Help. New Mac Pro 3.1 Early 2008

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by PaulhanRipple, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. PaulhanRipple macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    I've just bought a mac pro to replace my iMac. The spec is:
    Mac Pro "Quad Core" 2.8 (Early 2008)
    * Single 2.8 GHz Quad Core 45-nm Intel Xeon E5462 (Harpertown/Penryn) processor
    * 12 GB of 800 MHz DDR2
    * 500 GB + 320 GB (7200 RPM, 8 MB cache) 3Gb/s Serial ATA hard drive
    * Double-layer 16X "SuperDrive"
    * ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
    * OSX Snow leopard

    I'm a complete newbie as far as Mac Pros are concerned. I will be upgrading to Mountain Lion as [I think] I can transfer the license from the iMac which will go back to Leopard when I sell it. I'm going to need two other things straight away:

    1. Display. Ideally I'd like to include sound and iSight which I guess means I'm limited to Apple only and I need to upgrade the video card to one with Mini DisplayPort. Are my assumptions correct? And what is the best value card? I do a little gaming [Diablo] and quite a lot of photo editing but not video editing.

    2. Storage. My iMac' 1 terabyte is already maxed out so I'm going to need to add some disk space. Is it true that I'm limited to 1 terabyte max disks? And is there anything I need to look specifically in disk drives? Is SSD a good idea and if so what make and capacity is the best value?

    Any help or other suggestions will be very gratefully received. Thanks in advance.
  2. PaulhanRipple, Jan 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013

    PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Dell U2711

    I think I'm going to get a Dell U2711 display. Seems to hit the sweet spot between cost and functionality. Will I get the full resolution if I connect the Dell DVI to both DVI ports on the Mac Pro 2600XT card using a Dual-DVI cable?
  3. MRU macrumors demi-god


    Aug 23, 2005
    Dump that 2600XT. It's pure junk in this day and age, especially when hooking up a decent monitor and installing mountain lion.

    And no you can't do what your saying

    That GPU is going to be the bottleneck in almost every task you throw at it in 2013...
  4. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hi there,

    Congrats on the purchase.

    1. Display - what are you using it for? Dell are a good option for cheap good monitors.

    1a). Graphics Card - the ATI 2600XT is the second worst card ever offered for the Mac Pro (going all of the way back to 2006). It struggles to run two 2560x1600 displays, which is just unacceptable these days (even if you only run one HD screen, you can't do much more than web browse).

    The cheapest decent option would be an ATI 4870, or you can go any current gen Nvidia card (see sticky thread in this forum section)

    2. Storage - no storage limit as far as i'm aware. I'm currently running a 2TB WD Black in mine (amongst other drives)

    Other - The rest of your system seems fine :) You can still upgrade the 3,1 Mac Pro's pretty well (SSD/Optical Drives/32GB Ram/Graphics/USB 3 e.t.c....), but I suspect the single processor will be the limiting factor in the end.
  5. PaulhanRipple, Jan 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013

    PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Thanks for this response:

    "And no you can't do what your saying
    'Will I get the full resolution if I connect the Dell DVI to both DVI ports on the Mac Pro 2600XT card using a Dual-DVI cable?'"

    Will this Dual-DVI thing not work at all? Will I not get the screen's full resolution? Or will it just not perform very well? I thought I might do this just to get started and then later replace the 2600o with a 5770 [say].
  6. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    Misunderstanding Dual-DVI in this case. Dual-DVI in this case is extra bandwidth on the cable so can show a larger screen. It isn't running 2 DVI cables into one monitor.

    A regular DVI can run at 1920 x 1200, if running higher then that need a Graphics card with a Dual-DVI interface (single interface twice the bandwidth) rather then Dual DVI ( 2 interfaces ). I have seen some places use DL-DVI (Dual-Link) and SL-DVI (Single-Link) to distinguish between the two easier and leave Dual DVI for where have 2 interfaces.

    I believe however that the 2600XT has 2 x Dual-Link DVI interfaces, so should run your monitor at full res. However you would be better off with a newer card like the 5770 which other people have working in a Mac Pro 2008, due to the perfomance of a 2600XT being poor for such high screen res.
  7. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    My suggestion is to replace the drives and up your memory. The MacPro I use is also a early 2008 and this weekend it jumped from 12GB to 18GB.

    My experience with graphic adapters is not too good. I went with a ATI 5770 (Apple branded from OWC) and I get snow in the blacks on the screen. Am unhappy about that but have not found a solution yet. If you use Nvidia my understanding is you lose the boot screen unless it is flashed. As someone said review the sticky post at the top of the forum or search on Nvidia and MP.

    Welcome to the club. These are great systems for doing day to day work and having fun.
  8. PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Thanks for the explanation. I understand it now, I think.
  9. PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Seagate 2tb

    The Seagate Barracuda 2tb drive seems to be the most cost-effective initial upgrade to the storage in this Mac Pro. As always there are mixed reviews on this forum and the web. Would you spend 50% more and get a WD or a drive from another maker?
  10. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    Seagate did gain bad reputation in last few years. But since they bought Samsung, incorporated some of their technology to Seagate drives. I think that now Seagate HDDs are more safe to buy than few years ago. Good backup strategy and you're good to go IMO.
  11. aqwhiteh macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2009
    I bought a U2711 and then an apple ATI 5770. Aside from video corruption after waking from sleep, which disappears after typing my password so no big deal, I have zero problems. Also have a samsung DVI 27" monitor (so 2 27" displays).
    Also highly recommend a RAM upgrade from OWC, cheap and really enjoyable especially with a win7 and win8 VMs running under Fusion at the same time as a handbrake DVD conversion etc. that and a flash drive upgrade for boot drive and you are ready to rock.
  12. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Interesting, I get this video corruption on my 5870 as well. When waking from sleep my monitor is usually of for 10 seconds or so, then inverted colors show up for one second and then it's all fine. Ocassionaly I get blink of black for half a second when working on the computer.

    It does not really bother me, I just hope it's not a component failure or sth (if it's GPU, no biggie it can be replaced).
  13. Phrygian, Jan 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013

    Phrygian macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2011
    I upgraded my mac pro 3,1 2.8g xeon (i have your model) with a inexpensive AMD Radeon HD 6870 1g for about 180-190 bucks.

    The new mountain lion drivers are quite capable of running many PC bios based graphics cards, and of course PC graphics cards are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. From what i understand, you want to use isight (an apple webcam). Not sure why you are placing this restriction on yourself, but there are other webcam options for mac users that use usb.

    There is a lot of research to do on this subject, but as you said you are a "newbie" and quite frankly, i still consider myself one as well. it took me a long time just to scratch the surface of the graphic card upgrade topic for this model of the MP.

    if you want to not spend a long time researching what graphic card upgrade is best for you, and you are not looking for a card to do intensive graphics rendering with autodesk or intense adobe CS use, the 6870 is a fantastic and inexpensive pick up.

    You mentioned diablo as the game you are playing. I went from around 20-35 fps with the 2600xt on decent settings, to 70-110 fps on maxed settings while playing diablo 3 with the 6870 (with my new ssd as well). As for D3 itself... well i'm not going to digress.

    if you go with this card, remember 2 things.
    1- you will not have a boot screen.
    What does this mean? well it means that the first screen you see will not be visible because your card is using bios rather than EFI. This is frankly, not a big deal to most computer users, and for the most part is not necessary. in the few instances you need to use a boot screen, just switch the GPU back to your old card. You don't even need a boot screen to switch from windows to osx when using bootcamp.

    2-Any remaining issues with the 6870 on osx were resolved with a quick and easy to install ATY_init (just follow the simple instructions) found at this site]. It fixes issues with DVD player and steam programs in os x when using this card.

    Lastly, for the money, you will experience the most noticable gains in performance by purchasing an SSD drive. You have sata II ports on your HD sleds, but you will still see huge gains even with a new SSD installed as your boot drive. Some users are bothered by the bottleneck on performance from sataII (your HD sled connection) to SataIII (the new ssd drives connections) and if that bothers you, you can go for a PCi adapter card for your boot drive. I find it unnecessary for my needs, and again, using a sata III ssd drive is still an enormous performance boost. MY 3,1 boots in about 5-8 seconds with my hard drive. Remember what i was saying about not seeing the apple boot screen when you first turn on a computer using a pc card? well... that boot screen would only be there for about 2-3 seconds anyway.

    So, for where you are at, you can spend 300-400 dollars to significantly improve your new MP, with relative ease.


    no offense to this gentleman but i disagree with his advice. Over the past year, compatible memory for the 3,1 model has literally tripled in price. You have 12g of memory and that should be sufficient, unless you are doing serious graphics or audio work.

    As for the 5770, it is a dated and extremely overpriced card. As this poster mentions, he has not had a good experience.
    The 6870 that i mentioned, is more that twice as fast and powerful than the mac 5770 for example, and costs 70-80 dollars less. When you purchase a "mac compatible" graphics card (i.e. a GPU with EFI rather than bios) you are doubling the price of the card, just because its for mac. Is a bootscreen worth half the power at twice the price? the answer is almost always no.
  14. PaulhanRipple, Jan 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013

    PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Thanks Phyrigian for the comprehensive response. Plenty of research I need to do here.
  15. fridgeymonster3 macrumors 6502


    Jan 28, 2008
    1. Display: Because you are gaming and doing photo editing, your needs for display are different than mine. Therefore, I can comment or suggest a display. However, I currently run my original ATI 2600 and a 5770 to power three 23" LED screens via DVI. Yes the 2600 is pretty crappy and weak, but I've never had problems with it since I bought my MP 2008 in January of 2008. My point is that it's works well enough, but then again I don't game at all. I'd suggest giving it a week and seeing if you want to completely replace it or just add in an additional card or two.

    2. Storage: You are not limited to 1TB drives. I have an assortment of SSDs and HDDs ranging from size 128 GB to 3TB. Everything works fine. You can even install the newer 4TB drives if you'd like I believe. In terms of SSD, I have two Samsung 830s. I use them as my Boot/Apps drive and have my home folder on a 1 TB WD Black. I would suggest getting an SSD as a boot drive. A Samsung 830 128GB is less than $100 and the 256GB model is less than $200 currently. I would get either of those sizes; I'd aim for about 100GB to 200GB for a OSX and Apps drive for future expansion and to leave room to not slow down your SSD as it fills up. You can even buy smaller ones and use Raid 0 to make a larger boot drive, but make sure you have a backup.

    FYI, in terms of storage. The 2008 MP has two ODD_SATA ports on the motherboard that give you more flexibility than the newer models. Therefore, besides the 4 HDD Sata bays, you could add two more SATA HDDs (SSD or platter HDD) in the lower DVD bay, or add an internal SATA blu ray drive, etc. To gain access to those ODD_SATA, you do have to take a few parts out.
  16. alainking macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2012
    Cape Town, South Africa
    Congrats on your purchase.

    I have also just got a Mac Pro 3,1. Mine happens to have the 8800GT card.

    I am running Mountain Lion on it and it is running along really well. As others in this have commented, you can run multiple drives all sizes. I already have 9.5 TB (1TB, 1.5TB, and 2 x 3TB Drives) running along happily in it. SSD will be added later.

    Please post your final decision with regards to your graphic upgrade as I am also considering that upgrade.
  17. PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    I've just got a temporary job [I'm retired really] with a university which gives me access to education pricing from Apple and therefore makes the 5770 slightly more tempting.

    My Dell U2711 bnib from ebay turned up today and, for now, works ok at 2560 x 1440 with the 2600xt
  18. PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    Lot's of threads and info here about graphics cards.

    Somebody suggested [sorry I can't remember who, or find it again] that when the 2013 Mac Pros are released the standard and optional cards will be better than apple sells now but available for similar prices.

    So, on the basis that stuff works sort of OK now, maybe I should hang on for a while before investing in a new card.
  19. PaulhanRipple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    Bedford UK
    After reading many posts on here I finally decided to upgrade the graphics card to an EVGA GTX660 TI. No boot screen but I don't think that I care. Couldn't be happier.

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