Never owned a Mac Pro ... Easy to modify?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Adamantoise, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    I currently own a Windows PC and a Macbook Pro. Don't have any problems with either and I'm not considering buying a Mac Pro (not this generation anyway).

    I stumbled on the Mac Pro's page on Apple's website and that is the best looking enclosure I have seen to date. It appears there's easy access to almost everything.

    I know Apple is pretty locked down as far as hardware goes and I wanted to ask if it was the same deal with the Mac Pro.

    For instance will I be able to swap out a PCIe based graphics card for a better one if I so please (drivers permitting of course)?

    Will I be able to swap out the motherboard if I get bored with it and want new things?
  2. Shadow%20Mac macrumors demi-god

    Dec 28, 2007
    In a word: Yes. You can swap out almost anything. Storage, Graphics, Memory, etc. Not sure about the motherboard.

    Mac OS X, however, is not nearly as flexible :D
  3. Adamantoise thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Well, I really only see myself swapping out Hard Drives and Graphics Cards.

    I've also got a Blu-Ray drive on my current PC that I might try messing around with.

    What do you mean by OS X isn't as flexible? Do you mean to say the hardware I put in won't be recognized by OS X?
  4. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    To better explain this, in general, Mac Pros will only work with PCIe graphics cards that a) Have appropriate EFI-64 firmware (this is different than the BIOS found on PC-specific cards); and b) Have compatible drivers in OS X. Please see other notes below.

    For "official" retail cards (still readily available), we're currently limited to the Radeon 5770, Radeon 5870 and Quadro 4000. However, several people have gotten non-official, PC-spec Radeon cards (5770/5870 and some 68xx series) and certain NVIDIA cards to boot and work in OS X through firmware flashing. The difficulty of success in doing so is largely dependent on the card in question, however.

    If you're a gamer that boots into Windows on a separate partition (e.g. Bootcamp), it actually is possible to run a PC graphics card in another PCIe slot and have Windows ignore the other card. But for booting, you will still need a Mac-compatible card present.

    Also note that the Mac Pro is equipped with 2 PCIe power headers on its logic board. A stock 5770 uses one of these headers, while the optional 5870 card uses both. The aftermarket "Mac" Quadro 4000 uses only one. So, if you were in a scenario where you'd like to use a stock 5770 card in conjunction with say, a GeForce GTX 570 (for Windows), you would be short by one PCIe power connection and have to either supplement that by branching off Molex power from the unused optical drive OR do a drive bay PSU mod. Also, the Mac Pro's PCIe power headers are a miniature type and require specific cables that won't be included with a typical PC graphics card. eBay is a good source for these.

    Any internal SATA Blu-ray drive will work in a Mac Pro for use as a data storage device. But OS X will not play Blu-ray movies without unsupported workarounds (no HDCP functionality in the OS). Note that some Blu-ray drives (notably, ones made by Pioneer) have a "sleep" issue when operating in OS X, where the drive may "disappear" after waking the machine up from a sleep state.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  5. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Can't swap out the motherboard. The way Intel does things though, you'd likely have to swap out most of the rest of the machine with a new motherboard anyway.
  6. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    As long as you are swapping in Mac compatible hardware the Mac Pro is one of the easiest machines to work on I have ever owned. The counterpoint is that you can't just grab any hardware you want and slap it in there.
  7. lewdvig macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    South Pole
    I just installed an SSD last night and wow, what a difference!

    MP is great - by far my favourite Mac!

    I switched from a 21.5" iMac that had heat issues and wonky HDD (Applecare fixed it, and I sold it it as soon as they gave it back to me).

    I've been pushing this MP hard for a year, and it was already four years old when I got it.


    pretty close though depending on your comfort with hardware hacking:

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