Building a Mac Pro from spares?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by taitai, May 9, 2011.

  1. taitai macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2009
    So I've had a long history of building PCs back when OS8 and 9 made owning a Mac a non starter for me, and now that we're a decade into OSX, I've finally not only made the switch but I love every moment of it. Gone from a MacBook, to a Mini, to another MacBook...

    I'm looking to pick up a Mac Book Pro in a few days and I know I'll want a Mac Pro sometime soon.

    But my old PC systems building self from my late teens kicked in.

    A computer is the backplane/motherboard/logic board, case, PSU, CPU, RAM and storage.

    I'm not looking to build a hackintosh here, I'm looking to build all 100% Apple OEM parts(in so far as the logic board, the CPU and the case are all concerned; RAM, HDD/DVDROM, etc are all fungible; well I hope the GPU is fungible). Googling has given me nothing but Hackintosh links. So I've got a few questions.

    I see on ebay I can pick up a new chassis with a PSU for about 200 bucks with shipping. Googling around has found me a logic board for about 800. I know from trying to repair a macbook with water damage that the case i found and the logic board I found may not sync up. Is this true for the Mac Pros?

    Also, what about GPUs? I know the Radeon HD 5770 1GB VRAM is shipped in the current model of the pro, can I just drop in any schmuck's GPU or do I have to use the Apple OEM part? If not, what's my cheapest option? I'm not looking to run Crysis on this beast, just a whole crapload of virtual boxes.

    (Yes, OSX isn't the best option for this; but this is largely a thought experiment for now.)
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    It will end up being more expensive than just buying a Pro, especially for newer specs. You have to find a board that's right for the CPU(s) you want, the backplane from the same model, Apple GPU (others don't play nice with OS X), and I believe other parts may have compatibility issues as well if you're not careful
  3. taitai thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2009
    My quandry isn't that of price, it's that of "can we do it?" Inspired by the Top Gear mentality of, "How hard could it be to do <insert engineering problem here> on my own?"

    As for top of the line specs, I'm just looking for an answer to my quandry. It'll still be pretty reasonably fast, and I don't do PC gaming anyway.

    I just realized two other problems I'm going to need to solve. CPU/RAM cooling and wireless networking. Does anyone know if replacement logic boards feature wireless networking on board or will I have to source those parts too?
  4. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    You can, but is it worth it?

    You're going to end up with a machine with a hodge podge of parts, all at different stages of their lifecycle, with no warranty.
  5. taitai thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2009
    You never know until you try. For the life of me, I can't find any sources of anyone attempting this themselves. I think i'm about to break some ground here.

    I know it sounds like a really bad idea, but, in the interest of science, I think it's worth at least looking into. if I don't have to worry about chassis and logic board compatibility, I think I might have a winner here.
  6. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    You didn't search this forum, did you?
    There is at least a hand full of threads about this exact topic here. Really no reason to re-iterate all of them.
    Just do a quick search around here and you will find everything you'll need, I promise. ;) :D
  7. taitai thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2009
    No, not here specifically, I spent a few hours on google, and everything came up "Hackintosh" I figure google indexed this site, and well, you kind of caught me there. I just sort of saw this thread and watching the breakdown as well as started to price out parts that didn't come in the case that I hadn't considered(DIMM Risers, CPU coolers, etc), made me sort of see the error of my ways. :)
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Parts are more expensive than the whole product. And you won't get the warranty.

    Can you do it? Yes.

    Is it worth it? No.
  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Get a new or refurbished Mac Pro. If you want the DIY experience, tear it completely down and rebuild it back together.

    Conventional wisdom says it costs more to build one unless you have a special source of free or vastly discounted parts.

    Some specific higher-end configurations may be cheaper to buy the base model and upgrade parts yourself.
  10. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Usually the first question to ask in any science/engineering project is if it is a good idea. :p

    You're going to end up with a machine you may not want, and no one is going to want to buy off you. So unless you literally have piles of spare money sitting around...

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