[Guide] CUDA GPU Rendering With Apple Mac Pro

Hi all,

Getting NVIDIA cards running in MacPro’s and CUDA is a snap now, compared to some time ago. So for those who do not know this yet, I wrote this guide down:

My base model is a:

MacPro early 2008 3.1 dual quad core 2.8 Ghz Xeon
OS X Lion or Mountain Lion (required for 3D card support)
NVIDIA Driver: http://www.nvidia.com/object/macosx-304.00.05f02-driver.html
CUDA Driver: http://www.nvidia.com/object/macosx-cuda-4.2.5-driver.html
CUDA Toolkit: https://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-toolkit-42-archive

MSI N570GTX Twin Frozor II (needs extra mini PICe 6 pin to PCIe 6 pin power cable)
(Previously used and tested EVGA GTX 650 Ti)

Download a CUDA enabled Blender build from GraphicAll.org such as: http://www.graphicall.org/856
In Blender Preferences System activate the CUDA GPU and in Render Settings switch from CPU to GPU.


This is all pretty much plug-n play. No more 3D card firmware patching.
You will not have a boot screen but once the OS log-in screen appears all runs well.

If you will use a 580 card power consumption should still work - however in case the PSU does not support enough power you might have to get an external power supply for this card.

Mods, can we maybe make this sticky? The Forum search function works well and a often do not find posts. There are many MacPro users who did not know that the new OS X version supports now 3rd party 3D cards well.

cekuhnen, you don’t need Mountain, Lion is fine too!

My system:

Mac Pro early 2008 3.1 dual quad core 2.8 Ghz. Xeon
Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5
2 x Zotac GTX 580 (pc version) + 1 x EVGA GTX 285 (mac version)
Extra PSU OCZ1000w

@ Caronte: Whole GPU madness!
Thats pretty awesome. I did not know that Lion supports it already, so I will change the text.

Yeah! since the last two updates :wink:

I have the same Apple Hardware as you booth.
I always wanted to know what card is compatible with this MacPro… and I always stuck cause I know nothing about hardware…
How did you assembly that external power supply? And what nvidia model is compatible to this MacPro? I mean the best one…
Can you write a guide to somebody that know nothing about it? :slight_smile:

I cut a hole in the back of the Mac to pass power cords. Nothing more.

Without external PSU, I think GTX570 is the better one.

I have no time, but you can ask here.
Anyway, if you know nothing about hardware, better to stay with a simple solution like the cekuhnen have on his firs post :wink:

Yo I am a guy not a girl Caronte :wink:

Eversimo, you want just a plug in go ahead and get a GTX 570. It is plug-n play. Install listed drivers and all will work. Also power wise. The GTX 580 can draw more power and with more than one card you anyway need an external PSU.

But it looks GTX 570 are hard to get now so make a decision quick. If speed is not that super of a concern the 600 series are slower but the GTX 650 is still faster than my MacPro 8 core.

Thank you, cekuhnen. I will try to understand how to get an external PSU to use a faster card and with more cuda cores.

As Caronte said if you want you do this, then just get the card like a 580 put it into the mac or put both in and well CUT a hole into the back somewhere so you can guide the powercables form the external PSU into the MacPro to the cards.

This all sounds very intimidating but to be honest it is actually very simple and logical.

So will GPU rendering work on 10.6.8? or is 10.7 the minimum?

Good question I think to use the 3D card as a full display driver you might need Lion at least but otherwise if you have a second display card you should be able to let the other card be used as a GPU.

Ops! Sorry, my english is very poor :wink:

I’m not sure (I think no), but is better if you update your OS :wink:

@cekuhnen: thanks a lot fot this thread and your resume :slight_smile:

Just to be sure - I was happy about new iMac 27" 2,9 GHz Intel Core i5, when I saw graphics card info “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M”.
So I found driver, but I can’t find driver for mac on http://www.geforce.com/drivers.

Do I’m right, that this driver doesn’t exist for this platform?
(p.s.: OS X 10.8.2)

Thanks for some info :slight_smile:

VKLIDU I hate you for that beautiful 27" display and the silent noise the iMac only produces :wink:
I have an old 2008 24" iMac and the hight and size is just fantastic to work on.

Because this is an NVIDIA Mobile card build right into the iMac you do NOT need to d/l an extra NVIDIA driver.
OS X has it already. The NVIDIA card I bought for the MacPro is a 3rd party and officially not supported / sold by Apple.

All you need is to download the CUDA driver and toolkit and a Blender Build with CUDA kernels installed.
The new 2.66 build should do that well.

Let me know if this works.

I got my MSI GTX 570 today and that beast is super silent and renders Mikes Benchmark scene in 58 seconds with current 2.65 graphicAll builds. Tripple as fast as the dual 4 core Xeon CPU - GPU rendering is really amazingly fast.

Sorry, a bit crazy week. Thanks for answer.
With answer question looks stupid, sorry for that :slight_smile:

About new iMac - Don’t worry. I had to sent that iMac back to Apple, display problem. I had no time to test it . . .

This is great! Lets hope that Apple releases the a “new” Mac Pro March 2013! I am hoping the new Mac Pro supports TITAN ( http://www.nvidia.com/titan )


I am not sure about new MacPro’s simply because the iMac got quite powerful and are not consumer level PCs anymore if you equip them with RAM and an i7. I know few video artists that switched to iMacs. Plus they run extremely silent.

But still I hope the continue the Pro series as it offers the option needed for those who want it like me or us.