Mac Pro GPU Upgrades

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by GreatDanton, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. GreatDanton macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2010
    Quote: "Originally Posted by Spanky Deluxe
    Unfortunately that's exactly not what the Mac Pro is for. A 4870 512MB card is hardly the most "intensive and extreme" graphics card on the market. Its now a generation old and even then its got half the memory and is clocked slower than most of its PC equivalents."

    Can you put a more powerful GPU in a Mac Pro? I was hoping you could upgrade it with just about any GPU on the market???

    Sorry for being such a newb guys, I use my work stations to run apples Pro Apps, my computer knowledge is no-exsistant so im hoping to use you guys brains for a while. :D
  2. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    Welcome to the Forum!

    Yes, you can upgrade the Video Card in a Mac Pro (Tower, not the MBP) but the choices are limited.

    There's a few different configurations to consider.

    The first Mac Pros were referred to as "Mac Pro 1.1" or "2006-2007 Mac Pro" and these have the fewest viable options. These machines had a 32-bit EFI (EFI is similar to BIOS in a PC) and needed video cards with a ROM compatible with Apple 32-bit EFI. PC video cards won't work correctly.
    The Apple-supplied options for the MP1.1 are:
    nVidia GeForce 7300GT
    ATI X1900XT
    nVidia Quadra 4500
    nVidia 8800GT
    For a short while ATI made a HD3870 PC/Mac edition that was compatible with both 32 and 64-bit Apple EFI.

    The later Mac Pros such as the 8-Core 2008 models and the 2009 "Nehalem" models have a 64-bit EFI and require video cards with EFI64 compatible ROM.
    The Apple supplied cards for 64-bit EFI:
    ATI HD2600 (Also works in EFI32 machines but is not supported or approved to do so)
    nVidia 8800GT (a different model than the 32-bit version)
    ATI 4870
    nVidia GT120
    nVidia GTX285
    nVidia Quadra FX4800
    Anything I missed.

    There's all manner of hacked and modded PC cards that work, but these are the ones supplied by and supported by Apple.
    Regular PC video cards will not work properly with the exception of the lone PC / Mac edition card.

    Anyhow, having the latest hottest Gaming card has never been a big priority with Apple. You basically have three levels of performance:
    1- Basic inexpensive 7300GT/HD2600/GT120 cards for those not needing much of a GPU
    2- High-End Top Dollar Quadra FX4500-4800 cards for those needing a lot of GPU for 3D work
    3- Stuff in between like X1900/ 8800GT/ HD4870/ GT285 for everyone else!

    Not a lot of options but adequate for most.

    I'm very happy with my MP1.1 / 8800GT system.

    Would love to get that rumored 12-core due out soon,

    PS. To avoid any confusion: The EFI does its job BEFORE OSX Loads. The 32-bit EFI Mac Pros can perform 64-bit computing under Leopard (10.5) or Snow Leopard (10.6). MP1.1 systems had 32-bit EFI so as to be compatible with Tiger (OSX 10.4) which was a 32-bit OS.
    Mostly. I think. Well, if I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will point it out. :p
  3. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    You can also flash the HD 4890 if you can find one - there's a couple on NewEgg.
  4. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    The Apple version ATI 4870 works well in the Mac Pro 1,1.
  5. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    Looks like the important bits already got posted.

    AFAIK there's a greater selection when not booting with OSX or running with Netkas injectors.
  6. RatManDude macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2008
    More unaswered questions on graphics cards upgrades for MacPro


    I am wondering if there are any other people that may have tried other brand cards also …

    I have a huge problem … as I live in R.S.A. and there is only one single supplier who controls all the supply chain for any apple OEM and or parts sold here, and they are telling me that there is "no stock" of any card that will fit in my MacPro [early 2008]. — But that doesn't surprise me as apple resellers/distributor here in R.S.A. are so full of bull.

    Anyway I am wanting to know if perhaps there are any "experimental" dudes out there who may have tried other cards, and got them to work.

    I have placed an order for a new card with a "PC" supplier that I used, for an:
    Asus EAH4870/G/HTDI/512M Radeon HD4870 16xPCIE 256-bit 512MB DDR5 w/HDTV + 2DVI

    Which I am hoping to get working with the MacPro.

    Has anyone got advice … before I install the card … ? … :confused:
  7. RatManDude macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2008
    Hiya Cindori,

    It is exactly the reason for my posting the message.

    I did read thru many, too many of the 91 pages of the thread an did not find anything relating to the specific card that I detailed.

    I did see the list of cards that the ATIflash utility works on …
    And have since asked the retailer to swap my ordered item to one of the listed cards … Sapphire Radeon HD4870 16xPCIE 256-bit 512MB DDR5 w/HDTV + 2DVI (SC-S4870H512)

    Am waiting for the unit, should be here late today …

    I am assuming that the ATIflash utill will operate 100% on this card.

    Only issue is that the reason for the GPU replacement/upgrade is that there seems to be someting up with the 2600 card in the Mac. When the Mac starts up there is "blank screen" so I suspect that the 2600 card has died.
    That said, will I see anything once I place the new card in, I'm not sure …

    I suspect that I may need to place the card into another mac that is still 100% — is that needed? Or will I still be able to get the card to flash without needing the other Mac.

    Sorry if my message is a little muddled I just am not a guru when it comes to these technical things …

    Appreciate your help.

  8. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    all your flashing needs will be satisfied this weekend. dont worry.
  9. kansur0 macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2008
    8800GT Flash from MacPro3.1 to MacPro1.1?

    I have MacPros. I will name them quadquad and dualdual. Here are the specs:

    quadquad Model 3.1
    2 x quad 2.8Ghz Xeon
    16GB DDR2 800

    dualdual Model 1.1
    2 x dual 3Ghz Xeon
    9GB DDR3 DDR2 667

    I had an nvidia 8800GT in the quadquad(3.1) and replaced it with an ATI 4870. It worked. I replaced the ATI X1800XT with the nvidia 8800GT in the dualdual(1.1) and it black screened. The confusing thing is that both MacPros have a 16x PCIe slot. I guess the problem is that I have the 64bit version of the nvidia 8800GT.

    Is there a way to flash the 64bit nvidia 8800GT that I have to work with the older 32bit 1.1 Mac Pro?

    Thanks guys!
  10. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    yes there is, and I believe there is actually TWO topics on that subject on the 1st or 2nd forum page

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