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Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi everyone,


I'm looking to upgrade my video card in my early 2009 Mac Pro.  I currently have two cards in there and I want to update one of them. - An ATI Radeon HD 4870 with 512mb VRam, and an NVidia GeForce GT 120 with 512mb VRam, neither of which produce very impressive numbers in Cinebench.


I do a little video edititng (FCP, AE, Premiere, Motion, etc) , dabble in 3d (Blender), and game a little.  I would like to know what is the best video card I can currently get that can handle these three things and give me a decent boost in performance.  I'm looking to spend between $300 and $1000, but cheaper is better.


I researched it a little and looked at what Mac Pro's currently come with (The ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB, available seperately here: s)


and was wondering if...
     1. This is the BEST card I can get? And...
     2. Will it work in my machine?


I see ATI has some nice cars out now like the Fire Pro Series: 8800.aspx

Do these work with our Mac Pro's?  I can't find platform compatibility specs.  (I know these are crazy expensive, but I would like to know if they work)


Thanks for any and all feedback



Mac Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), 2.66 Quad Core
  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    Great Links!


    This dude's blog ( is exactly what I am trying to do with my machine including the 4-Core to Hex core swap.  Lots of great info in there, thanks!


    Do you know if the Drivers for the EVGA GeForce GTX 570 card you suggested are mature in Mac OS?  The blog mentions that it's successor, GeForce GTX 670 has drivers that work but are not yet mature (Don't work well with everything and take full advantage of the processing power)  I'm guessing the 570 has decent Drivers written for it now? Also Is the 570 better than the now 2 year old ATI Radeon HD 5870?




  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    Frequently Asked Questions About NVIDIA PC (non-EFI) Graphics Cards


    10.8.2 - Nvidia posted new CUDA drivers and Apple's are better. You realize that Lion 10.7.4 began GTX 5xx support and Apple takes time with graphic drivers.


    Add to that, the GTX 6xx were so new and even PC drivers for Windows 7 took months and ongoing.


    Fastest GPU Mac Pro with EFI Support (the GTX 570 discussion)

    - jump to the end of the thread


  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    Again, great links, lots of good info, thanks.  I spent about 10 hours yesterday and the day before reading through them. 


    No, I didn't know Lion began support of NVidia PC cards, but I do now   Thanks for the heads up.




    What I have learned in a nut shell (A lot of this is repetitive of the info found in the FAQ link provided above, and simplified a little, let me know if I got anything wrong):



    • IMHO as of 10.05.2012, it seems the nVidia GTX 570 is THE best option for our Mac Pro Machines especially for things like video editing  (Thanks for the recommendation).  More info...



    • The GTX 5xx and 6xx cards work great on 10.8.2, and NVidia just released another driver update for 10.8.2.  (This overrides the current Mac Dirvers and seems to increase performance but may cause a monitor sleep issue)


    • GTX 570 (or one from the 500 series) may be the best choice because the drivers are more mature than the 600 series (This may no longer be an issue with the drivers released several days ago, the verdict is not quite in), and the 580 and 480 models (+ others?) require an external power supply.  I personally don't need that headache.



    • All of these cards need supplemental power in the form of 2, 6-pin cables (internal Power Supply, not external, which is normal) sometimes you can use ones from the Video card you are upgrading, but they are also available on Amazon for $11.65 per cable, search "PCIe Power Cable For Mac G5 nVidia ATI")  I'm not are if they come with new cards or not.



    • EFI does not work with PC cards so you will not get the white apple boot screen unless you buy a modded card (But still works fine, the screen is just black until it boots to the desktop and loads drivers, then it comes on fine).  Also you won't see the PCI card in the system profiler (Again, unless you buy an EFI modded card, more on that below…)



    • nVidia CUDA works out of the box for these cards in Mountain lion 10.8.2 to accelerate applications like After Effects, Premiere, Da Vinci Resolve, and Final Cut Pro.  For earlier OSX releases you may need to perform some code surgery, you can dig through the links above if you do)



    • OpenCL - There is an issue reported of cards over 2 Gig in memory having OpenCL disabled, you can fix this to take advantage of OpenCL (It is turned off by default in OSX) you have to download and use a "fixed" Netkas nVidia driver kext mod (Google the link, methinks it not wise to postith it here )  Do this after updating to the latest version of ML 10.8.x, and have installed the most recent available nVidia video driver.



    • To take advantage of Open CL for some Adobe software (like Photoshop plug-ins) you may have to mod an ASCII text file adding the card to the list, as these are not tested by Adobe for the mac (Google it).



    • The 6xx series cards are capable of PCIe 3.0, and the 5xx series are capable of PCIe 2.0, but both run in 2.0 mode in OSX 10.8.2 with the latest nVidia Driver… However under Lion 10.7.X, the cards operate in 1.0 mode (2.5 GT/s) not 2.0 mode (5.0 GT/s), which may cause a slight performance hit (Not 100% confirmed) unless you buy a modded one, like this one from MacVidCards which runs in full 2.0 mode:





    If you got his route you want to buy the "DVI + Display-port" version if you have Apples awesome LED Cinema display, not the dual DVI.  Also, the card may need some kind of adapter if you are buying a non-modded version - Mini DV to DVI to work with Apple Cinema displays ($8).  With the modded version he includes an adapter and internal power booster cables needed.  The cards are about $200 more than just the Out-of-the-box GTX 570, so make sure these extra features are worth the extra $ to you.  I believe the out of the box cards now work in 2.0 mode in ML 10.8.2 natively, you just won't get the boot screen.



    • The 5xx series is better for things like Adobe after Effects and Premier because it has better CUDA and OpenCL capabilities, where the 6xx cards are better for Gaming.



    • It has been reported the GTX 570 runs fairly cool and is acceptably quiet for a card of this power. 



    • GTX 5xx power consumption is a bit more that the 6xx series.



    • Card should be placed in slot 2 not slot 1



    • You don't have to install a driver for 10.8.x because Apple released ML with nVidia drivers that work with these cards, however there in a new driver from nVidia that should perform better in some respects.



    • People are reporting that it renders RED camera footage in realtime with layers of FX in nodes for programs like Da Vinci Resolve, and that Adobe AE and Premiere CS6 render in real time, no dropped frames.



    • These cards aren't perfect, but run great for an unsupported card. The only issues I have read of at this point are that some people's monitors are not going to sleep, but a fix for this is most likely on the horizon.





    Continuing down the rabbit hole...

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    That is a better write-up summary than I could ever do!


    And puts all of it or 95% out front to see.


    A bit expensive seeing how EVGA GTX 570 2.5 $319.


  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks,    Glad I could contribute, I did it mostly so I could wrap my head around the pages and pages of info to make sure I was a good purchase, figured someone else might find the info useful as well.


    Funny, i just bought that exact same card last night!    There is also a $20 rebate until the end of the month from the manufacturer (Link on the Amazon page).  So it's a pretty good deal for the power.


    I didn't go with the modded card because the latest drivers allow for PCIe 2.0 and I don't really NEED to see the boot screen (Would be nice for peice of mind, but if it works, it works).  Also, I have a GTX 120 for back up and I can "Screen share" from my other mac if something goes wrong.



  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    That is a GT 120, there is no GTX, those were OEM cards, and yes you do want to sometimes use boot manager to say do Safe Boots and Recovery Mode.

  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    That's right, "GT" 120 not GTX, sorry.  I think I have been looking at too many GTX's.  So would I need the GT 120 with EFI to use Boot Manager?




  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    hard to find but yes, which is why sometimes a flashed GTX - and leave your precious PCIe slots open

  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    ** NOTE: Just an update to my list above...


    • The monitor sleep issue is not caused by the apple drivers or the nVidia drivers, it is present only on some EFI modded (Aftermarket) cards.  The out of the box cards sleep just fine.


    • CUDA does NOT work out of the box for CS6 apps when using the ML 10.8.2 Video Drivers, you need to download and install the nVidia CUDA drivers for their site.  This is a very simple painless process.  As mentioned above you need to edit a text file in the contents folder of After Effects and Premier as well to see CUDA options in those programs - By adding your card to the list (Mine is "GeForce GTX 570") it will show up in your list of supported cards in the preferences / settings of those programs once you do.


    • Older Mac's PCIe will run in 1.0X (Pre 2009 I believe).  I'm not sure it's a Lion Vs. M Lion issue (You should just upgrade to ML if your committed to doing this card upgrade, it will be 1 Million times easier).


    • The adapter you need for the Apple Cinema display is a Kanex - $99, I found this out after, ouch.  Here is a link:


    • I mentioned above that the card needed to be in slot 2, but my card seems to be working fine so far in slot 1 (The double wide 16X video card slot).  Anything changes I'll post it here.


    • I believe the only driver for this card from nVidia is the CUDA driver.  I'm not sure if this is the whole driver or if it works in tandem with the "Vanilla" drivers included by Apple in 10.2.8 supplying CUDA support, or if it overwrites the included Apple drivers.  If someone knows something I don't, please report it here.  I looked on the site under Drivers, and went through the drop down lists and there is not Mac drivers...  The CUDA one is hosted elsewhere on their site and I could not find a different one.


    •  So far mine is working GREAT!  I was able to apply the Kext fix (Replace/overwrite the file, don't delete and then replace... you'll see what I mean), and add the card to the CS6 supported cards list for the respective programs...  It is REALLY quiet at idle, and I couldn't really hear it during Cine-Bench tests, so overall I'm really happy with the results.

  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have put together a care package for the OpenCL Kext file patch, and the CS6 CUDA Activation Fixes (I hope this is cool with the posting rules, if not sorry in advance...)


    The OpenCL file is pre-patched, and I have added the GeForce GTX 570 to the Adobe files.  If you have a different card, it's pretty obvious how you need to edit it to accept your card...


    Download here:


    Screenshots with instructions from respective forums included.

  • DPArt Level 3 (560 points)



    Good job putting this together.


    I would like to suggest that you include this simple instruction.


    Before people replace the OpenCl file, they should drag the existing one onto the desktop.


    The OS will NOT remove it as it is a working system file, it will simply make a copy on the desktop.


    Then, if something gets messed up they can just do a safe boot, drag the unaltered copy on the dektop back into the folder and do a "repair permaissions" and be right back at square one in under 5 minutes.


    Gets rid of complaints of "bricked systems" and having to target disk in to repair.

  • Kevin808 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, yes that ^ is a good point, I forgot to mention that as a safe guard, thanks.

  • nextech Level 1 (35 points)



    Another option is the Radeon 7970 GHz Edition.  It's a great graphics card, and I have 27 of them running in various Apple Mac Pro machines (2008, 2010 and 2012 Apple Mac Pro computers).


    The cards are incredible, and work fantastic under Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 (if you boot directly into Windows) but I am still waiting on Diamond/AMD/Radeon graphics driver support in Apple OS X 10.8.x Mountain Lion.


    See here:


    See here:


    It would be nice to see AMD/Radeon/Diamond develop some great OS X 10.8.x graphics drivers that will utilize GPU acceleration, MPEG H.264/H.265 video encoding acceleration, support cross-fire (for using dual Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards in the 2008-2012 Apple Mac Pro) and support AMD App Acceleration (for Apple OS X applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premier, Adobe Master Collection in OS X 10.8.x, etc.)   Support 3D gaming, Blu-Ray and 3D Blu-Ray movie playback, editing, and hardware encoding (H.264/H.265 encoding) in OS X 10.8.x.

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