I mentioned in my previous post on my MacBook Pro how I really, really wanted a retina screen for my MacPro but at the time thought it was nigh impossible given Apple’s silence on the product. Then unexpectedly two things occurred:

  • Apple ‘announced’[ref]a roundtable discussion with select reporters[/ref] a new ‘upcoming’[ref]not in 2017 at least[/ref] MacPro
  • NVIDIA announced they would release a mac driver for their awesome Pascal line of cards (GeForce 1080)

As thrilled as I was with news of the first, I was in a unique position to take advantage of the second. With my 2010 MacPro, I could actually buy a GeForce 1080 and stick it in my tower mac (yay user upgradability). That combined with a new 4K monitor, I could now breath life into my MacPro!

Few things to note in case you are someone thinking of doing the same:

  • The video card that came with your MacPro had paltry power requirements compared to a top of the line beast like a 1080. The tower has two PCIe mini-6pin plugs to power video cards, but probably only came with a single cable. You will need to buy a second one (thank you Amazon for same day shipping).
  • The new card’s fan is much louder than everything else in the tower put together (and not just slightly…) Most of the time if you’re not gaming, you won’t be stressing the card enough to ramp up the fan, but in-game, you’ll need to crank the volume or wear headphones.

I dropped my tri-monitor setup in favor of a decent Samsung 4K display and I frankly love the result. I can now play Mass Effect: Andromeda and edit images on a retina display. I’m still looking forward to an upgraded MacPro – need more cores, faster I/O bus, usb-c – but this setup should tie me over nicely until then.

Philip Pryke, The phoenix rises, CC BY 2.0