Can I boot my 2006 Mac Pro with only a PC 4870 card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Phydoux, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Phydoux macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009
    Hi everybody, new user here. I have tried to do my homework, but Google searches and searches here have failed to turn up any information.

    I have a Mac Pro 2006 edition with an ATI 1900XT video card. This is working just fine, and I can boot into Mac OS X and Windows Vista via Boot Camp.

    I just purchased a Sapphire 4870 video card. My plan was to remove the 1900XT and plug in the 4870, and always boot into Vista. I realize that since this card is not a "Mac" card I will not be able to use Mac OS X. I also expected from my reading that I would not be able to hold down the option key at boot time to select my boot drive. I figured if I had a need to get back into OS X, I'll put the 1900XT back in for that.

    As long as the Mac is configured to boot Windows, I thought that this setup would work fine. With the 4870 I expected that I would hear the bootup gong and then eventually see Vista start to boot up.

    So, with that in mind, I performed the switch last night. I removed the 1900XT and installed the 4870. I had to run an additional power lead from the spare molex connector by the DVD drive to the 4870 since it requires two power connections. The 1900XT only needs one.

    I plugged everything in, and turned on the Mac. I heard the startup gong. So far so good.

    Then, my screen turns almost completely white (a very light gray) and I see a blinking cursor in the upper left-hand corner. The hard drives begin to seek and it sounds like things are booting... however I never get to the Vista boot selection screen (I actually have two Vista installs on two separate drives, so I always get the boot selection screen to decide which drive to boot from.) I also never hear a Vista startup sound... it's almost as if it is booting into Mac OS X instead of Vista.

    At this point I am stumped and I'm hoping somebody here in the forum knows what is going wrong. Does my 4870 not have enough power? Do I have to have a Mac-compatible video card plugged in even if I don't plan on using it? Is what I'm trying to do just impossible?
  2. cured.not.dried macrumors member

    Nov 23, 2008
    i think it's something in the startup process for vista that enables the video card. like, mine doesn't display anything at all until the vista partition boots and i hear the login chime.

    try only using one vista partition, i don't think there's any way to choose one specific partition to autoboot through windoze so you might have to do without your extra...
  3. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    any of the boot-up screens require OSX EFI, so put the X1900 back in and set it up so that the machine boots into Vista with no input needed.

    I would suggest you try flashing with Mac 4870 BIOS but of course you can't since nobody has found 15 minutes to dump it for the community. Life & Death benchmarking is the rule.

    I'm sure once they have found every possible way to time the rendering of 16 million spinning triangles, we will get that ROM.
  4. Phydoux thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I am back to the 1900XT and I've verified that the system boots directly to Vista.

    Tonight I will try swapping cards out again to see if I get the same results.

    For anybody interested, I discovered this handy SATA to molex power adapter on Newegg, which I think I will be able to use to take power from the extra SATA drive bays on my Mac Pro to power my 4870, assuming that I can get it to work properly. I'll plug the adapter into the SATA power connector, then plug the molex to 6-pin PCIe adapter cable that came with my 4870 into that.

    I'm also very much interested to see if I could flash this 4870 with the ROM from the Apple version. If I had an Apple version I'd have dumped the ROM already (I've been following the other thread on this quite closely.)
  5. rylin macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2006
    Bitter much? ;)
  6. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I would recomend that you purchase the proper power cord, the Mac specific one.

    ATI sells them from their site for like $12 or AppleMecanix on Ebay will resell you the same thing for $30.

    There are also directions to make your own on 10000 Hz site, or something like that.

    Hopefully any day now one of the 4870 owners out there will break away from Cinebench just long enough to dump that ROM for us.

    I have been trying to get a good pic of me on my knees BEGGING but there isn't enough light for my iSight.
  7. Phydoux thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009

    Well, I don't know what I was doing wrong the first time, but I tried it again tonight. I pulled out the 1900XT and plugged in the 4870, made sure that the power cables were connected, and booted up. This time I was greeted by the Windows boot selection screen (to choose which partition to boot Vista from.) I made my selection and off I went.

    I'm typing this on my Mac Pro now within Vista and my 4870.

    So, to answer my original question... no, I don't need a Mac video card in order to boot into Boot Camp.

    I see in another thread that we now have a ROM that has worked for two people and not worked for one. I'll keep my eye on it and make the decision to flash once a few more people have reported success or failure. I just barely got this to work and I don't want to screw things up.

    Thanks to everybody that responded.

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