Graphics card update for Mac Pro 1,1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by badsandwich, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. badsandwich, Oct 26, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011

    badsandwich macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2009
    I have a Mac Pro 1,1 which is in dire need of an upgrade, but there's no point doing that right now, with a (hopefully) imminent refresh on its way.

    I've been replacing what parts I can to improve the overall performance of the system, such as installing SSDs (which is actually proving to be a bit pointless as the disk speed seems to be limited by the SATA throughput on the motherboard anyway).

    I'm now turning my attention to the graphics board. Currently I have an 8800 GT that I got from ebay and flashed to an EFI32 ROM, which has been working perfectly.

    But now I want to update this with something a bit more meaty. I understand I'd probably need to keep the 8800GT as a "helper" card, which is fine (I have have a secondary display anyway).

    But what I wanted to know is, what is the highest-spec _nvidia_ card that I could put into this model and for it to work with Lion 10.7.2+ and Boot Camp? And if someone could point me towards a guide for doing so, that would be great too.
  2. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    If you prefer nVidia for whatever reason, that's fine. Take a look at OSX86 or Netkas to find out which nVidia card would match your requirements best.

    You should however consider, that the ATI cards are currently dominant on Macs, so driver support might be better (stability, speed) and there are more people trying things with ATI cards (like e.g. firmware flashing etc.).

    If you are concerned about mixing brands (while keeping your 8800GT as "helper card"): I am running the nVidia 120GT card that came with the MP 1,1 originally together with a flashed ATI 4870 and both are running fine under SnowLeopard on a 3-monitor setup. OSX (10.6) integrates both brands seamlessly (though i have no experience regarding Lion...).
  3. badsandwich thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2009
    Thanks for the reply. It has to be nVidia because I run certain software in boot camp that requires nvidia hardware unfortunately.

    What I'm concerned with is which cards could even work with such old hardware. If there's not going to be a significant performance boost over the 8800, then it's probably not worth doing.
  4. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Maybe try and find an EVGA GTX285 for Mac. Should be a boost over the 8800 but still quite old. GTX480 looks to be the easiest "modern" card to get working but requires some extra futzing and may blank out your boot screen.
  5. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    The 8800 requires a power lead, so if you plan on keeping it in your machine, your options are much more limited.
  6. badsandwich, Oct 26, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011

    badsandwich thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2009
    I'm prepared to do some futzing. Also the more modern the better, because then the odds are I can re-purpose the card if/when apple releases the next gen mac pro.

    Also I wonder if it might be a better idea just to stick a second 8800 GT in there?

    EDIT: Hmm power will be a problem.
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I think as long as you require NVidia you're somewhat stuck. ATI has the better options right now. Would it be possible to put in a GT 120 and then another card? The GT 120 doesn't require power leads. If you have NVidia requirements, that might satisfy them and let you put in an ATI card.

    Or just keep your 8800 in there for the software that requires NVidia and add a 5770.
  8. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA

    The GT120 that Apple sold does NOT work in a 1,1.

    There are GT120s that work with a 1,1 available elsewhere.

    You can use a GTX570 in 10.7.2 using Netkas ATY_Init. You do have to tweak a kext or two for maximum capabilities. The GTX470/480 require a little less tweaking. No helper card is needed in 10.7.2, but there is no guarantee that later OS updates will continue this. (didn't work that way in 10.7 or 10.7.1)

    The drivers for new Nvidia cards are in Lion, but there are no EFI ROMs for them

    A GTX285 won't work for boot screen either as it is EFI64.

    I have a GTX570 that I toyed around with in 10.7.1, the drivers were a little glitchy though I haven't tried with 10.7.2

    The 480 and 580 require more power than is easily available, why I recommend the 470/570
  9. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Ah right, forgot about that... :(
  10. badsandwich thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2009
    Sounds like the 470/570 would be the way to go. If you can get the 570 working in 10.7.2 on a 1,1 I'd be happy to buy it from you.
  11. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    no need to buy it from me.

    Get the GTX570 from wherever it's cheapest and download ATY_Init for free from Netkas.

    If you want a GT120 helper card for boot screens, I sell those for 1,1. But you don't NEED one of those.

    You do need to mod a kext or two, read up at for details.
  12. badsandwich thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2009
    True, but after a couple of days reading through these forums, I felt it would be appropriate to show some appreciation to you & Netkas. Netkas accepts donations, you sell modded cards, so…

    Is there any particular brand of GTX 570 I'd need (I'm hearing good things about the Frozr III)?
    Does it need to be installed in a particular slot on the MB?

    Please PM me about the GT120 (will you post to the UK?). I will definitely need a helper card because I mess about with this system so much it would be good to have access to the recovery and boot camp menu.
  13. DevinPitcher macrumors regular

    May 23, 2009
    Michigan, USA, Earth
    The ATI Radeon HD 5770 from Apple is working great in my Mac Pro 1,1. :cool:

    EDIT: Oh, NVIDIA. Whoops. :p

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