"Reverse Hackintosh" upgrades? New GPU for Mac Pro 3,1 running Windows 7 ONLY

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jaymullr, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. jaymullr macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2017

    First time poster, so please pardon any duplicate question. (Though a search came up empty.)
    I currently have a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 that I inherited recently. I needed a desktop with some extra oomph to run some programs I needed for grad school. Trouble is, they're Windows only. So I worked with IT here and replaced the OS so that it only runs Windows 7 (i.e., no OSX)... Think of it as a reverse Hackintosh ;)

    That said, the specs are decent:
    16 GB RAM
    3x HDD (1, 1, 2 TB, respectively)
    2x Intel Xeon 2.8GHz CPU
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT GPU

    But I'm still contemplating some upgrades, loosely in the order GPU--RAM--HDD (well, SSD)--screen. My question is three-fold.

    1) Is upgrading components possible without completely scrambling my OS setup?

    2) I recently decided to donate the unused computing power to a BOINC project. (I'm a scientist, so this is important to me.) However, though not a serious gamer, I dabble occasionally and even with the BOINC task suspended, games are laggy. Excepting something on the BOINC side, I'd like to think this reflects the age/weakness of the GPU (it's 2008 era, after all). I'm not particularly computer literate, so I'd appreciate any insight as to what new GPU unit would be best in this instance, while also maintaining full UI functionality (i.e., I'd like to keep a boot screen, etc.). I'd also prefer something OpenCL/OpenGL compatible (whatever that means) because it'll allow me to create data viz of the climate models BOINC is running in the background. That said, if someone here is well-versed in BOINC, I'd appreciate any other tips you might have, though I'll also take this concern over to their forums.

    3) Currently using an old Dell monitor. What would be the highest res screen this tower can power?

    Follow ups questions on my end will likely concern "how-to's" if that's something anyone wants to preemptively address in their reply :)

    IT here isn't intended for things like this, so TIA!
  2. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    1) Should be fine since you're running Windows.

    2) I'd assume any AMD GPU would be what you're after (RX480/RX580) since you're looking for OpenCL.

    3) Whatever the new GPU you purchase can support. Most new GPUs can do 4K/5K and some can even do 8K displays. With your old card? I believe 2560x1600 is max.
  3. jaymullr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2017
    Thanks for the info!

    So you don't think that only having Windows -- I boot straight into Windows 7, no Bootcamp, no OS X, no nothing -- will prove problematic? The jargon online is dense, but I keep reading about lack of boot screens (I want to keep mine), flashing vs. not, drivers, and the like. To put it another way, how can I find which GPU to get so that I can just plug-and-play from my Windows OS that's loaded onto Mac hardware?

    I get the sense that a Mac graphics card will work because it can be used for Windows or on OS X, if I choose to install that again in the future. I then falter because it seems like a lot of references are made to which OS version a GPU will work with, and that doesn't apply to me -- most people talk OS X versions for GPUs, when mine will be powering Windows 7.

    You'll have to forgive me if this is easy, but I'm too thick to absorb it properly :)

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