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The Mac Pro First Generation is an Intel Xeon-based workstation computer manufactured by Apple Inc. The first generation model includes the machines from 2006 through 2008.

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Mac Pro 2008 no video screen after changing the graphics card

Hello everyone,

I have a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 with Nvidia Geforce 8400 GS 512 MB running on Mac-OS v10,11 el-capitan. It's a pc graphics card with no boot screen. Previous owners had already changed its native Radeon 2600 XT card because of an upgrade (in their own mind!!)

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Now hence i want the boot screen back, i have bought a Radeon 2600 XT (it's a pc version too, and is 512 MB, not the Apple's native 256 MB). I know it needs to be flashed to have the boot screen... But there's another problem, when i change the graphics card to 2600XT, i lose the screen!

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I hear the chime sound, and the computer status is normal, but there's no screen.

I also tested with other graphics cards too. I have a Radeon 5870 (1 GB, pc version, not mac native) and a Radeon 5970 (2 GB, black edition by XFX).

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With 5870 which is unflashed, the screen gets back and is OK, but the same problem happens with 5970, i mean the screen remains black. I will also need to use my 5970 on future too. They both need to be flashed.

I have red several topics here, and found that some people have the same problem, but their machine was Mac Pro 5,1 not like mine, the 3,1

Well their solutions didn't work for me too. I tried the NVRAM reset, SMC reset; but it didn't help.

Long story short, i think the problem is not with the cards being unflashed .... The problem is I don't have screen with some of my graphics cards (Radeon 2600 XT and Radeon 5970) ... But some others work properly (Radeon 5870 and Nvidia 8400)

So, can you please help me solve this problem? I'm really confused! Please help me.

Thank you 🙏🏼❤️

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It's been a really long time since I dabbled with this (I last flashed a Radeon 9600 for my PowerMac G5 in like 2012), but in my experience unflashed cards almost never worked reliably. If you have access to a machine which can be used to flash the cards, it's a pretty straightforward process and I believe you can (and should!) back up the original card flash to make sure that anything you do can be reverted.

I found a good list of flashable cards here, it looks like only the Radeon 2600XT and 5870 are flashable in a way that will get you a boot screen. What I'm reading suggests that most non-flashed ATI cards should eventually give you a video output IF MacOS can successfully load the driver, which is a big if depending on how the cards identify themself.

Your best bet for a reliable setup would be to flash one of the ATI cards, though there may be some underlying problems with your macOS install that are preventing drivers from loading. If you can, try doing a clean OS install to a different hard drive which will remedy any issues caused by the old installation, it's possible the previous owner mucked things up while trying to get the GeForce 8400 working.

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This is true. Unflashed graphics cards don't display boot elements from macOS, as they expect something from your typical BIOS or Windows install to give signals but instead the apple motherboard sends signals that would require custom firmware for, hence the flashing part.


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Follow what Chris said above me, and if you don't want to flash the GPU, the next best thing could probably be getting something already flashed (expensive) or one Apple licensed (cheaper/okay price) and I'd recommend the ATI Radeon HD 5770, as it has DVI and Mini DisplayPort alongside 1gb of VRAM and macOS should (in theory) have drivers for it.

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Mine is a 3,1 swell btw


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