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Thread: Can I really run 2 monitors on 256MB of RAM?

  1. #1
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    Default Can I really run 2 monitors on 256MB of RAM?

    So... forgive me if this has been covered before......

    Recently, it became possible for me to run two monitors. I am kind of elated about the idea (Okay, well, just say I'm easily amused). Anyway, I'm just about positive that the Mac Pro 3.1 I have has the stock graphics card installed. Two DVI ports. But my question is this.... I have a 23 inch display and plan to add a 20 inch display to that. Is 256 MB of RAM (what's on the stock graphics card) really enough?

    There's a place here in Stinking Desert National Memorial that sells computer parts. They had some GeForce card - a mere $38 bucks - with 1 GB of RAM on it. I would have to find my own drivers. The sales man rattled off the name of some software that *might* work, and then told me I would have 15 days to return it.

    Is 256 MB really enough? I don't do intense gaming. Just normal stuff. But 256 just doesn't sound like a whole lot to work with. Should I look to add an extra card, upgrade the one I have, or just leave things as they are? I could really use a good, knowledgeable opinion on this.

    Oh, and FWIW... the salesman did at least know enough to tell me that I wouldn't be able to boot from the card he was trying to sell me. Actually, I sort of took that for granted, but at least he knew *that* much.......

  2. #2
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    It should work fine. Not sure about the intensity.

    RAM = memory for your computers needs or Random Access Memory
    GPU = Graphics specific memory or Graphics Processing Unit

    Newer machines now have a lot of GPU memory which helps greatly. The older did not.

  3. #3
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    Yup. That's what I meant. Didn't mean to confuse the two concepts.... I remember looking long and hard for a better graphics card for my QS..... back in the day when Dinosaurs roamed freely.....

  4. #4
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    Careful with video cards in Macs....for years you could only use a Mac video card, which although may be exactly the same as a PC model (spec, number, etc.) has a different firmware code set.

    Back in the dark ages (5+ years ago) there was a big business of modders that would buy the right PC cards, flash the ROM with a hacked version of the Mac firmware, and sell em for $ on ebay and the like. Think this has mostly dried up...just did a scan and found this:


    Mac ATI Radeon 5770 1GB PCIe Video Card

    Hardware Compatibility:All intel From MacPro 2006 - 2010 Model (MacPro1,1 / 2,1 / 3,1 / 4,1 / 5,1)

    OS Compatibility: Mac OS X 10.6.4 ~10.8.x - Mavericks 10.10 & Windows XP - 7 (Bootcamp Supported)

    Package contents: 1x Video Card, 1x Apple PCI-E 6-Pin Mac Pro Power Cable, 1x Installation Instructions.

    For Direct connection to DVI ports at this Modified HD5770 card , you will NOT see the "Grey Apple Logo" Booting Screen until it fully loaded to the Desktop.(User Login Screen present)

    But connection via DVI to VGA adapter at Port 1, you can see the booting screen as normal, so if you feel uncomfortable about it, Please Don't purchase it ..
    So, the clues here that let us know that this is not a genuine Apple approved/sold/made for Mac video are card are: 1) strange boot issue (no Apple logo visible, 2) VGA (Apple has had no VGA ports in a very long time).

    ---

    I have not kept up, but as I recall some late model Mac Pros can use some specific "generic" PC (non-Mac) video cards. You need to verify that before trying it. If the card is not compatible....it can prevent booting, rendering it completely useless to you. Hopefully somebody else can confirm or deny this.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  5. #5
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    Found this one too, more clearly/honestly stated:

    This PowerColor graphics card has been professionally flashed with the Apple EFI firmware and is confirmed to work with all tower Mac Pros 1,1 through 5,1 on and on version of OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) through 10.10 (Yosemite). It was pulled from a working computer and extensive tests were done to ensure perfect operation on up to 3 displays. The heat sink and fan have also been cleaned for cool operation and low fan speeds. It will show boot a boot screen on the VGA port. This auction is for the *card only* in an anti-static bag. No cables are included. To connect the card to a Mac Pro, it will require a mini 6-pin to 6-pin cable, which can easily be acquired for $8 or less here on eBay or amazon. If you don't have the cable, please order it in addition to the card.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
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    Thanks, Uncle Mac.

    Apparently, I've been doing some similar searches. That last one, I indeed stumbled upon, and remember reading something like that, perhaps for either that card or a similar one.

    I was looking at one card on a popular auction site, but now...... eh.... I just don't know. Getting a better graphics card is really kind of at the low end of my Mac Pro "wants list," and.... yes..... I remember clearly the confusion about all this. Starting to sink in again. LOL. Like this one I found...... hard to know how to feel about it.......

  7. #7
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    One of our office MacPros has a stock bottom end Apple nVidia GeForce GT120 with 512 MB. It runs 2 monitors well.

    I always upgrade graphics first on my own personal Mac purchases. In my opinion the graphics is the first thing to age a machine. Upgrading the graphics to a middle of the road used card is not all that expensive. Buying through Amazon or eBay has its risk though. Buying a new card is tough because there are always so few available - a couple weeks ago the only card I could even find new was the nVidia 680 card, $450, if I remember right. Killer card, but higher end than you need just for a couple monitors. The afore mentioned GT120 is a dirt cheap example that I have seen as low as $35 used on Amazon.

    I think you add the second monitor and try it out. Should you need more card, go get one then. It more depends on what you use your computer for than just the fact of two monitors.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  8. #8
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    Very sensible advice, as always!!!

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    Rolleyes The Punch Line....

    ..... is that two monitors don't actually fit on my desk. LOL. How does that old saying go? Measure twice, cut once, or something like that?

    I did have the other monitor on the desk next to the other one for a few moments, but it would ultimately mean having to move the printer to somewhere else, and I'm all out of room.

    I also realized that I'm so used to centering myself in front of just one monitor, I'm not sure what I would actually do with two.

    Hmmm. This is actually more of a head scratcher than I thought. Good thing I didn't rush out and buy a video card.....

  10. #10
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    I ran 2 monitors once on a Powerbook 140 If I remember it had NO vram at all and used system ram for video.had a whopping 8MB or system ram. Running 2 screens and watching the mouse jump form one to the other was the coolest thing I had ever seen
    Damien,

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boyd 9 View Post
    ..... is that two monitors don't actually fit on my desk.

    Uh, time for a new house.

    My brother bought a piano last month. Now he is looking for a bigger house to house it in.

    I detect a TREND!
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  12. #12
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    A piano did someone say..... Piano!


    My desk....


    Damien,

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    Think how much you'd spend to get a desk of that quality, and how many old pianos people are giving away because the workings are junk.

    Way to DIY!

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    Thumbs up yes

    Forgot about that you did a few years ago right?... why do I remember an off green? Was it green once? Nicely done.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwm View Post
    Forgot about that you did a few years ago right?... why do I remember an off green? Was it green once? Nicely done.
    It might have been....



    Damien,

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    Thumbs up

    yup

  17. #17
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    Love It!!!!!!!

    And, yes..... working on a bigger house

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