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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Hardware Hacking > Can you still flash PC videocards?

Can you still flash PC videocards?
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Baninated
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Aug 10, 2012, 07:20 AM
 
Just wondering. Back in the AGP days, you could get a PC videocard for cheap and flash the bios to make it a mac card. Do people still do that?
     
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Aug 10, 2012, 09:05 AM
 
http://netkas.org/
     
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Aug 11, 2012, 11:58 AM
 
I lost track since so few people have Mac Pros compared to how many had PowerMacs but I believe that many PC cards will work as-is in Macs nowadays, they just don't work until the OS boots all the way up. Some can be flashed to solve that glitch.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Aug 13, 2012, 01:35 AM
 
Generally you don't need to flash these days. The flashing was to add support for EFI (and Open Firmware, back in the PPC days) to cards that only supported BIOS, and since newer PC OEM motherboards use a form of EFI as well, EFI support is included from the start. I think that all AMD videocards from the 6000 generation and on will work if there is a driver for them in the OS. For the 6000 generation up to 6870, that's not a problem. 6950 and 6970 has so-so support, and the newer cards I think work under ML but nothing earlier. netkas (above) is a good place to find out what works and what doesn't, and also find some hacks to make drivers work.

Not sure about nVidia cards. Since the latest MBP uses modern nVidia cards, it may be that a GTX670/680 will work.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Dec 19, 2012, 12:18 AM
 
Yes you can. There's a workaround for the Geforce 8800GT- pretty old nowadays- but it offers both a 32bit and 64bit EFI solution for the Mac Pro- I'm currently running 2 of these in my Mac Pro- at £120 each a year ago they were a bargain.

Workaround: http://www.forevermac.com/2009/09/nv...hics-card-gpu/

However, before you even consider doing it, you need to know if you have 32 or 64 bit for your EFIs and then decide if you want the card to be seen by OS X or just bootcamp becuase with bootcamp, it's pretty much plug and play- the flash is only needed if booting into OS X and using the card.
     
cgc
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Jan 1, 2013, 04:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Generally you don't need to flash these days. The flashing was to add support for EFI (and Open Firmware, back in the PPC days) to cards that only supported BIOS, and since newer PC OEM motherboards use a form of EFI as well, EFI support is included from the start. I think that all AMD videocards from the 6000 generation and on will work if there is a driver for them in the OS. For the 6000 generation up to 6870, that's not a problem. 6950 and 6970 has so-so support, and the newer cards I think work under ML but nothing earlier. netkas (above) is a good place to find out what works and what doesn't, and also find some hacks to make drivers work.

Not sure about nVidia cards. Since the latest MBP uses modern nVidia cards, it may be that a GTX670/680 will work.
Is there any way to know which GPU drivers are included in OSX? I have 10.7.5 on my 2006 1,1 MacPro and since my nVidia 8800GT died I've been using my nVidia 7300GT which is a POS. Looking at the Apple 5770 but it's $250...what out there is good and works our of the box w/ 32-bit EFI?
     
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Jan 6, 2013, 04:02 PM
 
You can kinda sorta see it by going to /System/Library/Extensions and listing what drivers are installed, but that doesn't tell the full story - e.g. the Radeon 6900 series is only barely supported. Easiest is probably googling your card and "OS X drivers". netkas.org generally has news on this sort of thing.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 8, 2013, 03:30 PM
 
I also would like to know if there's a way to check what are the supported GPUs in Mac OSX. I have an old tower PC which has ATi Radeon 6 series and don't know if I will be able to use the graphics card or not. Thanks!
     
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Jan 8, 2013, 03:42 PM
 
Radeon 6000 cards are supported with the exception of the 6900-series.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
cgc
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Jan 8, 2013, 03:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Radeon 6000 cards are supported with the exception of the 6900-series.
Any brands more or less likely to be compatible than others? If I stop by Microcenter on the way home today I can just but any Radeon 6xxx card that's not a 69xx and it'll work (minus gray screen)? Do you know if there are problems with the OSX DVD player, Steam games, and other apps? Thanks, I've read things similar to what you say but there's always a caveat that makes me leary of buying a PC card.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
cgc
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Jan 8, 2013, 07:21 PM
 
Are PC power cables that connect the motherboard power to a GPU compatible with the MacPro motherboard/pinout? I think I tossed my Mac powercord out when I tossed my nVidia 8800GT in the trash. Thanks.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Jan 9, 2013, 05:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Any brands more or less likely to be compatible than others? If I stop by Microcenter on the way home today I can just but any Radeon 6xxx card that's not a 69xx and it'll work (minus gray screen)? Do you know if there are problems with the OSX DVD player, Steam games, and other apps? Thanks, I've read things similar to what you say but there's always a caveat that makes me leary of buying a PC card.
The brands are probably irrelevant given the same chipset - the only difference would be warranty. I don't use an MP myself, so I don't know of specific problems with say DVD player. In general, the newer the OS the better, but 10.7.4 in particular apparently solved a lot of minor problems.

Any Radeon 6870 or lower should work with ML without problems, but they're not very good value these days. Radeon 7000 series (7700-7900 anyway, anything else is a rebrand) requires 10.8.3 beta. Support for the latest nVidia cards seems to have arrived with 10.8.2, however, so something like a 660 Ti or up might be a better deal. They also run much cooler.

Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Are PC power cables that connect the motherboard power to a GPU compatible with the MacPro motherboard/pinout? I think I tossed my Mac powercord out when I tossed my nVidia 8800GT in the trash. Thanks.
Motherboard power? Do you mean cables from the PSU to the GPU? If so, you can always hack something up to leech power from the molex connector, assuming the actual PSU is big enough.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
cgc
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Jan 9, 2013, 08:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
...
Motherboard power? Do you mean cables from the PSU to the GPU? If so, you can always hack something up to leech power from the molex connector, assuming the actual PSU is big enough.
Yeah, there's a couple of power connectors on the motherboard specifically for auxilary PCIE power (I think they're labeled "PCIE Boost" and "PCIE AUX"). MacPro PSUs are 1KW so that's not a concern but those 67xx GPUs can be had for as low as $49 as they have mail-in rebates for a lot of them nowadays. Plenty of GPU for my 1,1 MacPro...they rate the same as the Apple 5770 on PassMark.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Jan 9, 2013, 12:15 PM
 
Radeon 6770 = Radeon 5770. It's a straight rebrand - the exact same chip, the exact same clockspeed. A 6770 at $49 is a pretty good deal, and since a Mac Pro 1,1 can't run 10.8 (officially), there aren't many better options out there. You will likely need 10.7.4, though.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
cgc
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Jan 9, 2013, 02:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Radeon 6770 = Radeon 5770. It's a straight rebrand - the exact same chip, the exact same clockspeed. A 6770 at $49 is a pretty good deal, and since a Mac Pro 1,1 can't run 10.8 (officially), there aren't many better options out there. You will likely need 10.7.4, though.
Thanks. Once I can verify if a PC auxilary PCIE power cable is compatible with the MacPro motherboard PCIE aux plug I'll go pick up the card.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Jan 9, 2013, 06:54 PM
 
I have a 5770 in my Mac Pro 1,1 and it's running 10.6.8. I don't like any of the newer OS's, so it'll be like this for a while. Works great.
     
cgc
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Jan 9, 2013, 08:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by knifecarrier2 View Post
I have a 5770 in my Mac Pro 1,1 and it's running 10.6.8. I don't like any of the newer OS's, so it'll be like this for a while. Works great.
Did you buy Apple's 5770 or a PC version off-the-shelf? If PC version, did you use the PCIe auxilary power cord from the PC GPU box?

Sorry to be so anal about this but I don't want to waste money or damage my MacPro... Thanks.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Jan 10, 2013, 05:04 AM
 
Even if the connector on the motherboard doesn't work, you can always use two Molex connectors to a single PCIe 6 pin. Most cards even include one such converter in the box.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
cgc
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Jan 12, 2013, 09:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Even if the connector on the motherboard doesn't work, you can always use two Molex connectors to a single PCIe 6 pin. Most cards even include one such converter in the box.
I think I'll just go with an Apple 5770. No possibility of weird problems (e.g. DVD player not working, Steam not working, etc.).
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
   
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