I have a 2006 Mac Pro running an ATI 1900XT graphics card, but since it is acting as a server (Windows 2008 R2), 99% of the time it's running headless (Remote Desktop does the job) and the graphics card is producting quite a LOT of heat (can heat a 2 liter bottle of Coke in about 40 min) I would like to replace this card with something cooler and quieter.

I am wondering is there anything that needs to be done to a graphics card that would allow it to be used on a Mac? I would prefer not to spend 2x or 3x the price of a bog-standard PCI-Express "PC" graphics card for a machine that wont be connected to a monitor all that often. I am seeing Mac-specific graphics cards (Nvidia GeForce GT 120) for about 120 EUR on Ebay, but can pick up an NVidia GeForce 210 Graphics card for 30 euros.

2 Answers 2


If you have a random low end PCI express graphics card you could probably put in any card and have it work and the most basic level. Guessing it should just work with no drivers on OS X although it will probably be a horrible resolution and have no graphics acceleration, but it should work for when and if you need to throw a monitor on the Mac Pro when running OS X. However when booted into Windows it should be able to pick up the drivers from Windows Update or you can simply download and install drivers manually for any Windows compatible PCI Express graphics card.

  • i dont think drivers will be the problem... Windows should be able to find them, its the firmware for the machine to boot with... but i will try it out and see what happens...
    – TiernanO
    Mar 26, 2012 at 16:38
  • Opps missed the Windows part, but ya worth a try.
    – MrDaniel
    Mar 26, 2012 at 16:56
  • I have put in a standard graphics card, and it works no problem... I dont get the Grey screen with the apple logo, and the screen is black for about 30-40 seconds when i boot, but then Windows Server kicks in and no problems what so ever. Only problem is now reinstalling Windows... Since i wont see anything with the Alt key down... Back to the existing card till i figure that out, or at least reinstall the machine...
    – TiernanO
    Oct 29, 2012 at 12:57
  • since i dont need to reinstall windows all that often, i am accepting this answer... Thanks!
    – TiernanO
    Aug 27, 2014 at 14:39

Often you can flash a card intended for PC and "transform" it into the Mac version that sells for much more money. Here's one example of a site showing how.

You know the advantage, which is cost. The disadvantage is you rely on the kindness of strangers for support, you trust programmers you know next to nothing about and if it goes wrong you could end up with a dead card and it will cost you more than if you bought a Mac version in the first place. Then there's the highly questionable legality of someone ripping the ROM off a card and letting you download it.

Personally I would find a second-hand Mac version of the card you want, if you run headless you don't need any real performance and you should be able to find something old and relatively cheap. Just watch out for the people on eBay who flash cards and sell them as the Mac version when they are not.

  • thanks for the link. i will look into it... thing is, that 120 quid for a nvidia 120 card is second hand! and thats the cheapest card i can find... most of the rest of them are 300+... As for "bricking" the new card... its EUR30 quid... if it dont work, so be it... Also, think i may have a few floating around spare in house... might test on them first...
    – TiernanO
    Mar 26, 2012 at 9:54
  • Good luck! Hope it works out. Mar 26, 2012 at 10:04

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