ATI Radeon 9800 XT
The ATI FireGL X2-256 is a high performing workstation graphics accelerator, delivering fast 3D performance and superior quality graphics for professional applications. Based on the FGL 9800XT Graphic Processing Unit (GPU), featuring four geometry engines and eight parallel rendering pipelines, the ATI FireGL X2 takes the leading computer-aided design (CAD) and digital content creation (DCC) applications to a new level of interactivity.
With 256MB of graphics memory and hardware accelerated rendering using OpenGL Shading Language and DirectX 9 HLSL, the ATI FireGL X2 empowers 3D professionals to realize a dramatic increase in productivity and a reduction in design cycle times, without sacrificing quality. All ATI FireGL boards are certified for the leading OpenGL and DirectX applications.
|The FireGL X2 is a high end ATI 9800 XT based Wintel (Windows/Intel) Video Workstation card. The card has been converted to Mac use, by reprogramming the ROM chip with modified Mac 9800 XT firmware. Once modified the cards fan controls work properly and dual VGA monitors are supported. This firmware mod fully supports OSX Core Image Hardware Acceleration, Quartz Extreme, and Rotation. These cards can also be modified using Mac 9800 Pro firmware. When used with these cards, the 9800 Pro firmware supports dual ports, one full DVI (digital and analog) and one VGA only port, but the fan runs at full speed all the time, and is a bit loud. I do not normally use the 9800 Pro firmware for these cards, not so much for the loudness issue, but more due to fear that the fan will wear out prematurely from constant full speed operation, but if you need the digital output, the 9800 Pro firmware can be installed for you.
Using the best parts available at the time of manufacture, these cards are superior in quality to the regular Mac and Wintel 9800 XT cards. FireGL X2s were mostly sold OEM in high end workstations, and if found retail were usually $500 or more per card. Before the ATI X800 cards came out, this was the PC Gamers card to have. A large front heatsink/fan combination is linked to a large rear heat spreader. The front heatsink covers both the GPU and memory located on the front of the card, while the rear heat spreader covers the memory on the back of the card. This enables the fan/heatsinks to cool the GPU, as well as the front and back memory. While the stock speeds for the Mac 9800 XT were 400mhz for the GPU, and 360mhz for Memory, these cards came stock setup at 412mhz GPU, and 365mhz memory speeds, and could usually be clocked by about 3-5% higher with original cooling, or even higher with aftermarket cooling. Since i'm pretty conservative (for an old hippie) these cards are set to the stock Mac 9800 XT speeds, which should give them a nice dependable life span. They are still plenty fast, the only faster stock ATI cards for Mac being the X800 XT, and X850 XT cards.
Regular Wintel 9800-XT cards, are frequently modified (using the 9800 Pro Firmware) and sold on eBay as Mac G4 G5 9800-XT/Pro cards, with prices ranging anywhere from $150 $225 per card (usually just under $200). This is interesting considering that NO 8X AGP card can operate in a PowerMac G4s 4X AGP slot. This is because when Apple came up with the ADC Monitors, they utilized a couple of the "unused" pins in the 4X AGP slot definition to operate the G4s "power on" function with the ADC Monitors, later when the 8X AGP standard came out, these same "unused" pins were the exact pins chosen in the 8X AGP slot definition to enable a cards 8X function. The simple result, if you put ANY 8X AGP card in a PowerMac G4s 4X AGP slot, the machine will NOT even be able to power on. For an 8X card to work in a G4, the card must have these pins disabled, and of course disabling them means disabling the cards 8X functions, hobbling the card into 4X instead of 8X operation. Of course none of this is mentioned anyplace in the eBay adds, since these sellers hope most potential buyers will assume the cards operate as 4X cards in a 4X slot and as 8X cards in an 8X slot (as they originally did in Wintel Systems).
|DO NOT USE THIS CARD WITHOUT INSTALLING THE POWER CABLE!|
These cards need Lots of Power, and since they have regular PC-Clone AGP card slot connectors, they can NOT get power from the G5s ADC power connector (the little extra slot connector located in front of the G5s AGP Pro slot). You MUST remember to hook up the card to the G5s drive power (Use the Y connector to split power from the G5s optical drive. Disconnect the power cable from the optical drive. Connect the female end of the Y cable to the male power cable that you just disconnected from the optical drive. Then use one male end of the Y cable to reconnect power to the optical drive, and the other male end to connect to the video card). ATI made a PDF file on how to do this for their Mac Edition 9800 Cards G5_molex.pdf. Failure to hook up drive power can damage the video card, and possibly even hurt your Mac as the card would try and draw the needed power thru the AGP slot, which simply is not built to deliver that amount of power.
Cards are currently setup for full 8X AGP operation in G5 PowerMacs with 8X AGP slots, and were burn-in tested as such. Other Sellers of these cards sell them already disabled to 4X AGP, using this as part of their "sales pitch" saying the cards are G4 and G5 compatible, discreetly not mentioning that in order for the cards to work in the G4, they must be disabled to 4X AGP, which means that if put in a G5 they will still only be running as 4X AGP rather than 8X AGP. The G5s 8X AGP slot can use 4X or 8X AGP cards, so there is no obvious problem using a modded 4X AGP card in a G5, I just prefer to leave the cards working as 8X cards allowing them to perform to their full potential in a G5 machine. It is Fairly easy to disable the card to 4X AGP, you can do this on your own, at your own risk.
The cards can be hobbled down to 4X AGP operation if you want to use them in a G4 4X AGP slot. There are directions and pictures, showing how to disable 8X AGP cards to operate as 4X AGP cards in PowerMac G4s on The Mac Elite Site. This is done by disabling Pins 3 and 11 on the backside of the AGP slot connector. There are several ways disable these pins, such as putting tape over the connectors, or cutting the traces, on some cards you can even remove resistors located somewhere along the trace. The link above is to a Mac Elite page with lots of info and pictures on how to disable 8X cards to operate as 4X cards for use in G4 PowerMacs.