Flash PC/BIOS video cards for Mac

Updates!

I recently got an Intel-based Mac Pro (MacPro2,1). This is one of the systems that Apple abandoned way too soon. It came with an ATI Radeon X1900 card, and I was able to flash one of my old AMD Radeon HD5870 cards for use in it.

My model of Radeon HD5870 is the “Built by AMD” reference design.

Stay tuned for firmware updates.


Note that much of this page is for older video cards: AGP-based for PowerPC systems.

There have been several things that have bothered me when trying to upgrade Mac systems:

– Apple seems to hate supporting old hardware.
– Devices made for Apple computers seem to cost up to ten times what they do for PC, even if they use identical hardware or even slower components.
– Third party support usually comes from un-reliable sources. People that can’t keep a website up, people that lose interest in helping the community, and those who are greedy that try to keep the money-saving (or potentially money-making) information to themselves.

I will be putting some ROMs/firmware on my site to help others with flashing video cards for Macs.

I have flashed a few PC video cards for use in Apple Macintosh systems.

Success:

XFX “WANG” GeForce 6200, 256 Megs RAM, $49 from Newegg.
– Requires 10.4.3 or higher. You will get a Kernel Panic if used in an older version.
– Uses a Temp Sensor that can cause long boot times under Mac OS X 10.5.x if you use it on a G4.
– There is a special firmware that disables the temp sensor.
– Supports Quartz Extreme and Core Image

VisionTek 5564 GeForce 2 MX 400 64MB SDRAM AGP DualHead/TwinView, $5-$20 from eBay.
– Works great in Mac OS 9 and all Mac OS X versions.
– Supports Quartz Extreme

This worked in my G4 Mac with the original PC/Windows firmware, however:
– The mouse cursor was a solid “box” when using Thousands/Millions of colors (it looked fine in 256-color mode).
– The system couldn’t detect my monitor or its timings, so resolutions and refresh rates were a bit off.
– Things worked perfectly after flashing with the “1075 TwinView” ROM.

* Update, August 2008: I noticed in World of Warcraft that the sky looked like it was filled with artifacts – like the card has bad memory. After staring at the messed up looking sky, the system had a kernel panic and locked. :(
* Double update. It turns out the wrong timings were in the firmware. Default MX400 timings are 200/183, default MX200 timings are 175/166. The VisionTek card uses 200/166 timings. I modified the firmware and re-flashed, and everything is good now. :)

Elsa GeForce 2 MX 400, 32 Megs, $5-$20 from eBay
– So far has worked great.
– No issues in any games.
– No artifact/memory issues.
– Flashed the NV1100 firmware, 200/183mhz timings.

ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, OEM, 128 Megs DDR. $30 from eBay.
– Quarts Extreme and Core Image support.

Fail:

Inno3D GeForce 2 MX 200, 32 Megs, 64-bit SDR, AGP – “Tornado GeForce 2 MX-200″, purchased for $45 brand new back in 2001.
* NVFlash said the EEPROM wasn’t flashable.

* Some random GeForce 2 MX 400, 64 Megs, PCI – Unknown brand, NVFlash can’t identify the EEPROM.
The EEPROM wasn’t the “non flashable” kind on the Inno3D GF2MX200, it just wasn’t listed as a supported EEPROM by the version of NVFlash I was using.
Recently, I haven’t been able to get the card at work at all (PC or Mac). I think I killed it with static or something. :(

GeForce 2 MX firmware:

nv1027f.rom
nv1028f.rom
nv1055.rom
nv1057.rom
nv1075(twin).rom (what I originally flashed on my VisionTek 5564 TwinView, but has the wrong timings for that card)
nv1100.rom
VisionTek 5564 ROM (200/166 timings, TwinView support, based on NV1100 ROM)

GeForce 6 firmware:

xfx_6200.rom – Original 350/266 MHz. (what I flashed on my 6200)
xfx_cube.rom – Cooler running 300/250 MHz.
MLP256XFX2_NoSensor.rom – 350/266 speeds, but with temp sensor disabled (for Mac OS X 10.5 compatibility).

Radeon 9700 Pro:
ati_oem_9700pro_124_agp_full.zip

Misc:

visiontek_5564_original.rom – My original VisionTek 5564 TwinView firmware for PC.

xfx_6200_original.zip – My original XFX “WANG” GeForce 6200 firmware for PC.

PC Tools:

nv312.zip – NVFlash 3.12
nv513.zip – NVFlash 5.13
nv563.zip – NVFlash 5.63
cwsdpmi.zip – DOS Extender (if needed)

For my TwinView:
nv312.exe -f 1075.rom -m

For my Elsa:
nv312.exe -f 1100.rom -m

For my 6200:
nv513 -4 -5 -6 -j 6200.rom


Links:

http://www.cybercoment.com/macgeforce.htm
http://themacelite.wikidot.com/
http://www.eden.net.nz/7/20011005geforce2mx.html
http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/