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Despite the Mac Pro 1,1 and 2,1 (2006/7) models hitting past the 10-year mark, there is, surprisingly, a great amount of hardware that is still available for use. In contrast to the age of the older (first) Mac Pros, there is still some new hardware that is being released, which can be used on these Mac Pros, primarily due to the software support available.

Granted, Apple stopped supporting these Mac Pros at Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, we can still squeeze a bit more life out of them using Piker Alpha’s boot.efi mod, which allows these older Mac Pros to boot Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. This, my friends, is where the GTX 980 TI graphics card comes in.

Why Such a Modern GPU in Such an Old Machine?

In much the same way that others have squeezed life out of their older computers, I too, enjoy doing the same, but (perhaps) take a more “enthusiast” approach. There are very few, if any, generations of technology/computers, let alone an Apple computer, that have been afforded the degree of versatility and third-party hardware/software support/functionality that the current era of tech has extended over to the first gen Mac Pros.

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Download Nvidia Quadro & GeForce Driver for Mac - Easy to use installer and updater driver package for Nvidia Quadro and GeForce graphics cards designed to help Mac users keep their computers' drivers up to date. Here I'm trying the new NVIDIA GeForce Now software that lets us play PC games on any MAC computer. Keep in mind, it's on BETA right now. I also show gamepla. GeForce GT 610 graphics card: DTS-HD Audio Bitstreaming with CUDA, PhysX, FXAA, PureVideo HD Technology and 3D Blu-Ray, DirectX, PCI Express 2.0 Support. Capture and share videos, screenshots, and livestreams with friends. Keep your drivers up to date and optimize your game settings. GeForce Experience ™ lets you do it all, making it the super essential companion to your GeForce ® graphics card.

The idea behind this was being able to create a very powerful, no-questions-asked workhorse – and it worked out just fine.

To install or even use a GTX 980 TI inside a Mac Pro 2,1, one must have the following already done to their Mac Pro:

  • Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later installed (GTX 9xx Maxwell cards will not work in an OS prior to 10.10)
  • Be aware of and accept that there’s no boot screen
  • Be aware that OS X system updates can and will break compatibility

This is not a perfect solution, but it can work perfectly when setup and generally not messed around with.

The particular card I’ve been using is a lovely Asus Strix Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 TI 6 GB model. I picked it up off eBay for $260 back in May of 2017. I picked up 2x 6-to-8 pin PCIe adapters for the card. The card uses 225W under full load, which shouldn’t be a problem for the Mac Pro’s 980W power supply. 75W is being drawn from each PCIe connector, as well as 75W from the PCIe slot. Even under full load, this is still within the designed power capacity of the power rails.

Having operated this GPU inside this Mac Pro for over a year, I can safely say I’ve had no issues.

How about VR on this machine?

It works, but there’s a catch. SteamVR doesn’t pick up on the Oculus rift yet, though I’m certain that if I had the HTC Vive, it’d work just fine. For now, I dual boot Windows 10 off an SSD, play around on the Mac Pro 2,1 via the Oculus app. It took a bit of messing around with the Oculus app to get it working on my Mac Pro as it “needed” SSE 4.2. It was easy to trick the installer/find an old version, and simply update it, and it works.

I mostly play the game Arizona Sunshine on the full resolution, with medium textures and shadows, and always hit the 90fps mark. Realistically, we’re playing a VR game on a mirrored 1200 x 1080 display. It’s really not difficult for this Mac Pro to crunch out such a resolution, on medium settings. The “wow” factor of it being in VR, however, surprised me, that it even worked.

How about Video Editing?

Final Cut Pro X does not take advantage of this card whatsoever, as it’s CPU rendering being done. It’s so useful, but during heavier scenes, it can drop in performance. Adobe Premiere Pro CC does take advantage of this card, but I haven’t really done much in Adobe’s suite, aside form Photoshop.

How about Basic Uses?

Well, let’s put it this way: It’s buttery smooth, no questions asked. 4K video? No problem. Smooth UI scaling and animations? Oh yeah. Mac OS X games? On 1080p, maxed out settings – go for it. It’s all playable. The dual x5365 CPUs don’t hold the card back as much as you’d think, even as it sits on a PCIe v1.1 bus. It benches out at 93-95% of it’s full capable speed.

Would I Recommend It?

If your idea of a fast machine is to just jam a brand new GPU into a Mac Pro of this age, the answer is no. There are a few other factors in this machine’s speed, such as having completely matched RAM, a 960 GB SSD RAID array comprised of four 240 GB SSD’, and simply keeping the insides clean. While the market value of 1,1 and 2,1 Mac Pros are plummeting (and quite frankly, nonexistent, if at all), the components that are available to this thing are quite generous.

If your idea of a fast machine is understanding the limitations/benefits of a machine of this age, and you are willing to invest in this thing, the answer is yes. As old as the Mac Pro 1,1 and /2,1 towers are, they’re very much worth investing in. As of the time of this article, cryptocurrency mining has sharply driven up the prices of the GPU, so chances are, for the price point, I’d suggest a 970/980.

How to Accomplish This?

  • Acquire GTX 980 TI (I advise people do their own research on this, I am not responsible for any bad purchases or bad recommendations! As long as it’s a proper GTX 980 TI, this guide works.)
  • Install Build-Correct Nvidia Web drivers
  • Restart, and set your Nvidia GPU as the primary GPU!

Installing the Asus Strix GTX 980 TI

  • The card fits in about the same as the stock ATI Radeon X1900XT 512 MB card that came with this computer. It needs to be installed at an angle, but it fits.
  • Needs 2x 6-to-8-pin PCIe adapters to work. The Asus Strix 980 TI uses 2x 8-pin Power connectors.

Asus Strix GTX 980 TI 6 GB in Mac Pro

How to Install the Nvidia Web Driver Software?

  • Make sure the driver software you install is correct to your build model. Linked here, for example, is for El Capitan build 15G1108.
  • MacVidCards has a good list of the different Nvidia web drivers that were released in the past. If this link goes down or if links are broken, I might have to host my own files, to make this article more accessible.
  • Be careful: Do not update Mac OS X immediately after updates come out, as this can and usually will break compatibility with your GPU drivers and cause your card to be unusable until you revert the Mac OS build (Time Machine or Carbon Copy cloner can fix this), or Nvidia happens to push out an update to the newer OS X build from Apple.
  • There will be no boot screen; you will be greeted by your login screen.
  • Resetting SMC or PRAM will reset the GPU driver from being selected upon startup. The only way to fix this is by switching it back on in System Preferences. This can either be done via VNC if you have another Mac, or if you have the original GPU, can be plugged in, booted up with the original GPU, the driver being selected, then the machine being shut down, and the new GPU being plugged in.

If all is well, this is how the card should register in the system, via the various apps which display the card.

The End Result

  • Very stable GPU to use once configured
  • No graphical glitches or artifacts
  • Performs well enough in VR to use on a daily basis
  • Drives games in OS X very well, on high settings
  • Hardware accelerated animations/scaling are buttery smooth
  • Sleek, good-looking GPU inside Mac Pro
  • Extend the life of your Mac Pro 1,1/2,1 by another few years
  • Instead of spending an absurd amount of money on a gaming/VR gaming machine, do this instead!

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Have you heard of GeForce Experience? Whether you are a hardcore PC gamer, or you dabble in an occasion online session, keep reading. GeForce Experience is software developed by graphics legends NVIDIA that allows you to automatically optimize your games, update your drivers and most impressively, record and live-stream your legendary gaming moments. It is bundled into the installation process of the GeForce GTX graphics card or can be downloaded separately onto a Windows PC. In addition, if you have the NVIDIA Shield TV you can stream your game in HD directly onto the big screen! If you already use a GeForce Graphics card, then this all-in-one optimization software could save you time manually tweaking your settings or recording your gaming with a third party. It is an indispensable add-on however? Read on and find out.

GeForce Experience: all-in-one optimization software

The GeForce Experience: creative control and easy optimization

Some players take great pleasure in updating their games, and fine tuning the settings to their optimum experience. If this doesn’t float your boat, then the GeForce Experience one-click optimization tool will navigate the maze of potential setting and cryptic console controls for you. If you are new to PC gaming or you simply want to skip straight to the virtual scene, then this software could save you precious gaming minutes (or hours). GeForce Experience will use the Nvidia cloud data center to automatically optimize the settings for your game. That means improved performance, better graphics and it will configure personalized graphics settings based on the GPU, CPU and display of your PC. This does mean an easy balance of eye-candy graphics and speed without eating into your precious gaming time. Is this as good as choosing your own settings? That is at your discretion, but it is definitely faster.

You can automatically download Game Ready Drivers, your settings will be optimized per game and you can try out the much-lauded ShadowPlay to record your game. This is where the advantage of GeForce Experience being Nvidia software comes in. Nvidia partners with the major game developers to create the 'Game Ready' drivers. According to Nvidia, these drivers will 'boost performance, fix bugs and improve your gaming experience'. While you don’t need to download GeForce Experience to take advantage of these, the advantage of having it installed is that you will get automatic updates when these drivers are ready (often up to a week before the game is even released). Another crucial time-saver, you can prep your system and get ready to launch yourself into the game smoothly.

Seasoned gamers who prefer to calibrate their settings solo will love ShadowPlay. You can choose not to have GeForce Experience 'automatically optimize newly added games' and just use the other features like ShadowPlay. This is the in-built photo and video recording tool that will allow you to broadcast your gaming sessions, share videos and screenshots and easily upload those immortal moments to YouTube. It will record the last 20 minutes of your game (if you think you’re about to do something mega cool, hit alt+F10 to record and save it to the disc).

GeForce Experience 3.19 is the latest version which was released on June 24. The much-anticipated Ansel and Freestyle features are included. If you have a 680m GeForce Graphics card or even more recent model, then you can use this in-built screenshot tool for 360 panoramas for VR or dramatic free rotation shots in 'super resolution'. With Freestyle you can apply Instagram-style filters to your game as you play, just press Alt+F3.

Where can you run this program?

At the moment, it is for PC gamers only. You can run it on Windows operating systems 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 and you will need at least 2GB of RAM and 20 MB of disc space. For you computer processing units, supporting hardware includes the Intel Pentium G Series, Core 2 Duo, and Quad Core i3, i5, i7, or higher. Also supported by AMD Phenom II, Athlon II, Phenom X4, FX, or higher. For GameStream you’ll need a GeForce GTX 650 or higher graphics card installed on your desktop. You can also use a non-Optimus Notebook with GeForce GTX 660M or higher graphics.

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Is there a better alternative?

Installing GeForce Experience is a pain-free process. It comes as part of the package when you download your Nvidia GeForce Graphics card, giving you the option of with or without GeForce Experience. This is a real fork in the road for gamers. Is GeForce Experience an awesome add-on that will automatically optimize your games and allow you to record the highlights? Or is it bloatware that will slow your system down by running background processes and eating up the bandwidth? There are plenty of alternatives to GeForce Experience on the market. Razer Cortex is a well-known and comprehensive toolbox of gaming tips and tricks. A nifty package of recording software, optimization features and it will back up your games in the cloud. Then you have RadeonPro: efficient freeware that enhances Radeon video graphics cards. Of course, the obvious alternative to automated optimizing is to tune up your system and choose your individual game settings yourself.

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Our take

Some gamers will argue that Geforce Experience is unnecessary, and it is easy and better to install updates and tweak the settings yourself. Before writing off the program however, remember one word: ShadowPlay. This state-of-the-art recording software will not only automatically record 20 minutes of each session in HD, but with the hot keys you can grab the epic moments yourself, edit them and upload them instantly to share the glory.


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The latest version of GeForce Experience also comes with the new features Ansel and Freestyle, also more than nifty tools for quality images and filters. One downside is that the only way to access these features is to create a Nvidia, Facebook or Google account.

Should you download it?

It’s a totally personal choice. If you are a seasoned PC player and you’re a deft hand under the bonnet of your system settings, then by all means DIY. If you are happy to take a back seat and use automated optimization for each game, then GeForce Experience does a neat job. Also, ShadowPlay is an awesome extra!

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