Non-EFI Nvidia Maxwell cards: driver installation & OS X update procedures

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Upgrader, Jul 12, 2015.

  1. Upgrader, Jul 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015

    Upgrader macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    Nov 23, 2014
    #1
    This post is currently a work in progress.

    I want to understand the correct procedure for installing the Nvidia web drivers with a non-EFI (un-flashed) Nvidia Maxwell card in a cMP and also the correct procedure for updating OS X.
    I'll update these steps as others correct my mistakes. This is what I've gleaned so far...

    NB: These steps assume you have a spare EFI stock Apple GFX card to use i.e. the GT120. I don’t use boot camp or windows and don’t game, so this info may be missing some important points on that score. Also, as pointed out, there can be no single set of steps that cover all eventualities.


    Non-EFI Maxwell card - initial driver & card installation procedure:

    1. Find your OS X build in ‘About This Mac’, discover the correct corresponding Nvidia web driver via this really useful page at Macvidcards and download/install first.
    2. Open the newly installed System Preferences>Nvidia Driver Manager and switch to ’Nvidia web driver’. Shut down.
    2. Install the card into your Mac Pro.
    3. Reboot.


    Non-EFI Maxwell card - OS X update procedure:

    A few days after an OS X update arrives the updated Nvidia drivers are released. You must wait for these before updating OS X.

    1. Install your GT120 or equivalent EFI card into a spare slot and plug a display into it.
    2. In System Preferences>Nvidia Driver Manager, switch back to ‘Default OS X Driver’.
    3. Reboot.
    4. Install OS X update via App Store and reboot.
    5. Locate and install the correct Nvidia web driver.
    6. Switch back to ’Nvidia web driver’ via System Preferences>Nvidia Driver Manager.
    7. Reboot.



    Other points of note:

    - EFI stands for Extensible Firmware Interface. Learn more about it here and here. PC versions of Maxwell GFX cards do not contain an EFI (they have a BIOS instead) and therefore will not display a boot screen on your Mac.
    - Although the speed difference between PCIe 1.1 and 2.0 is negligible, it’s worth knowing that the Nvidia web drivers allow the card to connect at 5.0GT/s PCIe 2.0.
    - The same OS X versions can come with different build numbers. It's important that you match the correct Nvidia web driver number and OS X build number.
    - I’ve read other users having issues connecting a 6 pin to 6 pin cable to the 8 pin connection on cards like the 980ti. One solution to this is to obtain an 8pin to 6 pin PCIe power cable.


    Please feel free to correct any mistakes or add any omissions and I'll update accordingly. Thanks.
     
  2. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #2
    Update procedure can also simply be:

    -install the beta driver
    -wait for the final driver
    -install the final driver

    No need for any nvram tricks or remote controlling or card switching
     
  3. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    #3
    Thanks SoyCapitan. Just had some info via email that says almost exactly the same - will update.
     
  4. crjackson2134, Jul 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68020

    crjackson2134

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    #4
    I don't have an nVidia card but I've been considering it. I really hate driver/update issues. This would be my goto method.
     
  5. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #5
    OP, in order to avoid confusion with others, I think you mean "non-EFI Maxwell cards" since earlier generation Nvidia cards are supported with Apple's default drivers; most cards don't need the web drivers at all (I am aware there are some exceptions).

    For a non-EFI Maxwell I suggest you also either keep an EFI card around as a backup and/or enable screen sharing between it and another computer. The first option is much better because you'll have access to screen during boot time.

    The latter option is still better than nothing though. If you have to do a PRAM reset for example, OS X will switch to default Apple drivers so you won't have boot screens and you won't have OS screens. You'll need screen sharing to switch the video drivers back to the Nvidia web drivers.

    Some people say "I don't need to see an Apple logo" or "I can switch the OS after booting", but that really trivializes the potential importance of boot screens.
     
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #6
    Have you personally tried this? I was under the impression that the presence of a Maxwell card will cause the built-in drivers to crash and, because of this, it is necessary to disable the built-in drivers via Terminal to boot in to recovery partition and/or do OS X updates.

    You can't really run the Nvidia web drivers with the built-in drivers, it's one or the other. Also, the Nvidia web drivers for OS X will have absolutely no affect on Bootcamp/Windows.
     
  7. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    Nov 23, 2014
    #7
    Thanks for the help, appreciated.

    Not tried personally yet, no. Trying to learn the correct procedure before I do. This subject confuses me as every time I find one piece of information I seem to find another that contradicts it.

    So I'm trying to grasp what you're saying...

    If...

    1) the presence of a maxwell card crashes the built in drivers

    and...

    2) therefore, it's necessary to disable them via terminal to boot into the recovery partition/update OS X.

    then...

    3) with those drivers disabled, how can I plug into my GT120 and see the boot screen for recovery/updates?

    Feels like there's a hidden step in what you're describing that I'm not getting...
     
  8. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    Nov 23, 2014
    #8
    Thanks for helping. I agree it's probably best to use the correct terminology, I just thought that using the common language would make it more accessible to more people. Will update with an explanation of EFI also.

    Re not having an EFI card laying around in a PRAM reset scenario, is there a fail proof procedure when you screen share in via another mac? How do you re-enable the web drivers whilst screen sharing? Terminal? If so, is there a step by step guide available I can add to the OP?

    I do actually have a GT120 spare. Can you confirm that a maxwell card being present in the system will crash the built in drivers? Also, do you concur that it's a case of running one or the other set of drivers and you can't run both concurrently?
     
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #9
    No, there are no hidden steps. That's all that's necessary. After the third step, you can install the Nvidia web drivers and enable them.
     
  10. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    Nov 23, 2014
    #10
    Please bear with me on this, I appreciate your help - couple of things:

    - what is the terminal procedure for disabling (and enabling if needed) the built in drivers?

    - how can I drop my GT120 in for boot screen access/web driver installation if the built in drivers are disabled? I assume the GT120 relies on the built in drivers?

    Thanks.
     
  11. Asgorath macrumors 65816

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    Mar 30, 2012
    #11
    The EFI on the GT 120 allows the OS to boot with an active display. Once you reach the desktop, you'll still have a software-rendered desktop because nv_disable=1 has disabled acceleration, but the EFI on the GPU allows your Mac Pro to light up the display. This is the critical difference between a EFI and a non-EFI card, as the latter will not be recognized by the EFI on the Mac Pro and thus the display will remain dark.

    So, you need to boot with nv_disable=1 in order to avoid the kernel panic from the unsupported Maxwell card, but the GT 120 will allow you to get to a desktop and install the web drivers. Once you have those installed, you can switch from nv_disable=1 to nvda_drv=1 to enable the web drivers and you're good to go.
     
  12. pastrychef, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #12
    As Asgorath stated, the command to disable the built-in drivers is:

    sudo nvram boot_args=nv_disable=1

    Then, you can boot using your GT 120 and install the Nvidia web drivers. Once the web drivers have been installed, you can enable them with:

    sudo nvram boot_args=nvda_drv=1


    All of this has been covered in the FAQ about Nvidia cards at the top of the Mac Pro sub-forum in the first post (look at item #24) here.
     
  13. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    #13
    Really helpful. So the unsupported Maxwell card will cause a kernel panic because there are no web drivers installed. nv_disable=1 temporarily prevents this crash whilst we install web drivers then nvda_drv=1 enables the newly installed web drivers.

    I’ve updated the OS X update procedure to reflect what I think is now correct.
     
  14. Upgrader, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015

    Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    #14
    Ok, that’s embarrassing. I had read that post but didn’t understand how to enter those commands. Are they input in single user mode or can it be done via Terminal?

    And I assume that before the initial web driver and non-EFI card install, you run sudo nvram bootargs=nv_disable=1 on a permanent basis? So the initial install procedure would be:

    in single user mode, type sudo nvram bootargs=nv_disable=1
    reboot with GT120 or equivalent still installed to an unaccelerated desktop
    find and install web drivers
    reboot into single user mode again
    type sudo nvram bootargs=nvda_drv=1 to enable web drivers
    shut down - install non-EFI Maxwell card and remove GT120 or equivalent
    reboot
     
  15. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #15
    There's no need to use single user mode. You can just enter those commands in Terminal.

    Another way to achieve the same thing without having to mess with Terminal would be to:

    1. Boot with only the GT 120 installed.
    2. Install and enable Nvidia web drivers.
    3. Shut down and install your non-EFI Nvidia card.
     
  16. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    #16
    Cool, thanks. Wouldn’t you still need to disable the built in drivers afterwards? I thought you could only run one set or the other?
     
  17. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #17
    I don't think anything is fail proof to everyone, but Screen Sharing so far has been 100% reliable for me. Well, on a LAN anyway. Some times I have problems accessing over the Internet.

    While screen sharing you can use the Nvidia Control Panel (Driver Manager?) to switch between the default drivers and the web drivers. You can also use the terminal command line to disable or re-enable the Nvidia drivers.

    I'm not aware of a step-by-step guide. I suppose it depends on what you are trying to do. I also don't have any non-EFI cards, so someone else would have to help you with that.

    I can't confirm that as I do not a GT120 nor do I have a non-EFI card. But why would an Apple GT 120 EFI card crash the built-in drivers? That doesn't make sense. Mac Pros used to come with those...everyone still using them would be crashing.
     
  18. crjackson2134 macrumors 68020

    crjackson2134

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    Charlotte, NC
    #18
    Dealing with the video card drivers are less than idea, but it's honestly not that bad. For several years while running Linux on many machines, I had to compile and/or install the drivers from the command line. It can get very tedious, but OS X isn't that bad YET.


    Eventually someone wrote a python tool that installed everything automatically (almost). It would be nice if such a tool existed for OS X. It would be even nicer if Apple would simply put a little more effort into supporting video cards.

    Perhaps someday, well have an install method whereby the driver can be slipstreamed into a USB install. That would be a great tool. Just a quick button to select which video driver to add to your USB installer. Never mind, I'm living in a fantasy world today I guess.
     
  19. pastrychef, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #19
    Yes, once you enable the Nvidia drivers, the built-in drivers won't be used. As you can see in the image below, it's either/or, not both.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Asgorath macrumors 65816

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    Mar 30, 2012
    #20
    And to be clear, you do not need to use nv_disable=1 to disable the stock drivers. That boot arg simply tells any instance of the NVIDIA driver (stock or web) to not load and thus run unaccelerated. nvda_drv=1 enables the web driver for both the GT 120 and GTX 980, and everything works fine.
     
  21. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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  22. Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

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    #22
    It looks like you've edited out the bits about screen sharing. Does this imply that there is no way to update the OS without inserting an official Apple GPU?
    I've been trying to update to 10.10.4 with a GTX 650 installed (which is not even a Maxwell) without success. I could slot my Apple 4870 back in, but I'd prefer to figure out a way to update without doing that.

    Anything I try results in a reboot loop (no desktop). NV_disable=1 causes this, as does the nVidia beta driver.

    I'll swap cards if there's no other alternative, but I'd still like to know if there is an alternative.
     
  23. Upgrader thread starter macrumors regular

    Upgrader

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    #23
    Hey,

    No, I’m not implying that and it’s not the case. You can enable screen sharing from a connected Mac before you start the process and share in to carry out the instructions instead of doing it via a stock card. I removed those steps because, as pointed out, there can be no ultimate set of instructions that cover all eventualities. I’m still learning myself and I’m trying to avoid misleading people. This guide is tailored towards those who have a spare stock Apple card and a spare PCIe slot.

    Enabling screen sharing is still an option. The helpful forum members on this post might be able to fill in any blanks you have.
     
  24. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #24
    Yes, it's possible to update OS X without a video card with EFI firmware. Screen sharing can aid with this.

    That's very strange...

    1. The GTX 650 is a kepler card which should work fine with the built-in drivers.
    2. If drivers are disabled and you are simply using software rendering, I don't see why it would go in to a boot loop.

    I think something else is wrong here.

    Which beta drivers? I thought Nvidia released OS X 10.10.4 compatible drivers (non-beta) a while ago.
     
  25. Asgorath macrumors 65816

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    #25
    If you're in a reboot loop, it'd be great if you can check /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports for kernel panic logs, and perhaps attach one here.
     

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