I’m trying to upgrade from El Capitan to Catalina with no success at the moment. Even using Terminal is trying my patience. Hardware included:

  • 128gb SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
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  • In 2018 I upgraded my MacPro 5,1 to a new video card (AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB). I managed to upgrade as far as Mojave. But that's it.
    – GEdgar
    Mar 18 at 20:24
  • Are you trying to use a third-party tool? Which tool are you trying? Do you get some error message? -- or are you trying to use an official upgrade? Please note that Apple considers their products as "obsolete" after 7 years of stopping their distribution. The macOS El Capitan is the last macOS officially supported for your hardware.
    – Jaime
    2 days ago

3 Answers 3


Personal opinion...Don't even try it.
The last officially-supported OS on the 3,1 is El Capitan. You can get the 3,1, 4,1 & 5,1 to Catalina, if you upgrade the firmware & video card, but the 3,1 is really too slow to benefit. A GTX 680 might just about be fast enough, but will have no drivers past Mojave. You'd need an ATI/AMD card, HD 7950 is the best bet [properly Mac-flashed].

dosdude claims it will work [and should be regarded as 'the authority' on this topic, as Apple provide no information for unsupported structures], but if you try it, make sure you have a return path. [This is easy on a Mac Pro with space for half a dozen drives, all you need is any spare drive & a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner.]
Without a Mac-flashed AMD card, disable FileVault [permanently] before starting. You will not be able to see the display before login so anything that relies on that cannot be used. The software underlying FileVault won't even load if the display cannot start, so you would be permanently locked out*.
You will need to first apply the firmware update linked from dosdude's site if you have never previously run at least High Sierra on that Mac.
Also note that at Catalina you will lose the use of anything that still relies on 32-bit code. [Late thought - this might even include the Wifi/Bluetooth card. I recall having to upgrade mine at one point, but I can't now remember exactly why.]

[Proud owner of several old Mac Pros, including 5,1, 4,1 [Mojave] & 3,1… still on El Capitan.]

*You could potentially attempt rescue from this situation by putting the original stock GPU back in temporarily.

  • Just to note: You can get a 2012-spec 5,1 12-core 3.46Ghz [faster than Apple ever sold at retail] with SSD & appropriate GPU for under $£€ 400 these days. It took Apple until 2019 to make anything faster.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 18 at 10:04
  • 1
    Well, if you're going to spend 400 on a replacement Mac, you're nearly at an M2 Mac Mini, which is faster than most cheesegraters.
    – benwiggy
    2 days ago
  • @benwiggy - it all depends on what else you have to upgrade. I've figured it will cost me approx £10 grand to have exactly what I already have, just newer. Audio interfaces & pre-processors/software amps etc, RAID array, DAW updates, plus I will actually lose some functionality forever. I will never again be able to edit my guitar's internal software [early 2k Variax guitar, long out of support yet working perfectly]
    – Tetsujin
    18 hours ago

According to everymac.com, the newest OS X/macOS for a MacPro3,1 is El Capitan. Unless you using some third party software in a effort to upgrade to Catalina, you should expect to fail.


There is not an official upgrade for your hardware. You cannot upgrade your macOS to Catalina (or newer versions) using the official installers from Apple.

You may try third-party tools to update your system. However, you must consider that old hardware may result in performance and stability problems. In addition, some of these tools may require some software hacking, firmware update or hardware replacement. If you decide to use these tools, it is at your own risk.

About the official macOS updates

Apple provides updates for their hardware only for 7 years aprox. If you have "vintage or obsolete hardware" you cannot update their operating system without a sort of hacking or third-party tools.

About third-party tools

NOTE: Usually third-party tools to upgrade the macOS are developed by volunteers, are only supported by the community and do not provide any warranty or technical support. You may use them at your own risk.

OpenCore Legacy Patcher provides features to run and unlock features in macOS on supported and unsupported Mac hardware.

  • You may check their website and source code in Github.
  • You may use it to try to install new versions of the macOS on obsolete hardware. It can be used to download a patched version of the OS, install the OpenCore boot manager and install the new version of the operating system.
  • You may find a step-by-step guide in the Intego website and in the official guide

According to the docs from OpenCore Legacy Pacther, the MacBook 13" 2008 can run MacOS Ventura. There is a known problem related to Ethernet connections and USB 1.1 support.

If you decide to use these tools, consider to read completely the guides, make some questions and understand clearly all you must do before trying it.

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  • 1
    Jaime: A MacPro3,1 is NOT a MacBook 13" 2008. Besides, OpenCore does not do Catalina, which is what the OP asked for. 2 days ago
  • Yup, this is 'kind of useful but misguided'. The 3rd party tools section doesn't actually apply to the OP's situation at all.
    – Tetsujin

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