How To: Installing an Airport Extreme Card in an Intel Mac Pro

Posted on 18 Jul ’07 by Earl

Installing an Apple Airport Extreme Card in a Intel Mac Pro is not considered by Apple to be a user installed option so you’ll find little or no instructional help from Apple.

It’s not a job for the timid.  You’ll need a steady hand and patience.  It will also help if you have small fingers. It’s difficult mainly due to the cramped space and small parts involved.

I purchased my intel Mac Pro from Apple as a refurbished unit and it didn’t have the 802.11b/g/n Airport Extreme Card installed as a factory option.  I wanted this capability, so I purchased a compatible Airport Extreme (802.11n) from FastMac and did it myself.

Disclaimer: Here’s the procedures I followed.  Use them at your own risk.  It worked for me but I’m not responsible for any damages you might do to your computer.

Instructions for Installing a Airport Extreme Card in an Intel Mac Pro:

1. Lift the rear latch and remove the side panel of the Mac Pro.

2. Place the Mac Pro on it’s side on a desk or workbench where you can have easy access.  Note the location where the new Airport Extreme Card will be installed.

200707181133

3. Remove hard drive bays 1 & 2 to give yourself some extra room. The latch in the back that was used to remove the side panel will have to remained released to remove the drives bays.  The drive bays pull straight out once this latch is released.

200707181136

4. Note the mounting points for the Airport Extreme Card. The card slot is spring loaded so when you put the card in the rear of the card will be elevated above the two rear mounting tabs.

200707181138

5. Gently push the Airport Extreme Card into the mounting slot leaving the rear slightly elevated.

200707181141

6. Carefully press down the rear of the card and insert the two mounting screws.  A small magnetic screwdriver may be of help here.  Locate the two WiFi antenna leads stored in the area above the cards mounting location and attached them to the two antenna post on the card.  There will also be a bluetooth antenna lead in that same area.  Inserting these screws and attaching the antenna leads is the most difficult part of this install due to the limited space and the small size of the parts involved.  Be patience and careful not to force things.

200707181147

7. Slide the two hard drive bays back into their correct slots.  Double check everything and remount the side panel.

200707181150

8. Reconnect the Mac Pro to the keyboard, mouse, monitor and network and boot.  On the Apple Menu check “About this Mac” to confirm that the Airport Extreme card is being recognized.

200707181154

9.  Go to System Preferenced/Network and configure your new Airport Extreme card.

10.  Download and install the Airport Extreme Enabler from Apple in order to use the card in 802.11n mode.  Reboot you Mac Pro.

11. You’re finished!  Enjoy your new WiFi capabilities.

What Others Are Saying

  1. RD 29 Jan ’13 at 5:37 pm

    Hey guys. This is an awesome thread, thanks for starting it!

    Anyways I need to purchase two cards for two Mac Pros. I looked on FastMac and the 802.11n card is $89.99 http://store.fastmac.com/product_info.php?cPath=10_11_39&products_id=207. Amazon has the card for $34.99 http://www.amazon.com/Apple-AirPort-Extreme-Card-Mac/dp/tech-data/B003U61UIM/ref=de_a_smtd

    Any difference in these?

    Also where do wires 1,2,3 come from? Do they already exist in the tower or do they come with the card?

  2. Nacho 5 Feb ’13 at 12:07 pm

    Hi and sorry for my bad english….

    I have been looking for information about a personal install of the Airpot Extreme 802.1.1.n card on my mac pro cuad core 2008. Information in this website it´s good but it´s not clear the cable positien. Looking for aditional information i found this tutorial:

    http://guides.macrumors.com/Adding_Bluetooth_and_Wireless_to_a_Mac_Pro

    Here you´ll find all the info about the cable configuration and i found all the solutions to my problems.

    Mini card running and no problems with bluetooth. 20$ ebay… Whow!

    Best,

    Nacho.

    • Wolfman 5 Feb ’13 at 1:41 pm

      WOW.
      The macrumors guide you are referring to is utter nonsense (re. the bluetooth cable). Keep in mind that the bluetooth antenna for the 2006-2008 models separate from the WiFi antenna and is hidden behind the grey plastic frame surrounding the PCI express slots (the one that shows the serial numbers).
      This is the one you need to use the BT reception. and it will work fine

      The antenna connectors (1,2,3) all lead to the wifi antenna array in the bottom of the case (hidden by the grey model label underneath the mac).
      Generally #1 goes to the bottom and #3 or #2 goes to the top of the card. The wifi performance may vary depending on the chosen WiFi card model and the type of network G versus N and I would swap the 2 cables to test for best signal.

    • Simon 4 Aug ’13 at 7:43 am

      That was great, its the only helpful tutorial I found on the internet!!! Thanks I just installed my airport card with this help and made a dodgy video at the same time lol

  3. Neo 22 Feb ’13 at 2:04 am

    Thank’s a lot brother…

  4. Thom Bateman 23 Feb ’13 at 11:39 am

    This is really helpful thanks guys – anyone know which wires I should connect if my Airport Express card has 3 antenna slots (labelled 0,1,2 from top to bottom)?

    • Fontaine 16 Jan ’14 at 10:14 am

      Hello, did you find at last how to connect your card with 0, 1, 2 connectors, withs the 3 wifi cables 1, 2, 3 ?
      I’ve just installed an airport card, disconnect the BT cable, according to someone on a website, ready to connect my Bluetooth card with cable 1, but now, with three connectors on the card, I don’t know how to proceed …

  5. macuser 13 Jun ’13 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for doing this! life saver.. If you’re like me then you’re a complete novice at this – but take heart I just did it! wihoo
    Note for me, at first I couldn’t find the antennas. They were hidden behind the motherboard. the 3 of them are together and just split separately at the end. the group was actually taped to the top part (so I had to remove the black tape with small pliers to access the antenas). I could barely see the label 3 on one of them, but that was the right group.

    Also, it took me ages to get the antennas clicked into the airport card. You really just have to keep trying. In the end both of them went in pretty smoothly. But now my hands and back are sore from the maneuvering.

    And also, even though I had the magnetic screwdriver, I lost one of the screws. Oops, hope that doesn’t do any damage. Ha. Luckily I had the first one screwed in so it should stay in place.

    Don’t give up – you can do it! I powered everything up and went into network preferences and it works!

    • Earl 14 Jun ’13 at 3:46 pm

      Glad it all worked out for you…good job! Thanks for the feedback/comment!

  6. Curis 15 Jun ’13 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks, This helped me more than the mac support.

    • Earl 17 Jun ’13 at 10:23 am

      Curis, I’m happy you found this article to be of service.

      • Josh 1 Jul ’13 at 12:29 am

        There is only two ports and three cables, which do I plug in??

  7. stanton fernald 31 Jul ’13 at 6:39 am

    Hello/ Thanks for doing this instructional.
    I have a mac pro and there are 3 wires labelled with a tag 1, 2, and 3.
    which ones do I use since there are only t connections to the airport card?

    Thanks

    Stan

  8. Keith 8 Aug ’13 at 12:23 pm

    Here’s a question….What do you do if the labels on the 3 wires have fallen off, such is the case with my recently purchased Mac Pro? I went to remove the 2 HDD’s and located the wires neatly tucked up there but the labels weren’t attached anymore, although still there, they weren’t folded to the wires anymore so when I moved the wires into plain sight they fell off and I have no clue which one is which???

    • Simon 8 Aug ’13 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Keith I hope this helps…I noticed that when I installed my airport card on my mac pro, that the wires were 3 different lengths, so take the longest length and that goes to the bluetooth, then take the shortest length and that will go to the top of the airport card and you know what to do with the last one :-).
      Kind regards Simon

  9. Mark 23 Aug ’13 at 10:04 pm

    Followed your instructions after purchasing an Airport card from Amazon and all went well.
    Up and running in real quick time, so thanks for this helpful blog. The only bummer was waiting three weeks for the card to get to NZ from North Carolina after I forked out $50 for Express (?) delivery!!
    Regards.
    MP

  10. John Fitzgerald 29 Aug ’13 at 6:52 pm

    this worked great. The comment about having tiny fingers is about right – I used an insulated tweezers and a lightly magnetized screwdriver for the screws … and snapping the antennas on was a challenge. Rotating the wire slightly while pushing down seemed to help a little.

    Btw, I ended up reversing the two antenna wires and it doesn’t seem to matter at all – the airport card works great [and didn't need the b/g/n update - guess it installed with software update earlier].

    thanks again for the good post.

  11. Ron in Palm Springs Ca 5 Sep ’13 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for the easy to follow instructions. I had the card up and running in minutes thanks to you.

  12. Angel 20 Nov ’13 at 7:54 pm

    Hi,
    I also had this same problem just yesterday finding the right screws. However, after making some calls to no avail to my local Mac repair guys (they wouldn’t part with screws), I checked my gear closet, where I keep my cameras and other accessories,and found an old internal hard drive. Bingo! I found an uninstalled Seagate that is no longer in operation in my closet and checked the screws (torx) and wouldn’t you know it, the screws were exactly what I needed. Oh yea, Tek Serve in NYC, wouldn’t part with theirs either. Yeah sure! Anyhow, for anyone looking for screws, just check an old hard drive you have lying around that is not in use. It might just have the right screws. -A

  13. JohnD 27 Dec ’13 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for posting! It motivated me to buy one and get rid of the wire running along the floor!

    I bought mine at Amazon, and it came with the screws. I forgot that the card goes in at an angle, so I made it a lot harder trying to get the card in flat. After putting it in the connector and screwing it in flat, I was very lucky to quickly put the “1″ wire in the “1″ slot. I had to call on my daughter to get the “2″ in (after many minutes of trying myself). While I was fussing with 2, I wondered if it might have been easier to not screw it in first, but rather with the card angled up, plug in the antenna wires. That was my next approach if my daughter had not been successful. I did not try it right away because I was afraid of losing the screws.

    In my Mac Pro 2009, the place for installing the wireless card was the left lower corner (front) where the processor/memory tray(s) are, not where the hard drives are. The wireless works great with my Time Capsule (previous generation).

    • Earl 29 Dec ’13 at 5:10 pm

      Hi John, Glad it worked out well for you!

  14. MKL 10 Feb ’14 at 2:25 pm

    These instructions worked very well, especially in step 6 suggesting to be patient and careful not to force things. It did take some gentle finesse to attached the wireless cables but when to connect they are secure.

    • Earl 10 Feb ’14 at 2:28 pm

      Glad you had success with this, Michael. Thanks for the comment.

  15. David 12 Feb ’14 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for this. Very clear and helpful instructions. I had to walk away from the job about four times. Good advice about being patient. I have big hands! :)

    • Earl 13 Feb ’14 at 11:54 am

      David, glad it worked out for you. I remember walking away at least once as well during the process. :-)

  16. Jon 13 Feb ’14 at 10:06 pm

    I can’t find the three cables. I took out the hard drives and got the card in and everything, just digging for the cables to connect to the card?????

    • Earl 14 Feb ’14 at 7:28 am

      Jon, sometimes the cables are stuck under the edge of the motherboard.

  17. Philip LaRock 8 Apr ’14 at 11:15 am

    Just received a Apple MB363Z/A Airport Extreme Wireless Upgrade Kit for my Mac Pro from Amazon. It says “Kit” but came with no mounting screws??? Any idea where I can get screws. The wire connectors have no screws either???

    Help

    Thanks

    • Tony 8 Apr ’14 at 4:46 pm

      Philip, check my comment from December 15, 2011.

      • Philip LaRock 8 Apr ’14 at 6:41 pm

        Tony,
        Perfect…….

        Thanks so much !!……saved me a lot of searching time. Now if I can find the wires we’ll be all set. One fellow said they might be tucked under the mother board….??? We see! I can only find the Bluetooth wire. Haven’t been able to find the other two yet.

        Regards

        Phil

Leave a Reply

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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>