Upgrading your Mac Pro Video Graphics Card

Upgrading your Mac Pro Video Graphics Card 

The Mac Pro tower allows you to upgrade to the latest and greatest PCIe graphics cards. That includes a standard nVidea PCIe card and install the MacOS drivers from the nVidea web site. Even easier is to go out and purchase a reference video card supported by current Apple hardware running AMD RADEON chips like the RX 280, 560, 570, 580, 590, or Vega for example, and with no need to install a separate vendor driver. I have found most Radeon cards work out of the box in Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave. To run Mojave, the card also needs to support Metal (most new cards do).

Before ordering a new video graphics card, check the forums to make sure that the particular model will work in a Mac. If you want to be safe, look at what Apple is installing in its current line up and get a reference card using the same graphics processor. Check the power requirements as some top end cards demand more power than the Mac Pro power supply can give you. Check also the power cable requirements as you will need to purchase two 6 pin Apple video card cables if you don’t already have them in your system along with two standard 6 pin female to 8 pin male adapter cables for most cards. That being said, some cards only require one cable rather than two so check the specs and the pictures before you purchase. Avoid video cards that get all of their power from the PCIe bus as these will more than likely overload the bus.

These are the cards that currently support Metal and are compatible with macOS Mojave according to Apple's web site:
  • MSI Gaming Radeon RX 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5
  • Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5
  • Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition
  • Nvidia Quadro K5000 for Mac
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition
Apple has also listed the following graphics cards that “might also be compatible” with macOS Mojave:
  • AMD Radeon RX 560
  • AMD Radeon RX 570
  • AMD Radeon RX 580
  • AMD Radeon RX 590
  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100
  • AMD Radeon Frontier Edition
Some standard video cards can be flashed with the Apple EFI so you can watch the system boot up, but I have never bothered. I keep a couple of trusty Apple GT120 cards around just in case they are needed for troubleshooting. If flashing your video card to Apple EFI specs is of interest then go check out the forums or check out this video. However, flashing does not seem to be an easy option for newer cards like the RX570 and RX580.

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