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I am pleased to report that I just flashed an ATI X1950XT 256MB for use in my G5 Quad. This is a PC card, NOT the Mac Pro 512MB card (which apparently no workie no matter what you do).

 

The flash itself was very simple, though how to go about it took some digging. I downloaded FreeDOS, added the flash files available on the garden/repository to the ISO (using Ubuntu, where modifying an ISO is much easier than on OSX), burned the CD, and then booted my Mac Pro 2008 into DOS. I flashed the card there. Worked first time.

 

It was interesting that after 30 years of steadfastly not using the DOS prompt, it all came right back to me (you change to the CD drive by entering D: and then to the appropriate directory to see what's going on by entering  cd [directory], and then execute the required commands as directed by the atiflash documentation). I should perhaps add that this was made simpler by my not saving the original ROM -- it's not as if a card from 2006 has any great value, after all.

 

The flashed card works perfectly so far, though as has been noted elsewhere, the card is reported as an X1900 in the System Profiler. The fan is nice and quiet (once the machine has booted, otherwise on poweron it sounds like an F16 fighter), sleep works, and better yet, the Openmark score is around 16000 at 1900x1200 on my Cinema Display, as opposed to something like 4500 on the stock NVidia 6600 that was in there before.

 

There are reports of this card being difficult to flash, with all sorts of curlicues being necessary using just this sort of PC with just such settings in the BIOS. I did not find it difficult, nor did I use a PC, but a 2008 Mac Pro, as noted. There are also reports that a very specific card is needed (robot girl with the boobs), whereas this turns out to be false, as my card is the one pictured here (all right, there be boobs here too, but not quite the eye-poppers springing forth from robot girl).

 

All in all, it seems a very nice, straightforward upgrade, leading to a dramatic improvement in gaming performance.

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Edited by beachycove
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Nice job, I did this same flashing procedure with an X1950XT a few months back. I strongly recommend upgrading the cooler or at the very least replacing the thermal paste. Those stock coolers are seriously loud once they ramp up. 
 

There are some known issues with these flashed cards. You may get kernel panics when switching from 3D mode back to 2D mode (i.e. returning to the desktop after gaming in fullscreen).  I've had a couple of crashes but it's not a "happens every time" sort of deal. You also likely cannot use sleep mode any more without the system hanging. I'd be curious to see if you run into the same issues. 
 

@Trash80toHP_Mini there are Tiger drivers but Classic mode did not work in my limited testing. There may be a workaround but I had no luck getting anything earlier than Tiger working. 

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I have a few old games that will now run much more fluidly -- Halo, Sims 2, and the like. Retrogaming appeals as the cost is so low! But the stock card was truly awful in its 3d performance.

 

As for Tiger, apparently the drivers can be added, but I have no idea whether drivers in OSX would support Classic. I tend to run OS9 and OSX on different machines (having so many fo the damn things helps).

 

 

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P.S. Feels good to get a more powerful card than the 7800GTX for a fraction of the price, doesn't it? The high end Nvidia cards for G5 are ludicrously expensive these days and the reflash-compatible PC equivalents have basically all been hoovered up by now. 

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These are pretty unreliable IME (I have two of the mac pro 512mb version and neither quite works in the mac pro) but you should be able to do one 2560x1600 display on this, possibly two, I can't find a clarification on that but this card is newer enough that it might work.

 

Here's the manual showing a maximum dual-link display res of 2560x1600: https://drivers.amd.com/manuals/radeon_x1900g5_user_guide.pdf 

 

EDIT: This card has two dual link DVI outputs and would be able to run two 2560x1600 displays.

 

Lower end cards had one dual link and one single link and were restricted to one 2560x1600 display and one 1920x1200 display.

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19 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

These are pretty unreliable IME

 

I believe there are two subtly different revisions of the Mac Pro card, which is itself quite distinct from the G5-compatible 256MB version. There is a version with Samsung memory and another with (IIRC) Hynix, the latter of which is prone to erratic behaviour and failure. It's possible you got unlucky and have two of the less-reliable versions. It doesn't help that the 1,1 and 2,1 Mac Pros are rather fussy about video cards to begin with. I'm fairly sure all the 256MB X1900/1950 cards are Samsung-based and thus far more reliable. My reflashed X1950XT has been rock solid beside the bugs mentioned above and I've run it 24/7 for several weeks at a time. I really should put some time into troubleshooting the PPC ROM one of these days but the kernel panics are so rare (maybe 1% of the time) that it's hard to find the motivation. 

 

Subjective: the speed advantage of the X1900XT over the Nvidia 7800GTX more than makes up for the minor drawbacks, and high-end PPC Nvidia cards are getting ludicrously expensive too. It's normally less than £30 for a 256MB X1950XT - mine was practically free. Unless you absolutely need sleep mode or 512MB of VRAM there's little reason to go for NV.

 

The memory bandwidth of the NV cards is so much lower than the ATI cards that the difference in memory capacity barely makes any difference to real-world performance, at least from my testing. 

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JT's specified elsewhere that he wants pixels above all else at any cost, above all else, to run Mac OS 9, and so if a cheaper nvidia card was available that was more reliable, I'd recommend it. Good to hear though if the G5 version is different enough that it's a reliable runner. My 1900 XTXes both boot fine and then start to show graphical errors which would be consistent with failing memory and then ultimately crash. They've been cleaned out so "bad ram" could very well be it.

 

On my Mac Pro, I'm probably gonna drop an nVidia 7300 in because I want the machine "to run" more than to have super great graphics performance. (Plus, I have a 2010 mac mini which to be honest is a more practical machine to have and be running regardless.)

 

Calling back to JT's use case, for a G5 to run classic mode on: something like a Radeon 9600 or just whatever is reliable and has at least one dual-link DVI is going to be good enough for that use case.

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I just have it connected to a 23" Cinema Display (1920x1200), having nothing bigger (and really wanting nothing bigger). The X1900, which is the Mac-native twin of this card (same RAM, same R580 processor), is supposed to support two 30" displays simultaneously, so I would assume this one ought to do so as well; even the NVidia 6600 will do that, so it is not exactly stretching the technology of the period to expect that the ATI card would.

 

Analog should therefore be max 2048 x 1536 or some such, but I have nothing suitable to test that on, and am not sure where my vga adapter would be even if I did have a suitable analog display.

 

Air is indeed exhausted through the extra PCI slot that the card occupies.

 

I've had no kernel panics as yet, but I suppose time will tell.

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19 hours ago, beachycove said:

I've had no kernel panics as yet, but I suppose time will tell.

 

The panics occur only when switching from fullscreen 3D applications back to the desktop but it's far from common. It's a known issue that I believe occurs a similar amount with unflashed cards for G5. Enjoy your new card! I'd love to hear about any other games you've been playing on the G5 – I've almost grown tired of just Halo and Civ IV!

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22 hours ago, PowerMac_G4 said:

 

 I'd love to hear about any other games you've been playing on the G5 – I've almost grown tired of just Halo and Civ IV!

I rather like Battlefield 1942, largely because of the historical ambiance and because you can't beat the price these days. In terms of the game per se, it's not so much the FP shooter thing that interests me as the worlds created.  Beyond that I have not through 35 years of Mac use been a huge gamer, so I can't tell you very much, but I am shortly going to have more time on my hands than I have had for many years, so I wanted to get things set up for some exploration of the genres available. And get the NVidia card out of the machine and max it out, as they say.

 

I'll probably move on to the sequel once I get through the various options in B1942, but I've a good ways to go yet. E.g., I need to get some sort of joystick in order to get flying. Woohoo!

 

The other side of this was simply that i wanted to see if I could do it. It turned out to be pretty straightforward.

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I'd completely forgotten about Battlefield 1942! That's one of my favourite games of the era. Thanks for the reminder. I've been playing Oni recently and have been really impressed with how well it holds up, although you need to download custom launchers to get it working properly on OSX. 

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