Quick links:
Installing/Updating Drivers
Reseating Your GPU
Flashed Vs Non-Flashed: What is it?
VERY IMPORTANT: FOR BUYERS OF THE NVIDIA 10 SERIES, TITAN, OR 680 CLASSIFIED
FAQ


Upgrading your GPU, or graphics card, is ideal for many professional and casual users alike. However, it is important to understand that upgrading your GPU comes with a certain level of required maintenance. Please read through this post to understand what kind of maintenance the user can expect when purchasing a Mac Pro with an upgraded/third party GPU.

Installing/Updating Drivers

 
If you have purchased your Mac with an upgraded GPU higher than the NVIDIA GTX 680, the NVIDIA Web driver will come preinstalled for the version of macOS you’ve requested.  Unless otherwise requested, your system will come preinstalled with the newest compatible version of macOS and the appropriate GPU driver.  If you decide to upgrade your OS version, you will need to update the drivers on your Mac Pro before you update your macOS. Failure to do so can result in several different issues such as failure to boot, jittery performance, no video, etc.  Failure to update GPU drivers and the related issues that can arise are considered user error and are not covered under your warranty.  As our valued customer, we want to make sure you are provided with the information necessary to avoid these types of issues so that you can keep on working with your Mac Pro!

If you need to update your operating system, it is tantamount that you first upgrade your GPU drivers. You can easily do this by first confirming your build number and then by downloading the correct driver. Follow these instructions to do so:

     

  • –     Open “About This Mac” by clicking on the Apple logo on the top left of your menu bar and selecting “About This Mac”
  • –     On the splash screen that opens click on the text “Version 10.x.x”. Your OS build number should then appear next to the text and should look something like this: 16A323
  • –     Copy and paste this number into the search bar on NVIDIA’s homepage: http://www.nvidia.com/page/home.html
  • –     You should get a few results; the top result (NVIDIA Drivers Quadro & GeForce macOS/OS X Driver release) will be the download page for the driver for your specific OS build.
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If you are going to be using your NVIDIA GPU for rendering (use CUDA cores for rendering), a CUDA driver must also be installed on your system. You can download the latest update of the driver, as well as past updates, here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/mac-driver-archive.html. For those who are not using the GPU for rendering, this driver is entirely optional.

Reseating Your GPU

 
Your GPU heats and expands during normal use and over time – occasionally this can cause certain issues and may require the GPU to be reseated. Essentially, this is simply removing the GPU from your system, making sure it is clean, and reinstalling it in your Mac Pro.

Use the following guide to learn how to remove the GPU from your system.  Once the card is removed, make sure that there is no debris in the PCIe slot or on the card itself and then reinstall the GPU. You can use a can of compressed air to safely remove any buildup in the PCIe slot or on the card itself.

https://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/0/MA926/en_US/Mac_Pro_ATI_Radeon_Graphics_Card_DIY.pdf

***Please pay special attention to page 4, you will need to slide the “slider” assembly forward in order to safely remove the card***

***While this guide illustrates the procedure for the ATI Radeon 5770, the same procedure can be followed for any GPU***

Now that the card has been reseated go ahead and plug the Mac Pro back in, and wait for 5 seconds. You have completed reseating your GPU.

Flashed Vs Non-Flashed 

 
A flashed GPU indicates that a GPU has been specially configured for compatibility with a Mac (and a non-flashed is just the opposite: a stock PC GPU). There are a few key differences between a flashed and non-flashed GPU. The most notable difference is boot screen support: with a non-flashed GPU, you will be unable to get boot screen support. This means that you will not be able to see the grey boot screen with the Apple logo and chime, nor will you be able to “option-boot”, thereby prohibiting your ability to switch boot drives and operating systems. This can be circumvented by having a “back-up” Apple OEM GPU that can provide this support when necessary. Another difference is that a non-flashed GPU uses PCIe 1.0, versus a flashed GPU which can support the PCIe 2.0 speeds inherent in the 2009-2012 Mac Pros (twice the data rate). Lastly, with a flashed GPU you can download drivers for your GPU after updating your macOS. A non-flashed GPU will require a “back-up” GPU to be installed so that you can install the appropriate driver. For these reasons, we suggest going with a flashed GPU when possible.

VERY IMPORTANT: FOR BUYERS OF THE NVIDIA 10 SERIES, TITAN, OR 680 CLASSIFIED!!

 
If you are purchasing an NVIDIA GPU from the 10 series (1080, 1080 Ti), Titan series (Titan, Titan Xp), or the classified version of the 680, you will be receiving your GPU OUTSIDE OF YOUR MACHINE. THIS REQUIRES THAT YOU, THE BUYER, INSTALL THE GPU IN YOUR MAC PRO. These GPUs are not stock cards from Apple, and as such, are a little bulkier and heavier. Unfortunately, this means that the GPU can dislodge in transit, which may cause significant damage to the internal components of your machine. For these reasons, we do not ship these specific cards within a Mac Pro. The buyer must install the GPU within the Mac Pro upon receipt. Instructions to do so can be found here:

https://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/0/MA926/en_US/Mac_Pro_ATI_Radeon_Graphics_Card_DIY.pdf

***Instructions for installing a GPU begin on page 5 of the manual. Make sure to touch the metal PCI cover on the back of the computer to release any static first [as illustrated on pg. 1]***

***While this guide illustrates the procedure for the ATI Radeon 5770, the same procedure can be followed for any GPU***

FAQ:

 

What options do I have for upgrading my GPU?

 
We do our best to maintain a current inventory of GPUs that provide you with many options. Make sure to look at the “configurator” under the GPU tab to see our current selection. If you don’t see the GPU you’re looking for, give us a call (805-745-8587) and we can discuss ordering custom cards!

I’ve updated my OS before my drivers. Help!

 
If you are able to load to your machine’s desktop, follow these steps as soon as possible:

  • –     Open “About This Mac” by clicking on the Apple logo on the top left of your menu bar and selecting “About This Mac”
  • –     On the splash screen that opens click on the text “Version 10.x.x”. Your OS build number should then appear next to the text and should look something like this: 16A323
  • –     Copy and paste this number into the search bar on NVIDIA’s homepage: http://www.nvidia.com/page/home.html
  • –     You should get a few results; the top result (NVIDIA Drivers Quadro & GeForce macOS/OS X Driver release) will be the download page for the driver for your specific OS build.
  • –     If you will be using your GPU for rendering, make sure to download the latest CUDA driver here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/mac-driver-archive.html

 
If your machine will not boot, please give us a call so that we can best assist you.

I purchased a GPU by itself – how do I install it?

 
Follow this manual for instructions on installing your GPU:

https://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/0/MA926/en_US/Mac_Pro_ATI_Radeon_Graphics_Card_DIY.pdf

***While this guide illustrates the procedure for the ATI Radeon 5770, the same procedure can be followed for any GPU***

Can I have multiple GPUs in my system?

 
It depends – you can have a maximum of two 5770s; up to four GT120s; but for other GPUS, you can only have a single unit in the machine. It gets a little complicated, so if you think you need more than one GPU in your system, give us a call and we can discuss options for you and your machine.

I think my GPU is failing. How can I tell?

 
Some symptoms can include screen stuttering or glitching, strange artifacts, a loud fan, and more; however, these symptoms can also be indicative of something else entirely – it is difficult to tell whether the GPU is failing by a couple of symptoms alone. There are some troubleshooting steps you can take to rule out other internal components as being possible culprits – if you purchase your machine from us, feel free to call us so we can help troubleshoot and find a solution.

 
 

Reach us by phone M-F from 9am to 5pm: (805) 745-8587
Reach us by email 7 days a week: info@ipowerresale.com