User Guides

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!