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

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Stinking Desert National Memorial
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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
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
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    NW Montana
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    8,197

    Default

    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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    Default

    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
    Join Date
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
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    Default

    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
    Join Date
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
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    Default

    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
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Stinking Desert National Memorial
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    Default

    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.......

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