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GeForce 7800 GS for
G4 Power Macs (AGP)

Originally posted May 5th, 2006, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

You might recall our "mad science" article on the GeForce 6600 running in a G4/1.42GHz "FW800" Power Mac. Well now there's an experimental GeForce 7800 GS 'floating around' that runs in G4 Power Macs with 4X AGP slot.

The GeForce 7800 GS was loaned to us by a member of the 'experimental graphics card' forum. We couldn't get it to work on our MDD Power Mac but it ran fine on the QuickSilver 2002 G4 Power Mac with GigaDesign 2.0GHz CPU upgrade.

Graph Legend:
GeF7800 -- nVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS (256MB,
Rad9800 -- ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition (256MB, Retail)
Rad9600 -- ATI Radeon 9600 Pro PC and Mac Edition (256MB, Retail)
GeF4600 -- nVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium OEM (128MB, OEM)
Rad9000 -- ATI Radeon 9000 (64MB, OEM)

An increasing number of pro applications are dependent on Core Image "aware" graphics processor. One very good example is iMaginator which takes various "pure" Core Image effects and renders them on the fly as you morph from one scene to another.

The original QuickSilver 2002 had either a Radeon 7500, GeForce4 MX or the optional GeForce4 Titanium. We started with a Radeon 9000 and GeForce4 Titanium at the "low" end and worked up from there. We were especially curious how the Radeon 9800 Pro (best retail option) would compare to the GeForce 7800 GS (best experimental option).

The 'mutant' GeForce 7800 GS is clearly superior to the 'retail' ATI Radeon 9800 Pro when you stress both out on the QuickSilver G4 tower. If you plan to run Pro Apps on your G4 Power Mac, the 7800 GS set a new 'record' low time for our Core Image performance test.

Though I doubt too many G4 Power Mac owners play games at 1600x1200, we used that setting and maximum quality modes to stress the test GPUs to the max. The GeForce 7800 GS flexed its muscle in that context. At more "typical" 1024x768 resolution, the Radeon 9800 Pro produced equal frame rates to the 7800 GS.

So your decision to "experiment" depends on how extreme your requirements are or how addicted you are to speed.

For more information on these special graphics card 'creations' like the GeForce 7800 GS or GT or GTX, visit AppleMacanix.

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.


GeForce 7800 GS on a Single-Core G5/2.5MP Power Mac (AGP 8X)

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

See how the Dual G5 and Quad G5 compare to the new Core Duo iMac when running games at 1680x1050 High Quality.

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.)

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.


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,, 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, 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