Mac Pro 1,1 (2006) 3 GHz Octo w/ El Cap upgrade with temps and geekbench

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by flyinmac, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. flyinmac, Sep 4, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016

    flyinmac macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    Hello All,

    So, I am the original owner of a very reliable and well-deserving 2006 Mac Pro 1,1

    Here's a little story of my history and recent upgrades. Geekbench 3 and temperature comparisons at the bottom.

    I purchased this machine new, having been through numerous Apple lemons at the time. I gave up on buying machines, and sat and waited for them to produce a machine that didn't have any complaints (got tired of being the guinea pig).

    So, after a full year of the 2006 being on the market, without any complaints, I took the plunge, and purchased the 2006 model just before the release of the 2007 model. I wasn't taking any chances.

    My 2006 Mac Pro has been an amazingly reliable machine. Never failed once. No problems. Always worked. But, eventually, time catches up with us, and we find that our faithful friend is being shunned by newer software (unsupported).

    I made it until last year (2015) with Snow Leopard. And, finally updated to Lion. But, of course, with a 32-BIT EFI, I couldn't go past Lion without some tweaks. And, found myself unable to run many titles that I wished to use.

    So, now in September of 2016, my 10 year old computer has gotten some well deserved updates and tweaks. It's now back in the game, with modern software and revived performance.

    Up until this last month, my machine served it's 10 years with me in a fairly standard configuration. Factory two 2.66 GHz dual cores. Moderately upgraded RAM (11 GB), the factory nVidia 7300 GT, and roughly 1.5 TB of hard drive space.

    The machine's new lease on life comes with a long desired CPU upgrade, and memory, plus a few extras. Resulting in a machine with Dual 3.0 GHz Quad Core Xeon CPU's (5365) for a total of 8 cores, an nVidia 8800 Ultra w/ 768 MB of Video Memory, 32 GB of matched memory modules (w/ large Apple approved heat-sinks), 20 TB of hard drive space (between internals and externals), dual superdrives, 120 GB SSD with OS X El Capitan 10.11.6, 128 GB SSD with a native install of Windows 10 Pro 64-BIT, and one extra PCI slot venting fan installed.

    The dual SSD drives are installed along side the DVD drives in the top of the case, and utilize the two extra SATA data ports on the mainboard (I powered them internally by adding power splitters to the DVD drive's power connection. The extra PCI slot venting cooling fan is powered likewise.

    I have not increased the speed of any of the factory cooling fans.

    The CPU's are mated to the heat-sinks using Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound. I spent considerable time refurbishing the surface of the 5365 Xeons that I purchased from e-bay (I was not happy with what I found when I opened that package - what a mess). Looked like someone had attempted something crazy with the surface. There was no cleaning that surface, I resorted to sanding and resurfacing it. But, I did NOT do any "delidding". The factory CPU's in the Mac Pro 1,1 had their lids / heat-spreaders on them, and therefore I saw no reason to go into delidding on the upgrade CPU's.

    I considered the various methods of heat-sink compound application, and in the end, decided against the straight line, the pea-sized dot, etc.... And, instead went with the very thin, evenly spread layer over the whole CPU (staying only on the mating surface). I arrived at this by 3 ways, one: I spent years installing CPU's and building machines, and always did it that way with no problem, and two: Apple had merely used a thermal pad (but it covered the whole surface), and three: I understand that the pea-sized dot squishes out, and spreads as you press the heat-sink into place, but I have likewise removed CPU's installed this way and found a significant amount of the surface essentially "unmated".

    So, I went with experience over the recommendations. And, applied a very very thin evenly spread, and smooth layer over the CPU's mating surface. Naturally, I did "tint" as in worked-in some thermal compound into the surface of both the heat-sink and the CPU prior to applying the final coating. This is to insure that all the microscopic pores / grooves in the surfaces are filled with compound to essentially provide a perfectly smooth and fully even mated connection.

    The end result? Everything is running much much cooler than the factory original 2.66 GHz Dual core setup, and obviously, much faster as well.

    You can view my performance comparisons between the factory setup, the upgraded setup, and of course both with Lion and repeated with El Capitan for good measure. And, naturally also a Windows 10 comparison of both configurations also, in my geekbench profile at:

    Note that the geekbench 3 results will show more comparison points for my machine at different stages / configurations / operating systems.

    You can also view my temperature comparisons in the attached files (Note: only 2 hard drives and one SATA were installed during testing - same ones for consistency).

    For those considering such an upgrade, I hope that you'll find the above story and attached / linked information useful or encouraging. The process is not hard. Just take your time, work slowly, pay attention to how everything came apart.

    The results are worth it. The best part, my reliable machine feels like a brand new machine. Fast, smooth, and best of all... still reliable. No gambles on new machines.

    I find myself continually pleased with how well my decision paid off in 2006 / 2007. This machine has put in many years, and is still very relevant today. It still did everything I needed prior to the upgrade, and was relevant in the market compared to newer Windows machines (running Windows 10, I could still use it with modern software). And, now, with it's new tweaks and upgrades, I expect I'll get many more years of use out of it. I got 10 years as it was, and most of them with Snow Leopard. I expect I'll get many more years out of it before El Capitan becomes as obsolete as Snow Leopard is now.

    Either way, the performance is still great, and the upgrade was worth the time and small expense.

    And, for those of you looking to get El Capitan on your machines, or finding yourself looking for parts that will support El Capitan on your 2006 Mac Pro's, be sure to check out:

    He had many of the parts I needed, saved me a lot of hassle on the El Capitan install / EFI 32-Hack, and was extremely helpful, fast, and easy to work with. My best online purchase experience in years. And, he packs his products extremely well for shipping. I was impressed.

    Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Hope the above story is of help to someone.

    Temp Readings after 32 GB Upgrade and all day with VM machines Sensor Overview.jpeg Temperature after 3Ghz Upgrae copy.jpeg Handbrake Temp.jpg
  2. jbarley macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2006
    Vancouver Island
  3. owbp macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2016
    Belgrade, Serbia
    For us with cheaper seats, are you making a joke with or did all of my browsers just died? :D

    @flyinmac , Thank you for sharing that great story. I really hope it will serve you much more years from now!
    I have one question, though. When upgrading everything and making it up to date as much as it can be, why go and buy nVidia 8800 instead of something newer and more powerfull (HD5870, HD7950 and so on...).

    Here is mine.
    I keep PSU under 50C with MacsFanControll and have half of RAM with temp sensors, so CPU fan and Exhaust are doing what Apple's SMC tells them to.

    Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 9.27.51 PM.png
  4. flyinmac, Sep 4, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016

    flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    I chose the nVidia because I had to meet 2 criteria:

    First, I needed to make sure that I wouldn't run into any problems with my existing software, which would crash with ATI cards installed. And, nVidia EFI-32 cards would make sure I kept my machine stable with those programs.

    Second, and absolutely most important, I boot several operating systems natively from different hard drives and partitions, and the boot screen functionality is absolutely vital.

    Maintaining boot screen functionality, forced me to choose between an older ATI or nVidia card. Given the choices available, and my software compatibility needs, I settled on the nVidia 8800 Ultra.

    My primary use of the machine is video encoding / decoding, video production, etc. I also run numerous virtual machines for testing / proof of concept (hence the high memory needs). The 7300 GT had been doing fine for my needs. But, the 7300 GT was not compatible with El Capitan.

    The 8-core arrangement and 32 GB of RAM will allow me to throw more cores and memory at my virtual machines. Like 2 cores each, or 1 core each for the lesser environments. While still maintaining at least 2 cores for my primary OS. My hardware choices were primarily based on better performing virtual machines, and faster video encoding.

    If my needs shift to needing greater graphics performance, I may eventually move to a dual video card setup. One with the boot screen and it's dedicated monitor, and one for performance video once the machine is booted. But, right now, I didn't want to run with 2 video cards and have a monitor that just sits there for the boot screen / choice of operating systems. Yes, I know I can boot, then select a boot drive, and restart, but that's a pain in the a$$....

    In time, who knows, maybe I'll put in a newer card, and keep the 8800 GT and run with a 4 screen system. And, then get the best of both worlds. But, for now, it's not needed.

    I do have an AMD HD 6450 w/ 2 GB of Video RAM that I had debated on experimenting with in the Mac Pro. But, I knew even if I got it running, that it wouldn't support the boot screen. But, who knows, maybe one day I'll throw it in another slot and play with it. Right now, it's sitting as overkill in my PC... lol...

    Always interested in hearing thoughts though. So, you won't offend me with other ideas
  5. owbp macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2016
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Please don't take my previous post as any kind of attack or disagreement either.
    You just seems like a guy who know what he was doing so i was interested in your GPU choice, nothing else.
    I totally get it, if you want a nvidia and boot screen 8800 is the best one to go for, but i didn't know that your software have problems with ATI and thats why i was curious why you didn't go to 5870, 7950, 7950, R9 280(X) since they are much stronger and newer cards that can easily be flashed for boot screens in 1,1/2,1 Mac Pros.
    Thank you for clarification.
  6. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    Thanks for the write up! Always love reading about people still using the cMP!

    I acquired a 2009 Mac Pro in March, upgraded the CPU, and have been enjoying Kodi on it (DVI to HDMI on my TV), all the internal drives act as 2 separate RAID, plus boot SSD. Handbrake runs great on it. My late 2011 MBP with an i7 gets 10fps same settings on the 2009 mac pro gets me 30fps. Probably due to the thermal limitations of the macbook and two less cores. I'll have to tinker a bit to support macOS sierra or whatever its called.
  7. flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    Yep, I totally understand. Don't worry, your question didn't bother me. I would've liked a newer more powerful card. But, ultimately, we have to choose what is most important. And, for me, compatibility and boot screen was the deciding factor. My GPU needs are fairly modest, and my tasks more CPU intensive, so it made sense.

    Always happy to hear ideas, and questions. We learn from the exchange of information, and questioning.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 4, 2016 ---
    Yep, these old machines are great. Still strong, very expandable, and still quite powerful.

    While the newer CPU's can exceed these old Xeon's in performance, the reality is that these machines still perform very well, and don't show any signs of being sluggish.

    If Apple made newer desktops with this kind of expandability, power, and future built-in, I'd be interested. But, the iMac isn't an option for me, and neither is the newer mini with it's crippled design. The new Mac Pro is a joke at the price. And, my machine still serves me well. So, a little bump, and I get to extend it's life into the future a bit.

    One thing that kept me from moving up to a newer machine, was the Firewire port. I need it. And, yes, I could explore adapters and such. But, ultimately, I still wanted to be able to use the machine the way that I have been, with my established software, etc. So, being able to dual-boot between Lion, Snow Leopard, El Capitan, and Windows 10, etc. is a necessity. Not something I could easily accomplish with new Macs.

    I'd been trying to convince myself for the last year to buy a new Mac. But, I just couldn't find a good fit for me. I like the mini. But, the new version isn't worth it. The last generation is getting scarce and expensive. And, in the end, for my purposes, I realized I would just end-up using the mini along side my Mac Pro. So, it made more sense to just upgrade the old Pro.

    I'm curious whether Sierra will ever be adapted to these Mac Pro 1,1 machines. But, looking at the long life Snow Leopard gave me, I'm fine settling at El Capitan if that is as far as I can go.
  8. raymanster macrumors 6502


    Feb 13, 2008
    Cool story, another old Pro still in good use 10 years later. Thanks for sharing.

    Is that website shutdown? Doesn't seem to work for me.
  9. Morpheo macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2014
    It's still unclear apparently. The SSE 4.1 restriction seems like a deal-breaker for our Xeons, and yet there's still hope, as pike once again might be able to work his magic...wait and see...
  10. flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    Yep, I'm going to see how many years I can get out of this old machine. It just got an update today with a blu Ray drive / writer. Couldn't pass up on the deal. Nearly free upgrade. So I had to.

    The old-macs site loaded for me just now. So you might retry it.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 9, 2016 ---
    Hopefully he'll work some magic.

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