updated 11:05 am EDT, Sat July 3, 2010
iMac and Mac Pro to get new GPUs soon
A new firmware discovery in the build of Mac OS X 10.6.4 for the new Mac mini, as well as a set of leaked NVIDIA drivers, has suggested that Macs will have Radeon HD 5000 and GeForce 400 graphics in the near future. The ATI-oriented code doesn't identify any chipsets by name but does at least appear to run an aftermarket Radeon HD 5870 on a basic level through some extra work. Others trying to use a Radeon HD 5770, and Mobility Radeon HD chipsets, aren't having the same success.
The leaked NVIDIA software is more specific and references the high-end GeForce GTX 480 by name. Some have successfully run third-party cards as well with hardware acceleration, although it shows up as "NVIDIA Graphics Card" in System Profiler.
Apple has regularly included pre-release graphics drivers with interim or pre-release Mac OS X builds, and the new code likely points to desktop Mac updates coming relatively shortly. Based on Apple's recent desktop update strategy, the Radeon HD 5000 is most likely to find its way into iMacs and may have an option in the Mac Pro. GeForce 400 cards are currently too power-hungry for the iMac but could be used in the Mac Pro.