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2/20/01 Story DetailReturn to News Page
More Comments on Mac Graphics cards
and Sony FW900 Widescreen Mode Support

Published 2/20/2001
Last updated: 9/14/2001
for list of resolutions w/1049 rom GeForce2MX w/W900
Updated 8/16/2001 for problem report from FW900 owner w/1049 rom GF2MX.
Updated: 12/6/2001 for notes on OS 9.2.2
Updated Feb 2002 for Radeon 7500/GeForce4MX notes

Modes Supported by New G4 BTO ATI 7500 Radeon and GeForce4MX: See my dual 1GHz G4 Mac tests of the Radeon 7500 vs GeForce4MX for a listing of modes available with these two BTO cards with a Sony FW900.

OS 9.2.2/GeForce3 ROM 1055 Notes: Comments in the 12/6/2001 news page list resolutions seen after the OS 9.2.2 update with a GeForce3 (rom v1055). Several widescreen modes are listed and if possible with test with the FW900 and that card.

OS X 10.1 Tests: On 9/27/2001 I posted an article with OS X 10.1 First Impressions that includes a complete listing of Sony FW900 resolutions (using Radeon graphics card). OS X 10.1 had many more modes supported with the FW900 than 10.0.4 did. The article also includes comments on the DVD player, interface improvements and more. (An OEM GeForce3 with 1045 ROM still had no widescreen mode support for the FW900.)

I've gotten too many mails on the issue noted in February 19th, 2001 news on the lack of widescreen mode support for the FW900 using a GeForce2MX to read them all but here are about a dozen samples, including reports from various ATI card owners including the Radeon. (In the original post, a reader with a new 2001 G4 w/GeForce2MX graphics card wrote to say the card doesn't seem to support any of the widescreen modes of the Sony (CRT) FW900. He specifically noted 1920 x 1200 as the resolution he preferred. He noted trying SwitchRes, etc. which didn't help. He's asked if there are any other readers with a FW900 running either the GeForce2MX or the Radeon AGP with any success using wide-screen modes.)

Reader Comments on Sony FW900/F900 Widescreen Mode Support: (most recent reports first)

GeForce3 w/1045 ROM - No Widescreen FW900 Modes Supported: I've just tested a new Sony GDM-FW900 with an OEM GeForce3 w/rev 1045 firmware and the latest drivers included with OS 9.2.1. I'm sad to say there are nothing but 4:3 resolutions listed. The Radeon offered more than twice as many total modes, including some widescreen modes. However neither card was very sharp in my opinion at 1600 pixel and above resolutions that were tested. I hope Apple will release a firmware update for the GeForce3 to address this. (There are reports of later than 1045 ROM versions in some recent GeForce3 cards, but it's unknown if the later firmware updates support any of the Sony's widesceen modes.)

Notes on Latest GeForce2MX 1049 Firmware Rev Cards: (from 8/10/2001 news)
In the past there were several reports here from GeForce2MX card owners noting the card did not have support for the widescreen modes of the Sony 900 series monitor. However a recent reader email noted he's using a 24" Sony W900 monitor fine with the later firmware MX cards shipping in new Quicksilver G4s:

" Using a new [Quicksilver] G4/867 with GF2 attached to my W900 and it works great. I'm using the vga cable that came with the monitor and have not seen any problems.

[I asked for the card firmware revision]

ASP shows
Card ROM #: 1049
Card revision: 161
Drivers are Ver 2.2
This is the W900 Monitor Attached to G4 867
danny "

I asked Danny to send a list of "All" resolutions listed by the GeForce2MX card (firmware 1049). The image below shows the entire listing of resolutions with the card connected to the Sony W900.


At first I suspected those low refresh rates at 1600x1024 and 1920x1080 were due to the limits of the MX card's ramdac, but Sony's W900 specs (www.ita.sel.sony.com/products/displays/cad/gdmw900.html#specs, no longer online) notes the following resolutions/max refresh rates:

    Factory Preset Resolutions
  • Mode 1: 640 x 480 @ 60Hz
  • Mode 2: 1280 x 1024 @ 75Hz
  • Mode 3: 1600 x 1200 @ 75Hz
  • Mode 4: 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz
  • Mode 5: 1920 x 1080 @ 72Hz
  • Mode 6: 1600 x 1024 @ 76Hz
  • Mode 7: 1920 x 1200 @ 76Hz
  • Mode 8: 720 x 400 @ 70 Hz
  • Mode 9: 1920 x 1035 @60 Hz

The flat-screen FW900 specs PDF file (www.ita.sel.sony.com/products/displays/pdf/GDM-FW900.pdf) lists up to 85Hz refresh rates at 1920x1080 and 1600x1024 modes. (As well as some higher resolution modes.)
Update: A reader with a FW900 (flat-screen model) with the same MX card firmware version, etc. as Danny noted there were no widescreen modes listed.

" Hello Michael,
I have the "resolution problem" with the Sony FW900 and the Geforce card from the new Quicksilver G4/733 and G4/867 (german MacOS9.2). The firmware of the card is the 1049 noticed from Danny, Card revision 161 and D1-2.2 Nvidia driver.

I test the VGA Cable with and without the Sony adapter and a R-G-B-HD-HV cable. The resolution still be a 4 x 3 format. The 1600 x 1024 or the 1920 x 1080 resolution aren't possible, SwitchRes can't help...

Did you have a confirmation from a reader for the resolution issue of the GF2MX and FW900?
Thank you very much!
Best regards from Germany!
Yann Borg"

If utils like Griffin's Superres (similar to shareware Switchres) or ForceDDC don't help, I don't know what to suggest. I asked to make sure he had "All" resolutions selected in the Monitors Control Panel.

GeForce 3/Sony FW900/W900 Feedback Wanted: If any GeForce 3 card owners are running a Sony Widescreen CRT (F900/FW900) please let me know. (As of summer 2001, the GeForce3 rom version was 1045.)

GeForce2MX w/Firmware Update Still Doesn't Support Wide-Screen Modes: [added 7/2/2001] A reader sent a note that even with the firmware update, he's still not able to use wide-screen modes:

" Still no luck with wide-screen mode in a G4 533 and GeForce2MX card.

Just purchased an FW900 from dell.com ($1450 after a 20% discount and no shipping) and do not have access to ANY wide-screen modes.

I did update the firmware in the last update (a month or two ago?) which fixed the problems I was having with Rogue Spear--but that hasnŐt affected what's going on with my FW900.

Thought I'd update you since the last report was 4/20, which I think was after the MX fimware update.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to return it for a smaller F500--sure was looking forward to the 900's wide-screen view

I may call/email Apple to see if there has been a change...
Hopefully you have some more insight?
Jeff Clinton
Stump Removal Graphics "

My only suggestion at this time was to try an ATI Rage128 Pro or Radeon card, which seems to have a wider range of resolutions than the GeForce cards. [Update - see above 8/10/2001 note that the later firmware GeForce2MX cards may have solved this issue] (I think readers had already tried things like Griffin's (www.griffintechnology.com) free SuperRes utility.)

Sony FW900 and Radeon Graphics Card WideScreen Mode Tip: (Added 4/20/2001)

" Eureka!
Solving Wide Screen Monitor Resolution Issues with ATI Radeon Card and Macintosh G4.

After numerous (and I mean numerous) tech support calls to all parties involved, I have finally reached satisfaction regarding monitor resolutions on my G4 with ATI's Radeon graphics card connected to a Sony GDM-FW900 wide format monitor.

While reviewing the problem to submit to ATI tech support, I discovered a process that allows me to set the monitor at 1920 X 1200 @ 76hz with full edge to edge image.

I suggest following these steps:

1 - Connect the monitor to the G4 using the five connector BNC cable with NO DONGLE. Sony suggests using the dongle if problems occur with 16:10 image aspect ratios, but I have found that using the dongle removes all but one resolution option from the "Monitor" control panel. Take the dongle off.

2 - Open the "Monitor" control panel and set the resolution to 1920 x 1200 @76hz. This resolution option should now be available.

3 - DON'T TOUCH THE ASC BUTTON! Sony suggests using the the ASC (auto sizing and centering) to "easily adjust the picture to fill the screen" but in this case it scales the image incorrectly. Use the monitor's joy stick (or controls) to manually resize the window to fill your monitor. Read the manual if you are unfamiliar with the process. It's important at this time to keep an image on the screen that represents a "prefect square" because you'll need to set the monitors geometry so that, whatever it is your looking at, does not stretch vertically. I suggest using the monitor control panel window, because the buttons for color, monitor and preferences are each square. Adjust your monitor's geometry until these look perfectly square to you. DON'T TOUCH THE ASC BUTTON!

In summary:

ATI is aware of problems with both the OEM and the retail version of the Radeon card when used with a wide format monitor and are apparently looking into it. This fix will hopefully keep everyone going until everyone concerned figures out what is causing this erratic behavior. I'd be happy to share any thoughts and comments with others involved in this situation.
Danny Hommes
The Pixelography Company

"I have a FW900 and have tried it under 9.1 on my MP G4 with an apple radeon and ati pci radeon. Both will let me access all the widescreen resolutions except 1600x1024. I wish they had some smaller 16:10 resolutions, but communicating with ati pretty much seems impossible.
Scott Carmichael
Visual Effects Artist &
AVID system administrator
Radio/TV Services & WTIU-TV
Indiana University "

" I have a dual500 machine running dual Radeons - pci + AGP (bto). Both are connected to Sony GDM-FW900 monitors, this is my cinewave HD edit machine so I needed a big desktop.

With just the AGP Radeon installed all the resolutions show up fine, 1920x1080, 1920x1200, 1600x1000, etc. When I installed the PCI card (without changing any drivers) several resolution options went away, 1920x1080 was still available, but 1600x1000 and 1920x1200 were gone. Using switchres brought them back.

Before the pci radeon arrived I was using a proformanceIII, when that was installed even more resolution options went away and they could not be restored with switchres. I reported the troubles to ATI but did not get a response.
-chris "

"I have the same problem. With the new NVidia MX card, I can't get wide-screen modes with my Sony GDM-FW900, with either the 5-BNC cable, or VGA cable (with or without the Sony supplied dongle).

I purchased an ATI Radeon 32MB AGP retail card, which I have been told will work with the 5-BNC cable (VGA mode, monitor not sensed), for 1600x1024 and 1920x1200, but I won't personally be able to verify it works until this weekend.
I will report back when I have verified it works :)

BTW, the Titanium PB G4 also doesn't have wide-screen modes via the external VGA, and neither did my Pismo.

I have also been told that Sony/Apple know about this problem, but I have yet to verify this first hand.
Scott "

" He probably has tried this already......Has he tried holding down the control key while clicking on the resolution selector on the control strip? I have found that it will bring up all resolutions that are supported by a particular Macs video card.
Richard H. "

I suspect the MX card just doesn't support that mode in the current firmware/drivers.

This dual G4/500 owner said the ATI Rage card (Rage128 Pro AGP I assume) worked:

" I have been using a dual G4 500 with ATI Rage with NO PROBLEM on a GDM-W900 (the previous nonflat model) at 1920x1200 and millions of colors. I assume the Radeon will perform the same...
Dragan Cesmedziski "

" http://support.ati.com/infobase/3745.html
This ATI web page says no support above 1600x1200 with Sony W900/FW900 monitors currently with Radeon Mac edition. Not sure what they mean by "in some instances".
Would the older Rage Pro 128 card work? "

see above report.
here's the quote from the ATI URL above - it sounds like the issue is not universal:

"Sony GDM-W900/FW900 monitor - resolutions above 1600x1200 not available in some instances

This issue affects the RADEON MAC EDITION when used with a Sony GDM-W900 or GDM-FW900 monitor.

ATI Technical Support has received reports from customers that resolutions above 1600x1200 are not available in some instances.

Sony's specifications for these monitors indicate that they support resolutions up to 1920x1200.

ATI Engineering has been advised of this problem and is investigating. 

ATI Technical Support is currently gathering details on affected system configurations. Please complete an ATI Problem Report (support.ati.com/problem/macos.html) and include the following information:

• Is the monitor connected to the ATI card via a dongle? If so, what are the make and part number of the dongle?

• Is the monitor cable connected to 5 BNC connectors on the back of the monitor? If not, describe the connections being used.

Any updates will be posted on this page as they become available.

If you have any questions about the information above, contact ATI Technical Support and reference INFO-BASE file #3745"

" just wanted to let you know that i have the sony w900 connectec to an ati nexus 128 32mb card, and even though their literature says the card supports 1920 x 1200, i found that their software has poor support. I was in contact with ati over several months trying to get 1920x1200, but no luck. They sent me several patches and rom flashers, but nothing worked, eventually they sent me a replacement board they flashed themselves. Tech support does not seem to know how to fix the problem and they are a waste of time. It is nec. to get on touch with engineers or product manager by calling ati main office in canada.

I know my problem was with a different card ( monitor is virtually the same, the fw is jujst a newer flatter tube and usb hub built in, but virtually the same monitor)

i am also looking to get a new G4, so i would greatly appreciate it if i could be kept up to date of the situation as i am ready to purchase, but would like to know if the radeon is having the same problem as the nvidia, and if a fix is easily accomplished
danny "

" I purchased one of these monitors when I bought an AGP 450 G4. I had to purchase a Formac ProFormance 3 video card to get the 1920x1200 resolution setting. The price is $199.00 at http://www.formac.com. This setting was to small for for me. So, I returned the monitor and the card and bought a Cinema Display. Best decision I've ever made!
Love your site. Keep up the good work!
Sal Torneo "

" While I don't have a Sony FW900, I have been trying to get both Apple and ATI to add more widescreen resolutions to their displays. Current Radeon cards (OEM AGP and Retail PCI, both of which I have) can build a dynamic resolution from the DDC information. I tried both cards with my Sony KL-W9000, which is a 50-inch widescreen rear projector, and both support the monitor's maximum resolution, 1376x768@60Hz, which is listed in the DDC information. However, the PCI Radeon requires the PRAM to be zapped on each startup before that resolution will show up while the OEM Radeon always has that resolution available.

Certain Rage 128 Pro also cards have this same capability, including ones that shipped with the G4 Cube. Two other widescreen resolutions, 864x480@60Hz and 1072x600@60Hz, supported by my display are not available using these cards even though they are listed in the DDC information.

You can find out what your monitor is telling the display card about its capabilities by downloading Griffin Technologies' Simple DDC utility:

(this util as well as their SuperRes has been noted here in the past)

I would also like to see ATI support 856x480, which is supported directly by Quake III Arena, and 1280x720, which is one of the main HDTV resolutions and would be ideal for DVD playback. In addition, adding at least 720p would allow these cards to drive many of the current HDTV displays for gaming -- an awesome combination. This weekend, I found out that PC users have been adding 1280x720@60Hz to their Quake III settings for playback on HDTV displays and projectors.

Also, both OEM and Radeon cards have additional widescreen resolutions, 1600x1024 and 800x500, that are supported, but only via either the ADC output or the DVI output. They are listed both in TIL documents and on the box in some cases, but are not available via the VGA output, which usually isn't noted.
Dennis Whiteman "

If you have used an FW900 monitor with the GeForce2MX or Radeon cards and can comment on wide-screen mode support, let me know.
(My retail Radeon AGP review hardware specs page lists several wide-screen modes including 1920 x 1200, but I don't have a Sony FW900 to test.)

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