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Reader Reports on Mac Nvidia 6800 graphics card
Last Updated: 6/24/2005


On Oct. 20th I posted a Mac 6800 Ultra DDL review (tested in a dual 2GHz G5 2003 model) and asked for other 6800 owner feedback. This page has comments from other Mac 6800 card owners and tips for creating boot CDs with 10.3.5 (since a 6800 equipped system kernel panics if booted from an earlier OS version).

Mac 6800 Owner Reports: (most recent first)
(I welcome other Mac 6800 owner comments - please include your system/OS version and details on apps/games, etc. you used in reports. Thanks.)

My feeling is this is not a 6800 card problem so I'm also copying it to the page of Apple Alum Cinema Display reports.

A reader (Chris) that reported display problems with an adapted (DVI-ADC) ADC Cinema Display on 6/22 (see below) sent a follow-up:

(added 6/24/2005)
"thank you all for your comments. unfortunately i cannot return the card to apple since i bought if off a friend. i know he had no problems with it, but he only used a 20" Alum CinemaDisplay (DVI, not ADC). My 18" TFT is fine on DVI too. now i tried to investigate a little further. swapped the connectors (from port1 to port2) and instantly had much less noise on my (ADC) 23" Cinema Display. the remaining noise reminded me remotely on an overclocked (overheated) memory. so i tried underclocking the memory with graphiccelerator. didn't change anything, so i clocked it back to 550MHz.

then i replaced the stock cooler (which recirculated hot air to cool the card instead of exhausting the heat) with an arctic cooling NV silencer5 Rev1 (i think there are several reviews about this already, but i attached a few pix, just in case you want to use them for an existing review :-) (see video topics page, Coolers section for past articles on NV5 Silencer and others-Mike) and interestingly had no noise left at all. Temps dropped by 5 degrees C on both card sensors. i also noticed now a quieter PCI-Fan. no joke. (I asked if he checked the duty cycle of the PCI zone fan using Hardware Monitor (3rd party utility) as the author notes the PCI zone fan is controlled by power load, not temperature. However if he downclocked the card, that might affect it a bit, but not that much I'd think.-Mike) i know there have been some discussions about how that fan is regulated, but it definitely does spin slower (quieter) most of the time now. also do both the PCI-Fan and the NV- Silencer vary their speed according to the graphics load, which i haven't ever noticed with the stock cooler. (I do notice my 6800 fan speed increases when the card is stressed, as it does with the X800 ATI card also. They have card fan speed control.-Mike)

i must remark that i never installed the G5 FanControlUpgrade that was supposedly shipped with the 6800 Ultra because i never had that CD and wasn't able to download it. (As mentioned in my review of the 6800 last fall, the Apple 6800 Ultra kit included a CD with the fan control firmware update for G5s (like my 2003 Dual 2GHz model). After applying that update, I noticed my PCI zone fan speed increased even with other cards. I saw around 48.9% duty cycle in OS X 10.3.x with the 6800 Ultra card installed after the update, up from in the high 30's with other cards/before the firmware update.-Mike)

as for the noisy picture: with the ADC 23" Cinema connected to the left DVI- Port (Nr.2), there are almost no artifacts left (only a few pixels, not often, very hard to spot). on the right one i still have that noise. the small 15" TFT doesn't show any artifacts. no matter where it is connected. strange thing, really.

still i'd be more than happy to replace that card with an OEM radeon 9800 Pro (got the retail version already) for its native ADC connector. i fear the DVI2ADC-Converter is going to burn a hole in my floor :-)
again thanx for listening and sharing all your comments.
-chris"

Thanks - interesting one DVI port is less prone than the other... I'd not have expected that normally (assuming there's no card flaw and connections are good and tight, etc.)
BTW - if the noise/display issues are due to the graphics card a screenshot from the OS should show it. If it's noise from the display (or conducting on cables, etc.) then a screenshot wouldn't show it. (Isolating out the card.)


(added 6/23/2005)
"I have a dual 2.5 GHZ G5 with the new 23" "metal" apple display with DVI connectors. I also have the 6800 card.
And I've had a lot of trouble. More so than any other computer/display combination I've ever owned.

About three months ago, while playing World of Warcraft, my display simply powered off. After much gnashing of teeth, I figured out it was the power brick. It must have died. I went to a local CompUSA and one of the folks there let me try swapping bricks on their demo model. Plug my brick in to their display, their display goes dead. Put their brick back it was fine. OK, great. Turns out that (a) while CompUSA is an authorized service provider they do not have any replacement power bricks. And (b) the power brick is NOT a "user serviceable" part according to Apple, so they can't just order a new one and have it shipped to me. Instead I *MUST* bring in my entire display to CompUSA and they'll take care of ordering a new power brick and testing it out.
Needless to say I found that frustrating.

OK, two weeks later (yeah, two weeks) I have my display and new power brick. Works great. For about a month.
Then I started getting a kind of "red dot", or a red haze in areas where the screen was black. (I can provide a picture I took of it if you like...). Didn't matter what app -- even happened at boot time. Resolution, and depth, nothing changed this. It was as if there was some kind of electrical problem or something. (does a color calibration help?-Mike)

Called AppleCare back. Since this was my second problem with this display, they wanted the whole display and power brick. So, I waited for them to send me a box, and then sent it off to them.
Two more weeks later I got it back. Looks like a new LCD was installed (had one dead pixel which is no longer there). Works great, WoW is wonderful again.
And then the red haze came back about two weeks ago. sigh.

I have no idea what is causing this. I don't think it's the 6800 -- when I plug a CRT into it, it's fine. But then again the CRT isn't a digital connection and the Apple display is. I REALLY don't want to send me computer to Apple for 2-3 weeks. But it looks like I'm calling AppleCare for the third time in three months on this display. I personally think it's some kind of electrical problem in the display or power brick. The red haze comes and goes and sometimes flickers (and it mainly appears where there is "black" on the screen), but it could be some kind of problem with the card itself. I hope not.

btw... these problems occur on 10.3.x and 10.4. Even on completely fresh installs and booting of CDs. The red haze problem even comes up before the machine has booted into the OS. It's NOT a driver problem or any kind of software problem. It's purely hardware. I just don't know if it's the mac, the 6800, the display or the display's power brick.
-Bryan
(he later wrote)
I personally think it's some kind of electrical problem. It's not a color tint issue -- it's a "noise" issue where the noise changes. The best example I can give is static watching "old school" tv via an "rabbit ears". The "red haze" or noise comes and goes and moves around. It kinda sparkles.
We'll see what AppleCare says this time :( "

I'm with you I'd doubt it's related to the card but to verify that can you try the display with another system/graphics card (to rule out the 6800 card). BTW - After about a year of intermittent use my Sony FW900 (24in CRT) started showing a purplish/pinkish tint at the boot screen (instead of pure gray). It does that with every graphics card/system I have (even PCs) although in the OS it's not apparent really (at least to my non-pro eyes). I've done calibrations, monitor adjustments (on the monitor), etc. and nothing seems to help - but again it's primarily apparent on reboots where the screen should be pure gray.


More reports on ADC Adapters/Displays: (in reply to a problem report from June 22nd below)

(added 6/23/2005)
"Hi Mike,
In response to reader who had problems with his 6800 setup with an ADC adaptor (see below), my setup works great:

I've been using a 6800 Ultra (Apple upgrade part) with a 23" Apple Cinema Display with a Dr. Bott DVI/ADC convertor on a G5 dual 2.5 with 3.5GB RAM. Screen is at full res (1920x1200) plus a second little 15" LCD I have running off the second DVI port. It's been working fine with no problems since last year. Recently upgraded to OS X Tiger 10.4.1. Again, no display problems or issues. Seems like the fellow with problems should send it back and try another one, or it doesn't like his ADC convertor for some reason.
JHLee "


(added 6/23/2005)
"Hi Mike,
Just read your user report about artifacts with the 6800 Ultra and the DVI to ADC adapter. (6/22 dated report below) I just purchased a 6800GT ($350 on ebay : ) and am using it with an ADC-DVI Adapter with a 23: ADC Cinema Display, same config as the poster and am not experiencing any artifacting. I don't know if this is specific to the Ultra or not. I did have a problem with using the USB ports on the Cinema display though, It could not handle a powered 4-port hub connected to it. All devices connected to it eventually lose power and begin to stutter. When I first installed the card it was dog slow, slower than my 9800XT which it is replacing. After booting into OF and resetting the nvram everything is functioning normally. I also have a second display connected, Polaroid 26" HDTV at 1360x768 and both displays are working beautifully.
On a side note, I was considering flashing the card to Ultra speeds. I think I remember reading that you did this? Maybe not, my memory is a little hazy. Do you think it's worth it for the moderate speed improvement. From what I have been reading the cards are 'practically identical. Just curious.
Derek "

I flashed a PC 6800GT to Ultra speeds and in general it's reliable in gaming but that can vary depending on sample. (But when running the Marine Aquarium screensaver for 5 min. the entire system reboots) Unlike the PC models the Mac 6800 GTs have the same heatsink as the Ultra which is a plus for cooling, but I can't promise the card will be reliable at Ultra speeds (i.e. 400 core/550MHz (DDR) memory clock).
Thomas Perrier has a utility to modify the ROMs on many ATI and Nvidia cards (can't remember the name now but I posted a note on an update to it in the last few week's news pages) - but no "on the fly" overclocker for Nvidia cards like his ATIcellerator II utility.


Adapted ADC Cinema Display Noise/Artifacts: (see above reports also as well as Chris' latest report dated 6/24/2005)

(added 6/22/2005)
"hi mike, i just purchased a 6800 Ultra bundled with a G5 and i first intended to choose the OEM 9800 Pro, which would have been a better choice, as i know by now.) (Of course the 6800 Ultra is a higher end card/faster in 3D, supports two 30in Cinema displays which the OEM 9800 doesn't (see my reviews of graphics cards - the review of the Radeon X800 XT includes comparisons to the 6800 Ultra and OEM 9800 Pro.-Mike

I run a G5 Dual 2 GHz (the one with 8 Ramslots and the latest firmware 5.1.8f7) with Tiger 10.4.1 and i try to operate a 23in ADC CinemaDisplay (with an ADC-Converter that worked fine with the Retail Radeon 9800 Pro).

now i have the known issue with PCI-Fan spinning up while the 6800's cooler is quite quiet indeed. (I mentioned even at idle my G5's PCI zone fan duty cycle increased to 49.8% even at idle with the 6800 Ultra installed. About 5% less with the X800.-Mike)
and, far worse, i spot garbled pixels all the time, sometimes forming horizontal lines, flickering like white snow. this does appear worst in thumbnail previews, in safari, even my desktop picture flickers slightly. 3D rendered Games like UT 2004 seem fine up to now (and this card is damn fast, but thats about it).
my second monitor uses 1024 by 768 resolution and shows no issues. my cinema display run with smaller resolution is fine too.

is there a fix to be expected from apple or am i left to live with that (or sell the card to someone who either uses the dual link or a smaller display...) call me naive, but i hope for a fix in 10.4.2

until i can get rid of the card, i use it with thousands of colours only. the flickering is gone completely! anoyone sells a OEM9800 Pro out there? :-)
-Chris "

I'd call Apple about the problems you're seeing. If you had a DVI display to test it would be worthwhile (as in the past some adapter users reported noise/image artifacts.) I don't own an ADC Cinema display but didn't see any artifacts with a 6800 Ultra and my Sony CRT display. Of course you can still use the retail 9800 Pro in the G5 (with a "Y" adapter connected to the G5's Optical drive power cable). there's info on that in the original 9800 Pro tests here on the Video articles page, graphics card section. (I posted tests of the OEM 9800 vs retail 9800 Pro back in the fall of 2003, included in one of those articles are info on using the Y adapter power cable in a G5 with a retail 9800 Pro card.)


Problems w/Tiger and Sun 24in LCD:

(added 5/26/20050
"Hi Mike, Just thought I'd let you know about a major problem I've found with Tiger since upgrading yesterday. Fortunately, I installed on the second disk in my G5, so I still have a working 10.3.9 setup.
Here is a brief description of the problem I am seeing. I've also attached several pictures, which illustrate the issue.
I have the following system:
Dual 2.5GHz G5, 2GB ram
2x250GB disk
NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra

This machine is connected to a Sun 24.1" widescreen LCD monitor via DVI. This is basically a rebadged Samsung Syncmaster 241T, but has a better response time than the Samsung retail product (16ms for the Sun version versus 25ms for the Samsung panel).

This hardware combination works fine under MacOSX 10.3.9, but I see screen corruption when running 10.4.
Basically, the screen display is shifted right by approx. 300 pixels, with the right hand side of the screen wrapping around and appearing garbled on the left hand edge of the monitor.

This happens when using the panel at it's native 1920x1200 resolution, and occurs at all colour depths. If I drop the resolution to 1920x1080, then the 'wrapping' problem goes away, but mouse movements or window movements result in the whole screen blanking out for periods of several seconds. The problem does not occur if I connect to the monitor using the analogue inputs.

I've tried a different DVI cable, and also using the second port on the graphics card, but the problem remains. Given that the issue is not apparent in 10.3.9 (or any earlier releases of MacOSX), I can only conclude that there is a bug in MacOSX 10.4 which is causing this problem.

Incidentally, the problem is also apparent during the installation of MacOSX 10.4.

I've been in contact with Apple, and they are currently investigating the problem, but so far there is no solution. If anyone else is seeing this problem, I would urge them to contact Apple ASAP. The more people who report this, the quicker it's likely to get fixed.

It would also be helpful if people could report the problems to xlr8yourmac. This would help to track the extent of the problem. I'm particularly interested to find out if this issue only happens on the 6800 Ultra, or if it can happen on other cards.

(I asked if the 10.4.1 update helped, since it mentioned new Nvidia (and ATI) drivers-Mike)
10.4.1 didn't help with this problem.
It's definitely an nVidia driver issue, as we've proved that the problem only exists with the 6800 driver under 10.4 and 10.4.1. We've now tested the nVidia 5200, ATi 9200, 9600 and 9800. None of these cards show the problem.

From what I'm told, this problem was evident with nVidia cards under MacOSX 10.1, but got fixed in 10.2. Seemingly, the problem is back again under 10.4.

As I work for Sun, I've been speaking with the engineer who actually designed the monitor. He tells me that the problem is down to the inability of the nVidia driver to correctly adhere to the very aggressive blanking timing that the monitor specifies. As I'm sure you are aware, the nominal bandwith of a single DVI connection is not high enough to create a 1920x1200 display using normal timing. In order to workaround this, there are two possible solutions:

1) Increase the pixel clock (not possible on a lot of video cards)
2) Decrease the blanking interval

Sun was the first manufacturer to introduce a flat panel that was capable of 1920x1200 over a single channel DVI interface by using method 2. In fact, our method was going to be adopted by the VESA standards committee. It was only objections from nVidia that prevented this from happening. At the time, none of their cards was capable of generating the required timing, hence their objections. This was apparently because nVidia stole cycles from the blanking interval in order to perform other video processing. If you shorten the blanking interval, there aren't enough cycles left for their own internal processing. Not sure if this is the case with the 6800, but it could be that this is the problem.

Discussions are ongoing between Apple, Sun and nVidia, but so far no resolution has been forthcoming. I'm hoping that if more people report seeing issues like this, Apple might be inclined to put pressure on nVidia to fix the problem.

(I wonder if the authors of DisplayConfigX or switchresX would be of any help. I know some readers used DisplayConfigX to tweak timings for HDTVs for instance.-Mike)
I've already spoken with Stephane Madrau, and have used SwitchResX to create some slightly different timing which does provide a sort of workaround.
I can get the display to look okay temporarily, but after a reboot the new timings don't seem to work properly. You can fix it again by reapplying them, but it's a bit of a pain.
Regards, Andy"


(added 3/7/2005)
"Hi Mike,
I've been having some problems with my home e-mail, so I'm guessing you not have received this the first time around.

I've just received my new dual 2.5GHz G5 with 6800 Ultra card.
The first time I powered up the system, I was dismayed by how much noise the graphics card fan appeared to be making. The noise was easily heard over all the other fans, and sounded like there was a nest of bees inside the computer. I've heard others describe the noise as a loud buzzing in reports on your own site, and on Apples discussion forums.

Given that other were reporting that the fan noise from the 6800 was not that intrusive, I figured that there must be something amiss with my card.

I double checked that this was indeed the source of the noise, by briefly stopping the fan, and then proceeded to remove the card to investigate.

Once removed, I rotated the fan with my finger, and immediately noticed that at a certain point on the rotation there was some resistance to movement, combined with a rasping sort of noise.

I then proceed to remove the fan arrangement from the card. To do this, you must remove the metal backplate from the card, and then undo the three retaining screws that hold the fan assembly in place. You must also unplug the fan power connector from the board.

Once removed, undo the 6 or 7 screws that hold the metal cover over the fan in place.

Now that you can see the fan, turn it over, and remove the circular silver sticker (this is not the Nvidia badged sticker). You should now see the bottom of the fan shaft, which is secured by a white plastic circlip. Gently lever this circlip off with a small screwdriver. Be careful with this operation, as you will need this circlip when putting the fan back together.

With this clip removed, you should now be able to remove the fan blade assembly.

When you turn the assembly over, you should see a metal circle with magnets around the inside. On the central shaft, there may also be a smaller metal ring. You can remove this ring by giving it a gentle pull. Underneath this ring, you should see a small red O-ring. Remove it also.

Now that you've got things apart, you need to find a small washer (about 5-6mm diameter) that will fit over the central shaft. Put this washer onto the shaft, and then replace the red O-ring. Now replace the metal ring, and re-assemble the rest of the fan. Make sure you put the silver sticker back in place over the circlip, as this prevents the lubrication in the fan from drying out.

This simple procedure should eliminate the buzzing noise from your card, which is caused by the fan blade assembly not having enough clearance from the plastic base on which it is mounted. Inserting the washer raises the blade assembly just enough to avoid it rubbing during normal use.

I've performed this mod on my card, and the fan is now so quiet that I can't actually distinguish it from the background fan noise in the machine. The only time you do hear it, is when playing really graphic intensive games, and it revs up slightly.

Now that I've sorted out the noise problem, then only other issue happens when I'm playing Halo. I've got my energy saver settings configured to put the monitor to sleep after 15 minutes. If I pause Halo (pressing Esc), and the screen blanker kicks in, the game locks up completely. The sound continues to play, but there is no way back into the game. The machine is still running fine, as you can 'Force Quit' Halo and everything springs back to life. Has anyone else noticed this problem? Is there a fix for it (other than turning the screen blanking off). This problem never occurred with my Radeon 9600 XT.

I'm running 10.3.8, Halo 1.5.1 and connecting to a Samsung 24.1" 1920x1200 LCD flat panel (over DVI).
Andy"

My 6800 card didn't have this problem although some others have reported their card had a noisy fan.


(added 3/7/2005)
"After reading this page, I thought I'd mention that on my machine (2.5 GHz DP G5, 6800 Ultra, 10.3.8), World of Warcraft (1.2.4) performance is just great. I run the game at 1920x1200 with ALL graphics options on or maxxed out. All of them. I NEVER see frame rates below 20fps, even in the busiest places with the longest views. In tight quarters I can easily get 60+ fps. Typically, just running around I'll see about 35fps.

The ONLY thing I'd like to see is FSAA. And of course, even better framerates would always be welcome :)
Bryan"


This is the 2nd mail I've had from a G5 owner that disconnected the PCI zone fan in his G5. (Can't say as I'd recommend that to others though but posting as a FYI.)

(added 2/17/2005)
"Hi Mike! :-)
Maybe you remember - I installed NV5 Silencer on my 6800 Ultra in Dual 2.5. (FYI - see article here on Mac 6800Ultra w/NV Silencer 5 Cooler-Mike) As I said the card itself is now virtualy silent but the biggest noise-maker is PCI bay fan. Marcel Bresink (author of great utility Hardware Monitor) confirmed that PCI bay fan operates without sensor feedback. Speed is calculated on the sum of consumptions of PCI slots. (Noted here in comments below I had with him last fall-Mike)
Of course, Mac couldn't know that I modified GPU cooling with NV5 and direct worm air exhaust. So, the idea was to somehow slow-down the PCI fan. Firmware hack? Complicated and could risk kernel panic. Hardware modification with some resistors in-between? Could do...

I just tried the whole thing with the most simple step - I completely disconnected PCI fan for this experiment and guess what - system has no loop feedback for it! System thinks that everything is just fine and Hardware Monitor shows standard "49.8 %" value on PCI slot fan. Of course the machine is now very-very quiet and according to Hardware Monitor utility there is no increase in temperature of the graphic card - 6800 Ultra with NV5 Silencer runs in standard 53-70 oC range. I monitored the temperatures for 3 weeks now and everything runs great. This seems as simple solution for NV5 Silencer owners - at least if they don't use any additional PCI cards.
Thank you!
Davor Pasaric
Croatia"


10.3.8/Lightwave 8.2 Viewport Bug fixed?

(added 2/17/2005 from 2/14 mail)
" Hi Mike, Upgraded to 10.3.8 on a dual 2.5Ghz G5 with 6800Ultra and 3.5 GB ram and LightWave 8.2. The viewport display bug seems to have disappeared (fingers crossed). I tried several sample models of varying complexity and they all seem to be showing up ok.
Another LW user at the Newtek forum says he still has the problem (he has a dual 2GHz G5), but it's definitely working ok in my rig now--wierd.
Jee"


Zalman VF700 Radial Cooler on Mac 6800: Hans van Esch sent a writeup and photos of his Mac 6800 w/Zalman VF700 Radial Copper heatsink. (Page updated with another 6800/VF700 user's comments that were also favorable.)


Nvidia 6800GT BTO Option removed (from a reader mail on Sunday, 2/13/2005 - a later mail from a reader noted that the Ultra model (not the GT) was removed from the Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Perhaps due to supply problems.)

" Mike, I've just noticed that Apple has removed the 6800 GT option from the BTO PowerMac G5 page. Only the 9600XT, 9800XT and 6800 Ultra remain. I wonder if Apple is making room for the ATI Radeon X800???
-Cadaver
(I asked if the 6800GT was still available separately.-Mike)
Yes, it still appears to be for sale as a separate item on the Displays store page ($499 with a 1-2 day delivery time). The Ultra carries a $599 retail price tag and is listed as a 3-5 week wait. "

I checked the USA apple store this morning, there's no 6800GT option in the drop-down menu, although as of 9AM Eastern time, it's still in the text at the top of the apple store order page (where you select which model). I suspect that will be corrected soon if it's really a permanent change. (A reader from the UK wrote the BTO GT option was removed there also.)


Maya User report:

(added 1/28/2005)
"I just purchased the 6800 Ultra and have been seeing an issue in Maya where I get a green and white frame appearing randomly while working in Maya and any texture I have used over a certain size comes up white in textured preview mode. I heard there are hardware render issues when trying to use multiple frame renders (motion blur and anti-aliasing) which I'll probably find out on my own soon when I go to render this project in a couple days using the hardware render function...

(there's a Nov. 2004 post here on Maya 6.0.1 issues from a 6800 owner that commented on problems like this. Sorry you missed it before buying the card.-Mike)

I have tried to contact NVIDIA and there is absolutely no way to talk to someone there and every time I call I get the same response.... "Call your hardware manufacturer..." Isn't that what I'm trying to do??!?!!??!

(they mean your system mfr - remember OEM cards are not supported by Nvidia (they don't even offer reference drivers for Mac - it's all apple's responsibility). The OEM/Apple shipped nvidia cards are not made by nvidia, they just use their GPUs.-Mike)

I was hung up on twice when the woman that answers their phones at their corporate office realized it was me and I wasn't the least bit rude to this person... I'm trying to find out if this card is worth the money I spent on it before my return policy runs up at the Apple store in a few days...

Is there a driver up-date for this or am I spinning my wheels until Tiger comes out (according to Apple that's the "magic" answer...)

(What OS version are you using? if it's 10.3.7, that includes the latest (publicly available) Nvidia drivers for the card.-Mike)

I use Final Cut, Motion and After Effects as well as Maya and want the best bang for the buck... I'm willing to spend more $$ on a card that will save production time and I thought this card was the best Apple had to offer and wouldn't kill my Apple Protection Plan as any other card would do according to Apple...

Any help would be appreciated as I have very limited time to return this card. Everything else works great with this card...
David S.
Director, Siren Digital Inc. "

I'd also ask Maya tech support what they suggest (any tips/fixes) and if they think the ATI X800 XT is better Mac card choice for it.


Comments/Pix of Mac 6800Ultra with NV Silencer 5 Cooler (from the Dec. 24th main news page) I've posted a page with photos and comments on a reader's Mac 6800Ultra with NV Silencer 5 Cooler that ran quieter than the stock card's fan. (I should have posted this early last month but it got lost in the shuffle until recently, but better late than never.)


Nvidia 6800 owner tip for running Myst IV: Several Mac Geforce 6800 owners (since they first started shipping in Oct.) have reported Myst IV would crash (see below), even with the previous game update and 10.3.6 update. This reader mail includes tip that he said fixed that problem:

" Just a side note. I too have a dual 2.5GHZ system with GeForce 6800 and Myst 4 would crash on me too.
I turned off the "Immersive" option and it works.
Scott
(I don't own the game but asked Scott where that setting was)
For me when I launch the game and after the splash screens and intro video, you see a book. At this point you can select "Options". Then the book opens and at the top right of the right handed page is what looks like a world with 4 corners, click this, this is the "graphics options". Then another page opens up and on the right handed page there is an image of a pair of glasses 3/4 the way down, underneath this image of a pair of glasses is a box. This box has an "X" in it, click this off, this is the "immersive option" . Then at the bottom right click on the box that has a check mark in it.
Now you should be able to play the game.
Regards, Scott "

Update: a 6800/Myst IV owner said the OS X 10.3.7 released today fixed this problem. I asked Scott if he updated to 10.3.7 to try running the game with the immersive option enabled to confirm.


Nvidia 6800GT owner comments on poor World of Warcraft performance (from a reader mail)

" I've got a Powermac G5 Dual 1.8GHz (pci-x ver)/1.5GB RAM/500GB RAID 0/nvidia 6800GT (just for the record I asked if he's running 10.3.6 which had later drivers, although they may not help with this they did address some performance problems like homeworld 2-Mike)

World of Warcraft runs like a dog, independant of settings i choose. This is a widespread problem for anyone with a 6800 series card. While Apple's 'Ultimate' gaming machine recommends the Ultra (to play WoW and others), I do not recommend it. It's no better than a 5200Ultra. (for most any game the 6800 should be far better than the FX5200 when the graphics card is the bottleneck, but if there's a driver or game problem that's another issue.-Mike)

I'm certain it's got alot to do with the drivers for these 6800's. But some people I know are also complaining about unacceptable framerates with their 9800 series cards.
I was wondering if you had any information on this,
Glen C. "

I don't have any warcraft games installed, but in the past ATI cards were a better performer in these games as I remember. And being an online game, network/server performance could also be a factor I guess.
NOTE: Rather than fill this page up with reports on WoW, I've created a separate page with Mac World of Warcraft Performance reports from nvidia and ATI card owners, as well as comments from Blizzard's mac team on WoW and future updates.


Nvidia 6800 owner report on Maya 6.0.1 Problems: (Updated)

(added 11/30/2004)
"Hey Mike,
I wrote you back on 11/26/04 with some problems I am experiencing with 6800 card. (see his previous report below-Mike) I just wanted to report that I've solved two of them.

- The flickering white/green flashes are being caused by Maya's Heads Up Display. When I turn that on to display poly counts, I'll notice that the flickering begins. Shut that off, and the incidents reduce to nearly zero. It must be some kind of overlay problem.

- As for the texture maps turning white on the geometry they're mapped to, there seems to be an upper resolution limit to the max size of the texture map. This affects any Mac user regardless of which card they're using. Right now, I've found texture map sizes exceeding 1536x1536 cause the problem. PC users don't seem to suffer from this limitation. I am curious to see if users with video cards with less than 256mb of VRAM have an even smaller upper limit.

- As for the hardware render buffer...well I still can't use multipass rendering, motion blur, or anti aliasing. I really hope this can be fixed. ATI's cards don't seem to have a problem with it. If a user absolutely needs to have 100% compatibility with the hardware render buffer, I'd suggest purchasing an ATI card.
Brian P. "

His original report follows:

(added 11/26/2004)
"Hey Mike,
I have a new dual 2.5 with 2.5 GB of RAM and a 6800 Ultra Card. My primary 3d application of choice is Maya 6.0.1. My OS is 10.3.6. I've also upgraded my firmware.

Generally I find the combination of hardware and software acceptable with the following exceptions.

  • When working in any of the perspective or orthographic windows, I'll see white or green flashes that occur whenever I'm tumbling around in the scene. This is just slightly annoying because they happen so fast. I'm figuring there's definitely a driver issue going on. They are infrequent, but when they happen its apparent.

  • Activating the Hardware Render Buffer window is also possible, but there seem to be issues with certain preference attributes that prevent hardware rendering from occurring. If you activate multi-frame rendering option box in the Hardware render buffer's attribute window, the resulting test render will result in a blank white window. Multi-frame hardware rendering is important if you wish to utilize hardware motion blur or anti aliased edges. Deactivating multi frame rendering corrects the problem and rendering occurs as normal. (sans blur and anti aliasing)

  • Another hardware display issue also occurs within the orthographic or perspective windows when polygons are assigned a material with RGB based image map. A simple test is to take a default poly sphere and assign it a simple lambert shader. Once that's done, assign a "normal" texture map to the color channel. Any jpg will do. Once that happens, the geometry will turn white in perspective window rather than displaying the image map on the poly sphere. (Make sure you're in shaded / texture mode "6" on the keyboard).
    The only fix for this bug is to change the Hardware Texture Quality from "Default" to "Low, Medium, High or Highest".
    This will at least allow you to see the texture, although it will appear somewhat blurry. The hardware texture quality settings in Maya are a bit of a joke since the "Default" mode usually produces cleaner OpenGL textures than the "highest" setting. The only time those additional settings work better than default is when you are deforming the texture map through its 2D or 3D placement nodes.

    This is rather troubling for me because I make my living in previsualization. I bought the 6800 under the perception that it would speed up my hardware rendering. Now, it seems, I'm gonna have to downgrade to on of the Radeons in order to get those features to work again. Although I haven't tested it on my G5, none of these issues occur on my G4 with a Radeon 9800 Pro (128MB). We Need New DRIVERS!
    Brian P "

  • Tip for Ford Racing 2 Demo startup problems w/Nvidia 6800:
    The other night I tried running the Ford Racing 2 Demo v1.0.1 on a G5 w/6800 card installed (running OS X 10.3.6) but the game would not run (quit to the desktop with an error). I tried disabling some advanced features, etc. but that didn't help. Finally I tried running the game at the same resolution as the desktop and that solved it. I've not tried the full version of the game but posting this as a FYI in case anyone else saw the same thing. (I was using a Sony FW900 CRT.)


    Lightwave 3D Modeler Tip/Fix for Wireframe view problems:
    I updated the 3D apps page of the Mac Nvidia 6800 Ultra card review to include notes and a screenshot showing a tip for fixing the problems of blank viewports in Lightwave 3D (7.5d and v8 tested) with wireframe display modes. Checking (enabling) the 'Simple Wireframe Edges' and 'Simple Wireframe Points' options in the Display/Interface Tab fixed the problem.
    I welcome other 3D applications (LW3D, Maya, Cinema4D, etc.) user comments on the 6800.


    More Discussion on PCI Fan Control:
    (Update - OS X 10.3.8 fixes the fan control software issue Hardware monitor warned about at startup in previous OS versions.)

    (added 11/8/2004)"
    Hello Mike,
    sorry for the delayed response. I could not speak about some details before 10.3.6 was officially released.

    In Mac OS X 10.3.6, major parts of the fan control code for the PCI fan have been rewritten:

  • Apple has removed the part that sets a constant fan speed for cards that come with a "consume-ADC-power" entry. So they no longer use the technique we spoke about. (see 10/29/2004 comments below)
  • Instead, the fan control drivers now test if the card comes with its own temperature sensor and its own fan. If yes, the whole thermal zone is switched from "classic PCI fan control mode", which was based on the power consumption of the cards, to "active AGP fan control mode". In this case, the OS uses the (new) AGP temperature sensor to control both the PCI slot fan and the fan on the graphics card (if possible).

    It could be that the software update shipped with the 6800 cards already had this modification. To verify, you could check the version number of the AppleMacRISC4PE kernel extension driver: The original 10.3.5 driver was 1.2.5 (internal version ID 125.2.2), the new driver is version 1.4.0 (internal version ID 140.2.1). This would be more consistent with the observations you have made when starting with a "cold" graphics card.

    I noticed on your web site that you have detected some GPU sensors on the 6800 card. (see my previous comments below on 6800 GPU temps reported with XresourceGraph-Mike) If you still have access to the card it would be kind to send me a hardware report for that machine. I could then include support for the new sensors in the next release of Hardware Monitor. To create a detailed hardware report, enter the command

      ioreg -l -w 1000 > hardware.txt

    in Terminal and send me the file "hardware.txt" that will be created in your home directory. The file can contain IP numbers, serial numbers and user names. You can erase these parts for privacy reasons if you like.
    Best regards,
    Marcel Bresink
    (author of Hardware Monitor) "
  • Previous discussions with Marcel before 10.3.6 follow:

    (added 10/29/2004 from an email on 10/28)
    " Hello Mike,
    you may know me as the author of TinkerTool and "Hardware Monitor", the only software for Mac OS X that can display CPU temperature and fan speeds on the PowerMac G5.
    (FYI - As I mentioned in the news page back on May 7th, XResource Graph also displays temperatures from several sensors, but does not include fan info. (The May 10th news page also had XRG author comments on Temperature Monitoring in the G5.)
    I had installed XRG back then on the G5 and noticed with the 6800 card installed now, it shows "GPU case" and "GPU Diode" Temperatures. Case temp does not seem to vary much (very low) but the GPU Diode temperature reading does increase when stressing the card and pretty much follows the core temps I've seen on a OC'd 6800GT in a PC. I've seen 75C temps per XRG GPU Diode readings when running Marine Aquarium 2 fullscreen at 1600x1200 for 1/2 hour or so. I did not notice the GPU readings before with the 9800 card installed, but will check next time I swap it back in the G5. BTW - on a PC, the GPU temperature throttle down limit of a 6800GT I have is 120°C and with 6800 Ultra firmware it's 132°C. (not a typo.)-Mike
    )

    I noticed your interesting comments on the PCI zone fan control for systems which have a GeForce 6800 card installed. To clarify this I can add the following information:

    The platform cooling control drivers of Mac OS X 10.3.x contain a hard-coded check if a GeForce 6800 card is found in the system. To be more exact, the drivers test if a device is found which publishes a property with the name "consume-ADC-power" to the I/O registry at the device path "/pci/NVDA,Parent@10". (These properties can be displayed with the developer tool "IORegistryExplorer".)

    If such an entry is found, the PCI slot fan will be set to a fixed speed of 3000 RPM which is the maximum speed this fan has been designed for. (see later comments on this below, it may not be accurate-Mike)

    So changing the cooling of the nVidia card won't have any effects on the PCI slot fan under normal conditions. It will run with maximum speed. In theory, Apple could change this behavior by a firmware update which causes the mentioned "consume-ADC-power" property no longer to be propagated to the I/O registry. I currently have no card for testing and don't know if their firmware update might be doing this.
    As a sidenote:
    As a small thank-you for your service to the Mac community, I'm sending you a free unlock code for Hardware Monitor in separate e-mail. http://www.bresink.com/osx/HardwareMonitor.html

    If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
    Best regards,
    Marcel Bresink"

    I installed Hardware Monitor on this DP G5 w/10.3.5 (and all updates, including fan control firmware update on the 6800 CD) and on initial launch (after unlocking with the registration key) saw this warning:

    Hardware monitor warning

    The button linked web page doesn't really have any more details so I wrote the author to ask if 10.3.6 will have updates to solve this but he could not comment due to being under NDA other than to say "I can only confirm that Apple is working on the issue."
    I chose the "Accept the risk for this Hardware Monitor Session" option and checked the PCI slot fan info (reported in duty cycle, not RPM). It showed 49.8% at idle (card not stressed/no apps running). I also noticed that I could not get the PCI fan to speed up easily this morning (it's cold here at 6AM this morning, but the current thought is that load, not temperature controls the PCI fan) - even runnig a Halo timedemo didn't speed it up (no increase in noise and HW monitor still reported 49.8%).
    I kept trying and after running at ut2004 1600x1200 (max settings/fsaa) although the fan sounded like it had increased in speed - checking HW Monitor after quitting the game showed the same 49.8%.
    Running Marine Aquarium 2 at full screen/1600x1200 for 1/2 hour had XRG reporting 75°C GPU temperatures but the PCI fan duty cycle reported was still 49.8%.

    Here's some later mail discussions on this from Marcel (author of hardware monitor)

    (I replied to Marcel that a previous 6800 owner report here noted hardware monitor showing the PCI slot fan running at appx 50% vs 30% duty cycle before the firmware update, and that I had heard the fan spin up faster even with the OEM 9800 installed (after the firmware update). Although the 6800 seems fixed at 49.8% duty cycle per HW's report - I've see almost 60% reports from HW with the 9800 Pro installed after the firmware update.-Mike)

    In this case, this would indicate the Firmware upgrade is indeed removing the "consume-ADC-power" entry which causes the platform drivers to return to normal behavior. A quick way to find out is the command

    	ioreg -l -w500 | grep consume-ADC-power
    

    If it returns nothing, the card is not propagating the command to set the PCI slot fan to maximum speed.
    (That returns 00000001 (true) on this 2003 G5 w/the fan control firmware update-Mike)
    OK, then the command to set a fixed value for the PCI slot fan must be active.

    (But hardware monitor never seems to report over 49.8% pci slot fan duty cycle.-Mike)
    You can display the fan speed history for a time interval of up to 1 week. Does the speed of this fan change over time?

    (So far even when I can hear the fan running louder, the duty cycle is still reporting 49.8%, but I have not done a report over time - however extended Aquarium use does heat the GPU up and I can quickly switch it from fullscreen to window to show Hardware Monitor's report bar and the PCI fan duty cycle never changes. I asked if the current (driver/software bug mentioned) could be affecting this.-Mike)

    No, the current bug just affects a memory allocation problem in the kernel. But I could be wrong in my assumption that 3000 RPM is the design maximum of that particular fan. It could be 6000 RPM, so 3000 RPM would be equivalent to a pulse width of 50 %. I will try to get more information about this.
    Regards, Marcel"

    6000RPM sounds high for a fan that size, but I've not checked the specs on it.
    9800 Pro Tests Note: Tests today with the OEM 9800 running Marine Aquarium 2 fullscreen (1920x1200) for several minutes sped the PCI bay fan up to a reported 56.9% duty cycle. Now if the PCI fan was controlled by power load/wattage (and not temperature) then why is the PCI fan running faster with the 9800 than the 6800 on the same test. (the 6800Ultra uses more power than the OEM 9800 Pro.)
    With the 9800 Pro installed, the fan duty cycle does drop below the 49.8% seen even at idle with the 6800 however. Within minutes of quitting Aquarium the duty cycle had dropped to 37.6%.


    More Complaints on PCI bay Fan:

    (added 10/29/2004)
    "I can help confirm that after installing the 6800 drivers that the PCI Zone fan run much faster and hence noiser.
    I'd just purchased Myst IV and found that it crashed on the adventure startup, (twice reported earlier as a problem w/6800 cards) so I replaced it with my 9600XT (that Apple so kindly gave me for "free").
    Much to my surprise, my Mac is now much noiser than it was before I installed the 6800. It must be the update for the 6800 that adjusted the PCI Zone fan speed. I'm really not very happy about the entire situation, especially making the system noiser with the 9600 installed in place of the 6800. I hope that Apple addresses this in 10.3.6, but I'm not holding my breath.
    Bill F."

    I mentioned in my review of the 6800 last week, after applying the fan control firmware update on the 6800 CD, the PCI fan seems much more sensitive and willing to increase in speed with the OEM 9800 (non XT) card installed. I had the fan increase during a 100pg newsletter Appleworks scroll test. (Can't repeat that today with the 6800 installed though.)


    More NV5 Cooler user comments: Nathan, who had swapped the stock fan/heatsink for a NV5 (see earlier report below) wrote again in reply to later comments on PCI fan control (I had originally wondered if the NV5 exhausting hot air outside the case would help reduce the PCI fan speed - but some believe the PCI fan is wattage/power use controlled, not by zone temperature)

    (added 10/29/2004)
    "(in reply to recent discussion below on what controls the PCI fan speed)
    Mike, I do not believe that the PCI fan is activated by power usage. I now have a NV5 silencer on my NVIDIA 6800 which expels the heat out of the G5 via an open PCI slot and the PCI fan no longer operates at a higher noise level as it did before the NV5 installation.
    Thanks...
    Nathan "

    I asked Nathan if he could try Hardware Monitor to see what it shows on the PCI fan duty cycle (normally near 50% at idle after the firmware update, but also check it if increases when stressing the card as much as it does with the stock cooler). If the NV5 didn't have the large gap between the blower tube and the vented PCI bracket, it would be more efficient.


    Tips for 6800 Owners for creating 10.3.5 boot CDs: As a followup to the problem of kernal panics when booting from pre-10.3.5 disks/CDs with the Nvidia 6800 card (see info below), a reader sent a tip for creating 10.3.5 boot discs.

    (added 10/28/2004)
    " ...for owners of 6800's, they may be interested in a tool called Slipy. It allows for the creation of updated Mac OS X installation CD/DVD's from an original copy. This apparently would be a good intern solution for owners of Geforce 6800's that need a OS X 10.3.5 bootable disc. Slipy information can be found here:
    http://homepage.mac.com/macmanx/Slipy.htm
    (old link no longer works - see http://www.crabbyapplesoftware.com/
    a few days later THAT link no longer worked - so then I found http://home.comcast.net/~crabbyapplesoftware/Slipy.htm, and now as of Nov. 20th that page is MIA. Keeping track of the slipy homepage is insane... but a reader sent a link to a mirror of the slipy 1.3 dmg download. Hopefully that link will last longer.-Mike
    )
    -kevin g."

    Monday's update here (see below) on this issue also included a link to a page with Guides on using BootCD also - see http://www.blargatron-systems.com/?s=blog&a=151547531.


    Notes on PCI zone Fan Control: I mentioned in my review of the Mac 6800 Ultra (as some others have noted here) that the G5's PCI zone fan runs faster after the fan control firmware update (on the cd in the 6800 kit, for owners of 2003 G5s, apparently later G5s already have the later firmware) even with the 9800 Pro card installed (esp. noticeable during long doc scrolling tests, during game tests the game audio tends to mask it depending on the volume level of the game). An earlier 6800 owner report (below) mentioned replacing the stock fan/heatsink on the 6800 with an artic cooling NV5 model which he said was quieter than the stock 6800 fan (on my sample and some other owners, the 6800 fan was not noisy - see reports on the 6800 feedback page, most complaints are from the pci zone fan).

    (added 10/27/2004)
    "hello mike
    on your GF 6800 (feedback) page (here) you write:
    (in reply to a complaint on the PCI zone fan speed, since a NV5 owner said it lowered fan noise and he didn't complain on the pci zone fan. His complaint was on the 6800's fan, although I wondered if he really verified that by stopping the 6800's fan temporarily as I did, which showed the PCI fan was the source of the noise. The NV5 exhausts hot air outside the case, although with the gap between the blower tube and the vented PCI bracket, it's not totally efficient at that.-Mike)
      "...I mentioned a NV5 cooler to Jonathan after getting a mail on it and wondered if that would lower the PCI zone temperature and keep that area fan at a lower speed. He said he'd try one and report back."

    AFAIK the G5 fan controller regulates the PCI zone fan by power/wattage consumed by the PCI cards, hence the increase in noise when putting in a GeForce 6800 Ultra. So, replacing the GF fan will not make the PCI zone fan quieter.

    I can't find this at Apple right now, but I may know this from a Powermac G5 tech presentation at Apple Switzerland headquarters last year. (Or maybe I read it on the web, I'm not sure)
    For now i only found this vague info at Apple: (G5 developer docs) then go to > Architecture > Fan Controller

      "Fan Control Unit (FCU) controls the fans and pumps in the Power Mac G5 and regulates the speeds to run each fan. The FCU derives fan speed from sensors in each thermal zone. Some of these sensors are thermal while others monitor power/wattage used in a particular area."

    best regards, oliver "

    If they are monitoring wattage/load and not temperature, then the NV5 won't help. (One 6800 owner said the fan default speed was 50% after the update compared to 30% before.) But as I mentioned before, even with the 9800 Pro installed, the PCI zone fan runs faster/louder than before the fan control firmware update (even though that card draws less power than the 6800). The fan control seems very sensitive now to GPU load, so maybe it is monitoring power usage not temperature of the area. One way to test that would be to force cool the area and see if that affected the PCI zone fan speed. If anyone is able to test this, let me know.


    No Hardware Video Acceleration on Nvidia 6800s? (not verified yet, at least with Mac 6800 Ultras). I recently found an article on the net at the inquirer claiming the hardware video processor in the Nvidia 6800 (AGP version at least) is broken, although other/later Geforce6 based models are OK (like the 6600, etc.). The article links to a post at nvnews.net's forums titled GeForce 6800 onboard video processor functionality that claims a call back from Nvidia UK support said
    "The video processing functions will never work on the 6800, this is due to a hardware failure within the processing unit. The later cards will work fine, e.g. 6600 series, 6200 series and soon to come 6700 series."
    I wrote a contact at Nvidia for comments on this last night but no reply yet. I'm going to try and confirm this with some additional testing of Mac 6800 ultra vs an ATI 9800 Pro. (But even 2D is done in OpenGL now on the Mac.) I noted in the 6800 review that CPU usage was relatively low (under 10% typically during full screen dvd movie playback) and cpu usage is low during large/scaled playback of some captured home movies in the QT player. However unlike when even scrolling a large appleworks doc (w/images), full screen movie playback does not cause the PCI zone fan to increase in speed. (One of the tests in the linked thread above was high cpu usage for some codecs and no increase in GPU temperatures over idle, as on the PC you can monitor the 6800's GPU temperature in the nvidia control panel.)
    If this is true, I hope the delayed Mac 6800 Ultras have a revised stepping of the 6800 GPU that is OK. If any 6800 card owners (maybe pro video apps users) have tested for this, let me know. (But to be honest I'm not sure how to best test for this since even the desktop 2D on the mac uses OpenGL. I'd welcome comments from someone more knowledgeable on this.)


    New Dual 2.5GHz/6800 Owner reports:

    (added 10/28/2004)
    Ive had a dual 2.5GHz with the 6800 for a week now and occasionally I have the fan kick in, but I can play Halo with FSAA x9 on and the fan might only kick in once in an hour.
    No where near what others are reporting.
    BTW I love the combo, I am rediscovering games all over again.
    -Carl B."


    (added 10/26/2004)
    "Hi Mike,
    Just got the G5 2x2.5 + NVidia 6800 this weekend and have to say I'm loving it. It was particularly fun to discover that I can play UT2k4 at 1600x1200 instead of the old 1152x870 I used on my G5 2x2ghz + ATI 9600/64mb, and with about a 30-40fps bump in speed! (Comparing avg framerates for Asbestos flyby for the 2ghz @1152 and the 2.5ghz @1600.) The NVidia fan is very loud when it spools up, but honestly the only times it spools up for me are mid-game when the audio noise pretty much masks it (whoosh boom arrrgh!). The NVidia fan has a completely different audio characteristic (more of a buzzing than a shushing like the G5 internal fans) so it is easy to tell them apart.

    As for the 2.5ghz's fans, that's a bit of a different story. It is definitely louder than the 2ghz model, fanwise, and more importantly, any time you launch a program or perform anything slightly CPU intensive the fans immediately rev up and then spool down. The 2ghz fans rev up, but only after 10 or 15 seconds of intensive CPU use. 1-2 seconds will trigger the 2.5ghz fans. Having said that, the system is *still* as quiet or quieter than the G4/533 it is replacing at my home when it is idling, so I'm not really disappointed at all on that score. I am hopeful they will eventually release a firmware update to make the fans a bit less prone to "revving" though.
    HTH, Eric. "


    Follow-up on 6800 Card kernel panics if booted from pre-10.3.5 disk: (see below for the previous posts on this issue)

    (added 10/26/2004)
    (I asked sam if he knew that the v1.3/os 10.3.5 G5 system restore discs existed - since apple support i talked to wasn't aware of them - at least the person I spoke to yesterday.)
    I know for sure.. yes.. I also too just talked to a "second eschelon" support guy in Texas and he said he's going to follow up with me, but to be patient as Apple like to completely check out the fixes before they make them available to the public (understandable). I told him on the box for the 6800 it says (min requirements 10.3.5) and my system disks are 10.3.4 ... what else could it be? and he agreed.. but wanted to run it up the chain.
    (I also saw an kernel panic at startup with the 6800 in a G5 if booting from a disc/volume with an os older than 10.3.5-Mike)
    Follow up on this.. don't let it die. (I spent about an hour on the phone with apple support on this yesterday - they promised to get back to me, but I'm not sure if they'll send a 10.3.5 restore cd/dvd for this 2003 G5 system. considering the system cost/applecare cost + the 6800 cost, I think they should personally.-Mike)
    It's just CD's man, $1.50 plus postage!
    Lemme know what they say, and I'll do the same..

    Also.. check this out.. I've come across a blog where some guy has a fix (basically uses a disk image program to make a boot disk) and he calls it the "Fatal flaw of the 6800 on the Mac" . I can find the link (wish I could now), but that's how dramatic some are making this issue.
    http://www.blargatron-systems.com/?s=blog&a=151547531
    -Sam "

    The above link includes notes on creating 10.3.5 boot discs using BootCD. Another alternative a reader suggested is Slipy.


    More comments on pre-10.3.5 disc boot/kernel panics, Problems with QuarkXpress: (Note: on Nov. 1st, QuarkXPress 6.5 update was released. The reader that originally sent the v6 report on problems wrote with an update/more details: )

    (added 11/2/2004)
    "This is in response to your request for feedback about Quark and 6800 card:

    I'm the guy who mentioned the problems with the 6800 card and Quark. (see original comments directly below)

    The more I played around, the more I think the problem is with the XT, XPertPilot. Their tech dept has sent me a beta to work with, and when I tried it for just a short time in QXP 6.5, I got a freeze after jumping to a new page that was only repaired when I Saved.
    Weird.
    Then, I noticed that when I opened my file and reviewed a couple of pages that a picture was missing. It was there when I first opened the file. It's 72 pages long and I didn't notice the problem until I was scanning through it prior to closing it.
    Strange things are happening -- and Halloween is OVER. 8^)

    That was just one quick exposure however. I'll be testing 6.5 over the next two months as I produce the January issue of my magazine.
    --Nick "

    Nick's earlier/original report follows:

    (added 10/26/2004)
    "I have a new 2.5 G5 with 30" Cinema Display and the Nvidia card installed. I'm running 10.3.5.

    I get a kernel panic when I try to start up Disk Warrior from its CD. It's the latest version of the software, 3.02. I can run the G5 fine in target mode from my Aluminum PB so I get the Disk Warrior protection.

    I get extraordinary results with QuarkXPress: freezes, smears, failure to move when the "elevator" tab is pushed. Frustrating as hell.

    The Alsoft tech suspects the 6800 card. He also is a QXP user and said "smears" are card problem indicators.
    -- Nick
    (I asked what version of Quark)
    It's QXP 6.1, the latest (at the moment) They're supposed to release 6.5 some time this month but I don't expect it to solve my problems. "

    I don't own/use Quark (thankfully) but if anyone else has seen this problem or any other app issues with the 6800, let me know the details. (I'd also report this to Quark's tech support - may not help but at least make the vendor aware of the problem.)
    If anyone's running 10.3.6 (which has improved nvidia drivers reportedly) sees the same problem, let me know.


    Another PCI zone Fan Noise Complaint:

    (added 10/25/2004)
    "I just installed my 6800 this afternoon and I was dismayed to find out how much louder my PCI Fan ran with it installed... I'm using Hardware Monitor and with it installed, the fan runs (at idle) at 50%... while this may not seem much faster than the 30% while using a 9600XT, to me it is MUCH louder...

    So far I've not had the opportunity to do much with it as I took it out to compare the loudness to the 9600XT and it's so much quieter... I'm thinking I'm not going to keep the card; maybe the X800 will be quieter (since it's not as large and therefore probably quieter?)
    -Justin "

    Problem is that I hear the PCI zone case fan run louder/faster even with my original 9800 installed - don't have a 9600xt (it's fanless I think) but I've seen the PCI fan run faster during testing of even my 9800 pro (I noted this in the review here of the 6800). I now wish I had not installed the fan control firmware update... it's not terribly loud but is definitely louder than before and the fan seems very very sensitive to changes now as it kicked up even when running an Appleworks 100pg scroll test.


    Notes on Kernel Panics if booted from pre 10.3.5 OS disks: (i.e. the 10.3.5 requirement for the 6800 isn't just for acceleration)

    (added 10/25/2004)
    "I got my 6800 shipped ex-post-facto since Apple didn't want to delay my order for the dual 2.5.. they shipped it with a 9600XT... problem was when I got the 6800, my system disks that came with my G5 were now totally useless. They were OS 10.3.4 (version 1.2) and caused a Kernel panic when I booted my mac into the CD ROM (say, for a disk repair or something).. So it bares noting that you need disk set version 1.3 (OS X.3.5) with the 6800, so all of us who had our 6800 cards shipped later need a new set of disks!
    Anyway.. good review...
    Sam "

    My 2003 G5 has even older system restore CDs (from 10.2.8, they only sent an 'update' set for 10.3.0 later... and most all my boot CDs like techtool pro are pre-10.3.5 OS's as well as my TTPro 4 "eDrive". Guess I'll have to clone them/create a 10.3.5 boot CD. I'm going to call Apple to see if they will send a 10.3.5 based system restore DVD but I'm not holding by breath on this 2003 purchased system.


    (added 10/25/2004)
    "Mike, First off, I love the site. Sorry this is a little long but here it goes.

    I have a dual G5 2.5 w/ 6800 and 2.5 GB Ram / OSX 10.3.5. Heard you were looking for some feedback from 6800 users so here I am. I own Halo and I usually play with all settings on the highest level except Lens Flare (medium). Sound Quality is set to High and Sound Variety is Set to High. I use the native resolution of a 20" Apple Cinema Display as my resolution which as you probably already know is 1680 x 1050. Halo is very playable and smooth at my native screen resolution (the 6800 is driving main display and another at 1280 x 960). Using the ATI Shaders the built-in benchmarking tool yields an average FPS of about 50. I used Halo because it seems to be the most demanding game available for the Mac.

    I was interested to compare my results to yours so I matched your settings and created a bunch of time demo files so see how my CPU stacks up. Attached is that file. The settings I used are MAX everything expect Low Sound Quality, Sound Variety (by the way using High Quality Sound only impacts average FPS by less the .5) and Low Lens Flare. Time demo files are labeled with the level of FSAA used and only one (labeled) uses High Quality Sound.

    My quick analysis noted that my FPS without FSAA was almost 52 which is about 25% more than your result even though I was running at a much higher resolution (about 35% more pixels). (my review includes results at 1280x1024, 1600x1200 and 1920x1050 - all with and w/o FSAA.-Mike) My processor is 25% faster (per CPU) but that doesn't account for the difference since I was running Halo at higher resolution with same video card. I couldn't run the time-demo at 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 cause my Halo did not allow me to select those resolutions (1600x1200 is above my display's specs.) (I'll try to send him my prefs file to make sure the same detail settings were used but I did not test at his exact resolution, and again with a 25% clock speed per CPU, his results should be higher but ideally I'd like the exact same settings/resolution used for tests to compare just how much difference there is.
    Another 6800/Dual 2.5GHz owner didn't note 50fps rates even at 1280x1024 w/4x FSAA enabled. For instance a dual 2.5GHz G5 owner reported halo 1280x1024/4x fsaa, max detail (but low audio) AVG FPS rates were only 34. So something is definitely different in your system setup.-Mike
    )

    I also noted the same pitiful performance of the nvidia shaders (see the attached files). One thing I did not about the nvidia drivers was that there was very little drop off in FPS between 2X, 4X, 6X, and 9X FSAA only the initial penalty of enabling it. This is very promising as once the nvidia drivers become more mature they should support 9X FSAA w/ little additional penalty. (given the current state and halo 1.0.5.3, I'd not make any assumptions on future performance just yet, although clearly the NV shaders in halo 1.0.5.3 are not using an efficient path. I hear a major update to Halo is in the works.-Mike)
    I also noticed the display problem in the water rendering w/ FSAA enabled (it was pretty obvious) but wasn't really paying close attention to graphics while the tests where running. (I mentioned in the halo tests section of the 6800 review that there was banding in the ocean with the 6800 using FSAA, even with the ATI shaders selected in some tests-Mike) The professional OpenGL program that I use most is ArchiCAD 8.1 and 9 and I haven't noticed any display problems.

    One other note my ROM Revision was 2118 for the Graphics card, which I believe is different from yours (not sure what that's all about, usually the higher number is better :-( ) (the ASP report for my card on page 1 of the review shows it has v2119 firmware, but no idea what the change is, may be minor.-Mike) Also as I note before a second display was attached during the tests (I am not sure if this steals half of the VRAM or not when the actual game is running. Profiler seems to suggest that is does as it shows each display which 128MB VRAM is use (then again the second display goes blank when the game is running.) (some other games also do this (even Quake3) - reportedly reclaiming the vram during the game.-Mike) Also some other small applications where running while I ran these tests like salling clicker.

    This is just for your info use as you wish. Do you have any insight into why my setup is seemingly faster than yours (beyond my 25% CPU speed advantage)? (see my comments above) Aren't these games FPS usually driven more by the Graphics Card not the CPU? (not always, even at high res some games are still CPU bound as mentioned in my 6800 review and many past video card reviews here in the past. Halo is both a CPU and GPU hog it seems.-Mike) By the way my CPU was built-to order w/6800 and drivers I used were apparently on the included install disk (I wiped the HD and reinstalled the system from the CD when I got it) if that sheds any light.

    Would be happy to provide more benchmarks if you let me know which ones you want. I was also going to benchmark Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo 3334 but the file always fails when I try to download it.
    Keep up the good work,
    Michael D. S "

    My review included UT2004 (full version/latest 3323 update) tests as well as other game tests like Call of Duty, RTCW, etc.


    (added 10/25/2004)
    "Dear sir,
    http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/Graphics/mac_6800ultra_review/index.html
    In the above site, the card review has the rom verion of 2119 versus the the rom version of my card 2118. I just wonder what is other version of the 6800 in the market. Does the rom version made the performance difference? (it may be only a minor change, not affecting performance but I don't know what the revision history is of the mac 6800-Mike)
    By the way, how can i upgrade to the current version.
    (apple controls the nvidia mac firmware versions, only they could release a firmware update for it, but my OEM 9800 pro from 2003 has an earlier firmware version than some others and to date there's never been a firmware update for it either. Typically unless there is some major bug affecting operation apple does not release firmware updates.-Mike)
    Best Regards
    PS
    My card cannot run the game MYST IV. What is happening?
    Philip "

    That problem was mentioned in the first page here with 6800/Dual 2.5GHz owner comments/tests. The guess is it's a game/driver conflict but I'd write the game developer about it to see what they say/suggest.


    Fan Noise:

    (added 10/25/2004)
    "hi Mike
    i got a leftover nvidia 6800 from a 2.5 system (the owner wanted a 9800 pro) and so i was lucky enough to be at the right place (macsolutions) at the right time and purchased the 6800. i installed it in my 2.0Ghz (2003) G5 and now find the fan noise way too distracting. i don't even think putting the computer on the floor will help. are there any other ways to decrease the fan noise that you know of (aside from putting the G5 in some sort of ISOBOX)?
    thanks and keep up the great work
    jonathan
    (I had commented in my review and news page that the fan noise I hear is from the case's PCI zone fan (after applying the fan control firmware update to this 2003 G5), as stopping the 6800 fan with my finger momentarily (tilted the clear shield back as removing it will trigger the system fans to failsafe to high speed) and that showed the 6800 fan was not the source of the noise.-Mike)
    absolutely, it is the g5 and not the 6800. i just wondered if there was any way you knew of to keep the g5 more quiet without doing any damage to it (like turning the fan off!)... "

    I mentioned a NV5 cooler to Jonathan after getting a mail on it (see below) and wondered if that would lower the PCI zone temperature and keep that area fan at a lower speed. He said he'd try one and report back.


    (added 10/25/2004)
    "Just a brief note that I installed the 6800 card to replace the OEM ATI 9800 in my Dual G5 2.5 with 2.5 GB RAM and noted that fps in Marine Aquarium with all settings at maximum increased from about 250 to almost 400 on a new 23 inch Apple LCD display running at 1920 x 1200, millions of colors. I did not install the drivers from the CD included with the nVidia card package since IÕm running 10.3.6R20, a beta which could only be installed over 10.3.5 GM, not over a previous beta as is usually the case. This made me think that a) the drivers included with the R20 release were a significant upgrade over previous 10.3.6 betas and b) included drivers for the 6800 that were probably newer than the ones on the CD. It would be easy enough to check but I think that would be a gross NDA violation, albeit not a serious one.
    I. "

    I ran the same test on this 2003 DP 2GHz G5 w/6800 running 10.3.5 - at 1920x1200/85Hz on my sony FW900 CRT and the full-screen FPS rate was typically ran 479-487 FPS. (I forgot I had this app/SS, I had bought it about a month ago in a local store on impulse and updated it to the latest version from their website.)

    NV5 Cooler Install:

    (added 10/25/2004 - from an email last week)
    "If you are interested, I thought I would let everyone know that I have successfully installed an Arctic Cooling NV5 Silencer on my NVIDIA 6800 Ultra. The stock cooler was so annoyingly loud I felt I had no choice!
    (since stopping my 6800 fan showed it was not the source of the noise (the PCI zone fan was) I wondered if he had a bad fan on his 6800 - since so far all complaints were about the PCI zone fan, not the 6800's fan. But perhaps the NV5 exhausting hot air outside the case helped keep the PCI area fan from spinning up as fast as with the stock cooler/fan. (Although the NV5 doesn't blow all hot air outside the case, as there's a large gap between the blower tunnel end and the vented PCI bracket)-Mike)
    If you would like pictures of the end result, let me know. It was an easy and smooth installation. Unfortunately I cannot say much for it performance since I am not aware of any temperature monitoring software or devices that I have at my disposal. Judging buy the PC forums however, it is very efficient.
    Nathan
    (some time back I installed a NV5 on my pc's 6800GT card - it didn't have the dual slot bracket for an ultra card in my NV5's package, but with the GT card I didn't need it.
    But the NV5's heatsink (alum finned part) is much smaller than the stock ultra's heatsink - one pc review I read said it did not cool any better than the stock ultra heatsink, but again it may help keep the G5's internal PCI area cooler and reduce the PCI zone fan from running at higher speeds. Also the NV5's cooper plate some have said is not very flat (gaps over the ram chips on some installs but mine was ok)
    did you seal the (large) air gap between the blower tube and the pci slot bracket? (as I mentioned in the vga silencer 9800 install here - in my opinion that hurts efficiency of exhausting hot air out of the case)-Mike
    )
    Well I compared three 6800 ultra cards and they were all loud, to me.
    As for the NV5, its construction was quite satisfactory. I too had read similar complaints about having "gap" problems (in the copper base heatsink/ram mating area), but like most things on the internet, you can not believe everything that you read. My installation did not suffer from any gaps between the GPU or Memory and the copper heat-sink.
    As for a temperature decrease or increase, I have no way of measuring the temperature differences from before and after the NV5 was installed, so I can not give you an honest answer concerning that. I have read several articles however that stated that there were no significant temperature differences between the stock (6800 Ultra) cooler and the NV5, but rather it simply was MUCH quieter. I can vouch for that, the new cooler is silent.
    (he later wrote)
    I did however take your advice and contact Apple about the loud fan and they agreed to give me a new card. We will see if the new card requires me to install the NV Silencer. If it does, the I promise to take detailed pictures of the installation and email them to you as soon as they are available!
    Nathan "

    If his 6800 fan is noisy that's not normal from feedback so far from others (and my own tests on this one) - but complaints on the PCI zone fan running louder are common but again maybe the NV5 kept the bay area cooler and kept the PCI fan in the case from running at higher speeds. Another g5/6800 owner (see report above) is going to try a NV5 to see if it helps that.


    Lightwave 3D User comments: (I asked what version of lightwave he was using but have not gotten a reply back to date)

    (added 10/25/2004, from 6800 review 10/21 update)
    "Hey, Nice work
    I've found that the cards are pretty much identical as well. The only difference is the nvidia can be a bit flakey

    I've got a scene that is 1.7 million polys. It takes about 15 seconds on my G5 dual 2 gig with 2 gig ram to refresh a view. " from bounding boxes to open gl textured view" with both cards. only sometimes the 6800 ultra never refreshes. which makes for a nice crash if you hit render. I always wait for the video card to refresh before hitting f6 but when it never refreshes you've got to try.

    Also I've found that the schematic view, flickers black frames as I zoom in and out. I usually use 2 view ports on the left and a big schematic view on the right.
    1600 x 1200 at 85 hertz desktop,
    Try loading up your schematic with a couple hundred nulls or whatever. move them around a bit. then zoom in and out. Maybe the flicker will show up on your scene as well.

    Anyways thanks for doing the tests. I'm really hoping somebody writes some freaking drivers for this thing.
    charlie "

    Using the test "Hummer" scene, I don't see any problems zooming in and out in schematic view but I welcome other 3D applications (LW3D, Maya, Cinema4D, etc.) user comments on the 6800 or other Mac graphics cards. (Please include system/OS/software/addon software/hardware details in reports. thanks.)


    I welcome other Mac 6800 owner comments - please include your system/OS version and details on apps/games, etc. you used in reports. Thanks.

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