Considering a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Jethryn Freyman, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Aug 9, 2007
    It's a 1,1 system from 2006, secondhand, 2x 2GHz dual core Xeons. 2GB memory, Radeon X1900 XT, 250GB HD... for $549. Not a half bad price.

    At the moment I'm using a dual 1.8GHz G5 tower with the memory maxed out at 4GB and a 256MB FireGL graphics card. Mostly I do Photoshop work (working with RAW and HDR images), but it's really the video work, especially 720p/1080p H264 stuff that old PowerPC Macs seem to struggle with. And don't even get me started on how slow encoding is... also, I'm really liking the look of Final Cut Pro X (I have Final Cut Studio 3/Photoshop CS4 that I use right now.)

    I plan on going to 8GB of memory pretty quickly, sticking Lion on it, putting in an SSD and a bigger hard disk, more USB ports, 802.11n wireless... eventually going to put even more memory, upgrade the graphics, and eventually drop a pair of quad core Clovertown CPUs in.

    Anyway, I have a few questions...

    1. Mountain Lion. What exactly is the status of it working on these old Pros? Anybody got a DP working? As far as I know the EFI is stuck to booting 32 bit, or something like that, haven't really kept up to date with ML compatibility as of late.

    2. Graphics cards. What is the fastest card that will work (in OS X)? So long as the card will be compliant with PCIe 1.1 and is supported by a later Mac Pro, I can't see why it wouldn't work (as the drivers are there.) Anybody got experience with anything faster than the X1900 in a 1,1 Pro? (excluding the NVIDIA 8800 and the Quadro cards.)

    3. CPU upgrades. Has anybody performed an upgrade to quad core Clovertowns themselves? How difficult was it? Anything I should know?

    Finally... any other thoughts?

    Thanks guys :)
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Edit: I just read Australia. Perhaps it's an even better price there given the cost of Apple products in your country. Here I'd call it a bit better than average as the prices are dropping as ML approaches.

    Edit: Edit: Make sure you upgrade that CS4 before Adobe cuts off upgrade eligibility given their recent changes with licensing policies.

    1. There's a hack to make it work, but this isn't necessarily ideal. It is not officially supported. The next Apple will probably drop is the 2008 model. If you want long term support (longest possible) get a 2009 or later. The board hasn't changed since then, and firmware is upgradable. It could make sense if the total cost here gets too high after all of the upgrades. Ram on these old ones can be expensive.

    2. You could go with a 5770. Given the 32 bit EFI, the 5870 didn't show much better gains. There are a few unofficial cards that people use on here. I don't know them personally. Just wait for further responses there.

    3. You can upgrade these with a little skill and upgraded firmware. CPUs do show up on ebay. I'm not sure of pricing. You should plan out the upgrades you intend to make before pulling the trigger on a purchase. $650ish seems pretty typical these days. You're $100 lower, but the real price that matters is what you pay for your final configuration.

    Overall it sounds like a fun project, but I think it's going to become expensive in the end. Also keep in mind if by some chance the logic board goes (I read about it occasionally even on mac pros), it is expensive.
  3. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I would not waste your time or money on a 1,1. I agree with The Kev, get at least a 2009 or 4,1 as the RAM is far cheaper and the machine simply has far more upgrade potential and life left in it. You will certainly pay more for a 4,1 but your money will go farther then dumping $500-600 into a 1,1 after CPU and memory upgrades.
  4. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    1.) ML can be installed by booting in "legacy mode" - DP4 is already running.

    2.) PC 6870's are working fine ootb (I have a Gigabyte one, which is quiet despite sporting three fans), except for the missing boot screen and problems with both DVD player and Steam games not working without ATY_Init.kext. OSX 10.6.8 or later is required, though.

    Speedwise they're close to the 5870's, but consume less power and produce less heat. In another thread the support for recent nVidia cards is claimed to improve, but for now an AMD solution is probably a safer bet with less hassle.

    The X1900 you mention in that MP offer is infamous for being hot, loud and often dying those days. You should calculate for a replacement once you receive the machine.

    3.) Clovertown upgrade is easy - video tutorials are available and descriptions of the process are floating around this forum. Make sure to get SLAEG (G0 stepping) variants for heat reasons. The required tool for loosening the heatsink screws is not necessarily available in your DIY store around the corner.

    Some people seem to experience kernel panics with the new processors if they did not upgrade the firmware to 2.1 (there is a thread over at Netkas' forums). To me it's unclear whether that relates to microcode updates for non-SLAEG processors contained in the new firmware or whether there are differences in the actual EFI code. I've not experienced one single problem with a 1,1 firmware and SLAEG Clovertowns for about a year now, even though the CPU's are not formally recognized by OSX (shown as "unknown" in "About this Mac").
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's just expensive to bring an old computer semi-up to date. The one thing that makes me a little unsure is that the OP is in Australia. It's apparently not as different as I though. They're almost 1:1. The mac pro is listed at $3k, but that would contain the 10% GST there as their prices include tax, so they pay a little more new, but not that much on that model. I don't know what their used market is like. If you look hard enough here you can find a 4,1 for $1200 or so. In theory you should be roughly good to go out of the box with that one. Yes you can nitpick the gpu, but photoshop isn't that hard on the gpu even in CS6. If it's supported, then you're good. 512MB of vram and up can accelerate things like liquify and some of the other filters. Video editing would be roughly a push relative to clovertown that can geekbench at 10k or so. Photoshop scales horribly past 4 cores, so it's significantly faster on nehalem. Anyway a big thing for me is that Apple is forced to support it a while longer given that they still sell computers based on that logic board today, and the 2009 is compliant with the current firmware.

    I figured photoshop = big gain from nehalem video editing = push (assuming clovertown upgrade, otherwise nehalem is a big gain) and longer supported service life = win.

    The last thing I forgot to mention is that if you buy a used machine from a shop that retails them with a short warranty, you can run memtest and fully stress test the system with something like Prime 95 when you get it. This way if it turns up issues, you can just return it the next day.
  6. Phildo macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2011
    Perth, Western Australia
    A Mac Pro 1,1 for $549 is a pretty good deal, but it's still an old Mac. A lot better than a G5 though.

    However, find a 4,1 2009 Mac Pro if you can. DDR3 RAM is heaps cheaper than the DDR2 that the previous Mac Pros take.

    You could try contacting this guy and making an offer:

    Over the last couple of years I've gone through a 2006, 2008 and now my current 2009 Mac Pro. The 2009 flogs the previous ones.

    Check out the 3.33GHz 6 core upgrade option for a 2009:

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