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MAD SCIENCE:
GeForce 7800 GS
for AGP G5 Power Macs!

Originally posted April 28th, 2006, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

When the Dual-Core Power Macs were announced with an optional GeForce 7800 GT PCI-Express GPU, there was a collective "groan" in the community of Power Mac owners with AGP slots. Adding insult to injury, Apple dropped the optional GeForce 6800 GT (and Ultra) from their Graphics section of the online store.

That left G5 Power Mac (8X AGP) owners with the ATI Radeon X800 XT as their fastest optional retail graphics card. For G4 Power Mac (4X AGP) owners, the best available retail option was the Radeon 9800 Pro. Those are both great cards but if you have the craving for even more speed, your only alternative was to buy a new Dual-Core or Quad-Core G5 Power Mac... until now.

The mad scientists at the StrangeDogs forum have successfully converted a Windows PC GeForce 7800 GS to run on both 8X and 4X AGP Power Macs. They loaned it to us for a test drive.

In this "PART ONE" article, we will be showing you how this 'mutant' GeForce 7800 GS AGP performs on a Single-Core G5/2.5GHz Power Mac. (In "PART TWO" coming in a few days, we will show you how the 7800 GS performs on a G4 QuickSilver Power Mac with a GigaDesigns 2GHz CPU upgrade.)

Graph Legend:
GeF 7800 PCIe = GeForce 7800 GT PCIe on a Quad-Core G5/2.5 Power Mac (with 2 of the 4 cores disabled using developer C.H.U.D. tools)
The rest of the cards were tested on a Single-Core Dual G5/2.5 Power Mac:
GeF 7800 AGP = GeForce 7800 GS 8X AGP (256MB, DVI + VGA port)
GeF 6800 AGP = GeForce 6800 Ultra 8X AGP (256MB, Dual-Dual-Link DVI ports)
Rad X850 AGP = Radeon X850 XT 8X AGP (256MB, ADC + Dual-Link DVI ports)
Rad X800 AGP = Radeon X800 XT 8X AGP (256MB, ADC + Dual-Link DVI ports)

PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS
iMaginator is a showcase for Core Image effects. We use a combination of effects and time how long it takes to morph from one combination to another.

With Motion 2, we rendered the Fire-Mortise 2 NTSC template which has 300 frames. The render time is affected by what graphics card you have and how much VRAM you have in the card.

3D GAMES
If you are a hard-core 3D accelerated gaming freak, then every frame rate gain counts, no matter how minuscule.

In the case of Unreal Tournament 2004, we chose the Inferno Flyby test made possible by SantaDuck Toolkit.

COMMENTS AND INSIGHTS
The 'mutant' GeForce 7800 GS provides an average 3D gaming performance gain of 16% over the Radeon X800 XT -- the fastest retail graphics card you can currently buy for the G5 Power Mac with 8X AGP slot.

If you already have either a GeForce 6800 Ultra or Radeon X850 XT, you won't see much gain going to a GeForce 7800 GS for running Motion 2. You will actually lose to the X800 and X850 cards when rendering Core Image effects. And you will lose the Dual-Link DVI port needed for a 30" Cinema display.

The 7800 GS AGP won't match the performance of the PCI Express version of the GeForce 7800 GT running in a "hobbled" Quad-Core, but for the hard-core gamer with mediocre or mid-range GPUs like GeForce 5200FX or Radeon 9600 Pro or 9600 XT or 9800 Pro or 9800 Pro SE in their G5 Power Mac, the GeForce 7800 GS is a tempting experiment.

NO DUAL-LINK DVI SUPPORT -- YET
The GeForce 7800 GS sports a DVI and VGA port. The DVI port is not Dual-Link. I understand that some European companies have 7800 GSs with dual DVI ports -- one of which can support Dual-Link displays (like Apple's 30" Cinema). If you are in the USofA, that's not an option even for a mad scientist -- at least for now.

THE FLASH DEBATE
There is an ethical issue you must deal with when taking the ROM code from a Mac graphics card you DON'T own and flashing it into the ROM of a Windows PC graphics card. And it isn't that simple. Sometimes the ROM code must be modified before it will work in the PC card. Sometimes the ROM itself must be replaced with a bigger one. This really is rocket science. Do it wrong and you will end up with an expensive door stop.

There is a lot of frustration with the dirth of really fast aftermarket graphics cards for the various G4 and G5 Power Macs. And when a truly fast retail card appears, it's often much more costly than the PC equivalent.

We feel Apple Computer has created a lot of frustration by either NOT offering aftermarket upgrades (like the GeForce 7800 GT) -- or -- by offering them at high prices and then pulling them off the market even before the current model goes out of production (like they did with the GeForce 6800 GT and Ultra). These practices have made many consumers feel justified in experimenting with the flashing of PC graphics cards.

I commend ATI Technology for their continued efforts and investment in providing aftermarket, affordable GPUs for the Mac community including the $199 Radeon 9600 PC and Mac Edition, the $299 Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition, and the $399 Radeon X800 XT. I hope they will soon release the Radeon X1800 PCIe card that they were demonstrating at MacWorld SF in January 2006. Better yet, make mine an X1900 XT.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT EXPERIMENTAL GPUs?
For more information on these special graphics card 'creations' like the GeForce 7800 GS or GT or GTX, visit AppleMacanix.

RELATED ARTICLES

GeForce 7800 GS on a QuickSilver 2002 with 2GHz upgrade

GeForce 7800 GTX "Killer" on a Quad-Core G5/2.5 Power Mac (PCIe 16X)

GeForce 6600 on a G4/1.42MP Power Mac

Geforce 6200 on a G4/1.4MP Cube

WHERE TO ORDER YOUR MAC
When ordering products from Apple Store USA, please click THIS TEXT LINK or any Apple display ad as your "portal" to the online store. In so doing, you help to support Bare Feats. (DON'T LIVE in the USA? See links for Apple online stores in other countries.)

WHERE TO BUY REFURBISHED or CLOSEOUT MACS (12 month warranty)
For refurbished, reconditioned, open box (as well as new) iMacs, check with Small Dog and Power Max. Also look for the "SPECIAL DEALS" link on Apple's online store.

WHERE TO BUY VARIOUS GRAPHICS CARDS FOR YOUR POWER MAC and MAC PRO

For your Mac Pro, you have the following 16X PCI Express (PCIe) options:
The GeForce 7300 GT (16X, 256MB, dual-link DVI + single-link DVI port) is the default. We recommend the Radeon X1900 XT (16X, 512MB, two dual-link DVI ports) as a CTO option. It's much faster than the GeForce 7300 GT and just as fast as the expensive Quadro FX 4500. According to Alias/Autodesk, the X1900 XT is the only graphics card without limitations when using Maya 8.5. To custom order your Mac Pro with the Radeon X1900 XT, go to the Apple Store and click on the Mac Pro graphic.

If you didn't order the Radeon X1900 XT with your Mac Pro, you can order the Radeon X1900 XT as an aftermarket kit for your Mac Pro, go to the Apple Store and click on DISPLAYS in the left margin or do a search on "X1900."

NOTE: Mac Pro PCIe graphics cards will not work in Power Mac G5s with PCIe slots -- and vice versa. Nor will Windows PC PCIe graphics cards work in the Mac Pro.

Graphics Card Options for the Dual-Core or Quad-Core G5 with 16X PCI Express slot:
The best option for your Dual-Core or Quad-Core G5 with PCIe slots is the ATI Radeon X1900 G5 Mac Edition released in November 2006. You can buy it directly from ATI's Online Store for $299 (with "trade up" allowance).

It's also sold by Small Dog Electronics and Other World Computing.

The following cards only work on a G5 Power Mac with 8X AGP slot:
The "G5 only" Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition (8X AGP, 256MB, ADC + Dual-Link DVI port) is available from ATI Online Store, Apple's Online Store, Buy.com, Other World Computing, and Small Dog Electronics. (The MSRP is $299)

Apple's Online Store is no longer selling the GeForce 6800 GT or Ultra, which had Dual-Dual-Link DVI ports (for two 30" Cinemas).

The "G5 only" Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition (8X AGP, 256MB, ADC + DVI port) is no longer made by ATI.

The following cards work on both the G5 Power Mac (8X AGP) and G4 Power Macs with 2X or 4X AGP:
Other World Computing has the new ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac (2X/4X AGP, 256MB, DVI + VGA ports) graphics card in stock for $259. ATI has it on their Online Store for $249. The SKU number is 100-435058, in case you want to make sure you are getting the right card.

ATI Online Store, Buy.com and Other World Computing have the Radeon 9600 Pro PC and Mac Edition (4X AGP, 256MB, DVI + Dual-Link DVI port) as well. It's compatible with late model G4 Power Macs and all G5 Power Macs with AGP slots. Priced at $199 MSRP it is the lowest priced AGP graphics card with Dual-Link DVI support.

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2006 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist