udhi =150

That would allow you to get a video card and an SSD for your target price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147188
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cgc  (op)
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Dec 31, 2012, 03:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by jmiddel View Post
For everything but the gaming, the ssd will be a huge improvement. For the gaming, don't know.
Yeah, the SSD will boost most everything and be easily moved into another computer if my MacPro died but my GPU is so old I thought it may help a lot as well (a GPU benchmark says 3D performance would increase ~27X) but the 5770 is pretty slow compared to the new PC cards, Hoping Apple releases something newer...is there a way to tell what GPU drivers are installed/supported in the OS (10.7.5)?
     
cgc  (op)
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Jan 3, 2013, 11:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
I posted 5770s that are original Apple cards, it seems they sell for well less than $250. $150 or less seems typical.
http://www.ebay.com/csc/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_Complete=1&_nkw=apple %205770&rt=nc&_pppn=r1&_mPrRngCbx=1&_udlo=50&_udhi =150
That would allow you to get a video card and an SSD for your target price.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147188
I saw that they were Apple GPUs but I'd prefer to not buy used products as I've been burned before. The SSD I'm looking at is the 840 Pro (the non-pro only writes at ~150MBps but the Pro model writes at near-read speed of ~500MBps) in a 256MB size.

Heck, I'm half tempted to pull my extra 250GB WD HDD out of my external drive and do a boot drive RAID 0 but with all my data on the 640GB drive with a TM backup though not sure I want to accept the slightly increased chance of failure of the RAID.

Still on the fence but used gear or flashed GPUs aren't really an option. I'd consider a PC compatible GPU if it works without any tweaking (e.g. supported by 10.7.5) and there's no weird quirkinesses like DVD player not working, or Steam games crashing, etc. Seems those PC cards aren't 100% perfect which is also why I'd just assume pay the hefty Apple price and get an Apple 5770 brand new.

Is it possible to virtualize OSX in Windows?
     
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Jan 3, 2013, 02:06 PM
 
Normally my suggestion would be SSD but many of your usages are CPU-intense and the 7300 GPU is a dog (personal experience) so I recommend seeking a bargain 5770.

SSD values are improving all the time and Apple is now offering Fusion Drives so buying with the intent to move a third-party SSD to a future newer box does not have that much going for it IMO.

First though is to test for page outs for a day. If the Page Outs number at the end of the day minus the Page Outs number at the beginning of the day is not zero then adding RAM may be in order. Also SSD usage does minimize the impact of page outs.

Mostly I agree with the suggestion to seek a new or used MP after the next gen is released. That CPU is pretty lame in modern terms. See
http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

-Allen
     
cgc  (op)
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Jan 3, 2013, 03:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Normally my suggestion would be SSD but many of your usages are CPU-intense and the 7300 GPU is a dog (personal experience) so I recommend seeking a bargain 5770.
SSD values are improving all the time and Apple is now offering Fusion Drives so buying with the intent to move a third-party SSD to a future newer box does not have that much going for it IMO.
First though is to test for page outs for a day. If the Page Outs number at the end of the day minus the Page Outs number at the beginning of the day is not zero then adding RAM may be in order. Also SSD usage does minimize the impact of page outs.
Mostly I agree with the suggestion to seek a new or used MP after the next gen is released. That CPU is pretty lame in modern terms. See
http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks
-Allen
My Mac's been on for 5 days, my VM usage is below. I normally have Parallels 7 running Windows 8 all the time (2 GB memory and 2 cores allocated):
8140/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
My CPU may be lame but I think I've got a few more years to go on my Mac before I can it. The GPU is really lame so I'm leaning that direction...need to find a compatible off-the-shelf PC card that works without hacking or flashing. Any recommendations?
     
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Jan 3, 2013, 07:14 PM
 
Upgrading to an SSD will be a major boost. I still remember the Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Air (the first one that has the iconic wedge shape), that thing ran circles around my brand-spanking new 2010 MacBook Pro in many common tasks (e. g. opening mail, my mail database has gotten quite big). It is IMO the biggest upgrade you can make by a significant margin (unless you're playing 3d games).
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Jan 3, 2013, 07:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Upgrading to an SSD will be a major boost. I still remember the Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Air (the first one that has the iconic wedge shape), that thing ran circles around my brand-spanking new 2010 MacBook Pro in many common tasks (e. g. opening mail, my mail database has gotten quite big). It is IMO the biggest upgrade you can make by a significant margin (unless you're playing 3d games).
But he is playing games and does have a known lame GPU.
     
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Jan 3, 2013, 08:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
My Mac's been on for 5 days, my VM usage is below:
8140/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
Ignore that chart and instead manually calculate the Page Outs over a day of typical usage as previously described above. Best is to restart at the beginning of the day of testing to first clear any memory leaks.


...need to find a compatible off-the-shelf PC card that works without hacking or flashing. Any recommendations?
My recall is that I retrofitted a 5770 to that same box, plug-and-play. Not too expensive for a huge graphics improvement. Test results here:

http://www.barefeats.com/wst10g5.html


-Allen
     
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Jan 3, 2013, 10:51 PM
 
If it were me I'd do neither upgrade.

Of the things that require significant resources, I'm assuming your games do, Handbrake does, and running Windows 8 does.

If you want to play games I'd build your own PC rather than investing money in your Mac Pro, since you simply can't beat the bang for your buck of having an inexpensive tower you can upgrade as you please. Neither the SSD or GPU is going to improve Handbrake performance considerably (it is CPU bound), and while an SSD would help your Windows VM, if games are important and you were to build a PC I'm presuming you'd no longer need your Windows VM.
     
cgc  (op)
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Jan 4, 2013, 05:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
...
My recall is that I retrofitted a 5770 to that same box, plug-and-play. Not too expensive for a huge graphics improvement. Test results here:
http://www.barefeats.com/wst10g5.html
-Allen
That BareFeats benchmark use Apple-branded (w/ EFI ROM) Radeon 5770. I assume an off-the-shelf 5770 would work and they cost about $99.

Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
...
If the Page Outs number at the end of the day minus the Page Outs number at the beginning of the day is not zero then adding RAM may be in order.
...
Huh? Page Outs at the end of the the day minus Page Outs at the beginning of the day? Wouldn't the result be just the number of Page Outs for that day (e.g. x - 0 = x)

The simple solution is to buy a computer but I'm not sure I want another computer on my desk...maybe in a couple years when my MacPro dies but not at the moment. I have money to buy another computer but I don't feel I need to...I want to extend the life of my current computer. The high-CPU use tasks I do (e.g. Handbrake transcodes/rips and some Windows stuff) are minimal. Most of my tasks are pretty mundane with the exception of a few games that aren't too taxing except for Portal 2 (but it ran fine on my nVidia 8800GT before it died).

Looks like my options dwindle to:

1. Do nothing
2. Wait and see what Apple does regarding new GPUs/computers
3. Buy a PC

I have gone against my beliefs and placed a bid on a used Apple 5770 on eBay so we'll see what happens but I'm hoping Apple releases official word on their support for off-the-shelf PC GPUs. Thanks for the help.
     
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Jan 4, 2013, 06:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Huh? Page Outs at the end of the the day minus Page Outs at the beginning of the day? Wouldn't the result be just the number of Page Outs for that day (e.g. x - 0 = x)
.
Yes but only if you restart at the beginning of the test (it is not totally necessary to restart to do the test). The non-zero page outs number that you reported already tells us that you having been paging out since the last restart, but we do not know whether or not the page outs were typical or anomalous. Next is to test a typical day to see if you need RAM.

The important thing is to ignore the chart you previously posted and do the manual calculation. If beginning page outs are indeed zero it will be x-0=x which is mathematically fine

My MBP with 8 GB RAM ran a pro images Aperture workflow fine with zero page outs for weeks at a time, but a concurrent Aperture + Photoshop workflow immediately drove the MBP to page outs so I upgraded to 16 GB RAM.

-Allen
     
cgc  (op)
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Jan 4, 2013, 01:25 PM
 
My page-outs after reboot was 0 and after a day was 7.8MB and this was after some non-typical usage (e.g. running Parallels w/ Windows 8, Aperture, Accordance, iTunes, Safari, Mail, iCal, and some other apps at same time). Page-Ins was 5.43GB. Does the total page-outs matter (e.g. 7.8MB) or does the ratio of page-outs to page-ins (e.g. 0.144%) matter? Thanks.
     
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Jan 4, 2013, 02:46 PM
 
All that matters is the page outs; page ins mean nothing as does any ratio to them.
     
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Jan 7, 2013, 02:45 AM
 
I have the same machine (2.66 GHz 1,1), and last year I upgraded both GPU and SSD.

In my experience, the 5770 will give you the most noticeable improvement of the two, so I advise doing that first. The boost you get from the 5870 over the 5770 isn't really noticeable on the 1,1, so I kept the 5870 for a different machine.

The SSD is great, too- I loved the fast boot times for the system and apps, so I installed another SSD in my next machine. Of course, whether it will speed up your apps will depend on how much reading and writing the app uses to process jobs.

it looks like you're concerned about game performance in Windows, as well. Have you tried Boot Camp instead of Parallels? That always worked better for me.
     
cgc  (op)
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Jan 7, 2013, 09:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by raleur View Post
...
it looks like you're concerned about game performance in Windows, as well. Have you tried Boot Camp instead of Parallels? That always worked better for me.
Thanks for the help. I've been a BootCamp user for a while but my internal temps (e.g. memory and CPU) always seems much higher in BootCamp than in OSX so I dumped BootCamp. Since most of my gaming is via Steam I'm content with gaming in OSX.
( Last edited by cgc; Jan 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM. )
     
   
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