In our article Apple Announce New Operating System At WWDC 2018 Called Mojave Apple announced that Mojave would be supported on Macs introduced in mid-2012 or later, plus 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro models as long as they had a recommended Metal-capable graphics cards. This triggered questions from a number of you like Karl Mainzer who asked: “Can you recommend a decent Metal compatible graphics card?” Once I started to research this it became clear it would be better to answer this with a dedicated article.
The first thing to be aware of is that neither of the stock graphics cards used in the cheese-graters, the Radeon 5770 or the Nvidia GeForce GT120 graphics cards are metal compatible. If you wish to use a Mid 2010 or Mid 2012 Mac Pro with macOS Mojave then you will need to upgrade your graphics card if you wish to run Mojave on your cheese-grater.
Which leads to the obvious question that Karl and a number of others have asked on social media. Which card should I upgrade to?
The reality is that definite information was hard to come by, there didn’t appear to be any Apple recommended Metal compatible graphics cards. In checking the Apple Support site more recently there has been a response from a level 8 responder, which states that…
After much digging, there are only two official cards for a 5,1 Mac Pro that support Metal. That is, cards that were designed for these Macs. Not flashed PC cards.
AMD Sapphire HD 9750 for Mac
EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition
The GeForce is much easier to find, and roughly half the price the Sapphire goes for.
There was a response is from a Level 9 responder in the Apple Support community who basically quotes a Wikipedia entry...
On macOS, Metal supports Intel HD and Iris Graphics from the HD 4000 series or newer, AMD GCN-based GPUs, and Nvidia Kepler-based GPUs or newer.
AMD Radeon HD 7000, HD 8000, 200, 300, 400 and 500 series
Nvidia - Most GeForce 600 series, most GeForce 700 series, and some GeForce 800M series
Our friends from OWC also say that there are a number of other graphics cards available that will work with your Mac Pro and support Metal…
AMD: Radeon HD 7000 and HD 8000, as well as the 200, 400 and 500 series of cards.
NVIDIA: Most GeForce 600, 700 and 800 series.
As I have already upgraded my graphics card in my 2010 Mac Pro replacing the ATI Radeon HD5770 1024MB graphics card at the recommendation of UK based Create Pro with an AMD R9 280X 3GB card, which is an AMD 7xxx series card, which is a custom flashed special Mac compatible version. I contacted their tech support and asked them whether my AMD R9 card was Metal compatible and the good news is that it is.
I then asked them for their advice for the situation with other possible cards and they confirmed that neither the ATI Radeon HD5770 and the Nvidia GeForce GT120 graphics card support Metal and so will not support macOS Mojave. Their recommendations are the AMD 5XX series and Nvidia 10XX series. However, they don’t know when Nvidia will release drivers for 10.14 yet so the AMD cards are the best bet as they will work out of the box and they have tested it successfully with the macOS Mojave 10.14 developer beta release.
Looking further afield for information on this Mac Rumours Mac Pro Metal Compatible Card thread there was confirmation of the AMD R9 280X 3GB card that I have as long as it has been flashed for use with a Mac. There are mixed views about the Nvidia GTX680 saying that the 680 Metal drivers are not good, especially with macOS High Sierra, and suggesting that the GeForce GTX TITAN X (Maxwell) or a GTX 1080 (Pascal) are OK with High Sierra,
On another Mac Rumours thread - Best Metal-compatible graphics card for MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) running High Sierra question again confirmation of the AMD R9 280X 3GB card as well a recommendation to go with AMD cards rather than Nvidia as the AMD cards don’t need drivers.
In the same thread was a recommendation for the Sapphire RX 580 pulse 8gb as apparently, it is plug-and-play in High Sierra, but we have no confirmation of this.
Unfortunately, the AMD R9 280X 3GB card that I have got is no longer a current model but can be found on stores like Amazon and eBay for between £175 and £239 for a custom flashed version for the Mac Pro.
Create Pro are offering the following options in your Create Your Own Cheese-grater Mac Pro page…
AMD RX 560 4GB (1204 Stream Processors) (OS X 10.13.4+) £245 plus taxes
AMD RX 570 4GB (2048 Stream Processors) (OS X 10.13.4+) £395 plus taxes
AMD RX 580 8GB (2304 Stream Processors) (OS X 10.13.4+) £445 plus taxes
Nvidia GTX 1050Ti 4GB (768 CUDA Cores) (OS X 10.12.4+) £245 plus taxes
Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB (1920 CUDA Cores) (OS X 10.12.4+) £545 plus taxes
Nvidia GTX 1070TI 8GB (2423 CUDA Cores) (OS X 10.12.4+) £645 plus taxes
Nvidia GTX 1080 8GB (2560 CUDA Cores) (OS X 10.12.4+) £745 plus taxes
Nvidia GTX 1080Ti 11GB (3584 CUDA Cores) (OS X 10.12.4+) £995 plus taxes
So a new AMD RX 560 4GB card looks a cost-effective solution if you want a new graphics card or a secondhand AMD R9 280X 3GB card could be worth considering if you can find one at a good price. Either way, make sure you get one that a custom flashed Mac compatible version. If you don’t, it should still work, but not seeing the boot screen etc could be an issue if you need to select a different startup disk or need to boot on single user mode, or recovery, because these things happen during the startup sequence and before the normal video drivers load. An unflashed PC graphics card won't display anything until the startup sequence is finished.
I hope that helps to answer the question about what maOS Metal compatible graphics card there are out there for Mac Pro 2010 and 2012 cheese-grater computers.
Whilst we are talking about macOS Mojave compatibility if you have any other Mac and you want to know about macOS Mojave compatibility then it would seem that these Macs that should be OK with Mojave are…
MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
iMac (Late 2012 or later)
iMac Pro (all models)
Mac Pro (Late 2013)
Mac Pro (2010 or later with Metal-compatible GPU)
Because of the need for graphics cards that support Metal with Mojave, the list is even shorter than it was with macOS High Sierra and that rules out the Late 2009 MacBook, the Mid-2010 MacBook Pro, Late 2010 MacBook Air, Mid-2010 Mac mini, and Late 2009 iMac.