Sapphire to offer AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card for Apple Mac Pro desktops

Sapphire to offer AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card for Apple Mac Pro desktops

Summary: Users of the oft-ignored desktop tower can get an infusion of video power for roughly $450.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

Apple's Mac Pro may be the red-headed stepchild of its computer lineup, with my ZDNet colleague Jason D O'Grady recently wondering if it's even a viable platform for Apple. Such speculation is due in no small measure to the fact Apple hasn't updated its hardware in some time, and beyond some vague promises, the company hasn't offered a firm timeline for a refresh.


So third parties appear to be filling in the void. A Kickstarter project was launched for a tower computer around the projectQ motherboard that can run OS X and be viewed as a poor man's Mac Pro. And now it looks like graphics card maker Sapphire is going to inject some more up-to-date video power into the aging desktop.

The company just showed off its Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition board last week at CeBIT. While this card has been available for some time for Windows computers, it still marks a major update compared to the Radeon 5000-series graphics Apple is still selling the Mac Pro with. (That's when Radeon was still under the ATI brand name.) The 7950 offers 1,792 stream processors running at 800MHz and 3GB of GGDR5 video memory. Because it is a Mac-compatible product, it comes with a special BIOS and the familiar Apple white coloring (even if the Mac Pro has an aluminum chassis).

No release date has been announced, but pricing rumors floating around the internet indicate that it will cost about $450 for the add-in card. That may be a steep price to pay — though users already paid a steep price for their Mac Pros — but it does mean that creative professionals using the desktop will have more power for tasks like video editing, and gaming via Steam or the Mac App Store will be improved.

Would you upgrade your Mac Pro desktop with this new card when it becomes available? Let us know in the Talkback section below.

[Via Fudzilla]

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • So much for a "Professional" Workstation

    Wouldn't it have been better to just allow users to install whatever card they want?

    Currently, the only way someone can upgrade their GPU in OS X is through a tricky method of flashing the card's BIOS through Windows and booting back to its native operating system.

    A workstation's a computer that's meant to be modular and upgrade-able, not locked up and proprietary.

    In this case, this "lock" is a software block/laziness on Apple's part.
    • Not lazy, buut control and greed.

      And shrouded under the claim of "Apple keeps tight control"... which is bogus once you start tallying up the number of beachball incidents...
    • Firmware/Drivers, not lock down

      The issue isn't a case of Apple locking things down. The issue deals with firmware and drivers. Apple machines use EFI and thus the graphics adapters need EFI firmware on them to work properly (at least at boot time). There are a bunch of cards that will actually work out of the box (but not necessarily give you the boot screen). I have a GTX 580 with a modified firmware in my Mac Pro and it works just fine. OpenGL, OpenCL and CUDA all work.

      The primary issue is drivers, or rather the lack of them for newer hardware. As Apple adds their own support for newer hardware then more adapters work. The problem is getting a company to actually support OSX. It's not Apple's fault. (Though I suppose they don't really help, in that they don't push for more support).
      • Oh really?

        That's funny, my card doesn't have the EFI Bios and yet, my board does and it works fine... It actually works fine in both OS X and Windows 7 / 8.
  • Oft-ignored by ZDNet, that is.

    "Users of the oft-ignored desktop tower can get an infusion of video power for roughly $450."

    Oft-ignored by ZDNet, that is. If you live in a blogging bubble, you can ignore pretty much anything you don't like. ZDNet has gotten very good at ignoring things that disprove its core philosophies.

    Towers tend to fall in that category, as ZDNet has a core philosophy that "the PC is dead." Nevermind there's zero actual evidence that people are throwing away their PCs on a large scale.

    Truth be known, however, some things that ZDNet ignores are doing better than they think it does: TigerDirect and NewEgg are still selling towers and components, and the gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, despite often being ridiculed as "niche."

    And of course plenty of professionals still use towers. The internet is often high latency and unreliable, and "cloud" apps have yet to have complete feature sets similar to offline apps. And of course you can tailor a tower to your needs, rather than being forced to accept the features of some sealed system.

    "That may be a steep price to pay"

    Well, it's designed for professionals, who are usually willing to pay a lot more for their stuff.

    And if you wanted to go crazy on the PC side, you could certainly pay a lot more. A glance at TigerDirect indicates you can easily go $1000+ if you wanted.
  • "oft"? Are multisyllable words too much for people nowadays?

    Like "computer" (vs "comp"), "often" is the proper word...
    • Oft is an archaic usage

      but otherwise perfectly "proper" as used in the sentence you cite. Look it up.
  • Apple has abandoned the Mac Pro

    This card is for the hackintosh community. Apple has adopted a new definition of a computer, the Mac pro isn't even on display at my local Apple store. In fact, there are only 2 iMacs on display. It's simply rows and rows of iPads, iPods, iPhones, and Mac Laptops. Apple has clearly written the mainstream desktop computer off as obsolete, like the optical disk.
    • Hmm

      I was wondering if this would work in a Hackintosh.

      I'm not a huge fan of Apple hardware for the most part and iOS really isn't my thing but, I like their desktop OS so, that's what I run on my Hackintosh.