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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Which graphic card for Mac Pro mainly for PsCS4?

Which graphic card for Mac Pro mainly for PsCS4?
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T. Schmidt
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Feb 27, 2009, 06:34 PM
 
I want to buy a new Mac Pro (3,2Ghz 8-core). I will use it mainly for Photoshop CS4 (and future 64 bit versions). Also for 3DSMax (XP via Bootcamp) and Final Cut but mostly Photoshop including the new GL support working on large scans and compositions. I'm asking because I've heard a lot about gaphic cards not working right with CS4 on Mac Books, so I was curious if it's the same case on the Mac Pro.

Not for gaming and extensive rendering.

Thanks a lot!
     
tooki
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Feb 28, 2009, 06:16 AM
 
For gaming, the nVidia 8800GT is best. For pro apps, you want the ATI Radeon HD 3870 -- so buy the machine with the stock graphics card and then replace it with the 3870.

See http://www.barefeats.com/harper16.html
     
T. Schmidt  (op)
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Feb 28, 2009, 07:03 AM
 
Thanks! So the HD 3870 doesn't work well together with the HD 2600 XT?

Thanks!
( Last edited by T. Schmidt; Feb 28, 2009 at 07:39 AM. )
     
Simon
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Feb 28, 2009, 08:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by T. Schmidt View Post
Thanks! So the HD 3870 doesn't work well together with the HD 2600 XT?
They will if you want to attach more than two monitors. But they won't do CrossFire if that's what you're asking about.

Make sure you attach the primary monitor to the 3870 and put the 3870 in the double-wide no. 1 PCIe 2.0 slot (16 lanes). Put the 2600 in the regular PCIe 2.0 slot (16 lanes) - that's slot no. 2. I you can avoid it, do not use the 4-lane PCIe slots (no. 3 and 4) for the GPU. The slots are labeled and it's explained in the MP manual (page 60).

Also, if it's not very urgent, you might want to hold off buying the MP for another month. There is reason to believe the MP will see a significant update in March.
     
T. Schmidt  (op)
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Feb 28, 2009, 09:24 AM
 
Thanks! Maybe I should wait then. Got a link to specific speculations?

Guess you mean this:
http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=2826
( Last edited by T. Schmidt; Feb 28, 2009 at 09:31 AM. )
     
Simon
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Feb 28, 2009, 10:41 AM
 
Yeah. Intel will be releasing the i7/Nehalem Xeon 55x0 series (Gainestown) on March 29. All MP rumors hinge on that.
     
OreoCookie
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Feb 28, 2009, 11:27 AM
 
Photoshop is the app with the least gpu hunger on your list. Final Cut doesn't make much use of the gpu yet either (Color and Motion do benefit from a powerful gpu, though). 3Ds Max is another matter

If you are satisfied with the performance of your machine in 3D Studio, I don't think an upgrade is necessary. Photoshop CS4 uses the gpu only for zooming, panning and rotations.
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T. Schmidt  (op)
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Mar 1, 2009, 01:08 PM
 
I guess I'll wait for the next Mac Pro update. Again. Thanks a lot for your help!
     
Veltliner
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Mar 2, 2009, 03:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Photoshop is the app with the least gpu hunger on your list. Final Cut doesn't make much use of the gpu yet either (Color and Motion do benefit from a powerful gpu, though). 3Ds Max is another matter

If you are satisfied with the performance of your machine in 3D Studio, I don't think an upgrade is necessary. Photoshop CS4 uses the gpu only for zooming, panning and rotations.
I still work with PS CS3, but didn't Adobe let PS CS4 use more of the graphics processor?

And isn't 10.6 Snow Leopard (coming out in June?) designed to have the graphics processor work more on all kinds of tasks?

Looks like having a good graphics card makes a MacPro more future proof (meaning Snow Leopard that future is only months away)?
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 2, 2009, 04:46 AM
 
What do you mean more?
Up until CS3, Photoshop didn't use any gpu acceleration. CS4 uses some for panning, zooming and rotating the canvas. The gpu support is really very limited. A fellow MacNNer did some benchmarks and there were no real improvements for filters (some faster, some slower), but zooming and panning felt much more fluid. Still, as long as your graphics card is supported by CS4, you have that benefit.

CS4 is not like Aperture, Motion or Color that rely on the gpu heavily. (Motion uses the gpu for encoding even.)

Plus, the OP is using 3D Studio Max -- which needs a good graphics card much, much, much more than Photoshop ever will. It's a 3D app after all.

With Snow Leopard, only apps that make use of Grand Central will benefit from a strong gpu -- and then only in certain situations.
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Simon
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Mar 2, 2009, 04:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
With Snow Leopard, only apps that make use of Grand Central will benefit from a strong gpu -- and then only in certain situations.
So do you think developers will have to explicitly use GC calls to get GPU acceleration? Are we not to expect Apple will implement GC acceleration for already existing 'regular' Cocoa calls in SL? I'd imagine in such a case even older apps with no recompile would benefit from SL's GPU acceleration. Is that just wishful thinking?
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 2, 2009, 05:10 AM
 
I wouldn't know, but what you're saying sounds sensible. Photoshop doesn't use much Cocoa, though, so I wouldn't expect to see much improvement in Photoshop. Other apps are a different story, though.
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Big Mac
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Mar 2, 2009, 08:30 AM
 
But Photoshop will, in its future 64-bit incarnation, be Cocoa based (as we have been told).

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 2, 2009, 10:52 AM
 
That's Photoshop CS5, not 4. Of course, knowing nothing about the internal schedule of Adobe, I have no idea how much they'll take advantage of Grand Central. But IMO it's absolutely pointless to buy a machine now for requirements of 10.6 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. You will spend your money much more wisely if you worry about that once CS5 is out.
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T. Schmidt  (op)
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Mar 4, 2009, 06:32 AM
 
Well I do need a new machine now and the new Mac Pro is out. Making sure it's a good setup for future work isn't absolutely pointless in my opinion. It would be absolutley pointless to just buy a machine with a good CS4 setup and then wish I had chosen something else once CS5 is out.

Anyway, they offer 3 graphic cards again. Just called Apple and they said they didn't know yet, what other graphic cards are compatible.
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 4, 2009, 06:54 AM
 
I did not say that planning ahead is not a good thing. My advice is to buy gpu power when you need it. You can replace the graphics card in your Mac Pro (or add a second one).

Even if you buy the latest and greatest graphics card now, it will be about as fast as the middle model in two, three years time when CS5 is released. Perhaps even slower. So it's pointless to spend a lot of money on a big graphics card you don't need now and that will give you average performance in two years or so (compared to the offerings available then). Plus, we don't know how effectively CS5 will make use of the gpu.

Photoshop (including CS4) doesn't need a great gpu. Any gpu on the new and old Mac Pros supports hardware acceleration and thus you get more fluent zooming, panning and workspace rotation. There is no need to upgrade the graphics card for Photoshop.

If, and I don't expect that it will*, but if CS5 heavily relies on the GPU, you can easily upgrade it with a graphics card that is probably more than twice as fast as the top-of-the-line model today.

Also note what I've written before: 3D Studio needs infinitely more gpu power than Photoshop. And 3D Studio warrants a very fast graphics card. Photoshop doesn't.


* Adobe needs to rewrite considerable parts of Photoshop to be able to make Photoshop a 64 bit app as they use Carbon and not Cocoa. This means it will likely take a while for Adobe to release CS5 and that they will have to focus on recreating functionality instead of including new one.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Mar 4, 2009 at 07:36 AM. )
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Veltliner
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Mar 5, 2009, 02:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
What do you mean more?
Up until CS3, Photoshop didn't use any gpu acceleration. CS4 uses some for panning, zooming and rotating the canvas. The gpu support is really very limited. A fellow MacNNer did some benchmarks and there were no real improvements for filters (some faster, some slower), but zooming and panning felt much more fluid. Still, as long as your graphics card is supported by CS4, you have that benefit.

CS4 is not like Aperture, Motion or Color that rely on the gpu heavily. (Motion uses the gpu for encoding even.)

Plus, the OP is using 3D Studio Max -- which needs a good graphics card much, much, much more than Photoshop ever will. It's a 3D app after all.

With Snow Leopard, only apps that make use of Grand Central will benefit from a strong gpu -- and then only in certain situations.
Thanks, OreoCookie, for the tasty info.
     
Veltliner
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Mar 5, 2009, 03:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post

* Adobe needs to rewrite considerable parts of Photoshop to be able to make Photoshop a 64 bit app as they use Carbon and not Cocoa. This means it will likely take a while for Adobe to release CS5 and that they will have to focus on recreating functionality instead of including new one.
I wonder if that newly written Photoshop will be much smoother...

I mean, these large applications, don't they have older parts that migrated from older versions and haven't been optimized, e.g. for more modern hardware?

So, would that complete rewrite of Photoshop rejuvenate the application by bringing newest programming techniques to it?
     
Veltliner
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Mar 5, 2009, 03:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by T. Schmidt View Post
Well I do need a new machine now and the new Mac Pro is out. Making sure it's a good setup for future work isn't absolutely pointless in my opinion. It would be absolutley pointless to just buy a machine with a good CS4 setup and then wish I had chosen something else once CS5 is out.

Anyway, they offer 3 graphic cards again. Just called Apple and they said they didn't know yet, what other graphic cards are compatible.
Have you through about a refurbished MacPro from Apple? Comes with a 1-year warranty.
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 5, 2009, 03:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
I wonder if that newly written Photoshop will be much smoother...
Adobe could do a lot of new things during the rewrite, using a lot of nice technologies (Grand Central, Core Image, anyone), but I doubt it. They'd like to have as much of an equal feature set as possible and have the maximum amount of code to be cross-platform.
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
I mean, these large applications, don't they have older parts that migrated from older versions and haven't been optimized, e.g. for more modern hardware?
It's not a lack of optimization, but big old apps like Photoshop are a lot more difficult to maintain and it's more difficult to potentially expand or especially replace things.
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
So, would that complete rewrite of Photoshop rejuvenate the application by bringing newest programming techniques to it?
Yes and no.
If you exactly replicate the old simply using `another programming language/api', then no. It does have the potential for more, though.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Mar 5, 2009 at 03:52 AM. Reason: fixed tag)
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OreoCookie
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Mar 5, 2009, 03:52 AM
 
Regarding benchmarks that test the gpu acceleration in CS4, you can find some here: a fellow 'NNer has bought a new MacBook Pro where you can switch to a less powerful, but more energy efficient gpu. So he ran 3x2 test (3 with a big file of ~559 MB, 3 with a smaller file of ~139 MB) and the results are:
(1) In non-accelerated tasks, CS4 is not faster than CS3.
(2) You can scroll fluently through even large image files if your gpu is supported.
(3) If you turn hardware acceleration off in CS4, it's again about as fast as CS3.

So, note that these tests were done on a much less powerful machine (cpu and gpu). But even there, you're able to use all hardware-accelerated features of CS4.
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Simon
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Mar 5, 2009, 04:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
Have you through about a refurbished MacPro from Apple? Comes with a 1-year warranty.
Unfortunately they're a horrible deal right now.

There's only one 3.2 GHz octo model and it's priced at $4099 (still only 2 GB RAM!). That kind of money right now would buy you a much better brand new octo MP. It'll come with 6GB RAM, bigger disk, faster optical, and a 4870/512 for $600 less. And make no mistake, a 2.26 GHz Gainestown will match a 3.2 GHz Harpertown in terms of general performance.

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB...mco=MjE0NjQ1OA
http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MB535LL/A
     
T. Schmidt  (op)
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Mar 12, 2009, 11:41 PM
 
Got the 8core 2.66 with 6GB Ram and the smallest hard disc. Gotta wait till March 30st. Still curious as to what other cards will work. I picked the cheapest for the moment.
     
   
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