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Introduction

The 2009 Mac Pro shares an identical motherboard with the 2010 model. With a firmware update, you can use newer CPUs and upgrade to macOS 10.12 and 10.13.

It is important to note that you will need an official Apple GPU installed while performing the flash, so go ahead and dig out that old GT120 that came with the system when you purchased it if you've upgraded to a non-official GPU in the meantime.

If you opted for a GPU upgrade from Apple at any point, you may have a different card. This could include:

• ATI Radeon 4870

• ATI Radeon 5770

• ATI Radeon 5870

Provided these are original Apple cards, you should be fine to proceed.

  1. First thing's first: You will want to upgrade to macOS 10.11, which is the latest "officially" supported version of macOS for the 4,1 Mac Pro. Provided you are on at least 10.6.6, you should be able to download the installer from the Mac App Store by following this link If you are on 10.6.5 or earlier, you will need to first upgrade via Software Update to the last release of Snow Leopard (10.6.8) to get access to the Mac App Store.
    • First thing's first: You will want to upgrade to macOS 10.11, which is the latest "officially" supported version of macOS for the 4,1 Mac Pro.

    • Provided you are on at least 10.6.6, you should be able to download the installer from the Mac App Store by following this link

    • If you are on 10.6.5 or earlier, you will need to first upgrade via Software Update to the last release of Snow Leopard (10.6.8) to get access to the Mac App Store.

    • You will need to download two different packages to complete the upgrade:

    • Mac Pro EFI Update

    • Firmware Update Tool (hosted at Netkas in the bottom of the first post)

    Is there another place to download the tool? I can’t seem to connect to Netkas.

    Jacob Osier - Reply

    https://web.archive.org/web/201901232023...

    I found a link for if the forum is down.

    Jacob Osier - Reply

    I had to change the above URL to that to make it work:

    https://web.archive.org/web/201901232023...

    This might work as a direct download too (from the linked forum page):

    http://forum.netkas.org/index.php?action...

    Chris

    Christian Krupa - Reply

    Therefore thisupgrade whant happen with a different card?

    Is there a way to work around it?

    I nolonger have the original

    d1nchiana@gmx.com - Reply

    you just need to have a card with the original EFI from Apple- there’s some other cards around, like the Radeon 4870 for example. It may work with newer “compatible” cards like those from Macvidcards.com, but I’m not sure.

    Josh Calvetti -

    • You'll need to disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to flash the new firmware.

    • Restart your Mac Pro and hold cmd+r to boot into the recovery partition on your boot drive.

    • Once in Recovery Mode, go to the Utilities menu at the top of the screen and click Terminal

    • Enter the following command:

    • csrutil disable

    • Hit return and restart your Mac Pro as normal.

    This step only pertains to OS El Capitan and later

    bm_dong - Reply

    What if I’m on Yosemite. Do I need to turn off SIP another way?

    roryoneders -

    Hi

    I got issue i was just trying to do this but the tool give me error

    “the program has encountered an error: 5570

    Sandip Tailor - Reply

    I’m so grateful to have found this information, but it just doesn’t work for me. I get as far as typing csrutil disable then hitting return and I get something like ‘bad command’ or some such. I’ve tried this over and over – same every time.

    If anyone can help. I’d be most grateful. Computer specs below:

    Mac OS 10.7.5 (and desperately keen to upgrade)

    Hardware Overview:

      Model Name: Mac Pro

      Model Identifier: MacPro1,1

      Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon

      Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz

      Number of Processors: 2

      Total Number of Cores: 4

      L2 Cache (per Processor): 4 MB

      Memory: 8 GB

      Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz

      Boot ROM Version: MP11.005D.B00

      SMC Version (system): 1.7f10

      Serial Number (system): CK7220N1UPZ

      Hardware UUID: 00000000-0000-1000-8000-0017F200F892

    Nick - Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Based on your hardware profile, you have the very first Mac Pro, which I believe can be flashed from a 1,1 to a 2,1 - but I have not done that process myself so I am afraid I can’t speak to how it works. I believe this forum thread (also on Netkas) may have the information you need.

    Josh Calvetti - Reply

    • While the tool was originally designed to pull the firmware directly from Apple's website, a change in the file location and name on Apple's part has made it necessary to download & mount the .dmg prior to running the tool.

    • Double click the firmware file you downloaded in step one to mount the disk image to your desktop.

    • Right click and select "Open" on the firmware update tool. Since it is not signed with the proper certificate, macOS will likely refuse to open it just by double clicking the file. Right click the file and open from the menu to fix this.

    • You should have two options in the window - upgrade to 2010 firmware and downgrade to 2009 firmware. Only one option will be available at any given time, dependent on which firmware you have installed.

    • There is really no reason to ever downgrade to 2009 firmware, as none of those machines are still under any warranty from Apple and the system discs are not as important now that all OS versions are given as software downloads.

    • You are not required to upgrade your CPUs if you update to the 2010 firmware- your original system configuration will continue to operate as it always has.

    • Be sure to read any and all information that the utility may pop up.

    • IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY: Try using this alternate tool.

    I just tried this on my 2009 Mac Pro. Everthing seems to go according to plan. The helper utility runs, does it’s thing, then tells me to shutdown. But when I hold the power button to start back up and actually run the firmware update…. nothing happens. That is, it boots normally, no updater. I’ve held the button till if flashes, I’ve held the button till I got the tone. But no matter what, it just boots normally. This machine is running 10.9 btw.

    Any suggestions?

    John M - Reply

    Hi John, I’m not entirely sure - there’s some good discussion in this macrumors thread that may be of assistance. Also feel free to ask a question in the answers forum here- you will likely get some good responses!

    Josh Calvetti -

    Step 2 says to run the firmware tool, but in Step 1 there are TWO firmware tools to download. Which of these do I run?? If both, which one goes first?

    david - Reply

    Hi David,

    In the first step there is a tool for installing the firmware and the firmware itself- if you download just the .dmg on your 4,1 machine, it will refuse to install. You need the .app from Netkas, which is the second link. Download both, open the disk image from Apple, run the tool from the second download and it should auto detect the package on the desktop. Then it’s off to the races!

    Josh Calvetti -

    Gives error 5570 when running the Mac pro 2009-2010 Firmware tool. Even after performing a PRAM reset.

    Hans - Reply

    I got the 5570 error as well, did you find a fix for this?

    david -

    @josh I got the 5570 error message when running the Firmware Update Tool. Is there a fix for this?

    david - Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I did a bit of research - it seems like maybe it’s a problem with it looking for the firmware update file that happens to some people. There’s some information and directions on this page, post #964 about half way down the page from user Pigsyn. Give it a shot!

    Josh Calvetti - Reply

    If I have a bunch of software installed and working on the machine I am about to run this firmware upgrade, will it mess up the apps that are already installed?

    spaddison - Reply

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    • After the tool has finished its work, it will tell you to shut down your computer. Just perform a normal shut down procedure.

    • After your Mac Pro is powered off, hold the power button down until you see the power LED blink quickly or you hear an audible tone. The blinking LED will precede the tone.

    • Your computer should now begin to update the firmware on its own. You should see a gray screen with a progress bar at the bottom of the screen.

    • This is a different bar than you would normally see with macOS- the firmware updating bar will be a hollow rounded rectangle that slowly fills up, rather than just a bar that slowly gets longer as you would typically see.

    • Your computer may restart on its own again following the flash.

    I just can see the gray screen, there is no progress bar. Let me know the reason why! Thanx

    f22lingu - Reply

    • Once your machine has rebooted to the desktop, it's time for the moment of truth.

    • Open About this Mac and click on System Report

    • It is worth noting that About this Mac will still report this as a Mac Pro (2009), even after a successful flash.

    • In System Report you should see a line in the first window labeled Model Identifier - if the firmware flash was successful, you should see Mac Pro5,1

    everything went as iterated; system report still shows 4,1.

    I couldn’t mount the updater by double or right clicking, so I moved it physically.

    the system will not allow me to return to reecovery mode.

    Ed Fiala - Reply

    • Unless you have a compelling reason otherwise, you'll want to reenable SIP. Once again, you'll have to go into Recovery Mode just like you did before and open the Terminal.

    • Enter the following command

    • csrutil enable

    • Reboot the machine and let it load to the desktop. Open a new terminal window and enter the following command to check the status of SIP

    • csrutil status

    • If all was successful, you should get a line back that reads:

    • System Integrity Protection status: enabled.

    • And that's all there is! Now you should be able to upgrade the processors to a much wider swath of options.

Finish Line

53 other people completed this guide.

Josh Calvetti

Member since: 12/04/2009

8,204 Reputation

2 Guides authored

49 Comments

once installed the firmware 5.1 can be updated in the installation of the new OS?

infoalessio100 - Reply

Do you mean to update to 10.13? Yes, you can do that firmware update as well. It should work automatically.

Josh Calvetti -

Can you use a processor tray designed for a 2010-2012 model after the firmware update? Not inclined to actually replace the CPU chips.

BradMacPro - Reply

I’ve heard conflicting reports- at the very least, if it does boot with a 2010 tray, my understanding is the fans will go crazy. I don’t think it’s recommended to swap trays between versions as they have a slightly different firmware and construction. Replacing the chips is pretty easy though, and we have a guide for that as well!

Josh Calvetti -

What restrictions are there if you no longer have an original Apple GPU? My MacPro has an ATI Radeon HD 4870 512 MB to drive my 30” Apple monitor.

Ronald Koontz - Reply

We’re in a similar boat: I’ve got a Radeon HD 5770, purchased from Apple, driving a 30-inch Cinema Display. I got through both BIOS upgrades fine. Perhaps display adapters with non-Apple firmware cause problems.

Tom Yager -

A quick note that might save someone trouble: Following these well-crafted instructions, my Mac Pro kept booting to my OS (10.11) instead of the firmware updater. Starting over from a Lion (10.7) startup partition worked, and then I was able to return to 10.11 to do an in-place upgrade to High Sierra from the App Store. The second firmware update from the OS installer ran without issue.

Tom Yager -

Hi Ron, thanks for the info! You should still be okay with upgrading if your GPU is one of the upgrade picks Apple offered. I have amended the introduction to reflect this as well.

If memory serves, there were 3 other GPUs Apple offered as upgrades for the 09/10 model Mac Pro. These are the

• ATI Radeon 4870

• Radeon 5770

• Radeon 5870

Provided they’re all still official Apple cards, you should be okay to proceed.

Josh Calvetti -

It is safe to upgrade my MacPro4,1 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680? Thanks.

suzzz -

You have a 4870 that doesn't have the Apple EFI? If it is a reference model card, it can be pretty easily flashed with Mac EFI (Apple boot screen). I have flashed these for 4 of my friends with good success.

Benjamin Dittman -

It is because if you have a non mac gpu as your primary card none of the mac os startup screen will be displayed. You would have no idea what the mac was doing while the firmware was installing (if it even was) and just have to sit looking at a black screen and hope that it completed correctly.

hpesoj11 - Reply

Is it safe to swap back in a non-Apple GPU once FW update is complete?

anonymous 5344 - Reply

Yep, you can swap back to the non-Apple GPU after the update is complete.

Josh Calvetti -

Awesome! Now I can install High Sierra and hopefully Mojave later this year.

Thanks!

Milan Meiland - Reply

I followed the instructions. I have an early 2009 MacPro 4,1 firmware. the Mac Pro 2009-2010 Firmware Tool.app would not open from the desktop of from the drop down menu. Prompt stated that the “…Fiirmware Tool.app could not be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.” Any suggestions on how to overcome this?

Kenneth J. Filarski

Kenneth J. Filarski - Reply

Hi Kenneth,

Sounds like that’s Gatekeeper at work. If you right click on the application and click open in that menu, it should give you an option to proceed when that dialog box pops up.

Josh Calvetti -

Thank you so much for this amazing guide. Followed it exactly and had no problems upgrading the firmware of my Mac Pro 4,1 to 5,1. Now I can happily update my OS past El Capitan 10.11….

anonymous 5344 - Reply

i am having problems doing this my Mac is a 4,1 and when i download to update tool and software to do the update i keep getting an error saying the software is not compatable or something like that i followed everything and it don’t work for me here is the specs on my mac early 2009

Processor 2x2.26 GHZ Quad-Core intel Xenon Serial Number is H0014TB4PD any help would be great thanks

Shiva Parasram - Reply

I completed the firmware upgrade successfully. Then installed High Sierra successfully. Now my AirPort card is not recognized!

I had installed a AP card I had laying around from another Mac laptop (I think) that I had scrapped. So, I think that since the High Sierra software is assuming that this is a 2010 Mac Pro that it would also only have the AP card that came with the 2010 models.

My theory is that it will need a newer AP card than what I have. I’m honestly not sure what year my current AP card is from. Is anyone else having this problem or figured out a solution. If not, I will probably try ordering a newer AP card to stick in it or run an ethernet cable to it.

Daniel - Reply

Hi- my mac pro died in the middle of the “flashing” section. Won’t turn on and I get 0 power to the unit whatsoever…Could it be a dead power supply or the motherboard? I’m worried…

m.zayas89 - Reply

Danke für diese tolle ANleitung, hat prima funktioniert!! Hj

Hj Widmer - Reply

I did this and it worked perfectly except I now have no sound. Any ideas?

The Zig - Reply

So I’ve already updated my early 2009 Mac Pro running El Capitan to Mojave using a patch tool before I found this site and instructions. Put a new videocard in and – with the exception of not being able to use my second monitor for some reason (next fix to search) – is running beautifully. Curious if I would still be able to update the firmware to 5, 1 from 4, 1 even though Mojave is already installed and running? Wish I had found this earlier - would have saved time! Thank you in advance for your response.

Stu - Reply

Hi @stu,

Hmm, I assume that’s dosdude’s patch tool? I’m not entirely sure though, I haven’t heard of anyone going to Mojave without flashing first. I’m not 100% sure if you can flash, but you should be able to in theory at least. The tricky bit is you’ll need the original GPU still installed to do the flash.

What firmware is your mac on at present? You can find it in System Information under the hardware overview- it’s labeled Boot ROM Version.

Josh Calvetti - Reply

Hi Josh! It was dosdude’s patch tool that was used to install Mojave without flashing. Everything is running smoothly since installing a new video card - Radeon RX 570 - and even figured out the issue as to why the monitors were not working when using a displayport cable. Exactly what I was thinking, that in theory it should work and there’s no reason it should not but I have not found anyone who has attempted this.

I still have my original GPU which was an upgrade via Apple. It’s an ATI Radeon HD 4870. Trying to do as much research as possible before contemplating the firmware upgrade. I use this computer quite a bit for work so don’t want to end up with a very large cheese grater that does nothing.

My Boot ROM version is MP41.0081.B07. Thanks for responding and any insight/advice is welcome and much appreciated! Happy Friday!

Stu -

ive tried it over 10 times. but nothing’s changed…. ㅜㅜ i have G120 but wired original apple keyboard. Do i need original apple keyboard to succeed this procedure?!?!?!??! thanx.

f22lingu - Reply

Anyone know if the AMD Radeon HD 7950 is compatible with this approach?

chris - Reply

I have the same problem as mented before, I followed the instructions. I have an early 2009 MacPro. Firmware Tool.app would not open from the desktop of from the drop down menu. Prompt stated that the “…Fiirmware Tool.app could not be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.” Any suggestions on how to overcome this? Rightclick does the same,: refuse to open

Jan Schoen - Reply

A couple years ago I bought what I thought was a 2012 5,1 machine, but it’s apparently a flashed 2009 model (About this Mac says mid 2009, and system information lists the Model Identifier as MacPro5,1, Boot ROM MP51.007F.B03). The machine will not upgrade past OS 10.10, or at least the App Store won’t serve me the upgrade files). I’m wondering if there’s any benefit to trying this procedure. Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance

David - Reply

Ihr seid die Besten!!!

Apple würde ohne euch nur halb soviel Spaß machen.

Alex - Reply

I have a PCI-E card for Apogee audio that worked before and now doesn’t. Also noticed that 2 of the ram slots stopped working.? do I need to go back, remove the cards, re upgrade, then put back everything,, also a 5 terabyte drive won’t reinitialize? Thanks

Scot Reynolds - Reply

I’m having an issue that I don’t see mentioned. I have an ‘09 I’ve tried this process several times and it doesn’t seems to want to work. I downloaded the EFI update and the firmware tool. I have followed all the instructions every time but I still have a 4,1 computer. I get to the restart after the blinking power light and tone. It seems like the grey screen flashes for just a second but then stops then restarts and when the computer is back on fully it’s still a 4,1. Anyone have an ideas?

Tyler Hoover - Reply

Okay so I got no answers but I ended up figuring out myself. I realized that my computer needed the 1.4 EFI update before it could get the 1.5 EFI update provided here for the tool to work and everything to switch over to the 5,1

Tyler Hoover -

I’ve upgraded. Few important things.

1) It must be latest EFI 1.4 on Mac Pro 4.1. Was 1.3. Have to upgrade first.

2) Literaly no cards (PCI) and devices other than Apple common. USB 3.0 card from Unitek forced upgrade to fail. Unmounted, no problem.

3) After procedure have to reset PRAM (cmd+alt+P+R on restart). Without this 1333 MHz RAM modules are recognized as 1066 MHz

woody - Reply

Excellent work! I read through other instructions for upgrading the firmware, none were anywhere near this good. Thank you!

Derek R Orrell - Reply

Thanks for the Tutorial. 2 Things:

You MUST update to El Capitan, else you don’t get csrutil!

Second: i had my user on a second hard disk mounted as /Users/myuser. That won’t work too. You need a User Account on the main / OS HD.

j.weber - Reply

I use a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2048 MB, I understand that with this GPU i wont be able to upgrade the firmware of my mac pro 4.1 that was upgraded to 5.1, right now my SMC Version is the 1.39f5 that don’t allow me to install high sierra.

I have a old Apple ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT, can I use this GPU to upgrade my firmware?

izidrew - Reply

Great job Bro. I have the video card: Quadro 4000 2GB GDDR5 for mac. Can I upgrade my Mac Pro 4.1 to 5.1???? Will the video card work after installing the Sierra or High Sierra? Thanks

DinDin na Net - Reply

I just completed the firmware upgrade from 4,1 to 5,1 can I upgrade to a higher OS than 10.11.6?

Are there other firmware upgrades that my MacPro early 2009 3.33MHz can successfully do?

Tyrone Blair - Reply

Hallo!

Ich habe ein Mac Pro 5.1 2,8 Ghz

Aty 5770 und Nvidia GTX 660.

Als ich Mojave installieren wollte, hatte ich ein Firmware Update gemacht. Statt 140.0.0, steht dort noch immer 138.0.0. Wie komme ich auf 140.0.0?

music-production - Reply

hi there please guys a little help here. i have that mac pro 2009 with original graphics card and every thing running os x 10.6.0 (snow leopard)

i have tried almost all the youtube tutorials on how to upgrade and flash firmware 4.1 to 5.1 but so far its been impossible.

one thing i have not been able to do on this mac is disable ISP, i have tried all the commands that may take me to the utility boot up screen by pressing command R and other combinations but nothing.

Then i heard a guy on YT that says before os x el capitan you dont need to do this, but i have a feeling he is wrong. still tried that way but nothing.

other guy said the command R combination on 10.6.0 is differerent back then if you want to get into the utility window up on boot up!, but could not fine a command combination before 10.6.0 to bring the utility window.

PLEASE I NEED TO DISABLE ISP BUT CANT HELPPPPP!!!!!!! .

I WILL really appreciate any help or ideas guys thank you very much. from London

Frank - Reply

Hi Frank,

The guy on YouTube is correct, System Integrity Protection (SIP) was a feature introduced in 2015 with El Capitan (v 10.11). I don’t remember exactly when the recovery partition came into existence, but I know that 10.6 definitely does not have it. What I would recommend is upgrading via Software Update to 10.6.8, and then once you have access the Mac App Store you should be able to get the last “supported” version of macOS, which would be El Capitan. [http://Get El Capitan|This link here] should let you download it from the Mac App Store.

Once you have El Capitan installed you should be able to follow the tutorial.

Josh Calvetti -

thank you #Josh Calvetti i will try your suggestion will try to download El capitan via software update ( i hOpe its still available for download , if not i will have to find it somewhere else ) and i guess once i install it, recovery partition will come into existence allowing me to disable ISP , fingers crossed cheers.

Frank -

Hi Josh

I’ve read that the firmware upgrade can’t be done in El Capitan, and that the os needs to be dropped to a previous version. Is that the case? If so , why is that?

Mahombi

Terry Lott - Reply

No, it can definitely be done in El Capitan - that’s how I’ve done it a few times now. You just have to disable SIP with El Capitan, but the directions for that are in the first few steps. Hope it helps!

Josh Calvetti -

hi terry, I have seen a guy on YT do the firmware upgrade on Yosemite beacuse he could not do it on El capitan he said and worked ( will pass u the link should i find it ) i guess you should give it a go and see what happends, you have nothing to lose. ( Am not saying Josh is wrong by any means )

Now I have hit another wall, if u guys can help me…. am upgrading to El capitan from snow leopard to disable ISP to then again upgrade to sierra o mojave but when am installing el capitan i get a message saying ( THIS INSTALL COPY OF EL CAPITAN CANT BE VERIFIED, IT MAY BE CORRUPTED OR TAMPARED WITH DURING DOWNLOAD) . I HAVE DOWNloaded El capitan from www.appledollars.com and did a bootable usb drive TO load from but keep getting that message! HELPPPPP

Frank -

hello guys : is it possible to clone my SSD running on el capitan on a macbook pro mid 2010 13 inch to install it on my 2009 mac pro 4,1 ??? the reason is that i would like to upgrade my graphics card , processor and ram???? instead of going hitting a wall every time i try to do it manually like in this tuttorial which i cant ( something always goes wrong and not able to install ) and then throw in the compatible components i have just mention thank you !!!!!

Frank - Reply

You should be able to clone that, yeah. I’ve done it going the opposite way before with no real issues.

Josh Calvetti -

I just recently bought 128GB of DDR3 ECC 1066 MHz RAM, if I update the firmware to 5.1 will I have any issue with the RAM? Also, if I update the CPU will I be able to still use the RAM?

eeanwei - Reply

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