Compatible video cards for Mac Pro 3,1 (early 2008)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by pigeonpigeon, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. pigeonpigeon macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2012

    The NVidia GeForce 8800 GT in my early 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 just cut out. Or more specifically the fan no longer fans, and any activity that uses the gpu will crash the computer within seconds. I just spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what my graphics card replacement options are and I am completely overwhelmed.

    Not only have I always been confused by graphics cards and which are better, but figuring out which ones will work with my computer has my head spinning. The video cards sold on Apple's website all claim they require a 2009 or 2010 model, though people with the same computer as mine have claimed to run the 5770 with no problems...

    Anyways, I would appreciate any advice! I am planning on keeping this computer for a long time to come, so I'd like to go with the best upgrade possible (excluding anything too pricey - like the $1200 one on Apple's store).

    Also, if it's relevant, I am currently running 10.6.8, but planning on upgrading to Lion anyway - so I could always expedite the upgrade if necessary.

    Thanks ahead of time for any tips!
  2. SDAVE macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2007
    My 8800GT went out as well (What a crappy GPU!) on my 08, 8Core

    I got the 5770 and it works fine. Just had to dust out the PCIe port. It works perfectly fine now. I think you should go with the 5770...down the line if you need more horsepower you should be able to find a newer version of the card. The more expensive card is not worth it at this time because it is quite old.
  3. gpzjock, Mar 20, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    With Lion the options are bigger.

    I am using a MP octo '08 with a Sapphire Radeon HD5870 I flashed back in 2010 (bought for £275 on eBay).
    It runs very well in Snow Leopard. All I miss is the boot screen and I can live with that.

    If you are going to Lion then several options open up:

    The Nvidia Driver update allows team green in,
    Read all about it here:

    You can drop in an AMD Radeon HD6870 pretty much straight out of the box in most cases:,1100.0.html XFX seem the most likely brand to work.
    Alternatively, you could use Zeus to flash it. If you wish to remain in Snow Leopard.

    Finally you can buy a modified PC card from a good eBay merchant who knows what he is doing:

    Take your pick.
  4. pigeonpigeon, Mar 20, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012

    pigeonpigeon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2012
    Thanks for the quick replies, both of you!

    Based on all of that, it seems my best options are either the HD 5870, GTX 570 or GTX 580. It looks like the 580 would require a separate power supply, which I'd rather not deal with, leaving me with the 5870 or the 570. The GTX 570 seems to be the better of the two, so I'm leaning towards that. I do realize that the 570 would not give me a boot screen - so that means to switch between windows/os x I will need to use the bootcamp controls, correct?

    Before I make the leap, though, I'd like to verify one thing. In the thread you linked, gpzjock, someone mentioned that to use the GTX 570 in a Mac Pro you need 2 PCIe 6-pin cables which aren't included with the card. I did some searching and the only PCIe 6 pin cables I can find are listed as extensions or splitters (for example:

    Are any of those what I'm looking for? Or am I missing something?

    Thanks again!
  5. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    For similar money, we have a GTX470 complete with boot screens and power cords.

    It is perhaps 10% slower, but is supported in 10.6.8 and 10.7.4.
  6. badlight macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2008
    An AMD 6850 PC card is a drop-in replacement for the 8800GT under Lion 10.7.3, and is claimed to work under 10.6.8 but I haven't tried it. No second power cable needed. I have a Sapphire card, which is quiet even at start-up, unlike the 8800. Reasonably priced solution if you don't need the horsepower of the cards mentioned already.

    No boot screen, so you are right about using System Preferences/Bootcamp to switch. Note that my Lion installation doesn't see the Win 7 disk in System Preferences, for reasons not yet clear, though I can get to it using the Win 7 install disk. No problem switching back to OSX.
  7. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
  8. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    This is due to not having the drive formatted so that OSX can "see" it. You probably didn't use "Bootcamp Assistant"
  9. pigeonpigeon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2012
    Thank you for the help, everyone! I have gone ahead and ordered a GTX 570 and additional PCI-e power cable.
  10. badlight macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2008
    No, drive is correctly formatted. Problem now resolved - caused by duplicate, old copy of Paragon NTFS driver inadvertently imported when OSX installation carried out on new SSD.
  11. jpine macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2007
    I was a little patient and waited for a genuine Apple 5770 to appear on eBay at a reasonable price. Some guy had a few laying around because he updated his editing bays on day one of the Mac purchases to nVidia cards to take advantage of the Mercury engine. I got it for a $130.00. Works great in SL and Lion.
  12. r00tb33r macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2012
    GTX285 remains the fastest officially supported Nvidia video card for Mac Pro 3,1 and up. GTX285 still holds its own even against newer unofficial cards much due to the wide 512bit memory bus (newer cards have narrower memory bus).
    Reference cards, which most of them are, are also very quiet. There are nice, overbuilt units, weighing 2lbs+.
    I should also note that while ATI cards are newer and often are thriftier, they have no CUDA capability because CUDA is Nvidia's proprietary technology. Many Adobe products like Premiere CS5 have CUDA acceleration plugins (GTX285 is officially supported).
  13. Ve3tro macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2012
    For my GTX 580 3GB I used both 2 x 6 pin cables to the 8 pin input and 2 molex to 6 pin input.

    When I tried both 6 pin cables on the GTX 580 it wouldnt run due to the lack of power. I don't know if this will be the same for the GTX 570 though.
  14. king tech 1 macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2012
    2006 dual core.. need help

    i just got fcp x - for a 2006 dual core - its running pretty good - but it keeps suggesting i need a new video card - i still use 10.4 sometimes to run the old versions of pro tools and logic .. need a little help - whats the fastest or the best video card i can get for my computer -- someone suggested ati 4870 -
    does anyone have an idea here?

    thanks - tech
  15. umbilical macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2008
    FL, USA
    I need a replacement for my gt8800, is dead
    so I go for this???

    that can will work with mountain lion???

    other option NOT flashed??? I dont want any flashed thing...

  16. JimmyPainter macrumors member


    Nov 13, 2015
    If Full Apple "Non Flashed" is your Bag ... Apple's 7950 is the best. For me .. I run a used $150 7970 unflashed along with original 2660 card for boot. So stinking fast it makes my head swim. Luxmark 2.0 Sala score of 2400 n something.

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