Are you a Mac user who’s intrigued by the idea of Virtual Reality (VR) gaming? I was too but quickly realized there’s currently no support for VR on the Mac platform. The biggest name in Virtual Reality right now is the Oculus Rift VR headset and sensor. Oculus’ founder said he would have liked to make the device compatible for Mac users but that unfortunately none of the Mac computers in Apple’s current lineup has the graphical horsepower to run it. Apple has always taken the safe and arguably low-cost route when it comes to graphics cards, also referred to as video cards or GPUs (graphics processing units).
The most powerful graphics card setup currently available from Apple is in the Mac Pro 6,1 (late 2013 model) – a dual D700 GPU that is the equivalent of a dual AMD Radeon 7970 GPU. This card came out nearly five years ago. In order to run Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you’ll need USB 3.0 ports and a much more powerful graphics card. At a bare minimum an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon RX 470 card will get you in the game. The challenge with a Mac is that almost all internal components are proprietary. This poses a problem.
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'Using an External GPU via Thunderbolt on a MacBook Pro My plan was to attempt to run an external Graphics Card (GPU) via the Thunderbolt port of my MacBook Pro 13' (Retina, Late 2012) and see see if I could improve on the poor performance of the built-in Intel 4000 GPU (included in my Macbook Pro's 2.5GHz i5 processor).
You can’t simply buy a replacement GPU from Best Buy or MicroCenter and swap it in. Mac Pro upgraded with AMD Radeon RX 480 & USB 3.0 ports to run Oculus Rift VR There is hope though. In order to install one of these newest generation GPUs and make your Mac VR compliant, you’ll need a computer with PCI Express ports.
The Mac Pro tower is the only modern Mac which has PCI Express ports. Even though there’s no official support from Apple, you can modify Mac OS system files to enable drivers for AMD GPUs. If you choose to go with Nvidia GPUs you can install web drivers directly from Nvidia. The last requirement is the installation of Windows.
Oculus Rift software and all Virtual Reality games are only available on the Windows platform at the moment. I have successfully installed an Nvidia GTX 980 Ti as well as an AMD Radeon RX 480 while running Windows 10 on the Mac Pro tower. If you don’t have a Mac Pro tower, the next best option would be to make use of your Mac’s Thunderbolt ports. You can build or buy what’s called an eGPU, an external graphic processing unit. An eGPU is essentially an enclosure of a PCI Express port. It can house a full-length graphics card and connect to a Mac via the thunderbolt ports. I will detail this setup in my next post about.
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Oculus Rift Virtual Reality with Mac Pro.
How many PCI slots of what type are provided by the Mac Pro models? How do you install a PCIe card in the Mac Pro? All Mac Pro models support PCIe (PCI Express) cards, but the type of cards supported varies, particularly between early and later systems. The varies, too. Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Mac Pro) Identification Help If you're not sure which Mac Pro you have, several lines share the so this identifier is insufficient for the purpose of ensuring PCIe card compatibility.
The model number is sufficient to identify the 'Early 2009,' 'Mid-2010' and 'Mid-2012' Mac Pro lines, which share the same PCIe slots. However, each Mac Pro series can be identified uniquely externally by and 'close enough' to an exact match to determine PCIe compatibility by the in software. In turn, each model can be uniquely identified via model identifier and one or more secondary identifiers (like processor speed and/or processor type). The EMC number is located on the rear of the system in small type. To locate the model identifier in software, select 'About This Mac' under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the 'More Info.'
If the Mac Pro is running OS X 'Lion' (10.7) or later, click the 'System Report' button after clicking 'More Info.' A of the Mac Pro lines, corresponding identifiers, and PCIe compatibility is provided below. EveryMac.com's feature -- as well as the -- also can identify these systems by their. More details about identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's section. Supported PCIe Card Types The original Mac Pro models have four PCIe 1.0 expansion slots with one double-wide 16-lane PCI Express slot occupied by a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT in the default configuration, and three full-length PCI Express slots open. The 'Early 2008' Mac Pro models have two PCIe 2.0 and two PCIe 1.0 expansion slots, with one double-wide 16-lane PCIe 2.0 slot occupied by an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT in the default configuration. This leaves one 16-lane PCIe 2.0 slot and two four-lane PCIe slots open.
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