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OWC Reveals Which Radeon Video Cards Work With 2006-2009 Mac Pros

Our blog has been buzzin’ with questions as to whether or not the new Radeon 5870 and 5770 video cards found in the new Mid 2010 Mac Pros work with earlier model year Mac Pros. When first asked about this, we referred to the Apple display page that conspicuously left out any model except 2009-2010 Mac Pros

Fanning the flames of desire for more knowledge/information on this subject was Rob-ART at BareFeats who did confirm a day or so ago that the Radeon 5870 does work with 2008-2010 Mac Pros.

So we dove in deeper to give all inquiring minds a full blown investigation you have come to expect from us. Here’s the breakdown:

2006-2007 Mac Pro:

  • Sorry to say it, but the 5870 is not…repeat…NOT compatible.
  • The 5770 is compatible, but only with the DVI connection.

2008 Mac Pro:

  • Both the 5870 and 5770 cards work with both the DVI and MiniDisplay Port connections in any combination of two displays. So, you can have two displays with MiniDisplay connections, or one with a DVI connection and one with a MiniDisplay connection.
  • Adding a third display will override the DVI connection, causing it to deactivate.

2009-2010 Mac Pro:

  • Both the 5870 and 5770 cards work with both the DVI and MiniDisplay Port connections in any combination of two displays. So, you can have two displays with MiniDisplay connections, or one with a DVI connection and one with a MiniDisplay connection.
  • Adding a third display will override the DVI connection, causing it to deactivate.

We have also confirmed that all NewerTech Mini DVI and MiniDisplay Port video adapter cables are compatible with all Mac Pro models. And that’s a good thing as they offer thicker cabling and better shielding for the highest quality, interference-free display output.

Speaking of adapters…you are familiar with the NewerTech USB to DVI/HDMI/VGA to Video Display Adapter? You know, the one that lets you add up to four additional monitors to your Mac? A very cool gadget that’s bus powered so its ideal for mobile presentation use as well.

So there you have it…what cards you can add to your existing Mac Pro…what cables you use for a higher quality display…and more display space overall. A visual trifecta!


UPDATE 8/27/10 Well, a bit clarification on certain issues and reiteration of others…here’s what we discovered after additonal testing (and yes, some of your feedback):

  • Despite using a boot drive from a Mac Pro 2010 model, we still could not get the 5870 to work with a 2006-2007 machines. We tried both 1,1 and 2,1 machines with most up to date boot ROM and SMC versions. And were running 10.6.4 with all current Apple (AAPL) updates installed.
  • The 5770 in the 2006-2007 is compatible using the newest build of 10.6.4 which is included with the new Mid 2010 Mac Pros and allows you to take advantage of all three display outputs on the 5770.
  • The 5870 and 5770 are fully compatible with 2008 Mac Pros using the newest build of 10.6.4 (which again is included with the new Mid 2010 Mac Pros) and allows you to take advantage of all three display outputs on both video cards.
  • We incorrectly stated that you could only use two displays on the 2009-2010 Mac Pros. In reality, all three display connectors can be utilized simultaneously so you can drive three displays.

We will continue to investigate all these issues (esp. the 2006-2007 models) and update the findings here accordingly. Thanks for your patience while we sorted this out! Now, we gotta get back to making some eSATA equipped iMacs and the OWC SSDs going into them as well ;-)

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • I purchased a 2009 Mac Pro with a Radeon 4870. I would like to update the firmware on the Mac Pro to 5,1. Will this Radeon 4870 work in the updated Mac Pro firmware?

  • Mac Pro 1,1 with Radeon 5770 1gb w/ 2 DVI ports – one DVI connected to 30″ Apple Display works great under Snow Leopard after boot. But no option boot screens??
    Is there a fix to get boot screens??

  • ATI Radeon 5770 works just fine on 2006 Mac Pro with both DVI and MiniDisplay connections. I ran a 30″ monitor via a dual-link DVI-Thunderbolt adapter and used the second port for 24Bit/192kHz sound output into a receiver via a Thunderbolt/HDMI cable

  • do you have that graphic card for my mac pro 3.1 2008
    and if not would you advise me how to find it?
    millions thanks

  • ASUS Radeon EAH6850 DirectCu v2 2U gpu works with 2006 Mac Pro on OS X 10.7. Some apps don’t launch though.


  • In case anyone is still interested in this, my 2,1 Mac Pro works with a 5870, running Snow Leopard (10.6.8). I do, however, now have intermittent problems with it coming back out of sleep mode. The screen appears, the mouse/cursor moves, but it’s nonresponsive, have to hard boot.

  • I think this out-dated info concerning the functionality of the 5870 and 5770.
    I have both 5870 and the 5770. and running multiple monitors with DVI and displayport.

  • I occasionally get GPU hangs with the 5870 running on my 2008 Mac Pro under both Lion and Mountain Lion. They system then gets stuck trying to reboot the GPU but can’t.

  • I have a 2007 Mac Pro 2,1 – Wanted to replace the old ATI Radeon X1900XT card with the 5770. Found one on ebay that was pulled out of a 2012 Mac Pro. After installing, I cannot get the card to work. The fans spin and the system boots, but all I get is a black screen (DVI Cinema Display). Tried everything I can think of to troubleshoot.

    So… Does anyone know if there are slight differences between the stock 5770 and the cards that comes in the “upgrade kit” that Apple sells? Any ideas why this isn’t working?

  • I have just replaced my dying X1900 with an official Apple 5770 in my MacPro 1,1 I’m running 10.7.3

    I’d read reports that is worked fine on the Apple website. It runs the finder, etc fine, but video and sound doesn’t seem to work at all. Even Final Cut X doesn’t seem to play nicely with video. It will run, load video clips, etc, but won’t play them.

    Can anyone offer any suggestions?


  • I have a Mac pro 2.66 quad core 2007 – newest Os – can you say if a thunderbolt display would run on it with the 5770? just the display functionality? thanks…

    • Thunderbolt display only works with Thunderbolt equipped Macs… not even the display portion works via video only connection. No go for 2007 MacPro regardless of video card. Thank you Apple.

  • The picture above shows 2 units, each with what appears to be a DVI and 2 mini-DVI ports. Every vendor of this item(s) also shows 2 units. Also, the 2 units don’t appear to be the same, one with a longer body and smaller “hoop” (for lack of a better word), so obviously the camera wasn’t shaken when the photo was taken. What exactly am I looking at? Do both of these function as a pair or am I seeing 2 dissimilar but equal pieces of hardware?

    • What you’re looking at at are two similar, though different, video cards – the RADEON 5870 and the RADEON 5770. While most of the specs are similar (VRAM, number of ports, etc.) the GPU’s processing power of the 5870 is a little higher than the 5770, giving it an edge, especially in gaming. While we don’t have hard data here, a quick Google search of “5770 vs 5870” should turn up several discussions about which is better for which uses.

      • mayhaps, though they wont be very accurate unless they are compared/tested on a MAC and not a PC (most reviews/benchmarking is done on PCs)
        You have to take into consideration that the CPU handles most of the video rendering on a MAC, as opposed to the GPU handling it on a PC.

  • It’s great news if the Radeon 5770 works with my MacPro 1,1 and according to UPDATE 8/27/10 with all three display outputs (with later Snow Leopard). But “work with” doesn’t always mean full compatibility. There’s a report by jabroni5 in mac-forums that with his MacPro 1,1 (with later Snow Leopard) the 5770 gives a blacked out screen until the boot begins. There’s also a warning in the AppleMacanix ad that “the gray Apple logo boot screen will not display” with their flashed card, although the ad implies that it will appear with the official Apple firmware. Blacked out pre-boot makes it impossible to choose among boot drives (with Option) or to run AppleJack (with Command + s), etc. Different pre-boot actions requiring display are important to different users. What did the compatibility tests find happening pre-boot for MacPro 1,1 + Radeon 5770 + late Snow Leopard?

    • I have the same problem. I have a Mac Pro 1,1 Radeon 5770 1gb 2 dvi 1 hdmi 1 display adaptor
      1st dvi port hooked to my 30″ apple display
      All works great post boot but no pre-boot option screens

      Bummer! Help

  • This is just a long shot but anyone knows if I can run dual 5770 om a Mac pro 2.1 and let them work together to get more graphic power. I’m mostly interested in tuning that configuration under windows 7.

    I have one 5770 intalled at the moment and it runs perfect.

  • I have a Mac Pro 1,1 w/ a 30″ Cinema Display via DVI running 10.7.1 and an ATI Radeon HD 5770. After a while the monitor starts to show thousands of little white sparkles, but only when there is a dark background either on a webpage/desktop. It’s not heat related as I keep the Mac Pro, the video card and the room very cool. I also had the problem when I was using Snow Leopard. Reboots sometimes work but only for a while. I hope there is some kind of fix for this. I noticed that even 2010 Mac Pro’s which ship w/ this card are having similar problems:


    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • Here is my desired setup and wish to know if it will work? Pac Pro 2008 3.1 with OSX 10.6.8. One 24″ 1920×1200 monitor on the DVI port, 1 of the new 27″ Apple displays with Thunderbolt on one of the Mini display ports and another new 27″ Apple displays with Thunderbolt on the 2nd mini display port. With both of those running full resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels. All with separate content as one big virtual desktop.

    • The ATI cards are NOT Thunderbolt ports, they are Mini Displayports. You need to purchase the 24″ or 27″ LED Mini Display Port version or it will not work.

  • hi there i have 2006 1.1 any one know if the 5870 work on 10.7 yet still on Gt 7300 i like get some thing better

    any help be nice

    • I can confirm. I also have the 5870 in a MacPro 1,1 and working fine with 2x 27″ LED Mini Displayport Monitors and 1x 30″ Cinema Display.

      • Gents, to those of you that have a 5870 running on a 1,1. Are any of you running a stock 10.7.2 installation? Do you see the boot screen etc?

  • I have a 2006 Mac Pro 2.66GHz running OS X 10.6.8.
    I installed the Radeon 5770 and have so far noticed no video issues.
    I have not tried adding other displays, though.

  • I have the Mac Pro 2.1 2007 running the OSX 10.6.7 so that is no problemos.

    Ok it works in OSX but if i Run Bootcamp and booting in windows that should work there to right?

    Is the card need any extra power by a cable?
    When I was looking at it early on to get the 5770 i was looking at the apple website and what I understand there no extra power cable comes with it. But I can se a cable here at OWC.


    been stuck for the whole evening on this. my MP1,1 running 10.6.4 would not put out anything on the 5770.

    installed the snow leopard graphics update and boom all is up and running!!

    heres this snow leoprad graphics update:


    thanks for all helpful comment that got me back on track!

  • Using a 5770 in a MacPro3,1 (2008) driving two monitors, one DVI, one with MiniDisplay port-DVI converter with SL 10.6.6. Everything except OpenGL hardware accelerated apps work fine. OpenGL content creation apps exhibit various artifacts, jitter, etc., even though the drivers pass GLview tests up to OpenGL 2.1 100%. I think it is most likely that the ATI drivers are immature, possibly a bad card. Apple thinks it is a problem with compatibility; according to people we spoke to, the 5770 is only supported in a 2010 edition MacPro! I am typing this while on hold for AppleCare customer relations to see if they will exchange the card.

  • Hello guys , 1 gen mac pro(2006) my card die 2 years ago , freez and then black ( input not supo..) i bought the the ati from apple 5770 , and the snow upgrade , BUT how i install the snowleopard with a black monitor???? pleaseeee !

  • Richard, you need a MDP -> Dual Link DVI adapter (active, costs between $75-$99 depending on which brand you get and where you buy it from) or a Dual Link DVI cable. You appear to be using a single link DVI cable or a regular MDP -> DVI adapter (passive).

  • I just put an apple 5770 in my Mac Pro 2008, I get video etc, but no Quartz Extreme. I have upgraded to 10.6.6 and still nothing. Is there something else that I have to do? It seems that the driver is not loading, or is missing.

    Thanks so much.