If you don’t need all the power custom Mac Pro Radeon Vega II gpus can offer, you probably went the same road I did – selected basic gpu you can buy with Mac Pro and then – upgrade yourself. We are in tough position these days – gpu shortages and prices are enormous (although market is currently settling down), we are limited to AMD Radeon offerings on MacOS and one more thing people often overlook – Mac Pro cannot accept all graphics cards – only certain dimensions. Also, not all RX 6000 cards are compatible with MacOS. Read on…
Many of you were probably excited the same way I was when Nvidia presented RTX 3000 series gpus, and also if you work only on Apple machines – sad at the same time – because Apple does not support Nvidia graphics cards anymore. There are no drivers.
But then, AMD came along with Radeon RX 6000 series – I was again happy, because finally, something was out from AMD stable that could compare to Nvidia offerings.
But then, suddenly, after both Nvidia and AMD new gpus should appear on the market – there were no gpus to be seen. GPU shortages began (crypto mining, chip shortages…) and even if you could find graphics card – prices were insane. From what I saw on the gpus I was interested in, prices were for 100 to 200% higher. Insane money.
GPU size that is able to fit in Mac Pro (2019) – max length 30 cm (please read below for more details and explanation)
Finally, I managed to get a hold of one gpu at descent price – Radeon RX 6900 XT. I was sooo happy. Until card arrived. One thing I noticed immediately after unpacking card, but completely forgot to check when I ordered GPU is – size.
So, yes, that was not going to fit. Fortunately, there was a lot of other machines I could fit the card, so that went well in the end.
One thing you should also (maybe) care about is how much slots gpu takes – some cards can take up to 3 slots, usually cards take two slot spaces, so also be aware of that when buying. If you have many other cards in your machine you need, that can also be a problem.
Maximum length of the card I managed to squeeze into Mac Pro 2019 is 30.5cm (please transfer to imperial). I wrote above that it is 30cm. You will manage to put in 30.5cm card in the Mac Pro case, but that is really tight fit, and depending on your gpu design and aesthetic form of the gpu, you may have a problem.Safest bet would be to find graphics card which is below 30cm in length.
Here is how it looks like with 30.5cm card in the Mac Pro
So, you get the picture, safest bet would be that gpu is below 30cm in length.
But currently new Nvidia and AMD cards that are powerful are hard to come by in small packages – shorter than 30cm.
Which brings us to the next point… Not all gpus work in Mac Pro
Which graphics cards are compatible with Mac Pro 2019?
We already established that Nvidia gpus are out of the question (I’m talking about MacOS Big Sur).
AMD Radeon RX 580x is the card my Mac Pro 2019 shipped with. After that I exchanged the card for the XFX AMD Radeon VII.
After I saw that there is no way I can physically fit AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT into Mac Pro 2019 (at least, none of the models available on my market will physically fit). I finally found GPU that will fit my Mac Pro 2019.
It was AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT which fit the bill – it was 30.5cm in length and I managed to squeeze it in. It was really tight fit, and that card is depicted above in the dimensions section.
But then – another problem. Mac Pro 2019 would not boot. At first I thought the graphics card did not sit properly into pci slot, but no. It would not boot. What I again forgot about this time is – drivers.
Something simple as graphics card driver support should not be taken easily when MacOS is in question.
MacOS Big Sur does not support AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT. That is the case at the time I write this article – August 2021 – maybe something in the future changes.
However, MacOS 11.4 and above support Radeon RX 6800/6900 GPUs.
So, you have to take into account two big things – physical size and supported types of gpus when buying graphics card for your Mac.
So, finally – last week I managed to get hold on to Gigabyte Radeon RX 6800 XT Gaming OC 16G. It works with MacOS Big Sur 11.5.1 I’m currently on, it is 28.5cm in length, but it also takes 3 slots in my Mac Pro.
and this bring us to the last point – availability and prices.
Availability and prices of the graphics cards in 2021
First half of the 2021 was a complete mess, at least in Europe. There was literally no graphics cards in stores, and if something appeared, price would be outrageous.
Situation got a bit better in the summer 2021, there are some cards on the market now, but still they disappear quickly. You need to take into account dimensions of the card, what are supported cards in MacOS and in the end price.
Prices are cooling down, but the market is really acting crazy, so I cannot give you advice to buy or wait. If you are in business and need gpu for your work, and will benefit from more power with doing work more efficiently and quickly, and can pay off that part – go ahead, but in all other cases – maybe hold off a bit more.
RX 6800 and 6900 are still not common in the under 30cm length size (as of august 2021), so if you have the money and want one, and the card is available – buy it fast.
As of August 2021 your only options for Mac Pro 2019 (if you want new, top of the line graphics card) are Radeon RX 6800/6900 gpus that are not longer than 30cm, and also check how many slots the gpu take if you Mac is already crowded with pci cards.
If you have the money, act fast, because cards disappear quickly, and there are not many models that are shorter than 30cm in length.