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The Golden Guide to Flashing Graphic


Cards
Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Cindori, ! Mar 12, 2010.
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! Mar 12, 2010

Cindori
macrumors 68040

Most Liked Posts


Last edited: ! Jun 23, 2011

The Golden Guide to Flashing Graphic


Cards
Update March 2011

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden

Ok, this thread is a bit old, and some


things here are no longer important.
For example, you can now generate
automatically a 4870 / 4890
firmware in Zeus tool.
I will still leave the old text, it has
some important facts.

#1

But you should check out the Zeus


thread
http://forums.macrumors.com/show
thread.php?p=9427042
For current guides to flashing 4870 /
4890.
For more discussion about flashing,
look at http://netkas.org/forum

Right now, the two topics in the Macrumors mac pro forum
with the highest post and view count are "Race to dump
the 4870 ROM" and "Ultimate thread: 4890 in Mac Pro".
They contain over two thousand replies and have been
viewed over hundreds of thousand times.
Both topics are about flashing graphic cards.

In the beginning, the questions that people asked where


something like "Heya, I just read the thread, care to
explain a little more detailed the Step number three on
page 6" or such. Now a days, they are more like "Hey I'm
new to this, can you please do everything for me because
I cba to read 50 pages, also can you tell me what color of
underwear I should wear tomorrow, thanks"
Hey, I dont blame you guys. Actually this is the reason I'm
writing this thread. Flashing graphic cards are a hot thing,
and with the newly announced Steam for Mac with latest
Source games, and upcoming new Mac Pro graphic cards,
this trend is not going away. And the only real information
is scattered among thousands of posts.
So, let me TRY to summarize this whole thing in one
place.
Wall of text, INC.

What, Why and How

WHAT
What is flashing?
Flashing usually refers to altering or replacing the
firmware on a chip.
The graphic card firmware (stored on a chip on the card
itself) is data that contains stuff like clock speed, fan
control, and more importantly: data for communicating
with the computer.
The computer also carries a firmware chip, on the
motherboard. The code on this chip is the first code that
runs when you start your computer. Amongst other things,
it communicates with your computer components (Hey,
like the graphic card!).
The firmware on PC computers is called BIOS. BIOS is like
20 years old or something, but moving away from it would
be a pain for Microsoft, so they are stuck with it for a
while longer.
On Macs however, the firmware is EFI, a successor to
BIOS.

So Macs speak EFI and PCs speak BIOS. What does the
graphic card speak?
Well, as you may know, there are "Mac Graphic Cards" and
"PC Graphic Cards".
The PC cards carry BIOS firmware. So inserting them into
a Mac will result in black screen, because the computer
fails to initialize them!
So the Mac cards probably carry EFI firmwares, right? Not
quite! They actually carry a BIOS firmware with a EFI
addition. They are compatible with both! The EFI addition
helps the Mac initialize the card, and the rest data, fan
speed, clock speed, etc is read from the BIOS portion.

Maybe you are thinking, how can Windows run on Macs if


they use EFI? Windows does not support EFI!
Thing is, the Mac can emulate BIOS. This is needed for
booting Windows through boot camp. It will not help BIOS
Graphic cards to boot OSX.
But! It WILL help PC graphic cards booting Windows. This
means that you can use a PC Graphic card in your Mac if
you are booting Windows or another OS then OSX.
However, since no OSX stuff will run with the PC card, the
Bootloader (the list of OS you get when holding alt /
option button at boot) will not be accessable when using a

PC card. You must select windows in Startup Disk in


system preferences
in OSX, then shut down, then insert PC card, and from
that point your Mac will act just like a PC.

So, to recap:
PC Cards: Works in PC's, works in Mac when Booting
Windows
Mac Cards: Works in PC's, works in Mac when Booting
Windows or OSX

You see what the PC cards are missing? Yes, the ability to
boot OSX.
And what was it that the PC cards where missing on the
firmware? That's right, the EFI addition.
So... maybe it's possible to cut that EFI addition from a
Mac Card Firmware, and simply paste it on a PC Card
firmware? And it will work in OSX?
Thanks to The Rominator, netkas, and Pipomolo42, we
quickly discovered that it was.

WHY
Why would you want to run OSX by a PC Graphic Card?
Two words: Price - Performance
Apple does not only charge premium for their computers,
but also for their Graphic Cards.
Right now the price on ATI 4870 512mb is $ 349 on Apple
Store.
The same card but PC version can be found for $ 130 or
less (although becoming more hard to find, because Apple
purchased the last 4870 cards before they stopped
manufacturing)
Also, while Apple offers the 512MB version only, PC cards
are available at double the video Ram, 1GB.
Furthermore, excotic versions of the 4800 series are
availbe for PC, like the more powerful 4890.

HOW
"How, how how... this seems to complicated, my head is
about to explode!! maybe this is something for the hacker
guys only"
Sure, if you got that attitude, quit right now. The truth
though really is that this **** ain't hard. If you can
muster the strenght to read this guide twice, you probably
have a 95% success chance.
The more complicated stuff starts right here. So, from the
top:

What do you need to flash a PC card to work in a Mac?

1.
2.
3.
4.

Power
Card
ROM (Firmware)
A Flashing Tool

POWER

The graphic cards today are hungry. The 4800 and 5800
series require two power connectors.
You have two choices for providing these:
1. Using Motherboard Cables
Mac Pro motherboard has two connectors for powering
graphic cards. These connectors are special and you will
not find the right cable in a PC store.
The cable you are looking for is usually called G5 Graphic
Power Cable and can be found on Ebay or ATI.COM store.
These are the cables that is used for Apple's graphic
cards. So if you are replacing maybe a x1900, which uses
1 cable, you can use that cable and only have to buy 1
more.
You can also make your own:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?
p=9207709&postcount=2243
2. Using Molex (DVD drive)
On the Mac Pro 06, 07 and 08, the Superdrive bay has two
molex power connectors. If you are using only 1 DVD
drive, you have a second Molex connector just sitting
there. You can use it to power a Graphic Card by attaching
several cable converters. I have a guide here:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=418279
The connector to insert into the Graphics card usually

looks like this:

But some cards have a 8 pin hole instead. Some people


have reported that using a 6 pin cable in the 8 pin hole
still works fine. Also, there are adapters available:

CARD

You can't just pick any PC card and magically have it work
in OSX. The cards we have gotten to work are the one
closely related to Apple's cards.
Right now, it's the 4870 and 4890.
4850 progress can be found here:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=668608
Why not nvidia cards?
Because the rom chip on PC nvidia cards are usually too
small to have room for EFI addition. Apple Nvidia cards
uses a bigger rom chip.

But there are 1000 different 4870 and 4890 cards! Which
manufacturer to choose?
The problem is that the cards made today are very much
different from Apple's 4870.
In the beginning, there where 1 XFX card, 1 Sapphire
card, 1 MSI card, you get the idea.
Now there are OC version, XXX version, Vapor-X version
and alot of other crap.
Those card are very much different from the original
Reference 4870 or 4890, both physically and in the
firmware.
This makes it hard, and if soon not impossible, to add the
EFI addition to these special version cards.

So what you are looking for is a card that is NOT a


overclocked version, and does NOT have a wierd looking
fan.
(You can always overclock and add a fan to the card later)
Here are the top success cards for 4870 and 4890:

A good idea when choosing a card might be to find


another person (or post) of success and track down the
ROM (firmware). Because the ROMs are the things you're
really going to have to hunt for.

ROM (Firmware)

This flashing thing has been around for a while, so there


are tons of Mac Modified roms for PC cards out there
(there=this forum)
However,
The ROM is different between card models. One Mac
Modified 4870 Rom will not work for all PC 4870 cards.
If there is a XFX 4890 of model ZWFC, it's ROM is going to
be different, and possibly incompatible with a XFX 4890 of
model ZWFL.
Also, a deeper problem appears. Because the Model itself
can have different revisions.
XFX 4890 Model ZWFC Rev. 1.6
XFX 4890 Model ZWFC Rev. 5.4
XFX 4890 Model ZWFC Rev. E.0
Even though they are of same card (4890) of same
manufacturer (XFX) of same model (ZWFC), and looks
physically the same, the revision can be different and that
means the ROM is different.
This is really how specific a ROM needs to be. But if you
are lucky, you will find a ROM that is cross compatible. For
instance, maybe the XFX ZWFC E.0 ROM will work on a
5.4.
Or maybe even on a different manufacturer, like a
Sapphire card.
What you should do is this. Scan all your local and online
retailers for cards looking like the ones in the Card Table.
Ask the retailer for the Model and Revision (this can be
found on a sticker outside the box usually)
Then try the search function to find if anyone else had

success with that card.


As Roms can be so individual, it's a good idea to back up
your original rom first. You can do so with GPU-Z (google
it) in Windows. Click the small green arrow.
There is a small gathering of ROMs for 4890 and 4870
here:
http://groths.se/atiflashingtool/ROMS.zip
Peloche has made a great 4890 rom table here:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?
p=8979635&postcount=1786
There are also (hundreds?) of roms scattered in the Card
threads (Use search function!)
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=713428
- 4890
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=661681
- 4870
But if your card does not have a compatible Mac Rom out
there. What to do?
Well, you could create your own!
Peloche made great instructions of Pipomolos method.
Download this: http://groths.org/zeus/XYZ.zip
Included everything you need for making a 4870 or
4890 rom

If you fail at your attempt, upload your original rom in the


right thread and maybe some kind dude will help you out.

So, you have a Mac Modified ROM that is probably going


to work for your card. Now what?

FLASHING TOOL

Flash Graphic Cards in Windows:


http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/...ng/vidcard/152

Flash Graphic Cards in DOS:


http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?
p=8801968&postcount=1272
Instructions are for PC but DOS works on MacPro too:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=238190

Flashing Graphic Cards in OSX:

I just finished my new OSX Flashing Tool, Zeus


http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=877437

Now you probably have your PC card up and running in


OSX !
All done ?
Nope, there is ONE MORE THING
Excotic cards like the 4890 carries a Device ID that OSX
graphics driver does not recognize. To add support, you
need netkas QE CI patch.
Without this, the card will run, but at low resolution and
no 3D graphics.
These can be installed with Zeus under Driver. Further
documentation can be found inside the Help tab.

There you have it

Additional things to know about flashed cards:

For 4870 / 4890 cards:


Only one DVI port is dual link ( supports 30" screens)
second is single link.
Cards with other ports then DVI may not work properly,
search
Dual displays works under Snow Leopard only.
You can not use VGA ( vga-dvi converter ) on the card.
If you are unlucky, your ROM is so different that it will
cause a bug, the "power cable bug". When booting OSX a
popup will appear, saying your card does not have enough
power. It's just a cosmetic bug, cards works fine, so just
click OK.

This works on ALL Mac Pro's

Modding Fan Behaviour


http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?
p=7808671&postcount=1516

I will probably have to add more to this later...

Also if any info is wrong please correct... May have got


stuff wrong.

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Vacuum Beard
Trimmer
Series 7000
He trims
We tidy
! Mar 12, 2010

Ralion
macrumors newbie
"

#2

Excellent guide, cleared up a few questions that I had.


Thanks

Jun 23, 2009


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! Mar 12, 2010

Cindori

#3

I would like to request sticky on this, mod..

thread starter
macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden
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! Mar 12, 2010

GMink
macrumors regular

Once again thanks Cindori for taking the time to put all of
this together for everyone!

#4

"

Feb 10, 2010


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! Mar 12, 2010

wafl iron

#5

well done sir

macrumors regular
"

Nov 16, 2007


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! Mar 12, 2010

.Joel
macrumors member
"

May 10, 2005

Australia

#6

Upgrading Mac OSX Graphics Cards!


Hi Cindori,
That was an EXCELLENT write up and very much
appreciated! Really you have made something special here
and worth a "Sticky" as it saves hours of trying to
research the information needed.
Nice work
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! Mar 12, 2010

kainjow

#7

Cindori said:

Moderator emeritus
I would like to request sticky on this, mod..

A better alternative would be to make it into a guide and


then add it to the other guides at the top of the Mac Pro
forum page.
"

Jun 15, 2000


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! Mar 12, 2010

But no one reads those. Or finds them. Or updates them.

#8

Cindori

But no one reads those. Or finds them. Or updates them.

#8

thread starter
macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden
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! Mar 12, 2010

kainjow
Moderator emeritus

"

There are specific links to guides in each forum category


where you can post it, immediately above the stickied
threads. I'm not referring to the general Guides tab.

#9

Jun 15, 2000


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! Mar 12, 2010

Cindori

#10

I know, and they are outdated.

thread starter
macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden

This being a guide and all I still think it serves a greater


purpose as sticky then the "Establishing standard
benchmark" with it's 26k views and last activity 4
months ago.
Discussion can and will still be made... people are
probably still going to ask questions after reading this,
just less

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! Mar 12, 2010

s.m.t.
macrumors regular

This is defiantly make it more clear and easier to


understand...
I am really thinking of trying this out, but I am having a

#11

hard time (no impossible time) finding cards that look


like those in the pic. So how do I know what is good to
go with. Newegg has this one, is it a good choice?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?
Item=N82E16814150438

"

Mar 7, 2010

Ebay also has a couple, but they look like the new egg
one or something other than what is in the pic above.
Should I give it a shot, or just get the official 4870?
Thanks for putting this together!
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! Mar 12, 2010

Cindori
thread starter

The ZSFC is safe. I got a flashed one right behind me.


Mine is Ver 2.0

#12

macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden
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! Mar 12, 2010

Dai Bando
macrumors member

Kudos, cindori! And a big relief for you!

#13

"

Dec 31, 2001

northeast territory
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! Mar 12, 2010

s.m.t.

#14

Cindori said:

macrumors regular
The ZSFC is safe. I got a flashed one right behind me.
Mine is Ver 2.0

Good to hear, thanks!

"

Mar 7, 2010

also ordered these power cables...


http://shop.ati.com/product.asp?sku=3280778
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! Mar 12, 2010

Dai Bando
macrumors member

I powered up my xfx4890_ZDFC from the xtra DVD


molex, and from the cable from my 1900. I grew
impatient with my ATI shipment that never came.
No luck with several xfx rom I downloaded, so I'm
looking to see if I can get some (humble pie) help.

#15

Attached Files:

"

Dec 31, 2001

northeast territory

ZDF
File size:
17.7 KB
Views:
782

ZDF
File size:
47.1 KB
Views:
233

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! Mar 12, 2010

MacVidCards

THANK YOU CINDORI !!!

#16

Suspended
"

Nov 17, 2008

Hollywood, CA

Should hopefully put an end to the Spoon Feeding


requests. ( or at least offer a place to link to when such
requests come in)
I hope many people who benefit from your guide and
app will find a moment to send you a few Euros for your
trouble.
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! Mar 13, 2010

guffling
macrumors newbie
"

Mar 13, 2010

#17

Incorrect link
Just noticed that a link to ROMS in the original post is
wrong:
http://groth.se/atiflashingtool/ROMS.zip
Should be ('s' added to groth):
http://groths.se/atiflashingtool/ROMS.zip
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! Mar 13, 2010

Cindori

#18

thanks, I fixed it

thread starter
macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden

DaiBando, you should try making your own, this guide


tells you how

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! Mar 13, 2010

Dai Bando

Cindori said:

macrumors member
thanks, I fixed it

DaiBando, you should try making your own, this guide


tells you how

#19

workin' at it bro

"

Dec 31, 2001

northeast territory
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! Mar 14, 2010

s.m.t.
macrumors regular

"

#20

Just wanted to update this to get it back to the top...


Very helpful info!

Mar 7, 2010
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! Mar 15, 2010

AdvocateUK
macrumors regular

"

I can't find ANY of these cards in the UK. Anyone know a


good place to source them in the UK or anyone have a
pre-flashed one for sale?

#21

Jan 10, 2008

# Billingham, United
Kingdom
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! Mar 15, 2010

capnahab
macrumors newbie
"

http://www.okobe.co.uk/ws/product/S...DDR5+SDRAM+
Graphics+Card/1000018145?ref=1q4bs

#22

Mar 15, 2010


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! Mar 17, 2010

t3nchu

#23

Cindori said:

macrumors regular
"

Mar 17, 2010

The ZSFC is safe. I got a flashed one right behind me.


Mine is Ver 2.0

Is that the same one as posted by s.m.t.? How do one


find out which version of the card they have?
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! Mar 17, 2010

Cindori

#24

They actually read the guide.

thread starter
macrumors 68040

"

Jan 17, 2008

Sweden
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! Mar 17, 2010

s.m.t.
macrumors regular

#25

I got my card and cables in.


I got a ZSFC v1.6 from newegg...
Going over the steps once more before I begin..

"

Mar 7, 2010
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The U.K's Best VPN


Zero Logs, No Trace. Access Content from Anywhere. 24/7 Live Support.
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This Christmas
kiss goodbye
Shaver series 7000
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Give the Shaver 7000
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