Mac Pro 2009 Graphics Card replacement

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dryjoy, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. dryjoy macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2009
    OK, first thing to say is that I have read a lot of threads on this topic already, but I know almost nothing about graphics cards and I'm having real problems using the information I've found to inform my choice. Please treat me like a complete novice.

    The situation is that I have a Mac Pro early 2009 (4,1), which I use for music production. It has the stock GT120 graphics card, and although I know it's a very weak card, until now I've never been interested in changing it, as I have only ever been interested in the sounds that emerge from my machine, not the graphics.

    Until now, I have had no interest in gaming on my Mac, but I HAVE to play Elite Dangerous, as I started playing Elite on the BBC Model B in 1984 and also enjoyed the sequels. They're the only games I've really been interested in.

    My Mac Pro seems like a reasonable machine for playing Elite Dangerous, except for the graphics card (I have a separate internal HD with a Windows 7 installation).

    Just to be clear, I have very little money to spend and I would be quite content to play the game on minimum settings as long as I can have a reasonable experience, I just don't want the game to pass me by.

    This is what I think I understand about choosing a graphics card: since Lion came out, it hasn't been necessary to opt for a Mac specific card, as long as you don't mind losing the EFI boot menu and Apple boot screen, although some cards can be flashed to provide EFI support. I can live without the boot menu though if I could find a card that could be flashed, that would be great.

    Now here's where I'm struggling: I've heard that an Nvidia GTX 750 card is a good choice for Mac. Does it matter what brand I choose? Can any brand be flashed? Is it correct that 300W is the maximum power consumption acceptable (I have no other PCIe cards installed)? Is there anything else I need to think about?

    Now for a specific example: could I choose something like this?

    I am not sure about the power spec. The specs says it needs a 400W power supply. Does that mean it actually consumes 400W or does it just mean that the computer's overall power supply must be rated over 400W? Presumably if it's the latter, a card like this should be OK?

    Thanks in advance for your help. As I said, please treat me like a complete dunce.
  2. TruckdriverSean macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2009
    Texas, US
    Many people get a GTX-680. I've got one, and assuming I'm not able to sell my Mac Pro I'll probably replace the 680 with a GTX-980 or 970. But I digrees.


    1) they are still reasonably powerful
    2) are available with two 6-pin power cables for the Mac pro
    3) are relatively easy to DIY flash to full Mac compatibility.

    Check the thread near the top of this forum about Nvidia non-EFI cards to get a good picture of things. I know the thread is long, but there's a lot of info and partial summary in the first post.

    Also, I don't know your game or its requirements, but I've seen Radeon HD 4870's flashed for the 4,1 Mac pro on eBay for $99. Not all that powerful by today's standards, but you could get one kinda cheap that is no fuss.
  3. BigCanoe macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2003
    I bought an unflashed (non-EFI) GTX650 off EBAY for $50. I had to buy 1 special Mac Pro power cable (also off EBAY). I installed it this weekend using the NVidia web drivers and it seems to be working fine and about quadrupled the frame rate I was getting playing WoW with the old GT120.
  4. dryjoy thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2009
    Thanks - that's really helpful advice. I'm starting to narrow down a bit now, it's looking like the GTX 750Ti could be a good choice, if I can stretch to that (I'll know in a few days when an eBay auction ends). If not then 2nd hand GTX 650 could be a good option. Look like the GTX 680 might be too expensive, but Ill keep looking for a deal. Thanks again.
  5. stiligFox macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2009
    I have a GTX 970 in my Hackintosh right now, but the premise is the same -- so long as you get one that uses two 6-Pin power connectors, it'll really fly. It runs Elite really well!

    Granted, if the 660 is beyond your budget, a 970 probably is as well, but it certainly is the best bang for your buck.

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