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Old Apr 1, 2013, 02:59 AM   #1
GraniteTheWolf
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Building A 2008 Mac Pro From Scratch!

Also a little introduction.

I grew up on apple computers in elementary school, using old g3 imacs and g4s. I hated them at the time (Probably because they made me think of school and homework? LOL) but something has drawn me back to them. I cant explain it but it happened as soon as Leopard came out.

Currently I own this machine:


its a 2006 Mac Pro 1,1 with 9 gigs of ram, my gfx card out of my gaming rig, and also the hard drives out of my gaming rig. I thought I would be happy with it but I'm not.
The fact that its got a 32 bit efi that can run a 64 bit system but not fully boot from it kills it for me! I also dont like the idea of having to use a bootloader. I want ML and Windows 7 64 bit to run natively instead of what im using now which is Lion, and windows 7 32bit with a rampatch unlocking full use of the ram I have in it.

To cut to the chase I am going to cannibalize this unit to build a like new 2008 unit. I have already done some digging and its been done, a 2008 logic board fits in any 2006-2008 case, can use any 2006-2008 psu, can also use the ram and risers from any 2006-2008 machine.

I have already purchased a brand new 2008 case, and a 2008 memory cage with a rear fan included.

The New Case, still covered in protective stickers!:

I should have the new case in Thursday, April 4th according to shipping!

When I am done, I will have a 2008 mac pro built from good used/new parts baught off ebay. I have totalled it up and it will cost me around $450 for everything I need to buy, which isnt much. I didnt have to buy a brand new case but I wanted one as my current 2006 mac pro case is a bit rough... I'm also a stickler for my electronics to be in mint condition and clean...

Here is my current machine being tested before I moved my Gtx 570 into it and put it under my desk for full time use:


I also have it flashed to EFI 2,1 because I had planned to put dual Xeon 5350's in it. That plan obviously changed for bigger & better.

Parts I still need to get to finish the 2008 build:
2008 Mac Pro Logic Board
Cpus for said logic board
heatsinks for cpus (Not a necessity as I read I can reuse my 1,1 cpu heatsinks, but I want them anyway)
Northbridge Heatsink

Last edited by GraniteTheWolf; Apr 3, 2013 at 10:13 AM.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 03:28 AM   #2
PowerPCMacMan
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I have something better for you... How about building a 4,1 Mac Pro, or 2009 Mac Pro? I have what you need.. 2009 back plane board and processor board.. Let me know if you are interested.. The boards are from my 2009 mac pro which I replaced with genuine 2010 boards..
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 03:30 AM   #3
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I have something better for you... How about building a 4,1 Mac Pro, or 2009 Mac Pro? I have what you need.. 2009 back plane board and processor board.. Let me know if you are interested.. The boards are from my 2009 mac pro which I replaced with genuine 2010 boards..
Sorry but I already have money invested in the 2008 build, thanks for the offer though. I also have to (or want to) keep this in a reasonable budget. I dont think a 2009 logic board will set up properly in a 2008 case since they changed drastically that year.
I know a lot of parts between 2006-2008 are interchangeable. if I went to 2009+ I would have to gather together a lot more then what I have to work with currently and in the end it would end up costing way more.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 04:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by PowerPCMacMan View Post
I have something better for you... How about building a 4,1 Mac Pro, or 2009 Mac Pro? I have what you need.. 2009 back plane board and processor board.. Let me know if you are interested.. The boards are from my 2009 mac pro which I replaced with genuine 2010 boards..
is it a dual processor board or single?
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 04:26 AM   #5
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is it a dual processor board or single?
Please keep my thread on topic and discuss that in private with him elsewhere.

I'm sure this forum has a buyers/sellers section for things like this. I'd think anyway! This forum seems quite large haha.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 04:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GraniteTheWolf View Post
Please keep my thread on topic and discuss that in private with him elsewhere.

I'm sure this forum has a buyers/sellers section for things like this. I'd think anyway! This forum seems quite large haha.
it does and you thread is on topic..
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 04:33 AM   #7
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is it a dual processor board or single?
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 11:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GraniteTheWolf View Post
Please keep my thread on topic and discuss that in private with him elsewhere.

I'm sure this forum has a buyers/sellers section for things like this. I'd think anyway! This forum seems quite large haha.
best to leave this kind of thing to the mods and just carry on
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 06:13 PM   #9
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Congrats!!!
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 06:25 PM   #10
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Congrats!!!
Thanks! Looking forward to the nice upgrade with a small investment.

Whats better is I already have a friend who wants to by the remaining guts from my 2006 mac pro here to rebuild for himself.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 06:30 PM   #11
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The ram for the 2008 mac pro's use faster ram than the 2006 mac pros. 800 vs 667.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 06:33 PM   #12
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The ram for the 2008 mac pro's use faster ram than the 2006 mac pros. 800 vs 667.
They do, but the 2008 mac pro can run my 667 ram just fine. Just means any 800 ghz ram I stuck in it will be downclocked to match the 667 mhz ram.

Ram is expensive so ill just be happy with what I got. Can always get full 800mhz ram later on as deals come by!
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 06:55 PM   #13
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Besides..

Not much difference between 800 and 667, at least to the naked eye. Where you might see it would be in folding applications, scientific calculations and number crunching + video editing.. for normal use, you will never see it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GraniteTheWolf View Post
They do, but the 2008 mac pro can run my 667 ram just fine. Just means any 800 ghz ram I stuck in it will be downclocked to match the 667 mhz ram.

Ram is expensive so ill just be happy with what I got. Can always get full 800mhz ram later on as deals come by!
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 08:09 PM   #14
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Not much difference between 800 and 667, at least to the naked eye. Where you might see it would be in folding applications, scientific calculations and number crunching + video editing.. for normal use, you will never see it.
I do use final cut pro X a bit, but even on my 1,1 as it sits now its plenty tolerable. Should be a bit of a night and day difference when my 3,1 is built.

Its low on my priority list until after my system is built and running
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 04:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by GraniteTheWolf View Post
Its low on my priority list until after my system is built and running
That's understandable. PowerPCMacMan has it right. I don't remember the numbers exactly just now but the difference in throughput between the two is like 4800MB/s vs 3800MB/s or something like that - with an environment optimized just for testing this. Under more normal system loads you typically end up getting 3.8GB/s vs 3.2GB/s or something around that. That's like RAW throughput tho. Most applications get about 2/3rds of that at most however so it ends up being more like 2.5GB/s vs 2.2GB/s and as is being said, that extra 300MB/s isn't enough to notice unless the application you're using spends all its time filling massive chunks or RAM at processor speeds only to deallocate it and do it again - over and over and over. CPU based OpenGL?

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Old Apr 2, 2013, 07:43 AM   #16
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The rest of the architecture like the faster and larger cache on the 3,1 CPUs more is much more important than memory clock... Latency wise FB-DIMMs are "slow" anyway, independent of the data rate.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 02:07 PM   #17
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Good to see you on here granite! You have done plenty of research and I can't wait to see how the project comes along.
Some of the guys on this forum are geniuses (not bar) so any issues someone will be able to help.
If you can keep it within budget ill be tempted to do the same myself!
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 03:32 PM   #18
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Good to see you on here granite! You have done plenty of research and I can't wait to see how the project comes along.
Some of the guys on this forum are geniuses (not bar) so any issues someone will be able to help.
If you can keep it within budget ill be tempted to do the same myself!
Hey, glad to see you have an account here on MacRumors

Some of my research came from tidbits of information I found between this forum and a couple of the other mac forums out there.
It seems like its not a common build due to the difficulty as its a lot more involved then a cpu upgrade.

It all comes down to if your comfortable working on computers. For instance I replaced my optical drive in my 2009 macbook on my own. Took maybe half an hour, careful organization, and good instruction following skills (yay for iFixIt :3 )
I grew up building my own custom desktops, working on laptops, and just in general not really afraid to dig into electronics. I've already had my 2006 mac pro almost completely apart for a dusting when I first got it. Took it apart without even having to look up a guide. All I can say is Apple did a wonderful job designing it!

As for my budget... I may stretch it a bit and get a few things I dont need. In the end I can lower my overall cost by having my 1,1 mostly intact so I can sell it for more.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 03:58 PM   #19
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That's understandable. PowerPCMacMan has it right. I don't remember the numbers exactly just now but the difference in throughput between the two is like 4800MB/s vs 3800MB/s or something like that - with an environment optimized just for testing this. Under more normal system loads you typically end up getting 3.8GB/s vs 3.2GB/s or something around that. That's like RAW throughput tho. Most applications get about 2/3rds of that at most however so it ends up being more like 2.5GB/s vs 2.2GB/s and as is being said, that extra 300MB/s isn't enough to notice unless the application you're using spends all its time filling massive chunks or RAM at processor speeds only to deallocate it and do it again - over and over and over. CPU based OpenGL?
A lot of that depends on just how many cores you are trying to feed. Intel was bumping the bus/memory speeds on those machines because the four, and especially eight core setups were starved for memory bandwidth. That's why the bus was so dramatically redesigned on the i series processors (which started in the 2009 Mac Pros.)

So if you're only using a few cores, not likely to matter. But the more you use things like FCPX that are going to strain more and more of the cores, the more you need that extra memory bandwidth.

I had someone from Intel once tell me that buying a Core 2 Quad was almost useless because of the bus constraints.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 04:34 PM   #20
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Hey, glad to see you have an account here on MacRumors

Some of my research came from tidbits of information I found between this forum and a couple of the other mac forums out there.
It seems like its not a common build due to the difficulty as its a lot more involved then a cpu upgrade.

It all comes down to if your comfortable working on computers. For instance I replaced my optical drive in my 2009 macbook on my own. Took maybe half an hour, careful organization, and good instruction following skills (yay for iFixIt :3 )
I grew up building my own custom desktops, working on laptops, and just in general not really afraid to dig into electronics. I've already had my 2006 mac pro almost completely apart for a dusting when I first got it. Took it apart without even having to look up a guide. All I can say is Apple did a wonderful job designing it!

As for my budget... I may stretch it a bit and get a few things I dont need. In the end I can lower my overall cost by having my 1,1 mostly intact so I can sell it for more.
It's not difficult, I did same thing in 2011 (it was the computer I sold to build my first hack). I got the board reasonably cheap and the processors for about $150, spent about an hour and a half for the board transplant and all was well. People don't do it IMHO because there is little benefit, there is more now than then but the same still holds true.

It'll be a fun little project and get you into a 3,1 for $400ish..
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 04:40 PM   #21
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It's not difficult, I did same thing in 2011 (it was the computer I sold to build my first hack). I got the board reasonably cheap and the processors for about $150, spent about an hour and a half for the board transplant and all was well. People don't do it IMHO because there is little benefit, there is more now than then but the same still holds true.

It'll be a fun little project and get you into a 3,1 for $400ish..
I agree, its not hard. To me its no harder then replacing the motherboard in a regular desktop. To guys like us its not very hard at all, but to others it could seem daunting or they just wouldn't be comfortable with doing it

Yeah it should be fun, I find it enjoyable putting a new desktop together. Even though this one isn't "new", it will have plenty of power for what I'll ever need.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 04:42 PM   #22
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I agree, its not hard. To me its no harder then replacing the motherboard in a regular desktop. To guys like us its not very hard at all, but to others it could seem daunting or they just wouldn't be comfortable with doing it

Yeah it should be fun, I find it enjoyable putting a new desktop together. Even though this one isn't "new", it will have plenty of power for what I'll ever need.
It's quite a bit different than a regular PC desktop motherboard. Where have you seen a PC desktop motherboard that has riser boards for the CPU's? Still not rocket surgery, but a bit more complicated than replacing a regular PC desktop mobo.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 04:45 PM   #23
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It's quite a bit different than a regular PC desktop motherboard. Where have you seen a PC desktop motherboard that has riser boards for the CPU's? Still not rocket surgery, but a bit more complicated than replacing a regular PC desktop mobo.
Different? Yes.
Harder? Not one bit

The risers are awesome! Things like that and the hard drive bays make it easier to get down to the bare logic board.

Another bit of my past experience with mac desktops:
I had a PowerMac G5 2.0 Dual CPU desktop with bad processors. I replaced the logic board first thinking that was the issue and it still wasent working right. Replaced the processors and then it was a solid system.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 05:32 PM   #24
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A lot of that depends on just how many cores you are trying to feed. Intel was bumping the bus/memory speeds on those machines because the four, and especially eight core setups were starved for memory bandwidth. That's why the bus was so dramatically redesigned on the i series processors (which started in the 2009 Mac Pros.)

So if you're only using a few cores, not likely to matter. But the more you use things like FCPX that are going to strain more and more of the cores, the more you need that extra memory bandwidth.

I had someone from Intel once tell me that buying a Core 2 Quad was almost useless because of the bus constraints.
Yup... very true. And thanks!
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Old Apr 3, 2013, 01:02 PM   #25
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First part arrived today! Memory cage and rear fan came a day early, it was supposed to be in tomorrow with the case. Oh well!

To my surprise it came with protective plastic on most of it which leads me to believe it is brand new overstock, just like the case I ordered. Good deal! Pealed off the plastic and took a pic.
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