User Guides

Upgrading a Mac Pro 1,1 from 2006 with stunning results! March 7, 2015 13:30

So you have a Mac Pro 1,1 and you're stuck with it being quad core and the latest version of OSX you can run is 10.7.5 Lion

Apple_Cards is here to say....

Not anymore! 

There are a number of fantastic upgrades you can perform to bring these machines right up to date with some quiet frankly stunning results which I will outline below and include links to help get you on track to making a quality machine!

Processor upgrade:

The Mac Pro 1,1 is restricted in that although it's dual socket machine, it can only see dual core processors such as the Xeon 5150 (Dual Core 2.66Ghz) and the 5160 (Dual Core 3.0Ghz) as standard.

Not anymore!

There is a handy tool though that will upgrade the firmware in these machines to allow the installation and correct recognition of quad core processors such as the E5345 (Quad Core 2.33Ghz), X5355 (Quad Core 2.66Ghz) and X5365 (Quad Core 3.0Ghz) making your 1,1 machine an 8 Core beast! Typical Geekbench scores can go from about 6000 (5150 processors) to 11,000 (X5365). You'll find the utility to upgrade the firmware here.

The processors themselves can be easily sourced on eBay for very little money these days too!

OSX Upgrade:

So the 2006 & 2007 models of Mac Pro are stuck with no support or ability to upgrade to any version of OSX above Lion 10.7.5

Not anymore!

There was always debate over why the Mac Pro 1,1 & 2,1 were 64 Bit machines yet were unable to have a purely 64 Bit OS loaded onto it. That has now been cracked with some brilliant work that allows a custom installer to put Mountain Lion (10.8), Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10) onto these older machines. Check these links here to find the info on SFFOTT, Tiamo's boot.efi and the Piker-Alpha bootloader. In a nutshell they enable the ability to install these OS versions on the older machines with little to no problems.

Graphics Card Upgrade:

So with a 32-Bit EFI built into the machine and 10.7.5 as the latest OS version there was a limit to how any cards could be used in a Mac Pro 1,1

Not anymore!

In combination with begin able to install a later version of OSX, cards such the AMD Radeon R9 280X & AMD Radeon 7950 are fully supported giving superb up to date graphics with a full boot screen too (made possible by the EBC firmware loaded onto the cards eeprom).

All that's left is to add an SSD as a boot drive and you have yourself a very capable machine for Pro Apps for very little money!

How much power can the Mac Pro provide for Graphics Cards? March 7, 2015 13:27

A question that appears a lot is how much power can the Mac Pro supply to graphics cards through the internal PCIe power cables and PCI slots. Here at apple_cards we shed some light on the power consumption of the most popular cards and some alternative solutions for the extra power hungry graphics cards out there!

The Mac Pro is a very well powered machine. The power supplies used in all models from 2006-2012 have a total output of 980 Watts which is then distributed throughout the machine to power various parts. The parts we are interested in are the wattage amounts that can be safely drawn through the PCI slots and the two AUX PCIe booster cables.

The technical specs show that each PCI socket can provide 75 Watts of power and each PCIe cable can supply 75 Watts each giving a total of 225 Watts that is allowed for a graphics card. Most graphics cards are well within this specification although there are some unofficial cards that require more than that at full load. For these cards we recommend an separate power supply to feed just the card itself. There are a few people how have modified their cases and installed some very neat solutions if you look here: Installing second power supply inside Mac Pro

Taking these DIY approaches aside you'll find that the vast majority of official Apple cards are well within the operating specifications of the mac pro such as the nVidia GTX680 with a power draw of 195 Watts (TDP), the AMD Radeon 7950 with a power draw of 200 Watts (TDP) and the ATI Radeon 5870 with a power draw of 228 Watts (TDP) which is pretty interesting considering the 225 Watt limit. There is scope for these cards to draw more power as they most likely under load will and despite rumours we have not seen anything bad happen other then the machine switching itself off if the power draw is too high.

So in summary the official 225 Watts has some room for movement but to be on the safe side you can always run the 'extra' power hungry cards from a separate PSU.

What is the difference between the nVidia 8800GT graphics cards for Mac Pro? March 7, 2015 13:27

A common questions we receive here at apple_cards is:

'which 8800GT do I need for my Mac Pro'

There are two versions of the 8800GT card that were produced which need to be matched with the correct Mac Pro tower in order to work correctly and show an EFI boot screen (the grey apple logo on startup) that allows for switching between boot drives should you need to.

One version contains a 32 Bit EFI and is designed for the 2006 & 2007 models (known as the 1,1 & 2,1 respectively) of the Mac Pro which are identifiable by either clicking on the apple icon in the top left corner and going to 'about this mac' or by simply looking at the way the ram risers fit into the machine (both should sit with the ram on top of the riser in these models). 

The other contains a 64 Bit EFI and is designed to be used in Mac Pro's that were built between 2008-2012 (3,1 - 4,1 & 5,1). These are identifiable in the same way as above by clicking 'about this mac' or by seeing the ram risers on the 2008 machines have the ram sticks facing each other when inserted into the machine or by the 2009 onwards models which have a separate pull out tray that contains both the processors and memory.

If you buy the wrong card it's not the end of the world as when the OS loads the drivers will kick in and you'll get the desktop as normal but getting these cards right in the first place saves any hassle of returning them as you will be missing the boot screen.

Other than that, both cards are identical in looks so it's worth taking a few moments to check over your Mac to see which card you need.

For the 2006-2007 machines (Mac Pro 1,1 & 2,1) you'll need the nVidia 8800GT Mac Pro Graphics Card 32 Bit EFI version and for a machine that is from 2008 onwards (Mac Pro 3,1 - 4,1 & 5,1) you'll need the nVidia 8800GT Mac Pro Graphics Card 64 Bit EFI version.

Hopefully this helps to clear up the difference.

How to install a Graphics Card into a Mac Pro March 7, 2015 13:24

Incredibly useful is this handy guide to show you how install a graphics card in a mac pro by apple_cards

First off you'll need to make sure the computer is turned off and also that the power cable is removed from the rear of the Mac. Then remove the side cover by pulling the lever at the back.

Replace Mac Pro Graphics Card

Once the side cover is off you'll want to discharge any static electricity you may be carrying  by simply touching the PCI blanking plates on the rear of the Mac. Also it's advisable not to wander around too much during the installation in case you start picking up any other static from carpets etc..

Next locate the two screws attached to the plate that holds the PCI cards in place. These are thumb screws and should loosen by hand but there is also a philips screw head to get a screwdriver in there should they not come loose by hand.

Remove Mac Pro Thumbscrews

You'll want to make sure that any handling of the cards is done by the cards edges. Try not to touch any of the connectors or components on the card itself. If there is already a card in place you'll need to remove it. On Mac Pro models 2006, 2007 & 2008 there is a small catch where the cards edge connector plugs in that will need to lifted gently to allow the card to slide out.

Mac Pro PCIe Graphics Card Release

Some cards feature either one or two PCIe booster cables that supply additional wattage to the card. There may be a cable already present that you can use but if not you'll want to install the cables if your new card requires them. 

Mac Pro Graphics Card Booster Cables 2006-2008

The connection of these cables goes from the logic board to the card itself with the logic board connector being located just under the second hard drive bay on the 2006, 2007 & 2008 models or to the lower edge of the visible logic board just in front of the PCIe fan on the 2009 onwards models.

Mac Pro Graphics Card Booster Cables 2009-2012

These can be a bit fiddly to install but be patient and you'll get there!

The popular Graphics Cards for the 2006 & 2007 Mac Pro models are the nVidia 7300GT, the  nVidia 8800GT 32 Bit EFI, the  ATI X1900XT and the nVidia FX4500.

For the 2008 onwards machines there are more choices with the best being the nVidia GTX680, the AMD Radeon 7950 and the ATI Radeon 5870.

Now it's time to install the new card!

Slide the card into place on the lower PCIe slot so that the card sits flush with the base of the PCI bay. This will by default be the x16 lane on all models of Mac Pro. You can of course install the card in another slot if need be (if multiple cards are used).

Insert Mac Pro Graphics Card x16 PCIe Lane

I find it easier to have attached the PCIe booster cables into the card at this point before sliding it in, but plugging them in after is not a problem.

Mac Pro Graphics Card nVidia GTX680

Now replace the bracket with the two thumb screws and tighten to ensure the card won't move when plugging cables into the rear of the card. Tighten these by hand as they are not likely to come loose and it helps if you need to change the card out in the future.

Installed Mac Pro Graphics Card

Now replace the side cover and push the latch on the rear in to lock the side cover in place.

That's it!

Apple Cards New Site December 11, 2014 09:22

Continuing the success of our eBay and Amazon stores we have now launched a new website to cover our existing catalogue!

Here at Apple_Cards we stock Apple Mac Pro Graphics Cards as either direct replacements or upgrades to all models of Mac Pro from 2006 to 2012.

We also have a small selection of Mac G5 cards too!