Mac Pro Front Panel Board Mod!!!!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by All Taken, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. All Taken macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I was looking at the front panel board and wondering if it's at all possible to modify it with a new board that has a eSata connection?

    Seems the part is a single board that connects to the rest of the system via cable? Currently it has firewire and USB ports so to me it is at least possible, anyone got some insight?

    I know you can add PCI-e Sata cards etc but i'm curious.
     
  2. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #2
    If you really want it (what would pretty much destroy the resale value of the machine), cut a hole in the front and use a standard SATA to eSATA cable like this: (minus the slot cover of course ;))

    [​IMG]
     
  3. All Taken thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Oh come on lol, you can do better than that. :p

    Is the system capable of having a esata port connect via that front board connector?

    If it could be mocked up on a new board that connects and fits in the same way as the existing system could it be done? Put all the alternatives out of the answers.
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #4
    You have the tools and skills to design and make PCBs?

    If not, the easiest thing to do, is use what Transporteur linked. Unscrew it from the PCI bracket, use the hole to pencil the opening and screw holes on the case, and get out a Dremel to cut away the aluminum. Then screw it down (might want to get different screws of some kind, such as flush mounts or Button type Torx for example).

    Finally, attach the SATA end to an available port. If you don't have one, get a SATA card (here as it's the only card that's selectable on the ports, and the seller will ship internationally; just understand if you use this, it cannot boot OS X, only work via drivers here).
     
  5. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I know you said no alternatives but why not just run a lead from the back of the Mac and plug it into your external devices? Surly this is simpler and safer. Also think about when/if you sell the Mac Pro...... I wouldn't want to buy a Mac with a modification like that.
     
  6. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

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    #6
    don't cut that purdy case...

    i have no use for the connector up front.

    if i did, i would remove the bottom optical drive, drop the cover/door, and use a matching piece of aluminum with the port and power connector machined in. lots of room for other connectors if you needed more.

    when you go to sell it, remove the cables/panel, let the optical door go back up, no problem. best of luck.
     
  7. All Taken thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Thanks for the replies, I already run a PCI-e Sata card and was only interested in the possibility, would the Back Board support a SATA connection on that front panel board or would it need to be a modified USB to SATA connection? If someone were to use the Data pin out would you get full a full 'SATA 3' header?

    I really don't have plans to dremel my Mac Pro at any point, I was just curious ;)
     
  8. goMac macrumors 603

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    #8
    As others have pointed out, you'd need to design your own custom board. So unless you have the tools to design + produce that...
     
  9. All Taken thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    I don't have the tools to do this, let me make it very very very clear: I have no plans to do it yet I am very curious to find out if it is possible. Can you replace one of the firewire or usb headers for a sata port and gain a full SATA 3GB/s interface?
     
  10. goMac macrumors 603

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    #10
    Sure, if you alter the board to have the right connectors, and you alter the front panel to have the right connectors.

    Headers aren't universal, you can't just swap one kind of header for another. It requires replacing connections.
     
  11. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #11
    i think this is the best advise - the most logical anyway. :D
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #12
    There's no direct swap.

    You could try to mod a USB to eSATA bridge device to get it to work (example; looks to be the easiest version), but it won't do what you want as-is (mod it via a cable to attach it to a USB header, and you have to find a way to mount it).
     
  13. goMac macrumors 603

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    #13
    Of course if you're using a bridge device, what's the point of esata? Might as well use a USB2 connection.
     
  14. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #14
    speaking of eSata - do you think apple will ever adopt it? or jump straight to LP or similar? (fw3200?).
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #15
    I realize that. But there's no choice given the way the question and information's been posted from the OP.

    He'd need to be able to make a custom board. Past that, the device Transporteur posted would be the best, and easiest solution (just mod the case, and attach the cable to a SATA port; no PCB work).
     
  16. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #16
    i dont think you were meant to quote me in that reply :p
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #17
    Oops. :eek:

    To answer your original question, No, I don't think so, as they've had ample opportunity to do so already, and there's still no eSATA port available. They're too cheap I think, as they'd need to add in a separate controller (without sacrificing the current bay configuration in order to get a port).
     
  18. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #18
    so basically (for the MP at least) it would require a complete redesign - especially if it takes out 1HDD capability internally.

    for the iMac/MBP i would have assumed it critical - obviously not.
     
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #19
    Pretty much. They had the option of dumping the 2nd optical bay for an eSATA port, or adding in an additional SATA controller. The former would likely generate a lot of complaints, and the latter cost more, cutting into the margins a bit. And we know how Apple likes their margins... :eek: :p

    It seems they expect users to use USB or FW to get the job done (those with no choice, as there's no Express slot), and those that do have one will go buy a card if they're that determined to have eSATA.
     
  20. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #20
    thats what i was going to say - FireWire would give apple good margins of profits etc, why would they change for a few extra MB and customer happiness? :rolleyes:

    a good alternative yes, Express slots are only available for the 17" MBP now though IIRC? it would be much easier to pull that out and put in an eSata slot you would think.. but then again we circluate back to Apple "values" hehe.

    eSata is not as popular as USB, so i guess they will stick with USB whilst its the "champion".
     
  21. goMac macrumors 603

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    #21
    Or they could wait another revision (hopefully) and support eSata via Lightpeak.
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #22
    USB is included in the ICH, so there's no additional funds necessary. They do pay to add the FW chip (not included in the ICH), but that's based on previous decisions over adopting FW (they did have a hand in developing it).

    I suspect this will be what happens.

    But it will mean either new enclosures (includes the SATA to LP bridge chip), or some separate bridge device between the disk and LP signal (single port or a hub) with existing eSATA disks/enclosures.
     
  23. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #23
    well of course they would use firewire as they helped to make it, publicity and discounts etc.


    light peak to esata cable converter with a terminating/converting device inside it for the change in signal? :D
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #24
    Something like that. Or a Hub (think 5 port USB), but it would have a single LP port to the system, and say 5x eSATA ports to attach to enclosures.
     
  25. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #25
    Agh that makes sense. Kind of clutzy I guess but it will work nicely.

    LP will work just like a container for existing protocols from what I understand, on what layer does it run? (physical)?
     

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