Upgrading video card on Mac Pro 1,1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Loyalty4Life, May 12, 2010.

  1. Loyalty4Life macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006

    I am going to upgrade my current X1900 XT card on my Mac Pro first gen computer. I've read extensively on this forum about the potential options for upgrading, but unfortunately many of them involve flashing and while I am very good with computers and upgrading things with hardware, flashing is not my forte, so I won't be going that route.

    It looks like my best choice is the Radeon 4870 512MB.


    I don't want to pay 350, as that's WAY too expensive for a card, but what else is there? Unless there's a better option that I overlooked, I'll be getting this card. I do video editing and manage photos, so the video card is important.

    Are there any better cards that I'm missing? I also use Boot Camp with Vista 64 bit. I'd want to make sure the card works there fully also.

    I'm wanting to make the purchase in the next day or two. Thanks again for your assistance!
  2. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    Your only option is the 4870 512mb.

    Too bad for you that you're ruling out flashing. Sucks to pay $250 extra for an underclocked card! :)
  3. Loyalty4Life thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006
    I've read the instructions for it, and for me it seems very complicated. It's very unfortunate!!
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    If you happen to know a friend that's familiar with it, you might be able to utilize a bribe. ;) :D
  5. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    It really isn't – I'd never flashed a card before, and now I've flashed two and they both work great. :)
  6. Loyalty4Life thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006
    I found a very reputable dealer on eBay that is selling an Nvidia 8800 GTS for my machine for about 190. Obviously the price is WAY better than the 4870 for 350. My goal is to get the best card for my needs that will last me the longest.

    I know that I'd see a HUGE increase in gaming with this card compared to the X1900 XT on Windows, but would my video editing be better or worse with this card? I also use Photoshop.

    Thanks for your feedback.
  7. Loyalty4Life thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006
    Would the 8800 GTS work well with Boot Camp using Vista 64 bit? And comparing this card to the 4870 on apples website, should I get that instead even though it's much higher in price but is a newer card?
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    You really might want to reconsider the 4870 flashing though, as it will be a better card, is cheaper than the 8800 price you've listed (4870 can be had for ~$145USD with rebates), and perform better.

    It will be better, as would any other newer card you can stuff in there. The X1900 is ancient by todays standards. :eek: :p

    Yes, the 8800 will work under BC (or a separate Windows disk). BIOS emulation is built into the system's EFI firmware that allows it to work under Windows. This goes for any EFI/EBC based graphics card for MP's.
  9. Loyalty4Life thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006
    Thank you nanofrog for the information. Comparing the 8800 GTS vs. 4870 on Apple's website, is there a big difference in performance, both with video editing and gaming? Should I expect the 4870 to last longer since it's newer?

    These are my priorities with my computer:

    1) Video editing
    2) Photoshop
    3) Gaming

    Thank you again!
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The 4870 is a better card.

    If you can wait a little bit, you might want to hold out for the 5870 though, as someone will very likely find models that will flash soon after it releases. Currently, those can be had for as little as $400 right now (PC versions), and might be a little lower once the MP versions arrive (hopefully this month actually). So it might be within budget for you, especially at the cost of the Apple version of the 4870, but with a nice boost in performance gains.

    BTW, those that tend to work for the flashing method, are those that stick to ATI's reference designs, not OC'ed or otherwise modded versions. That happens to help flashers with the financial aspect as well. ;) Not only do you save by getting a PC version, you get to go with a less expensive model by skipping the manufacturer modded units. :D
  11. Loyalty4Life thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2006

    Would the 5870 natively run on my 1,1 Mac Pro like the current 4870 would? If it would need to be flashed, I can't do that. Trust me, I know it sucks.

    Is the 4870 better on every level compared to the 8800 GTS, including gaming, video editing and Photoshop?
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The 4870 works by using EBC (EFI Byte Code, rather than fixing it at EFI32 or EFI64). As ATI does the work (drivers + firmware), it would seem reasonable that they'd continue to use this approach.

    The newer nVidia cards don't work in the EFI32 MP's, as they're using EFI64, and why the GT120, GTX285, and newer are useless to you. In order to use those cards, you'd have to get an '08 or newer MP ('08 was the introduction of EFI64 based systems).

    Also note that the ability to upgrade the OS is going to fall off soon as well. Apple's not interested in interim products, which is what 10.6 is (K32 + K64 = 32 and 64 bit Kernels). This isn't an opinion, there was an article some time back on the front page where Apple indicated this was the case. So you may be stuck with 10.6.x, maybe 10.7.x (depending if K32 is dropped in 10.7 or 10.8). :( You can still use the system for what you're doing after that point, but you'll be stuck with the OS and graphics cards at some point.

    Or you could re-task the system as a Windows workstation, as it runs new PCIe based graphics cards and 64 bit Windows just fine. :eek:

    As per your trepidation of flashing, do you know anyone else with an MP that's done it?
    Worst case, there are guides available, including here on MR that are easy enough for the non-tech savvy to be able to follow without making a mistake. Even manufacturer's P/N's have been listed to be sure you don't get a card that won't work (and will almost certainly happen under the 5870).

    Of course, you can always pay Apple's premium for the 5870, but I've no idea of what your budget is, and may not be possible.

  13. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I must also point out that flashing a 4870 is incredibly easy compared to the early days. Cindori has written an app so easy to use, you could think  made it.

    Check out his golden guide or his website. His tool is really fantastic, and there are a plethora of ROMs available for your use.
  14. speedfr0g macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010

    I also have a Mac Pro 1,1
    I have read many threads on this board and decided that I too should buy a PC card and flash it to use on my MP as those are much cheaper/better spec
    I was encouraged by Cindori's fantastic support.

    My original card is an ATI 1900XT - it is in slot 1
    I have bought a Sapphire Vapor X - SKU 11133-16-20R

    I have tried to use Zeus but it does not see the card.
    I have 1 power cable to the 1900 in slot 1
    1 power cable to HD 4870 (& 1 molex from the DVD drive) in slot 3

    When I power up, I cannot see the Radeon in system profiler and Expansion Utility does not report it either

    If I swap cards and put the HD 4870 in slot 1, then the Mac Pro does not boot up - screen of death and tells me to power off

    How can I flash the card? Do I need to go bootcamp and do it in windows?

    Help appreciated.
    I have found the right ROM file from http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=811768&page=14

  15. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    verify that you are using a minimum 4x slots with Expansion Slot Utility, located in /System/Library/Core Services
  16. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Unfortunately the 8800 is also ancient by today's standards. Then again, so are all of the "mac" versions of any of the graphic cards.
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Unfortunately, this is usually the case. "New" on the Mac side typically means it's already a 6 month old card or so. :rolleyes: :(

    Another annoying tidbit is the GTX 285 is already out of production, but is still being sold by Apple (no idea if EVGA actually has any stock left). If they do, it won't bode well for them to take another stab at a higher end nVidia model for Mac. Nor do I know if the Quadro 4800 experiment has proven financially viable either.

    So it's possible the graphics card selection may reduce again. I'm just not sure, as in the end, 3rd party makers have to make a sufficient profit in order to continue providing Mac compliant models, and I've not seen any data on it. :confused:
  18. speedfr0g macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010

    I have tried set-up 3 (see pic) and I put 1900 in slot 1, 4870 in slot 2

    At start up I get the grey screen telling me to power off.
    to make it pass this screen I take out 1 of the powr cables of the 4870 at boot and then plug it back in but the card is not seen by either ESU or systm profiler

    any other suggestion?

    From Zeus/Driver page I have installed the 4800 drivers for 10.6.3. Shouldn't I have done that?

    Attached Files:

    • ESU.gif
      File size:
      148.2 KB
  19. speedfr0g macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010


    I did manage to bypass the grey screen asking to power off by switching on with the option key pressed and selecting my HD to start.
    I did get into ESU and see both cards (1900 slot 1, 4870 slot2)
    I fired up Zeus and set it to flash the card ... and half way through my computer froze (it happens at the moment and is the reason I want to upgrade from the 1900)
    I had to switch off and back on but now if the 4870 is in slot 2, the Mac starts, chimes and keeps chiming every second.
    Have I bricked the 4870?
    What can I do from here on?
  20. vizfxman macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Like the OP, I also have a Mac Pro 1,1 which is in desperate need of a graphics card update.

    I currently have the X1900, and am willing to attempt the flashing method.

    The 4870 looks good, though I'm curious about the newer 5870. Are there flashable models yet? Also, I work with graphic intense software (Maya, Shake, Final Cut, etc.) and would really love to bump up to a 1GB card. Do I have options?
  21. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    no point in flashing 5870 because there are no drivers in OSX to run the card. i've said this a 1000 times. a flashed 5870 will at the moment run in 1024x768 max resolution and no 3D-graphic effects. you will have to wait until apple releases a 5870, and with it, drivers, until we can have those cards running in OSX.
  22. caseys macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2007
    Having done the flashing process for the first time the other day I can say it is extraordinarily easy, the guys on this forum have really streamlined the process.

    Took me ten minutes :

    Downloaded Zeus - 1 minute
    Turned off MP - 20 seconds
    Unplugged and opened MP - 3 minutes
    Moved 2600 card to slot 2 - 1 minute
    Installed 2 power cables + 4890 to Slot 1 - 2 minutes
    Turned on MP
    Ran Zeus, flashed card - checked system profiler - 2 minutes
    Applied QI/CE patch - 1 minute


    If you take your time, read through it, it's really worth the saving.
  23. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    some 4870's simply will kernel panic if you try boot with them. you will have to flash BootCD
  24. speedfr0g macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010
    I have struggled but managed to get a CD to boot in DOS.
    The problem is with the HD4870 in slot 2, the mac on boot keeps on half chiming and does not even get to the OPTION key menu to choose the CD boot.
    to get passed it, I unplug 1 of the power cables of the 4870. I put it back in and select the CD, boot in DOS but atiflash only sees the 1900.

    Any suggestion?

  25. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    it should NOT be a problem if you have 0 monitors connected to the 4870.
    but you can also try this. boot OSX, set the bootCD to startup in Startup Disk in system preferences, and then reboot, should work around the need for option key.

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