KB-60602 Using the Gigabyte Thunderbolt 3 Card in a Mac Pro

Thunderbolt on the Classic Mac Pro

The first-generation Mac Pro (2006-2012) does not include a thunderbolt controller. It includes a USB 2.0 bus and Firewire (400 or 800). Thunderbolt 10GB/s was released in 2011 and was first included in Apple computers that year, with drivers for Thunderbolt being added to Mac OS versions 10.6 Snow Leopard and later.

The Gigabyte Titan Ridge PCIe expansion card is designed to add Thunderbolt 3 connectivity to certain Gigabyte motherboards. The card is designed to interface via both PCIe and included Thunderbolt and USB header cables.

Since Mac OS includes Thunderbolt drivers and the Mac Pro is able to interface with the add in card via PCIe, the Gigabyte Titan Ridge can operate in a first-generation Mac Pro. This was first tried in 2019 by using the dual-boot method: the Mac Pro initially needed to be booted into Windows, where the Thunderbolt card’s (and any device) drivers were loaded, and the card was initialised. Then, rebooting into Mac OS while not powering off kept the Thunderbolt card initialised. When Mac OS loaded, the built in Thunderbolt drivers were able to interface properly with the card, allowing for Thunderbolt on the first-generation Mac Pro. This method still works.

An improvement to this method was made by flashing a modified firmware onto the Gigabyte PCIe card, in addition to installing OpenCore on the Mac Pro. OpenCore allows for additional kernel extensions, patches and drivers to be loaded before Mac OS. The flashed firmware on the PCIe card can allow Mac OS to recognise the card and initialise it without needing windows to do so first, and OpenCore can load a patch to enable hot-plugging devices to the Thunderbolt ports – that is, allowing devices to be connected and disconnected while the Mac Pro is on.

Known Working Devices

Not all Thunderbolt devices have been tested with the Gigabyte Titan Ridge in a Mac Pro. Some are known to work, others are known not to work. Thunderbolt 1 devices are not reliably compatible (Thunderbolt 2 and 3 are more likely to work). USB connectivity through the USB C ports is available, however only USB 3 devices will operate, as the card uses a USB 2.0 passthrough header to provide USB 2.0 and 1.x support.

Working Devices

Non-Working Devies

Belkin Thunderbolt 1 Dock

Slate VRS8

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Mini

Drobo (storage)

Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Promise Pegasus R6

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock

Presonus Quantum

CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Lynx Aurora 16

Sonnet ECHO Express SE PCIe Expansion Bay


Kanex USB3


Akitio Node Pro Thunderbolt 3


East Thunderbolt Adapter


External drives (Some need reboot)


LaCie TB1 drives (with Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter)


Luna (with newest driver)


Honeywell USB-C Dock




Blackmagic Mini Monitor


Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt


Apogee Element 46


Lynx Aurora


Blackmagic UltraStudio Minirecorder


Focusrite Clarett 8Pre [X]


Discreet 8 (via USB-C)


Antelope Orion 32+ (via USB-C)




Presonus (does NOT work with Quantum Series)


DiGiGrid IOS




Blackmagic Mini Monitor


Motu 828es


MOTU 828mk2 Hybrid Audio Interface






Connecting an Apple Thunderbolt Display

The Thunderbolt 3 ports on the Gigabyte PCIe card can support display output via DisplayPort, as standard in Thunderbolt ports. To do so, you will need to connect pass-through cables between the graphics card and the DisplayPort in ports on the Gigabyte PCIe card.


Rebooting to Initialise Devices

Some of the additional functionality of Thunderbolt displays (display speakers, USB ports) require the Mac Pro to be restarted to fully work – similar to the Windows boot method, some devices may need the Mac to be rebooted for everything to fully initialise. If a device doesn’t work at first, try rebooting (while keeping the Mac powered up).

Using the Thunderbolt ports to connect Firewire devices

While the Mac Pro already has Firewire ports to use, you may want to connect Firewire devices to the Thunderbolt ports via adapters. This is possible, however you may need to reboot the Mac Pro for the devices to initialise.

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