HTC Vive on 2012 Mac Pro

UPDATE:  If you read nothing else i’ve posted, here is the trick i keep forgetting.


The number one thing i keep forgetting when i’ve had to reinstall etc.. is to enable the beta mode. Go to library -> tools -> SteamVR -> properties -> BETAS -> select the beta and then hit close. That has allowed me to run room setup, play blobby tennis, etc…

You must enable beta access.  You don’t need a code, just click on that box and close the window and most of your headaches will go away.   (read about it here)

You read that right, I’m writing to crow about my epic adventure success setting up an HTC Vive headset with room scale on a 2012 5,1 Mac Pro, WITHOUT running bootcamp or any other windoze emulator.   Of course that said, there is basically only one game on Steam (Blobby Tennis) and supposedly a binary for QuiRV out there in Reddit space, but hey, i’ll take it!

The success was not without stumbles/headaches/pitfalls and chaos factor (see previous post about High Sierra).

Lets start at the beginning.   Apple has been teasing out its interest and support for things of the VR nature for the past several months.  Prior to this, the only way I could watch my 360 videos on computer (either after they’d been edited via GoPro Viewer or more recently whilst stitching in APV 3.0) was being patient with a legacy Oculus DK2.  Hey, don’t laugh, it totally worked.  Sadly that was the only thing the DK2 was useful for on my system.

Just get a PC?  Silence! Blasphemy! (of course that still may happen but I’m fighting it every step of way out of principle)

The thing is, i’m not a gamer by choice.  I get nothing done if i start, it doesn’t matter the game, it is just my personality, i can play tetris for days, blobby tennis for an hour, but hey, at least i know myself…

I’m a video editor, and more and more these days a 360 video editor.  So the idea of Final Cut Pro 10.4 coming out with HTC Vive support via High Sierra and Steam made me grin from ear to ear.  I knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, legacy hardware and all, but I was pretty sure it would be possible now that Apple is officially supporting Nvidia GPU’s (again) <beach boys song playing in my head here>

Google. click click. google. different boolean search string. click click. google. uh… anybody?  All the articles I read go on about boot camp, or eGPUs,  people lusting after impending hardware releases, or ‘i saw a demo…’

Never one to let a lack of information get in the way of a potentially bad idea, I put in my order (after a week or two of deliberation and tormenting my friends about which GPU to get) for an ASUS GTX 1070 ti  (no, not even one of the GPU’s that has been in use for a while – consider this foreshadowing).   With my birthday coming up, I decided to make life easy “I would like an HTC vive for my birthday, no random stuff, i have enough stuff, lets go with something i can use for work”.

I strategically planned to have the Nvidia card arrive a bit ahead of the Vive, so i could get it installed and system debugged to the best of my ability.  (remember this is right on the heels of the epic High Sierra debacle, so I’m currently rather gun shy when it comes to adding anything new to a formerly rock stable system).   Thank goodness.  I may not have the intelligence to pay attention to the lack of reports on the internet but at least I have the good sense to give myself some flail time.

I used all that time and then some.  First the drivers.  It’s not as easy as Apple would like you to believe.  No, it was not plug and play in the slightest.  It may have tried to be, but high sierra has a new way of protecting itself.  In Security you actually need to approve the dev, it doesn’t necessarily inform you of this, and if you don’t go do that, and keep trying to upload it, you get a busted or corrupted or whatever installation and will actually need to go backwards and uninstall the Nvidia driver manager etc.  Your penance if you don’t pay attention to this is suffering another round of boot loop and kernel panic.  AIiiiiiiii.

Do not pass go, remove Nvidia driver from your system, put your old GPU back in, boot your system back up with a screen and start sorting stuff out.

At this point you may have a helpful friend who encourages some hackintosh stuff.  If you don’t have a Hackintosh, do not do this (its well documented stuff on the page that has shortcut to the assorted driver builds for Sierra and High Sierra, so it looks like plausible solutions, but just don’t.

OK, securities sorted, Nvidia driver manager and CUDA uninstalled and reinstalled.  No more kernel panic.  No more boot loop.  Proper build of High Sierra Nvidia Driver downloaded and installed.

NOW you can reinstall your 1070ti (or whatever little gem you picked up). For powering the 1070ti in a 5,1 2012 cheese grater mac pro, at very least you will need a mini 6 pin to 8 pin cable.   This seems to work fine, i have not had any power or overheating crashes, but just in case that happens once i really start pushing it a bit, I’ve got a dual mini 6pin to 8 pin on its way from china.

BOOT time!  waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…. hmm. screen still black. did i hear the startup chime?  i thought so… but… waiting…. bad feeling in pit of stomach starting…. waiting…. finger. inching. towards. power. button… pause… < must not touch, must be patient> flickerclick… OH! the monitors! OH HELL YES A LOGIN SCREEN!

Steam: loaded

SteamVR: loaded

Final Cut X 10.4: loaded

Vive: all systems mostly go (the firmware update is struggling but…)

Results/impressions after 2 days with the whole shebang assembled…

So, a 1070ti on a mid 2012 5,1 Mac Pro does not yet get to enjoy a boot screen despite the ‘mac support for Nvidia’.   Works like a champ, plays blobby tennis on Steam.  A bit glitchy on the 360 viewer option in FCP 10.4, but functional, and i’m sure it will improve as the next iterations arrive.  Hopefully mac version of SteamVR will get better and allow firmware updates for the Vive.  For regular editing, FCPX seems smoking fast, and by the usage data from the GPU via iStat appropriately utilizing the 1070ti.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: