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davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
I'm looking for perspective on what to do with my early-2008 Mac Pro (3.1). In 2017 I bought a 27" iMac, and matching Dell 27" monitor. I ended up installing ubuntu linux on a new SSD drive in the Mac Pro, but I haven't been using it. I'm wondering if the old Mac Pro might be more useful as a platform for playing old 32-bit games, if I can get Steam to run on it. I see three options:

1. Since I've installed ubuntu linux on the Mac Pro, I can just use that. Not sure about Steam, or whether those versions run on Steam in linux.

2. I can re-install MacOS -- El Capitan.

3. I can get rid of the Mac Pro, and stop fighting.

Three years ago, my worry was that the old Mac Pro was no longer supported. So no security updates, and no modern browser support, so online connectivity would be lacking. (Of course, that second problem may help solve the first one!). So I put a new 480GB SSD drive in the case and installed ubuntu. The original drive is now in an external case, connected to the iMac.

What would you do?
 

Dayo

macrumors 68020
Dec 21, 2018
2,236
1,270
I would install Ubuntu or any other flavour I happen to like, Windows 10, El Capitan (Just in case I need access to a supported Mac OS version) and Catalina.

I will then use MyBootMgr to run them all.

In short, you can install and run current OS on your 3,1 if you want to.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
Thanks Dayo! I will check out MyBootMgr.

I discovered that the oldest macOS Steam supports is El Capitan -- which is the latest one that the old Mac Pro will run. The Steam note says "starting on January 1, 2019" -- which is almost 2 years ago. So I don't think the old computer will have much life supporting Steam games.

Steam macOS Support

Linux seems to work well, though. I like that, and it's a nice alternative, although I don't expect great support for my old games.

I'm now actually thinking of slapping another drive in the case and installing Win10. I really detest Windows, but it would open up possibilities for some of my games. It looks like this would cost $140 for Windows 10 Home. I can get an HDD to SSD upgrade kit with 480 GB SSD for the Mac Pro 3,1 from OWC, for $124. Hmmm.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
If you can find an old PC with a sticker of Windows 7 Pro (containing the Windows key), you can use that key to activate Windows 10.

Without the key, Windows 10 only bother you with a dim suggestion on the lower right corner about activation. If you can live with that, you don't need to.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
New idea from a friend: Since I have linux, install Windows in Virtual Box. He notes that Windows 10 will be slower, but Windows 7 is no longer supported. I just read an article on installing Windows 10 in Boot Camp, and it claims my Mac Pro is too old to do it that way. What about Windows 8?

Thanks...
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
New idea from a friend: Since I have linux, install Windows in Virtual Box. He notes that Windows 10 will be slower, but Windows 7 is no longer supported. I just read an article on installing Windows 10 in Boot Camp, and it claims my Mac Pro is too old to do it that way. What about Windows 8?

Thanks...

I still have my Mac Pro 1,1 (2006 model) running Windows 10 64bit. It's a bit tricky to install BootCamp drivers, but otherwise, it runs well.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
Do you think I could install Windows 10 in Virtual Box? I'm probably not going to be running MacOS on my Mac Pro. One concern might be networking, since some of the games seem to need a network connection to Steam.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Do you think I could install Windows 10 in Virtual Box? I'm probably not going to be running MacOS on my Mac Pro. One concern might be networking, since some of the games seem to need a network connection to Steam.

It will degrade performance in a Virtual environment.
Better use an independent drive for Windows, you have 6 SATA ports in the machine already.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
BrianBaughn, thanks for the cool link. But there is a snag. dosdude reports that it is not possible to get full graphics acceleration when running Mojave on a system with a Radeon HD 5xxx -- which is what my Mac Pro has. dosdude says Mohave will be almost unusable.

Nguyen, thanks for confirming my suspicion! So I rule out the VirtualBox option. As you point out, I could easily slap another drive in the case and install Windoze on its own drive. Perhaps then I could have the option of booting from either the linux or windows drives.

There is one other intriguing option. What about installing macOS on a separate APFS volume on my newer iMac? I've looked at the support page, but to tell you the truth, I'm scared that I would make some mistake and end up losing my whole system! But it might work.

So, I see three interesting paths:

1. Try installing Mojave on a separate APFS volume, and hope that I don't screw it up. :)
2. Restore El Capitan to my 2008 Mac Pro and run Steam, which, at least today, still supports El Capitan.
3. Install Windoze on a new drive in the Mac Pro.

Number 3 has two enticements. One is that there are a couple other Windows-only games I might like. The other is that I've had graphics lags with the Myst IV game on both the Mac Pro and on the iMac before I upgraded. I would click for the next scene, and the game would take a second or two to update. I don't know if that's a platform thing or a graphics processor thing. I'm asking in another thread whether this lag problem exists in the Windows version. If not, that would be a win.

What do you think?

I appreciate all your ideas!
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
You can install 6 SSDs in the MP 3,1 with six different OS versions and tried them yourself.
For compatible graphic card, check this thread:
Dosdude1 page mentioned about HD 5xxx and HD6xxxx GPU, they are MXM form GPUs in iMac and difficult to change.
MP3,1 doesn't has that issue, as you can change to other Mac/PC graphic card with no issues at all.

If you prefer Nvidia, GTX980 is the most powerful. GTX960 is a more reasonable choice.
For Radeon, R9 280x works OOB, but RX560 is possible, too.

GTX1050 is possible, according to this thread:

With some tricks for SSE 4.2 patch, RX 580 can be added, too.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
:) Very interesting! I'm tempted with the graphics. But I wonder how much it makes sense to be pumping more money into the old hardware: new graphics card, new drive, new bloat-ware from Redmond. :) It's approaching the cost of a cheap Windoze gaming PC, which might have better performance on the games... Then again, I love the Mac Pro -- such a beautifully designed system.

Do you know whether those other graphics cards support the odd connection (was it dual displayport?) to the 30" Apple Cinema Display that I have? The Radeon 5770 does.
 

yurc

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2016
834
1,011
inside your DSDT
:) Very interesting! I'm tempted with the graphics. But I wonder how much it makes sense to be pumping more money into the old hardware: new graphics card, new drive, new bloat-ware from Redmond. :) It's approaching the cost of a cheap Windoze gaming PC, which might have better performance on the games... Then again, I love the Mac Pro -- such a beautifully designed system.

Do you know whether those other graphics cards support the odd connection (was it dual displayport?) to the 30" Apple Cinema Display that I have? The Radeon 5770 does.

Personally I am also quite hesitant to put brand new fast NVMe blades or latest GPU on my classic cMP at certain degree, but those older graphics card are literally getting cheaper too, so I think still make sense for our old machine.

I am even deliberately choose RX480 over RX580 since they literally same, because some seller inflate RX580 price by stating MacOS compatible.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
:) Very interesting! I'm tempted with the graphics. But I wonder how much it makes sense to be pumping more money into the old hardware: new graphics card, new drive, new bloat-ware from Redmond. :) It's approaching the cost of a cheap Windoze gaming PC, which might have better performance on the games... Then again, I love the Mac Pro -- such a beautifully designed system.

Do you know whether those other graphics cards support the odd connection (was it dual displayport?) to the 30" Apple Cinema Display that I have? The Radeon 5770 does.

Why do you add new parts to an old chassis?
Why not 2nd parts? It will be more compatible, price/performance wise.
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
Well, I'm looking at a GTX 770. Benchmarks suggest that it would have 3 x the performance of the Radeon 5770 I now have, and it would still support the dual-DVI interface to my Cinema Display. OWC has the Radeon RX 580, but I'm not sure the MP3,1 would be able to use all its power. And OWC has a note about not being able to see the boot screen with this card---which would be an issue if I want to be able to decide which OS to boot into.

Buying a new graphics card, and a fast drive and Win10 could eat up $600. If I were just looking to do things I can't do on my iMac, I could probably buy a mid-range PC for that. I'm not sure I'm making logical sense, because I just like the MP and how well-engineered it is, and how you can have multiple drives in it with different OS's.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Well, I'm looking at a GTX 770. Benchmarks suggest that it would have 3 x the performance of the Radeon 5770 I now have, and it would still support the dual-DVI interface to my Cinema Display. OWC has the Radeon RX 580, but I'm not sure the MP3,1 would be able to use all its power. And OWC has a note about not being able to see the boot screen with this card---which would be an issue if I want to be able to decide which OS to boot into.

Buying a new graphics card, and a fast drive and Win10 could eat up $600. If I were just looking to do things I can't do on my iMac, I could probably buy a mid-range PC for that. I'm not sure I'm making logical sense, because I just like the MP and how well-engineered it is, and how you can have multiple drives in it with different OS's.

A new Mac Mini is $699, with some coupons or sales discount, may get low as $650.
How can you manage to buy an obsolete GTX770 + Win 10 license for $600?
Are you trolling?
 

davebot 0.9

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 18, 2017
47
1
Seattle area
No trolling. Just new to this. I have a 3,1 Mac Pro, and I'm trying to decide whether to put more money into it. If my purpose is to play games that I can't play on my iMac, I might like to upgrade its graphics. I've seen graphics card upgrades from folks I would trust to vouch for the compatibility and do any flashing needed, for $200 to $300. I found Windows 10 for $129. I would probably simplify by putting Windows on a separate drive so that I don't have to worry about dual-booting issues, and I would probably do the same thing that I did for linux, which is a 480 GB SSD; for example, the one from OWC, which is now $124. So, I'm at $553 for this experiment.

Now we get to the value question. Is the 3,1 worth the upgrades? I would guess that folks here are fans and will say "yes". But I'm not sure. If I want to play games, including Windows games, I might try to buy a Windows gaming PC. And then compare the quality with my Mac Pro setup --- which also runs linux AND MacOS El Capitan.

The Mini is an interesting proposition. It will have less memory than the 22 GB in my Mac Pro. It will have a smaller drive, and it doesn't allow you to add drives for different OS's. It probably also would not drive my 30" Apple Cinema Display, which requires a dual-link DVI connection. That's a nice display.

I'm looking at pre-built gaming PCs, including one for $680 now, and its graphics card has (according to techpowerup.com) 389% of the relative performance of the Radeon HD 5770 that's now in my Mac Pro. I'm trying to decide how much I care, given that most of what I would do is play games on Steam that don't play on my iMac, and perhaps investigate linux and Windows software tools. And I would still lose the Cinema Display.

If I do decide to move on from the old Mac Pro, what do I do with it? I'm not sure I could get anything for it. Mine happens to be in really great shape, with the original boxes, including the one for the 30" display. It probably has more value to me than I might get for selling it, and it would hurt to just put it in the trash. I might wwant to think about max gain for least pain, with cost secondary. I do have other hobbies, so spending time configuring systems really doesn't add value to my off-work time.
 

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
797
363
OpenCore boot loader + SSE4.2 emulation kext + RX 580 + 10.14.6 + Mac Pro 3,1 is a decent setup.
Granted you can't really go back to old macOS and have a good experience, however if you are still booting via opencore you'd be able to run 10.5 with no graphical acceleration with the rx580 installed as it will allow the card to boot in basic VESA driver mode.

If you want to boot to windows the RX580 worked out of the box for me in windows 7, i'd assume win10 would be the same.

Used RX580 from ebay is fine, just be sure you have an original video bios rom on it and it should work with OpenCore to have a boot screen. OWC overcharges a lot.

It also has typically has 2 DP + 2 HDMI + 1 DVI-D (I assume dual-link), some other variants will have different port configuration, the previous is what you get with the Sapphire Pulse, the PowerColor RedDevil for example has 3x DP and 1 HDMI and 1 DVI-D, however that blocks 3 slots instead of 2 slots like the pulse.

You'll get way better performance for the power with the RX card vs that old Nvidia card.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,929
970
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
No trolling. Just new to this. So, I'm at $553 for this experiment.

Now we get to the value question. Is the 3,1 worth the upgrades?

1. Buy second hand graphic card. I bought my GTX680 for 35$. GTX960 costs 60$
2. Buy/scrap a dead HP/Dell mini PC which has a Windows 7 pro sticker on in. Use that key to activate your Windows 10. => 0-30$
3. For SSD, you can re-use it in another machine, so it should not be included in the calculation.
4. For anything more than 100$, it's definitely not worthy to upgrade.
 
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