Video Card Upgrades for Mac Pro

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Graphics Card Solutions for Mac Pro

The Mac Pro has four PCI-Express slots to install expansion cards into. The best option is to set the double wide slot to x16 lanes using the Expansion Slot Utility and use it for your primary video card.

Upgrade Options

There are many options for upgrading graphics cards in Mac Pros. Two manufacturers currently offer solutions for the Mac Pro. They are NVIDIA which offers its consumer GeForce series and the professional Quadro series of Graphics Cards and AMD which offers the ATI Radeon series. The following solutions are available as an upgrade option for Mac Pros running Mac OS X 10.4 and above.


Apple Upgrade Options

  • Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT with 256MB of GDDR2 vRAM (one dual-link DVI port & one single-link DVI port) - Apple Retail Part #: MA567Z/A


  • ATI Radeon X1900 XT with 512MB of GDDR3 vRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) - Apple Retail Part #: MA631Z/A


  • Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 with 512MB of GDDR3 vRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) - Apple Retail Part #: "unknown" (top-end upgrade for MacPro 1,1 models)


  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256MB of GDDR3 vRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) - Apple Retail Part #: "unknown" (included with base MacPro 2,1 models)


Note: Apple does not officially support HD2600 XT with older Mac Pro (Mid-2006, MacPro 1,1). To run the card on versions older than the Mid 2007 revision, the Mac Pro must be cloned or imaged from an Aluminum iMac (Mid 2007) to obtain the Radeon HD 2600 drivers for Tiger.


  • Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT with 512MB of GDDR3 vRAM (two dual-link DVI ports) - Apple Retail Part #: MB137Z/A

Note: Only the "Graphics Upgrade Kit for 1st Generation Mac Pro" will work with the Mid 2006 Mac Pro (MacPro 1,1) - Apple Retail Part #: MB560Z/A.


  • Nvidia Quadro FX 5600 with 1.5GB of 384-bit GDDR3 vRAM (two stereo dual-link DVI) - Apple Retail Part #: unknown (top-end upgrade for MacPro 2,1 models)


  • Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 512MB of GDDR3 vRAM (one dual-link DVI, one Mini DisplayPort) - Apple Retail Part #: MC002ZM/A


  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 with 512MB of GDDR5 vRAM (one dual-link DVI, one Mini DisplayPort) - Apple Retail Part #: MB999ZM/A


  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB (1024MB) of GDDR5 vRAM (two Mini DisplayPorts & one shared dual-link DVI port - two displays total connected) - Apple Part #: MC742ZM/A

Note: Apple does not officially support the HD 5770 Graphics Card Upgrade Kit with older Mac Pros prior to Mid-2010 (MacPro 5,1) models. However, it's been reported in Apple Store's product review section and other various user forums that this card works in MacPro 1,1-5,1 models as a plug-and-play device with no additional drivers needed. OS X 10.6.4 "Snow Leopard" or later is still required for a successful installation.


  • ATI Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB (1024MB) of GDDR5 vRAM (two Mini DisplayPorts & one shared dual-link DVI port - two displays total connected) - Apple Part #: MC743ZM/A

Note: Apple does not officially support the HD 5870 Graphics Card Upgrade Kit with older Mac Pros prior to Mid-2010 (MacPro 5,1) models. However, it's been reported in Apple Store's product review section and other various user forums that this card works in MacPro 1,1-5,1 models as a plug-and-play device with no additional drivers needed. OS X 10.6.4 "Snow Leopard" or later is still required for a successful installation.

Third Party Upgrade Options

  • AMD ATI Radeon HD3870 with 512MB of 256-bit GDDR4 (two dual-link DVI ports) - ATI Retail Part #: 100435928

Note: Radeon HD3870 is only sold through 3rd party sources when available.


Upgrading the Graphics Card

The following step-by-step method may be adopted to upgrade/install a new graphics card in most Mac Pros running Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

  1. Obtain the driver from the CD included in the upgrade package, the manufacturer website or other sources. However, most drivers are included within certain OS X installations without the need to load one from disc or download. Skip to step 4 if no additional driver needs to be installed.
  2. Install the obtained driver if necessary.
  3. Restart in case a driver had to be installed. Almost all problems while upgrading occur because users skip this step.
  4. Shut down the Mac Pro after the reboot.
  5. Unplug the Mac Pro from its AC source.
  6. Replace the graphics card. Make sure that you're connecting your graphics card power cable if required (i.e.: ATI Radeon X 1900XT, Nvidia Quadro FX 5600, ATI Radeon HD 5770, etc), or you will not have video when powering your Mac Pro back up.
  7. Plug back in the Mac Pro to its AC source.
  8. Start Mac Pro.


See Also


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