Mac Pro extreme upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by pfjellman, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. pfjellman macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    I took about 45 minutes to write a post, detailing painstakingly all of the things I've done to my Mac Pro 1,1 and how, but when I tried to submit it, I was asked to login again and then everything I typed was gone. Bummer.

    Long story short:

    Mac Pro 1,1
    2x 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Xeon
    8GB RAM
    3x 1TB HDs
    1 80GB Intel X25M Solid State Drive as a boot drive
    Radeon HD 4870 XFX with 1GB GDDR5 VRAM

    This thing screams - not the kind of upgrade that smacks you in the face, but when you use it even for just a day or two and then try using an iMac or MacBook Pro with a standard hard drive, it's utterly painful and feels incredibly slow.


    Windows 7 Premium 64 bit installed to run Crysis: Warhead
    Can MAX ALL SETTINGS (every option set to "Enthusiast" under Graphics)

    Looks and runs amazing, completely smooth and insanely pretty.

    Starcraft II beta also runs perfectly on Ultra settings across the board, but I expected (hoped) for that.

    From complete power-off to booted, usable desktop with Safari open takes about 12 seconds. Fast enough for you? Photoshop CS4 opens in 2.5 seconds, GarageBand in 3 seconds, and Logic Pro 9 opens in about 5 seconds.

    Anyone considering a video card upgrade and/or a SSD upgrade, I highly recommend it. I only paid $300 for both components, and what's more I can sell the 7300gt card that came with it for almost $200 on eBay because it is "Apple Certified".

    Will most likely sell this rig as is for around $3,000 and get a new 2010 Mac Pro when they come out, and then do the same SSD/video card upgrade.

    If anyone has any questions about how I did this or wants more specific information, just let me know.

    Bottom line: an SSD boot drive makes a HUGE difference, and 1GB of video RAM makes everything look ridiculously pretty. I can open 200+ folders at once, in slow motion, and do all of the Expose animations without a single hiccup. Watching them zoom open and closed instantly is pretty satisfying. This would have choked my system easily before.
  2. hosko macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2010
    Hopefully Apple brings out some drivers for the Radeon 5000 series of GFX cards. I'd love to drop a XFX Radeon HD5870 into my system. Crossfire/SLI support would also be nice but I doubt that will happen any time soon.
  3. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    do you even need that power lol?

    upgrade the CPUs ;)

    can we have some actual benchmarks? not just app opening times..
  4. pfjellman thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    do I even need that kind of power? absolutely. I'm a software developer and do constant compiling/builds of intense pro software. I also edit HD video in final cut pro and have recorded and mixed half a dozen albums (3 of my own and several others). I also want to be able to play Crysis 2, Starcraft II and Diablo 3 when they come out, all of which are intensely visual.

    I think my needs justify the fastest and most powerful possible configuration.

    What should I use to benchmark? Xbench and Geekbench both aren't that great.
  5. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Does the 5870 even have 32 bit-capable EFI firmware? I'd be surprised if even a Mac version will work on his 1,1. The 4870 may well be the end of the road for that old 2006 Mac Pro.

    As to the OP's assertion that he needs the fastest and most powerful, he'll have to ask the old question as to what software he runs, and how many cores and processors that "fastest and most powerful" computer will need.

    I still have my old 1,1. It's a 3.0 quad, 9 gig RAM. 500 gig HDD x 4. When it had a 4879/500 meg in it, it Geekbenched at a little over 5000. I put that 4870 in a 2009 2.66 8-core with 6 gig RAM and it Geekbenches a little over 12,000. Of course, Geekbench weighs multithreading heavily, and I run very few multithread apps, so day-to-day the 2009 doesn't really feel all that much faster than the 2006. At least I'll be able to run 64 bit apps someday, and likely be able to use the new crop of GPU's (looking forward to the 5870). And certainly I'll be able to use OSX 10.7.

    I'm skeptical of your $3000 price tag, but I sure do hope you get it for that old war horse.
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Hopefully it will use the same EBC structure that the 2870 and 4870 do (which allows it to run in either EFI32 or EFI64 systems).

    But as it's not out yet, we don't know for sure.

    As am I.

    Users are becomming more informed, and the EFI32 is an achilles heel in the '06 and '07 systems. Graphics card choices are already limited (none of the newer nVidia based cards will work under OS X). And the OS is going to be K64 exclusively in the not too distant future (10.7 or 10.8, but I'm thinking 10.7 myself; Apple's already indicated this, and it's also known that they don't like to support interim products like 10.6 = K32 + K64).

    Which translates into those older systems aren't worth that much money, even with the upgrades at retail prices. It would be best to remove the upgrades and either recycle them into a newer system, or sell them off separately IMO.

    That system is still a nice Windows or Linux workstation though. PC cards work just fine under those OS's, and are also able to run 64 bit versions if necessary/desired. If this were the case, then the CPU upgrade to Quad core parts (i.e. 5365; assuming they can be found at a good price), might be worthwhile.
  7. Topper macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2007

  8. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Eh, I rather think the unnecessary complexity, price premium, and increased power draw/heat generation amount to far more disadvantages than the performance of the 5970 (as tested by various websites) is worth.

    But the 5870s seem to be really worth it. And, hilariously enough, if a Mac Pro was released in the next month or two, with the 5870s at the normal  price (which I'd expect), they'd actually be more or less the same price that 5870s are fetching at retail due to supply constraints.

    That'd put a Mac Pro with current GPUs on the market at fair prices.

    It probably won't happen, but if it did, it'd be really, really funny.
  9. Topper macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2007
    For me money is not an issue.
    I can use the power of the 5970 as well as it's 2GB of VRAM.
  10. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I doubt it'd hit $3000 too. More likely $2000 as long as the upgrades are sold seperately. Still a great way to juice up a 2006 Mac Pro though, those SSDs will make any system feel a hell of a lot faster and are easily the biggest upgrade you can give a computer.

    I'm with you on the 5970 front though. When you're running a 30" ACD you kind of need a crossfire/SLI setup to pull enough frames at high res. Back when I still had my Mac Pro I went the dual 4870 route so that I could easily flash them for full OSX support but now that I've switched to a hackintosh, it just makes more sense to go for an all in one 5970. Hopefully Apple will release a new Mac Pro in a few months time with 5xxx driver support and hopefully PC cards will have dropped in cost by then.
  11. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2008
    Actually, it really only has a 1GB framebuffer. It has 2 of them, but they are split among the GPUs, duplicated.

    Maybe you mean the new 5970 4GB cards that have an effective 2GB VRam.
  12. rickvanr macrumors 68040


    Apr 10, 2002
    Isn't the 5970 just a 5870x2?

    So, just like the 4870x2 kicks a 4870's butt on Windows, they act the same on a mac, because mac's don't support Crossfire. Right?
  13. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Yeah, the 5970 is just two 5870s on one board so only give extra performance in Windows. Although Macs do support crossfire when running Windows through Boot Camp.
  14. Freis968 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2007
    Winter Park, Florida
    This has happened to me as well before and if I am going to type a very long post I usually do so in a Pages or Text file and then copy and paste it into the forum. That way you can just copy/paste the info again if the forum crashes on you or you have the same situation happen again that you just described.

    Do you have any pics to share of the SSD and how it is mounted?
  15. pfjellman thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    i typically do a quick select all-copy before i hit submit on a form i've spent more than a couple minutes on, but i didn't this time. serves me right. won't it be nice when these things just work all that time?

    i don't have any pictures, though i suppose i could take some. it's just a standard install, nothing special. the ssd drive is insanely small and thin, so you will need an icydock 2.5" -> 3.5" converter. very slick, no screws or anything to worry about.

    everything works great, i'm still amazed at the speed increase. managing my files has become a little trickier now that my boot volume is only 80GB, but three 1TB drives come in handy for that.
  16. frimple macrumors 6502

    Nov 18, 2008
    Denver, CO
    I think you mean two 5870's
  17. Topper macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2007
    XFX Radeon HD 5970 4GB Eyefinity 6 Black Edition.
    And it is cheap....somewhere between $800 to $1000.
  18. panavision macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2010
    What Rev is your XFX card?
  19. SmilesLots macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2010
    SW Virginia
    I recently put in twoof the Intel 80 gb ssd's as a raid 0 connected to the 2 extra sata ports in my early Mac Pro. But my boot up time is around 45 seconds - better than the 90+ seconds on the hard drive. Is there anything special that you did to get that 14 or so second cold boot start?

    Mac Pro core 2 duo 2.66 Ghz
    10 gig ram
    2 WD 2.0TB green drives
    2 Seagate 1.5TB drives
    2 Intel 80 GB X25M in raid 0, connected to extra sata ports

    I'd like to see faster boot if possible. TIA
  20. GiantDolphin macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2010
    dear pfjellman:

    forgive my ignorance, but could you please explain how you got Windows 7 64-bit version running on your MP 1,1? I have read MP's prior to 2008 can't run it. Is it working with Boot Camp or some other means? Thanks.
  21. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    a 45 second boot is all wrong.

    Mine is way less.

    I first put a 64G SSD in my Macbook. Fast boots and greatly extended battery life.

    My buddy has a similr Macbook. Putting them side by side and hitting the Power button was humorous. His was still on grey boot screen when desktop appeared on mine.

    Recently I added an 80 Gig Intel X25 SSD to my Pro.

    Thought I had a good deal from Newegg until I went to :

    to get the sled. Turns out I would have been better off getting whole deal from Maxupgrades. (assuming they had drives in stock)

    Nice thing about being in SoCal, I pay for UPS 3Day ground and got both items next day. (Newegg's Whittier location is 45 minutes away)

    My boot is under 20 secs, haven't timed it. If you are @ 45secs, something is just not right. Seems like a HD could beat that.

    Photosho[ CS5 opens in less than 2 secs. (And can now see all of my 17 Gigs of RAM...YAY !!!)

    BTW...I am in no way affiliated with Maxupgrades, I just am really happy with my purchase. It was here in a day, and it was super easy to install. Sled slid in and I started formatting and installing.

    I am very hopeful that ATI will continue with their 32/64 ROMs. Imagine...if they do that...will help keep price of 1st and 2nd Gen machines up.

    If you will recall, we had parity with PCs on the 4870 for 4-6 weeks before 4890 came out.

    I also put 5160s in mine. Can't say I feel the extra .33 Mhz, but it sure looks nicer seeing "3.0 Ghz" than that messy "2.66 Ghz";)

    EDIT: Just timed boot on the MacBook. First one was 50 secs to desktop, then I realized that I had my CS5 install disk in. Took it out and next boot got to desktop in 31 secs. Will try the Pro later. Lesson learned, don't have anything in optical drive, it checks them out for bootable disks or something, certainly slows boot.
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The '06 and '07 systems can run 64 bit Windows or Linux due to BIOS emulation built into the system's firmware. You install via Boot Camp or to a separate drive (you may need to modify the windows installation disk, as the earlier systems can't handle the file extentions in certain versions due to the ISO standards used). Here's a How-To for the Jowie method to get around the ISO standards with older systems.

    It's 64 bit OS X it can't handle (K64 won't load, as those machines use EFI32). So they're only able to load K32 (which can run 64bit OS X applications).

    Hope this helps. :)
  23. GiantDolphin macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Yes! Very helpful. Thanks. Now if I can only find a way to understand the Jowie method. It seems beyond comprehension at first glance. But thank you so much for the info and help.
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Here's a link to Jowie's site on the topic, so it might help you to understand what's going on.

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