MP 1,1-5,1 Mac Pro 3,1 Upgrade Graphics Card

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Hey all,

I have a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 2x 2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM that I want to upgrade the graphics card in. I have heard that it is possible to upgrade the card to one that supports Apple Metal graphics and allow the machine to run Mojave and newer without the need for a patch and with full graphics acceleration.

I was wondering if anyone had more information on this. The articles I have read say that you loose the EFI boot screen sometimes. I would like to preserve this feature. So, has anyone ever done this to their Mac Pro with success?

Also, what cards are compatible for the Mac Pro to run Mojave and newer OS? From what I have read the following cards are:

NVIDIA GTX680
NVIDIA GT770
NVIDIA GT780

Are these the only compatible cards? Are there more? I guess I have a lot of questions... basically I want to figure out wether I can/want to upgrade the Graphics card.
 

tsialex

macrumors 604
Jun 13, 2016
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8,372
Brazil
Hey all,

I have a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 2x 2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM that I want to upgrade the graphics card in. I have heard that it is possible to upgrade the card to one that supports Apple Metal graphics and allow the machine to run Mojave and newer without the need for a patch and with full graphics acceleration.

I was wondering if anyone had more information on this. The articles I have read say that you loose the EFI boot screen sometimes. I would like to preserve this feature. So, has anyone ever done this to their Mac Pro with success?

Also, what cards are compatible for the Mac Pro to run Mojave and newer OS? From what I have read the following cards are:

NVIDIA GTX680
NVIDIA GT770
NVIDIA GT780

Are these the only compatible cards? Are there more? I guess I have a lot of questions... basically I want to figure out wether I can/want to upgrade the Graphics card.
NVIDIA GTX 680 is the only self-flashable NVIDIA GPU that work with MP3,1 with pre-boot configuration support. You can buy a PC version and flash yourself with the eVGA GTX 680 Mac Edition firmware.

GTX770/780 are fully compatible with MP3,1 but the Mac EFI firmware is not free and you have to pay a third party to flash the card for you.

There are other more complicated options, AMD GPUs are now supported with MOUSSE emulation of SSE4.2. The problem is that AMD GPUs newer than R9 280X, like RX 580, are not self flashable too and you will need to use OpenCore and MOUSSE for get everything working.

You can go for the AMD cards with you like to tinker, if you just want use your Mac Pro, go for a NVIDIA GTX 680.
 
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Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
I've heard that Apple has sort of cut off their ties with NVIDIA, which presumably means that Apple will be working their hardest to phase out NVIDIA. What AMD options are available? I don't need powerful graphics by no means, just a usable computer in Mojave and later.

Is see you linked steps for flashing the 680. How hard is this process? I know my way around a computer, but I am not the best when it comes to software. From what I've seen this is a fairly affordable card that provides Mojave support.
 

tsialex

macrumors 604
Jun 13, 2016
7,662
8,372
Brazil
I've heard that Apple has sort of cut off their ties with NVIDIA, which presumably means that Apple will be working their hardest to phase out NVIDIA. What AMD options are available? I don't need powerful graphics by no means, just a usable computer in Mojave and later.

Is see you linked steps for flashing the 680. How hard is this process? I know my way around a computer, but I am not the best when it comes to software. From what I've seen this is a fairly affordable card that provides Mojave support.
Kepler NVIDIA GPUs have Apple native NVIDIA driver support. Several Macs, up to MacBook Pro 15" mid-2014, have Kepler discrete GPUs (mobile GT 750) and while Apple supports them, GTX 680 will be supported since it uses the exactly the same driver. Catalina still supports all Kepler NVIDIA GPUs with Apple native NVIDIA driver.

Flashing one of the GTX 680 compatible models is a 5' job with Windows 7/8.1/10. See the threads linked, don't buy a GTX 680 model not listed.

For AMD GPUs, people usually buy R9 280, R9 280X, RX 460/480/560/580. Be aware that involves serious macOS hacking for AMD GPUs work with macOS and MP3,1 after Sierra, don't go for AMD GPUs if you are not up for the task. RX 460/480/560/580 are not self flashable and you have to pay a third party for the EFI firmware or use OpenCore to have pre-boot configuration support. Again, it works, but it's a long road to get everything going and you will need to learn a lot of things.
 
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Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Kepler NVIDIA GPUs have Apple native NVIDIA driver support. Several Macs, up to MacBook Pro 15" mid-2014, have Kepler discrete GPUs (mobile GT 750) and while Apple supports them, GTX 680 will be supported since it uses the exactly the same driver. Catalina still supports all Kepler NVIDIA GPUs with Apple native NVIDIA driver.

Flashing one of the GTX 680 compatible models is a 5' job with Windows 7/8.1/10. See the threads linked, don't buy a GTX 680 model not listed.

For AMD GPUs, people usually buy R9 280, R9 280X, RX 460/480/560/580. Be aware that involves serious macOS hacking for AMD GPUs work with macOS and MP3,1 after Sierra, don't go for AMD GPUs if you are not up for the task. RX 460/480/560/580 are not self flashable and you have to pay a third party for the EFI firmware or use OpenCore to have pre-boot configuration support. Again, it works but it's a long road to get everything going.
Well, you just sold me on a NVIDIA GTX 680. There's no way I could flash an AMD GPU myself.

So in theory if I purchase a compatible 680 and replace my ATI Radeon 2600 GT (factory) I could install it with full support in Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) and BootCamp the Mac Pro into Windows 10. In Windows I can run through the various steps flash the GPU to support EFI in Mojave and up. After it has been flashed upgrade to High Sierra per Apple's instructions and then to Mojave and up?
 

tsialex

macrumors 604
Jun 13, 2016
7,662
8,372
Brazil
Well, you just sold me on a NVIDIA GTX 680. There's no way I could flash an AMD GPU myself.

So in theory if I purchase a compatible 680 and replace my ATI Radeon 2600 GT (factory) I could install it with full support in Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) and BootCamp the Mac Pro into Windows 10. In Windows I can run through the various steps flash the GPU to support EFI in Mojave and up. After it has been flashed upgrade to High Sierra per Apple's instructions and then to Mojave and up?
Yes, GTX 680 is fully supported for El Capitan/W10.

You are forgetting that Apple macOS support for MP3,1 ends with El Capitan. After El Capitan, you have to hack/patch macOS for it to run with MP3,1, see the following threads about using unsupported Macs with recent macOS releases:

macOS High Sierra (10.13) Unsupported Macs Thread

macOS 10.14 Mojave on Unsupported Macs Thread

macOS 10.15 Catalina on Unsupported Macs

After you get the GPU flashed and want to install a newer macOS release, you go to the thread for the macOS release you will install and follow the steps of the first post. Use the threads for support.

Btw, 10.13 runs with a MP3,1 + GTX 680 without patching, you just need a supported Mac/VM with direct hardware support to do the install, but 10.14 and 10.15 need serious patching.
 
Last edited:

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Yes, GTX 680 is fully supported for El Capitan/W10.

You are forgetting that Apple macOS support for MP3,1 ends with El Capitan.

After El Capitan, you have to hack macOS for it to run with MP3,1, see the following threads about using unsupported Macs with recent macOS releases:

macOS High Sierra (10.13) Unsupported Macs Thread

macOS 10.14 Mojave on Unsupported Macs Thread

macOS 10.15 Catalina on Unsupported Macs
Ok, I will check those out! Probably going to shop around for a card really soon. I might even buy a pre flashed 680 if its reasonable. Thanks for all of your help!
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
Hey Cody - I just purchased a non-Mac 4GB GTX 680 off eBay and flashed it successfully to run in my 3,1 with boot screen. It was easy to do, especially if you already have a Windows install to boot into.

I deliberated over getting a more powerful card (which I don't need), but decided the GTX is still quite capable for my needs, and would probably make life easy compared to the other options.

So, I can recommend the GTX 680 option based on my experience so far.

Am now waiting for a 2TB Samsung EVO 860 SSD and OWC PCIe adaptor to arrive before I attempt to get Catalina running. Hopefully 10.15.4 will drop before that.
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Hey Cody - I just purchased a non-Mac 4GB GTX 680 off eBay and flashed it successfully to run in my 3,1 with boot screen. It was easy to do, especially if you already have a Windows install to boot into.

I deliberated over getting a more powerful card (which I don't need), but decided the GTX is still quite capable for my needs, and would probably make life easy compared to the other options.

So, I can recommend the GTX 680 option based on my experience so far.

Am now waiting for a 2TB Samsung EVO 860 SSD and OWC PCIe adaptor to arrive before I attempt to get Catalina running. Hopefully 10.15.4 will drop before that.
If you don't mind please send me the instructions you used to flash your 680! Personally the 680 is plenty powerful for me. I don't ever game on my Mac, but my brother does sometimes. My main reason for upgrading the card is to run Mojave and up.

Please keep me updated on the on the progress. Also, if you don't mind my asking, what did the NVIDIA GTX 680 (non-mac) cost you?
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
I paid $170 AUD for the card with some freight included, and used the 4GB rom posted here:

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...ens-full-clock-rates-pci-e-2-0-5gt-s.1603260/

These are the basic steps I used:

  • Download what is probably the latest version of NVflash (5.590.0) onto a flash drive so you can access from Windows.
  • Set Windows 7 partition as the default startup disk (because you will not have a boot screen when first running the new card).
  • With Mac Pro off, remove graphics card and fit the non-flashed GTX 680 (ensure that sufficient power supply cables are fitted - my 4GB version needed 1x 6pin and 1x 8pin).
  • Boot into Windows. I did not install the Nvidia driver - I tried twice, but it failed for some reason, so proceeded without.
  • Follow Dosdude's YouTube video Command Prompt instructions:
  • Make sure you include the backup procedure he describes before flashing, just in case!
Screenshot 2020-03-06 22.30.15.png


Screenshot 2020-03-06 22.36.36.png


If you're interested, there's a video on YouTube comparing a 2GB GTX680 vs a 4GB version. This was on PC, so not sure how that would translate to our Mac's, but the main takeaway is that there's barely any difference in performance between the two. Just search for gtx 680 2gb vs 4gb if you want to check it out.
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
I paid $170 AUD for the card with some freight included, and used the 4GB rom posted here:

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...ens-full-clock-rates-pci-e-2-0-5gt-s.1603260/

These are the basic steps I used:

  • Download what is probably the latest version of NVflash (5.590.0) onto a flash drive so you can access from Windows.
  • Set Windows 7 partition as the default startup disk (because you will not have a boot screen when first running the new card).
  • With Mac Pro off, remove graphics card and fit the non-flashed GTX 680 (ensure that sufficient power supply cables are fitted - my 4GB version needed 1x 6pin and 1x 8pin).
  • Boot into Windows. I did not install the Nvidia driver - I tried twice, but it failed for some reason, so proceeded without.
  • Follow Dosdude's YouTube video Command Prompt instructions:
  • Make sure you include the backup procedure he describes before flashing, just in case!
View attachment 897741

View attachment 897744

If you're interested, there's a video on YouTube comparing a 2GB GTX680 vs a 4GB version. This was on PC, so not sure how that would translate to our Mac's, but the main takeaway is that there's barely any difference in performance between the two. Just search for gtx 680 2gb vs 4gb if you want to check it out.
Awesome information! Just watched the video on Dosdude's Youtube channel on flashing the GPU. Seems pretty straightforward.

Another point/question: The Bluetooth and WiFi card in the Mac Pro 3,1 is not compatible with Catalina (or so I have been told) thus I and others performing this upgrade would need to install new modules. Is this true? Is it possible to flash a GPU and use the patch tool (again by DosDude) to continue using the currently installed WF and BT cards? Would you still receive "full graphics acceleration" in Catalina with your newly flashed GPU? [Basically the patch would serve as a patch for only the BT and WF]
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
I'm not sure about the bluetooth and wifi. My Mac Pro has never had the wifi card, so not too worried about that.

There are cards you can buy that are supposedly somewhat compatible - think they need to be a Broadcom BCM94360CD. But I haven't dug too deep into that yet.

I would like to get unlock with Apple Watch working, but not too sure how it would go with my Mac Pro sitting on the floor about 1m away from my keyboard. I read that the reason that a newer card is required is because it can measure "time of flight" that detects how close the watch is. 1m might be too far.

To answer your question about full graphics acceleration - yes, I believe it will be supported by Catalina with the GTX 680.
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Yeah, the Apple Watch unlock and handoff is an awesome feature. So when you install Catalina are you going to use the DosDude patcher?

sorry for my barrage of questions!
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
Yes, I plan to use the dosdude patcher. I used his method for my current Sierra install, and that all went smoothly.
 
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Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Hey everyone,
I just purchased a preflashed NVIDIA GTX 645 (flashed with firmware from a 640 so the Mac recognizes a 640 card with 645 specs). I was able to snatch this card for 65 dollars on eBay. There is photos of the Mac Pro (presumably used to flash this card) with this card running High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.

This should be a plug and play install. All I will need to do is use the DosDude patcher to install my preferred OS. What should I do with the factory ATI Radeon 2600 HD? The seller said that I could “pair this card with a Metal compatible card and expand my range”. Whatever that means lol.
 
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yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
Hey Cody - FYI my Catalina install went without a hitch:

Successfully installed 10.15.3 on my 3,1.

Threw in a 2TB Samsung EVO 860 SSD on an OWC Accelsior PCIe card at the same time as the clean install, and everything seems to be humming along nicely so far.

Dosdude's work is greatly appreciated - have made a donation to say thanks :)

View attachment 898922
Have you taken the plunge yet?
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Hey Cody - FYI my Catalina install went without a hitch:



Have you taken the plunge yet?
Just got the GPU installed and High Sierra installed on my Mac Pro. However, I have noticed one odd thing. My Mac doesn't seem to go into sleep mode as it should. The SIL on the front doesn't "pulse" when the Mac should be in sleep mode. Anyone else had this issue post install of a GPU? It did not do this before.
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Hey Cody - FYI my Catalina install went without a hitch:



Have you taken the plunge yet?
Hey there,

When I try to boot onto the flash drive to begin my installation of Catalina the screen goes black and the monitors go to sleep (power save as if there is no input). I was able to get Mojave to install onto my Mac Pro last night, but for some reason only one monitor works.

I have two HDs currently installed into my Mac Pro. One disk contains High Sierra the other disk currently is my "experimental" disk as I am trying to get Mojave or Catalina to work.
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
Are you holding down the option key as soon as the grey screen appears on boot? (actually, does your GTX 640/645 support a boot screen - if not, perhaps that is the problem...?).

If you're able to get to the boot disk option screen, and can select your new USB installer disk, then you could try a different USB port (ie switch from front to back or vice versa).

You could also try a different USB drive, at least 16GB in capacity. I think some people have issues with the odd USB drive.

What version of Dosdude's patcher have you used, and what version of 10.15 are you trying to install? The 1.4.0 patcher is available now, and it should prompt to download 10.15.4.
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
Are you holding down the option key as soon as the grey screen appears on boot? (actually, does your GTX 640/645 support a boot screen - if not, perhaps that is the problem...?).

If you're able to get to the boot disk option screen, and can select your new USB installer disk, then you could try a different USB port (ie switch from front to back or vice versa).

You could also try a different USB drive, at least 16GB in capacity. I think some people have issues with the odd USB drive.

What version of Dosdude's patcher have you used, and what version of 10.15 are you trying to install? The 1.4.0 patcher is available now, and it should prompt to download 10.15.4.
During my attempt to install Catalina (not sure about the version. Just whatever the DosDude tool pulled from the Apple server) I would have the disk select boot up screen. My GTX 645 does support the boot (EFI) screen, it has been flashed by MacVidsCards. What happens is I will select the Catalina installer and about 3/4 of the way into booting into the installer the monitors seem to lose input.

Therefore, I decided to try Mojave (10.14.6) and was able to get it successfully installed to a secondary HD. However, while in Mojave only one monitor works! I then tried rebooting into the installer and reinstalling patches, but to no avail. Only one monitor receives input at a time. I checked to make sure all ports on the graphics card were active in Mojave. Each port (DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI) all pushed frames to a display. The card just wouldn't push frames to two displays simultaneously. Under system report the Mac seems to only "see" one monitor.
 

yezza

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2008
242
13
From memory, Dosdude recently stated in the Catalina on Unsupported Macs thread that display port doesn't work. I don't recall if that was under any conditions, or only under specific conditions, or if it even applies to Mojave.

I don't have any experience with multi displays on MacOS sorry - you could post in the Mojave on unsupported Macs thread?
 

Cody Craddock

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2020
16
2
From memory, Dosdude recently stated in the Catalina on Unsupported Macs thread that display port doesn't work. I don't recall if that was under any conditions, or only under specific conditions, or if it even applies to Mojave.

I don't have any experience with multi displays on MacOS sorry - you could post in the Mojave on unsupported Macs thread?
I'll have to look into that. Thanks for your help! I'll probably make a post in Mojave on Unsupported Macs thread shortly. Last night I posted in Reddit (r/macOS) and had one person scoff me off stating, "You install unsupported OS via 3rd party software and wonder why your Mac doesn't function as intended." pretty rude, IMO. I suppose this is true, but I hate planned obsolescence.

I don't have to have the latest and greatest, but I do like my desktops to be running later versions of macOS. I have a 2009 Mac Mini running Catalina flawlessly. Although, I've threw some part at it. It has an SSD, 8GB RAM, and has the 2.53 C2D processor. Anyways, thanks for your help and support!
 

Son Doan

macrumors newbie
May 7, 2020
1
0
Hi all,

I have my mac3,1 Catalina OS, so what is process to upgrade graphics card? Any difference? Only GTX680 is compatible or can go with newer?

Thank you all.
 
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