In the last few articles, I’ve looked at upgrading the classic Mac Pro. The effect of the update has been impressive with a slight boost in power from the CPU and a huge acceleration in speed with the swap to SATA SSD and PCIe NVMe.
But, this journey didn’t start out on a whim, it happened because I went to upgrade the Mac Pro’s OS. On trying I was halted by a notice that said that in order to proceed with the installation I would need a Metal compatible card.
The notice contained a link and a list of possible cards that I could purchase, compatible with the Mac Pro and the new Mojave OS version.
But, and here’s the big but. None of those graphics cards are current. I emailed Nvidia and they got back to me and said that the cards listed are no longer, and a quick search for all the ATI cards showed a similar story.
I then started searching for a suitable card and in the process of that search, I got distracted by the RAM, CPU, Hard Drive and USB-C which lead to the articles so far.
But then I found a card.
A SAPPHIRE Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5 and at a decent price. The list didn’t say anything about Mac Edition so this is the off the shelf PC version and I managed to get it for around £150 after a bit of bartering.
Now that almost everything else in the Mac Pro has been updated I can get back to the graphics card and the OS install.
The process is easy, but there are a few things to be aware of. This installation is for the SAPPHIRE Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5 and I’m sure that the process is much the same for the Nvidia cards.
I’m still looking out for a Nvidia and another card but I’ll come onto that later.
Before you start there are a couple of items that you’ll need in addition to the graphics card. Without them whatever card you try to install won’t work. If you’re in the US then these parts are readily available, in the UK expect to pay a slight premium to have the things shipped over.
What you’ll need to install a graphics card into a Mac Pro 5,1
- GutsParker Dual 6-Pin Female to 8-Pin Male Cable Black
- 2 of Mini 6 Pin to 6 Pin PCI Express Video Card Power Adapter Cable
Once you have these two items you’re ready to go.
Installing a Metal compatible card into a Mac Pro 5,1
- Power down the Mac Pro and release the side.
- Make sure all cables are removed from the ports on the Graphics Card
- Unplug the power cable from the graphics card
- Release the PCIe card retainer by undoing the two Philips screws and set aside
- Undo the two fan screws and remove the large fan at the end of the GPU
- Slide the PCIe retainer bar to the left to release the Graphics Card
- Pull out the card
- Take the two Mini 6 Pin to 6 Pin PCI Express Video Card Power Adapter Cables and plug them into the two power ports on the mother board. You should already have one cable from the old card which you can use or replace
- Insert the new card and connect the Dual 6-Pin Female to 8-Pin Male Cable to the graphics card
- Connect the power splitter to the two cables coming from the motherboard. This will give the GPU the power to run
- Slide the retaining bar back across to the right
- Replace the fan and bolt back into place
- Replace the PCIe retainer and bolt in
- Replace the side of the Mac Pro and power up
That’s it you’re done..
As you boot you’ll find out that there is now no boot screen. This is due to using a non-Mac graphics card. In the grand scheme of things, this should have little effect on your daily life with the Mac Pro.
However, as there is no boot screen, the one with the apple. There is no way to access the boot menu’s as the card is not recognised.
In order to make it recognised, we have to flash the EFI which is a complex process.
The alternative is to keep hold of your old graphics card for when you need to boot into those initial screens.
But, the whole point of this upgrade was to install Mojave which couldn’t be installed because the graphics card was too old. Now that I have a nice shiny new one it’s time to install Mojave.
This will make all the difference as the install will sort the boot screens etc. But, if you want to stay with the older OS you’ll need to keep the old graphics card just encase.
As all is running fine in the next article I’ll take a look at upgrading the OS to Mojave.