MacPro 1,1 video card help for the hardware challenged

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ilazria, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. ilazria macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2009
    I have a first gen MacPro, a hand-me-down from my dad. The video card is on it's last legs. It's the original card (ATI Radeon X1900 XT) though for a couple of years it had an NVidia 8800. I put the old one back in when the 8800 died. Good thing dad kept the old one when he put in the 8800.

    Anyway, I'm trying to make heads or tails of the whole video card issue. If I can't find a way to keep the Mac Pro running, I'm going to be stuck using my husband's computer, or my dad's long unused Mac laptop. From the sound of things, finding a compatible video card is not just about hardware, but the OS, right? What I'm wondering is, can I find a cheaper alternative if I switch from OSX to Ubuntu? $150< is really out of my price range.

    My thought is to find an acceptable, and affordable, video card for every day use, and keep the X1900 is reserve for when I need to do firmware updates. I have a hard drive that I'm already running Ubuntu 10.04 on. In order to boot that, I have to do the whole, hold the option key and select the drive thing. I never see the white Apple screen when I do that. When I select the Ubuntu drive, this in turn takes me to your standard black and white GRUB screen, where I then select the Ubuntu OS. (incidentally, I can also load the Mac OSX from the GRUB, though it loads with a standard black and white screen, like a PC would.) Starting up in this manner, am I bypassing the part that the Mac would normally get hung up on, when loading OSX? Is this plan feasible?
  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    You can use any video card if you boot into Linux/Windows.

    Really, it's a hardware incompatibility issue. When you boot into a PC OS, there is a PC simulator that runs that lets the Mac talk to the GPU again. (In simple terms). OS X actually ships with a lot of GPU drivers.

    If you can't go higher than $150, there are ways of getting PC graphics cards working under OS X, but other people here would know about that better.
  3. ilazria thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2009
    So, I can use any video card, as long as I'm using Ubuntu exclusively? Here is what I'm picturing doing, if I'm understanding things correctly:

    I buy a decent, affordable PC video card and put it in my computer. I start up the Mac and immediately hold the option key. The screen where I can choose which drive to run comes up, and I choose the Ubuntu drive. This opens the black and white GRUB screen, I choose the Ubuntu OS, and Ubuntu starts.

    But, if I were to put in the PC video card, and let the comp boot up normally, all I would get is a black screen. As long as I don't expect OSX to start, I'm fine, right?
  4. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Correct, OS X would not boot. You probably want to set your startup disk before hand. I doubt the option key screen would show.

    Before you get ahead of yourself, I'd do some checking around. You might be able to flash a PC card. Booting Ubuntu only seems like quite a sacrifice just for a video card...
  5. ilazria thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2009
    I actually don't mind Ubuntu. It's can be frustrating at times, when having to dig for code and terminal commands, but it was kinda fun, as well. The only reason I'm not using it now is because of the current video card. It's so touchy, and there seems to be some kind of fight going on between the two OSs, when I go to switch back to OSX from Ubuntu.

    Would I need to "flash" the video card? I imagine this involves a bit more than just lifting my shirt and hoping the cheap thrill will make it want to play nice with the other Mac parts.
  6. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yeah, but if you're using Ubuntu, why the Mac Pro? Might as well sell the Mac Pro and get a PC.... Seems like the best option, and you could make some money from that.

    Flashing actually isn't too hard if you can get your hands on the right card. The 4870 is a popular option. It can be had for under $100 and can be easily flashed, depending on the specific brand.
  7. chych macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    Just wondering, what can't the x1900 do that you need it to do? Also you should take advantage of the x1900 recall while you're at it, certain models had problems and Apple is replacing them for free.

    I got a Radeon 4870 for $100 and flashed it, works like a charm... although I had to do some machining around it so it would fit in my Mac Pro... Maybe if you're lucky, you can find someone selling their flashed card on this forum, I know many people have been upgrading. On the other hand, I see 8800s being sold for $170 on ebay.

Share This Page