GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

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Hokusai's picture
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Well, I'm determined to get ML running on my lowly 'ole Macbook (getting close to five years old now). As is the case, its possible to get it running on macs such as mine (Early 2008 Macbook), but sadly without any graphics acceleration. This is because there is no 64-bit Mac Intel X3100 graphics drivers present, or avaliable anywhere from what I understand.

To cut to the chase, I managed to upgrade the video card on my Macbook by sacrificing both the built-in Airport and any sort of mobility. The mobility won't be a problem as I plan on fitting it into a old PowerMac 6500's case (the motheboard was mostly dead, pci slots didn't work).

the mini pci-e adapter
the radeon sitting on a makeshift holder
System Profiler graphics overview page
OpenGL Extrensions Viewer overview

10.6.8 apparently has just prototype drivers for the 6xxx series ( there is a kext for ATI 6xxx in there). I'm hoping that 10.8 works fine with the drivers it comes with and I don't have to do any altering to get it to work (like Hackintosh users generally have to).

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Hey that is pretty slick. Where did you get the adapter?

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

I was looking at the ones at Orbit Micro at first but the prices were somewhat exorbitant. So, I went looking on eBay and found this little dude for a good third/fourth of the price. The "airport" slot is just a mini pci-e slot which is just a pci-e x1 slot (apparently with a USB connection too).

I don't think the x1 to x16 adapter (the red card)is really necessary. The primary adapter has an open sided pcie connector to install the higher x4 or x16 cards.

I'm trying to think, when I put it in the 6500 case, how I'm going to get the ATX supply I"m using to turn on/off when I turn the main Macbook on. This item on Frozen CPU might be the ticket for that.

Still gotta figure how to wire the Macbook's power button up. As it is, the power button is on the keyboard and is routed through the keyboard cable, me thinks.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Does anyone know if I could run this without the display and inverter cable connected to the motherboard?

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Dr. Webster's picture
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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Hokusai wrote:

Does anyone know if I could run this without the display and inverter cable connected to the motherboard?

I don't see why not...I've heard plenty of stories where people have smashed their MacBook/MBP screens and, instead of replacing them, they just pull the screen off and turn the machine into a "low-profile" desktop.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

I had everything up and running and I was working on getting the power supply working. Unfortunately, when I put everything together the video card isn't even recognized anymore.

I don't think I blew anything but I can't get it to work anymore. I only started it up a few times without any power to the video card because the switch wouldn't work.

I even threw in the 'ole Airport card and It works fine as far as I can tell. Shouldn't that mean that the slot is still good. I'm thinking that the adapter might have just flaked out on me.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Sorry, sort of jumped to conclusions there. Strangely enough, I reset the PRAM and it once again detects the video card. Still trying to get the auxillery power supply thingie working.

It just won't seem to turn on with the molex connector I spliced into the SATA extension cable I have hooked up. It'll work when I have it connected up to a proper power supply as the source, though.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

I assume you bought that adapter from Frozen CPU. All that thing appears to be is just a relay...when power from the 4-pin Molex (PSU 1) is present, then the relay will trip and short the power-on lead of PSU 2's ATX connector (essentially the same thing as if you had PSU 2 connected to a motherboard and pushed the power button). You didn't mention where you specifically have the 4-pin Molex connected to, other than a SATA power extension cable. If that extension cable happens to be connected internally to the MacBook somewhere (such as split off of the machine's hard drive power lead), keep in mind that laptop hard drives only require 5V power to operate. If that adapter board is expecting 12V to trip the relay, then that explains why it's not working.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Yea, its just a board with a relay on it. I had it spliced into the Macbook's built-in SATA (via an extension cable). I remember testing it and getting a good 12V and 5V reading off of it. Mind you, I might be remembering something else. I'l just have to test it again. Well, I still have my 'ole AT power supply for now anyhoo.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

i was wondering, does the AI 1.67ghz g4 also have a pci-e slot for Airport? i have one thats already headless and would love to tinker more with it.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Yea, there wasn't a 12v source on it. I've gone ahead and ordered a board with a 5v relay on it to solve that.

I've gone ahead and gotten Mountain Lion booting up on it ( had to get another drive to do it eventually because the first one died) and runs good with the Radeon installed (no video out till the login screen though). It insists on seeing a generic 800x600 monitor attached to the built-in GPU. I was hoping having no display connected would effectively disable it.

I've still gotta hook up a power button and get some sort of extension for the battery cable (going to have it sitting on the bottom of the case). I've used CoolBookController (I think that's what it's called) before to run the computer at full speed without the battery installed but I don't believe that works under ML.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

From what I saw when looking at it, the Airport card in an Al G4 powerbook seems to use a special, proprietary,connection. It does have a standard cardbus slot which you can get pci breakout boxes for. I don't think they are particularly cheap, though.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

I've got the battery laying on the bottom of the case (secured there too) and the extension I wired up seems to work just fine (charges and everything just fine). Plus, I got the new SSD in there and cloned over the install I had on the slow USB drive over to it and it boots up in no time at all.

I've also got a power supply hooked up to the 5V relay board I bought and it comes on just fine. I still haven't managed a power button yet but I'll have that soon.

I'm still wondering about why, unless I do a PRAM reset on startup, I don't get any video (in fact, back on my SL drive, it wouldn't show another video card even present). I tested the PRAM battery voltage and got 2.9x or such and that seems not too bad. I assume these came with 3V pram batteries.

I'm wondering if it could be an EFI thing being as these were never meant to have any other video card present (aside from the Airport card, of course).

I think I might have noticed something in the logs.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

A bit late to the party - but.. you need to fool the system into thinking it is in clamshell mode. You do this by putting a magnet onto the small board that goes to the battery. There is a reed switch inside an IC. Just to the bottom of the red circle in this image - https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/TINjxp6NFxkd1U6O

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

Oh yea, I have already attached a magnet there. Sadly it didn't make a difference. This was probably for the best, though, as it tended to freak out if I turned my TV (HDTV is my primary display) off while it wasn't asleep (or it woke up with the TV off). I instead used a program called SwitchResX to 'disable' the built-in quasi-display and everything works just fine.

Keeping the built-in display around also has the added benefit of preventing the black-screen/corrupted-display on wake up because it just switches to it when I turn my TV off.

I have skipped upgrading to Mavericks because of the way apple messed around with the displays. SwitchResX apparently can't really 'disable' a display anymore. I'm waiting to see if Yosemite suffers from this problem too and, if not, I might just make the jump to it eventually.

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Re: GPU Upgraded Macbook for Mountain Lion

duck wrote:

A bit late to the party - but.. you need to fool the system into thinking it is in clamshell mode. You do this by putting a magnet onto the small board that goes to the battery. There is a reed switch inside an IC. Just to the bottom of the red circle in this image - https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/TINjxp6NFxkd1U6O

I only started it up a few times without any power to the video card because the switch wouldn't work.