Apple Store

BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

MAIN INDEX of latest speed tests

MAD SCIENCE:
GeForce 6600 GT for G4 Power Macs

Originally posted March 24th, 2006, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

It's frustrating for performance minded G4 Power Mac owners to see all the really awesome graphics card options available to G5 Power Mac owners. There's some mad scientists that working hard to provide more options for the 'rest of us.'

Thanks to a member of the 'experimental graphics card' forum on StrangeDogs.com, we had a chance to test drive a GeForce 6600 GT (AGP) graphics card that had been modified to work on a G4 Power Mac with a 4X AGP slot. We used a G4/1.42MP Power Mac 'FW800' -- the last and best of that 'breed' -- to compare the GeForce 6600 GT to OEM and retail cards available for that model in the past and the present.

As an added twist, we included the results for a Quad-Core G5/2.5GHz Power Mac running the GeForce 6600 that ships as standard equipment.

Graph Legend:
Rad 9000 -- ATI Radeon 9000 (64MB, OEM)
GeF4 Ti -- nVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium OEM (128MB, OEM)
Rad 9600 -- ATI Radeon 9600 Pro PC and Mac Edition (256MB, Retail)
Rad 9800a -- ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition (128MB, Retail)
Rad 9800b -- ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition (256MB, Retail)
GeF 6600 -- nVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT (128MB,
experimental)
FireGL* -- ATI FireGL X3 converted to a Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition (256MB,
experimental)
Quad 6600 -- nVIDIA GeForce 6600 (256MB, OEM) installed on Quad-Core G5 PCIe 16 lane slot

CORE IMAGE
Some applications are very dependent on Core Image "aware" graphics processor. Two examples are Motion and iMaginator. Believe it or not, there are owners of G4 Power Macs who want to run these resource hungry apps. Check out the gain from the GeForce 6600 and Radeon 9800s:

3D GAMES
We used settings that brought the G4 Power Mac's original 'stock' Radeon 9000 to its knees. See how a better graphics card will help you achieve 'playable' frame rates.

CONCLUSIONS and COMMENTS
The 'mutant' GeForce 6600 GT is impressive, especially running 3D accelerated games. In most cases, it easily beat
the OEM GeForce 6600 that ships standard on the Quad-Core G5, though in all fairness, the OEM card was running at a much lower core clock speed (300Mhz vs 575MHz).

The best retail card you can buy for the G4 Power Mac is the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (2X/4X AGP with 256MB VRAM) PC and Mac Edition ($299 MSRP). It's conceivable that you could "roll your own" GeForce 6600 GT for less. What we 'speed freaks' really want for our G4 Power Mac is an AGP version of the dazzling GeForce 7800 GT or GTX. If and when that experiment succeeds, we'll jump at the chance to try it on our G4 tower (and G5 tower).

Though the FireGL/X800 was impressive, the price ($700 typically)

GEFORCE 6600 GT also works in the G5 POWER MAC
We wanted you to know that we also tested the 'mutant' GeForce 6600 GT in a G5/2.0GHz Power Mac with 8X AGP slot. We may post those results in another article but for now suffice to say, that, overall, it was faster than a Radeon 9800 Pro but slower than a Radeon X800 XT and GeForce 6800 Ultra.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT EXPERIMENTAL GPUs?
For more information on these special graphics card 'creations,' visit the Strange Dogs forum on graphics card experiments.

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.

Apple Inc. 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.

Also encouraging was the announcement by XFX Graphics that they have signed a licensing agreement with Apple to develop and bring to market a range of NVIDIA GeForce-based Shader Model 3.0 graphics accelerators to for AGP Power Macs. The initial offering in June 2006 will be a GeForce 6600 GT, though more powerful, higher-end variants are planned.

RELATED ARTICLES

GeForce 7800 GS on a QuickSilver 2002 with 2GHz upgrade

GeForce 7800 GS on a G5/2.5MP Power Mac

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

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.

BEST USED G5 POWER MACS
Some of you have asked which "older" G5 Power Mac models are most desirable. Whether you buy used, refurbished or new, I recommend getting a model with 8 memory slots, 100/133MHz PCI-X slots, 1:1 frontside bus, and 600W Power Supply. The table below gives the model number, etc., of these most desirable older G5s.

Model Number
clock speed
processors
intro date
M9031LL/A
1.8GHz
single
June 2003
M9032LL/A
2.0GHz
dual
June 2003
M9393LL/A
1.8GHz
dual
November 2003
M9455LL/A
2.0GHz
dual
June 2004
M9457LL/A
2.5GHz
dual
June 2004
M9748LL/A
2.3GHz
dual
April 2005
M9749LL/A
2.7GHz
dual
April 2005

All other single-core G5 Power Mac with AGP graphics have only 4 memory slots, 33MHz PCI slots, 450W Power Supply, and slower frontside bus speeds. If you can't find the model you want at Small Dog's site, or Power Max's site, go to Froogle.com and search on the model number listed above.

Has Bare Feats helped you? How about helping Bare Feats?

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