How to Install a Standard PC Nvidia GTX GPU in a Mac Pro- Using an unflashed GTX TITAN X, 980 Ti, 980, 970 or 960 in a Mac Pro

How to Install a Standard PC Nvidia GTX GPU in a Mac Pro: Using an unflashed GTX TITAN X, 980 Ti, 980, 970 or 960 in a Mac Pro

Guide to using unflashed Nvidia GTX 9XX GPUs in a classic Mac Pro.


In this guide we will show you how to save money, time, and keep your workflow rock solid by installing one of Nvidia’s latest GPU’s in your classic 2009/2010/2012 Mac Pro 5,1 or 4,1.

Following this guide you will be able to install a GPU purchased from anywhere, not just us or another Mac Pro GPU reseller.

The following method will provide you with a fully working Nvidia GPU in OS X, with GPGPU acceleration and all. The only omission will be the Apple logo on bootup, this will not be visible due to the fact that the Nvidia driver needs to load up before the display will enable (post boot). This shouldn’t be a problem for any user as long as you have a spare native Apple GPU for the rare situations in which you may need a boot screen (we supply a native Apple GT120 GPU with every Nvidia card purchased from us). You will not need this extra card for day to day use, however. You may need the boot screen functionality in rare situations requiring safe mode or verbose mode, for example.

Before you install your shiny new Nvidia GTX 9XX GPU, you just need to follow these 10 simple steps using your native Apple GPU:

  1. You will need to be running either OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or OS X 10.11 (El Capitan).
  2. Make sure you have updated your OS X edition of choice to the latest version using Apple Software Update. This includes all security updates.
  3. Go to http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx and search for the drivers >Quadro>Quadro Series>Quadro K5000 for Mac>YOUR OS X Version>Search (As shown in the image below).
  4. Download and install the driver, follow the instructions including restarting the Mac Pro.
  5. Go to System Preferences and check the Nvidia driver manager pane, on the third tab (updates) click update to ensure your on the latest version. (Repeat this for the CUDA for Mac driver if you also installed this, CUDA driver can be found here). (As shown in image below).
  6. Shutdown your Mac Pro.
  7. Remove the native Apple GPU (such as GT120, ATI 5770 or 5870).
  8. Connect the power cables for your new Nvidia GTX 9XX series GPU if needed. (Most GTX GPUs use 1x 6 pin and 1x 8 pin, we always include the correct cables for Mac Pro installation with GPUs purchased from us).
  9. Once the new GPU is installed, connect your display and turn on the Mac Pro.
  10. You will see a black screen until the Mac Pro has booted and the Nvidia driver has been loaded into OS X. (Shown in image below).

After following the steps above, you should now be back into OS X and able to use your super-powerful Nvidia GTX TITAN X, 980 Ti, 980, 970 or 960 GPU.


Please see the images below for visual explanations of steps 3, 5 and 10:


Step 3: Step 3 in installing an unflashed Nvidia GTX 9XX GPU in a classic Mac Pro

Step 5:Step 5 in installing an unflashed Nvidia GTX 9XX GPU in a classic Mac Pro

Step 10:Step 10 in installing an unflashed Nvidia GTX 9XX GPU in a classic Mac Pro



60 thoughts on “How to Install a Standard PC Nvidia GTX GPU in a Mac Pro: Using an unflashed GTX TITAN X, 980 Ti, 980, 970 or 960 in a Mac Pro

  1. How are the power draw from these handled? 8pin+6pin should be able to handle a 300W draw.

    The classic Mac Pro has 75W from PCI-slot and 2x75W from the dual 6-pins.

    Do you draw 75W from the lower 5.25″ bay or mod the PSU with extra 8-pin cables?

    Cheers for the blog!

    1. Hi Kristian,

      The simple answer is that in OS X, when being used in pro apps (Adobe CC Suite, FCPX, OctaneRender, DaVinci etc.) these cards will never draw more than 225W power. Basically, GPGPU (CUDA/OpenCL) has a very low power draw. The only time you may run into power issues is when gaming in Windows, in this case we would recommend slightly downclocking the cards.

      I hope that helps.

      Tom

      1. For powering the Titan X do you simply use the two 6-pin cables that come with the Mac (since 8-pin connections are downwards compatible to 6-pin) or do you use a 6-pin to 8-pin cable for the 8-pin connector on the Titan X?

    2. I played it safe. I bought an EVGA modular power supply and jumpered the pins so that it thought power was on. I connected two video power cables to the PSU and snaked them into the case though an empty PCI slot opening. Running a Gigabyte GTX 980 Gaming card. Room for another on the PSU and in the Mac Pro 5,1. I keep the PSU switched on. I have the Mac set to NOT update MacOS, nor to reboot after power failure. I religiously shutdown Mac and then hit switch on power strip that handles Mac and EVGA PSU. To start up i reverse the process. This way there is always power available for the card(s).

      Web driver work in Sierra. Card also works great in Windows 10 under Bootcamp.

  2. I had seen you have to set boot flags to =1 in some cases. Would I have to do that to, or just follow these steps and be fine.

    Mac Pro 5,1, looking to install a PNY GeForce GTX 970 4GB Rev 2.

  3. Hi,

    all of this info is super helpful. Quick question though, will this card run optimally if using (2) 6 pin PCI e connectors instead of (1) 6 and (1) 8?

  4. hi!

    I have a 12core mac pro 5.1 and recently bought a titan x to upgrade my machine. the problem is that the titan x doesn’t load. i’m using internal power supply with one 6to8 pin pcie adapter. I alresdy use a non flashed gtx 970 with no problems. the geforce on the card turns on but i only get black screen…. I’d appretiaite some help!

    thanks!

  5. A tip:
    I bought a MacPro 5,1 with GTX980 (and GT120) from you in March. Since then I have performed several updates, some of which result in a black screen because Apple have tinkered with the drivers. To get round this, as well as switching off and swapping the GPU for the GT120, another way is to use the “Share Screen” function from another networked Mac. This displays the log-in screen, and allows you to access, download and update the Nvidia drivers without having to dig the MacPro out of the rack.

    It works for me …
    Guy.

  6. There are no Mac OS options available on the drop-down menus. Any ideas where I can get the drives for the GTX 960 for MacPro 5.1 2010?

  7. First of all, thank you so much for your positive declaration that a Mac Pro 2009 5.1 is good to go for installing the macOS Sierra system. Like many people I have invested time and money upgrading my System only to be
    informed that Apple was about to consign my proud `new` machine to the knackers yard!!! Your news has given me so much confidence, that I have purchased a GTX 1080 Founders Edition card. If and when dear old Nvidia creates the Mac drivers for this speedster it will certainly be the icing on the cake for me. What started out as a very modest early 2009 Mac Pro has almost closed the gap on the shiny Trash Can Pro performance!
    Many thanks

  8. I hace installed a new GTX 960 in my 3,1 mac pro. Now the audio does not work. I have checked all my settings but nothing works. Any ideas?

    Thank you

    1. Hello Tobi

      I wouldn’t recommend fitting that card to your system due to high power draw
      There is a maximum output of 300W in the PCI-e and we have found that most cards with dual 8-pin connections draw too much power.

      If you do fit the card you may find it will cut out when rendering.

      Cheers George

  9. Thanks for this useful article.
    If I understand correctly you’re saying it’s possible to use “unflashed” graphics cards on a Mac Pro (eg. I have a 4,1 model).
    In looking at the Nvidia website and I don’t see any Mac OS listed in their drop down menus (same as in your STEP 3…even though it is in your screenshot). I was looking at the GTX970?
    Any suggestions?

    Thanks again,
    Alan.

    1. Hi Alan

      All the drivers are located under >Quadro>Quadro Series>Quadro K5000 for Mac
      If you follow step three you will find all the drivers.

      Once you click to select your operating system if you click show all operating systems you will see all the versions appear.

      Cheers George

  10. Thank you for publishing this guide. It gave me the assurance I needed to purchase and install a GeForce GTX 980 in my MacPro4,1.

  11. Very useful guide. I followed it and was able to get my 980 Ti card working on my Mac Pro (Mid-2012, Model ID 5.1). However, even though I get working video output, I’m unable to select my display (TV) as an HDMI audio output source. Have you been able to get HDMI Audio Output working using this card?

  12. Have a mac pro 5.1 running OSX 10.12.1

    Installed a new gtx 980 ti using the latest drivers cuda 8.0.53 and quadro geoforce 158f03. graphics work great in either DP or HDMI connection, but I get absolutely no audio. the monitor is no longer listed as an audio output device, and in system/hardware/audio: there is no listing anywhere for either HDMI or Display port as an audio source.

    so the bottom line is that i get great 4K video, but no sound.

    Any ideas how to remedy this?

    Here is one crazy thing i noticed, I replace the original ATI HD 5770 to get my sound back, but left the Nvidia drivers on the mac. those drivers are running the HD5770 at 4K with no issues and sound!!! How is that possible for a non 4K rated video card to run 4k with another mfg driver?

    that question is just for curiosity, what i really want to fix is the sound on the GTX 980ti.

    all help and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hello

      Unfortunately Nvidia don’t support audio over HDMI or DP in the Mac Pro.
      You would have to output audio via digital or 3.5mm

      Are you running both the 5770 and the 980Ti together?

      Cheers George

  13. I’m wondering if you can help me remedy some behavior we’ve been experiencing at the studio with a similar setup.

    Every so often while using video card heavy workflows (editing 6k video, rendering composite vfx) we’ll experience what we’ve been calling BSOD, or, the “black screen of death”. Basically, everything just locks up for one second, then the screens go black. The machine becomes totally unresponsive, and requires a reboot. You can’t screen share. No sleep-mode wake up. Nothing.

    We first tried addressing the issue by having our GTX 980’s flashed with the correct firmware through a service provided by MacVidCards.com. This gave us our Apple logo back on startup, but did not seem to improve the regularity of BSOD occurrences.

    We were then lead to believe that perhaps it was a power supply issue, where heavy tasks we’re basically cooking the motherboard and causing the machine to seize up. So we purchased external power supplies to run as dedicated power to the card. It seems to have helped reduce the amount of BSOD occurrences slightly, but not completely eliminating them.

    We’re currently on the latest release of Adobe software using the 2017 versions of Premiere and After Effects heavily.

    Any help/insight would be much appreciated!

    Here’s our setup:
    Model: Mac Pro (Mid 2012)
    OS: 10.11.5
    Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (4096M MB)
    Processor: 2 x 2.66GHz 6-core Intel Xeon
    Ram: 128GB DDR3
    Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX750M

    We have the latest NVIDIA and CUDA Updates installed.

  14. Hi Guys,
    I have installed a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 970 XTREME in MacPro of course with all current drivers but the screen remains black. Can anyone help me? Thank you so much!
    This is a Google translation

    Mfg

    Reiswich

          1. Hi Reiswich

            The card requires 2 x 8 Pin connections so it most likley draws way to much power. You have a maximum of 300W available to you so cards with a 250W TDP are recommended so that when you run it at full speed it doesn’t draw over the 300W.

            You would need an additional power supply to run that GPU yes.
            The alternative is you could sell that card and get a standard Nvidia GTX 970.

            Cheers George

  15. Excuse me, forget my system specify: MacPro 5.1 2010 mid 12 core 2.66 GHz, 24GB memory.
    And the new graphics card has two 8-pin power connectors.

    Entschuldige,vergessen mein System angeben: MacPro 5.1 2010 Mitte 12 Core 2,66 GHz, 24GB Arbeitsspeicher.
    Und die neue Grafikkarte hat zwei 8 Pol Stromanschlüsse.

    Reiswich

  16. Hi Cheers George,

    I also suspected it and returned to the dealer. Now I search with 250W TDP.
    Thanks for the advice !!!

    Reiswich

  17. Hi there, I’ve a question regarding a tower I got from you guys last year.

    Currently 1x 980ti (6gb) fitted in there, but I’d liked to add another 980ti or a 1070. My question is, do you think it would be better to fit the new card in the 2x slots I have free, and change the PSU, or will the cards be too close together and potentially overheat? So the second option would be to put the new card in an external chassis, and link to PCIe, with it’s own power.

    Which if either do you think is the better option?

    Thanks a lot, Alex

    1. Hi Alex

      We do not recommend running two GPUs internally. Running too much power through the logicboard and having that heat inside your system is not a good idea.
      Using an external GPU chassis is a better choice and dependent on your OS you can run up to three cards if you have the space in your chassis.
      Before you purchase a 1070 be aware that the Pascal cards are not supported yet so your system won’t run with the 1070 installed.

      Cheers George

  18. Thanks for the informative post. Will this apply to earlier models as well? I have a Mac Pro 1.1 2006 running Yosemite 10.10…trying to install an nvidia gtx 980. Thx in advance. Q

    1. Hi Quincy

      We have not tested the cards in the 1,1 and 2,1 systems.
      Considering you are using a version of OSX which has been slightly modified to run on the system anyway it is unlikely but the only way you will find out is giving it a go.

      Do let us know if you do try it!

      Cheers

      George

  19. Hello,

    I followed your guide to install my NVIDIA GTX 980 on my Mac Pro 5.1 (late 2012) about a year ago, maybe less. I had everything working great, even audio over HDMI with a few kexts I found. Whenever I had an OS update I’ve always been able to swap the native card back in, install driver updates, and good to go again. But I updated to 10.12.2, and now I get a black screen on startup, as if the display simply doesn’t recognize the GPU. I swapped back in the AMD card and confirmed my NVIDIA web driver and CUDA drivers were both up to date, but it’s still not working. Any ideas? By the way thanks for the guide and thanks in advance for the help!

  20. I installed and ran a GTX 960 on my MacPro Tower for the last 10 months. Then today I installed a software update and these Nvidia drivers are no longer compatible with my computer. I cannot reinstall the drivers either. It gives me an error message “Mac OS X version is not compatible”.

    I reached out to Nvidia chat support and they simply told me the GTX 960 is not supported by Nvidia running on a Mac.

    Buyer beware, this is not a stable solution for better graphics performance! I hope at some point soon a new software update from Nvidia or Apple will make using my card possible again.

    1. Hi Tim,

      This is because you performed a security update.

      You simply need to reinstall the Nvidia drivers from the Nvidia website.
      If you could provide your exact OS version number I can send you a link.

      Kind regards

      George

  21. Hi, thank you for this guide!
    Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to make this work.
    I have a 2,66 GHz Quad-Core MacPro4,1 and am trying to get a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 980 AMP! Omega running.
    I’ve tried it on three different operating systems: Sierra, El Capitan and now on Yosemite but unfortunately the system doesn’t recognize the graphics card that is plugged into Slot-1 (x16).
    I tried the Quadro web drivers as well as the exact drivers for my system build but none of them work. Once NVIDIA Web driver recognized the graphics card in Slot-1 when my old GT-120 was plugged into Slot-4 but it didn’t recognize it as a GTX 980 but just as a graphics card with 256 MB VRAM.

    Right now my configuration is:
    OS X 10.10.5 (14F27)
    ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 980 AMP! Omega powered via PCI and 2x 6-pin to 8-pin- power cables from the mainboard.
    NVIDIA web driver: 346.02.03f01
    CUDA driver version: 6.5.51

    I’d be really glad if someone could help me – I’ve been trying to make this work for a week now. Thanks!

    1. Hi Francis

      So you have installed your Nvidia drivers with the GT120 installed?

      For safe measure remove the gt120 plug your display into the 980.
      If your system boots everything is setup correctly you should find that about this mac will show your 980.

      Does your system not boot at all with the 980 in or is it just not showing up?

      I would also not recommend running that card due to power draw. The graphics card when under full load will but pulling over 300w.
      Doing so for prolonged time can cause damage to your logic board and cause it to burn out or short. You may in the short term experience crashes when pushed over the maximum load as the card will by attempting to pull more power than is available.

      Many thanks

      George

      1. Hi George,
        thanks for your response!
        I’ve already tried removing the GT120 and plugging the display into the 980 but the system doesn’t boot at all. The fans are running and I hear the hard drives working but the screen stays black. According to the data sheet it should only pull up to 200W: https://gzhls.at/blob/ldb/b/a/d/1/e647714f6ff70cd2606d4c3477e361fb3bd1.pdf
        Any idea what I could be doing wrong?
        Otherwise I’d have to sell the card again. Do you have any suggestions for another card for my Mac Pro 2009?

        Thanks

        Francis

  22. Hi,

    I’m trying to use a GTX 680 on a MacPro 5,1 with El Capitan.
    Right now I only have a single 6pin cable, so only of them is connected.
    I’m using a DVI to HDMI adapter cable.
    I did not install any driver because my understanding is that the GTX 680 is supported out of the box (except that I have not flashed yet, so I can’t get the boot screen just yet)

    When I boot the Mac I can hear the chime sound, and I’m pretty sure it does boots, just that the screen is black.
    Is it because of the missing 6pin cable? Or is it because I need to install drivers?
    Unfortunately I don’t have other system to test, so any help will be appreciated.

    Thanks, Antonio

  23. Hello George, thank you for the great tip. I currently run a GTX680 in my mid-2012 Mac Pro. The gain in performance isn’t really mind-blowing but it allows to work with AE plug-ins that rely on Cuda cores. I’m considering an upgrade and looking at the conversation above, it seems that the limit for a beefier GPU is limited by power supply. Would a 1070 with 8Gb (Founders edition) work? The specs say that it only draws 150w of power…
    Regards
    JM

    1. Hi Jean

      Do not buy any of the new Nvidia cards! Power isn’t the issue. They are not currently support in the system.
      Our most popular card for AE/PP/ME is the 980Ti its a great all round card and you will certainly see a boost in performance.

      Many thanks

      George

  24. I’m having issues installing the quadro k5000 for mac driver. It says that I have to be on 10.11.6 to install the driver. Which i currently am on 10.11.6.

    I am running a native supported GPU while trying this install.

    How do I bypass this?

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