Two become one....

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dndlnx, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. dndlnx macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    I want to combine my Windows gaming box & my Mac into one machine, a new Mac Pro from last gen.

    Considering $ it costs to keep them separate...and iMac's frustrating upgrade options, it makes sense to me.

    1) Whats the best set-up if I want Windows & Mac OS on their own separate SSD's? That would leave 2 drive bays. I want redundancy, can I set up the other two for storage on a RAID 1, with HFS+ and NTFS partitions?

    2) Can I buy a 5770 for PC and flash it to mac BIOs, so I have the same card as the new MP's? (GT 120 is kinda dinky)

    3) Can I use a PC card like 6950 in one of the pci slots, to use for Windows gaming? I shouldnt have to ask this, but never know.

  2. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
  3. dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    Great. I should have known with apple, it would not be that simple. :rolleyes:

    I wonder if I could have a splitter, and double one up? Don't MP use like 1000w rated PSU's...consumption shouldnt be an issue.

    I guess my other question would be, are there cards better than GT 120 that only use PCI power? Preferably one I could flash, if possible. :D
  4. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    If you want the 5770 why not buy the Apple version? Yes it may be more money but you should have painless OS updates.
  5. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    I agree with this but with the caveat that the 5770 isn't technically supported on the 2008 models and older. It still works, but you're on your own if you run into any issues(except for asking for help in forums like these).

    It's still better than flashing a PC card since as far as I'm aware, there's are some idiosyncrasies with the 5xxx series. I don't think you get an EFI boot screen when you first switch on which could be a PITA if you regularly switch between OS X and Windows.

    Personally I'd buy the Apple card.
  6. dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    OK fine, Apple cards are preferred. But what about power cables?

    I want to put in the newest PC cards also, so I can ditch my gaming box. Thats my most important concern.

    Please does anyone know if these cables from the motherboard can be doubled-up with a splitter? I know power can be used from an optical drive connector, but I may need more than 3 for GPU's, if I wanted to get older Apple 4870 as my Mac card, and then a 6950 for booting into Windows. :(

    I know the MP has a beefy PSU and can support many cards. And it has lots of PCI express slots. But this power cable thing is depressing.
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    When you say last gen, do you mean a 2008 or 2009 system?

    Given the different logic boards, it will matter as to the details.

    Ideally, placing them in the empty optical bay would be the best way to go in order to keep the HDD bays open. But this will be complicated by the 6950 if you get it (5.25" PSU for graphics cards would end the ability to locate the SSD's there, unless you pull the OEM optical drive to be placed in an external enclosure, or use an external PSU to power the 6950).

    There's some options, but the details are critical.

    You can.

    Yes, this is possible as well. Now if you combine it with a GT120, you cannot run Vista, as it won't allow you to mix GPU brands (nVidia and AMD/ATI).

    It's to do with how much power is being drawn over the PCB traces those connectors on the logic board can take. As the 5770 can draw up to 321W (full load), and the 6950 200W at load, they won't be able to take it.

    So you'll need to run a separate PSU. Now there's an inexpensive internal unit that fits in a 5.25" bay (here), or you can use a standard computer PSU (just jump the green and black wires together to turn it on).

    Nothing newer than the GT120 at this point in time.
  8. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    What? Why are we suddenly getting mad at Apple? PC's with only two power connectors for GPUs are not uncommon.

    Yeah, the Mac Pro is expensive, but still...
  9. dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    This one. I think its the 2009. But I dunno.

    It would be Win7. But noted. :)

    Ghetto rigging a PSU seems like a meh solution. But that 5.25 one is cool! I was skeptical, but its got positive reviews w/ people overclocking, crossfiring and everything. :eek:

    You sir, may have restored my faith in pulling this off! :)

    (And yet I'm still nervous about a $20 PSU powering my card, lol)
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes, that's a 2009 system.

    Now, as per what to do with the SSD's (physical location), you've a few options.

    1. Use the GT120 + 6950
    • Place one of the SSD's in the empty optical bay, and the second in one of the HDD trays (use an Icy Dock adapter). That will leave you 3x bays for other disks.
    • Run the 6950 via the PSIG connectors on the board (the connectors on the logic board are smaller than standard PSIG 6 pin connectors, but you can get the correct cables here <you'll need 2x>).
    2. Tossing the GT120 for a 5770 + 6950
    • Place the additional PSU for the 6950 in the empty optical bay (if you buy the Apple version of the 5770, it will include the cable you need for it - only takes 1x; if you try to go with a flashed PC model, you'll need a single cable).
    • Use 2x Icy Dock adapters with one SSD per in 2x HDD trays (leaves you 2x available for data).
    3. Tossing the GT120 for a 5770 + 6950 and need more than 2x HDD trays for data
    • Place the additional PSU for the 6950 in the empty optical bay (if you buy the Apple version of the 5770, it will include the cable you need for it - only takes 1x; if you try to go with a flashed PC model, you'll need a single cable).
    • Use 1x Icy Dock adapters with one SSD in an HDD tray (leaves you 3x HDD trays available for data).
    • Pull the OEM Optical drive, and place it in an external USB enclosure (example; USB will boot both OS X and Windows - it will be fast enough).

    There's other options as well, but it will involve SATA/eSATA cards and external enclosures.
    Windows 7 won't have a problem mixing cards.

    The 5.25" unit is much cleaner and easier to deal with IMO as well. :)
    It's been used successfully, so I wouldn't worry about it. :D
  11. dndlnx, Jan 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011

    dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    Lotsa of options there...I got some thinking to do. :eek:

    Say I were to skip the extra PSU, and just use the logic board to power the 6950 with the cables you linked to.

    Then could I have a single cable Mac card like an older 8800GT or the 5770, just powered by an optical drive cable?

    Then as for SSD - whatever I could work in, from what you listed I guess...

    Anyway thanks for the help!! I think I may try going ahead with this after all. :)
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It might work, but it comes down to whether or not the PCB traces can take that much power draw, as would the 12V rail it's connected to (no idea what may share it).

    So it's risky in terms of causing damage to your system.
  13. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    I have enjoyed following this post and your train of thought. I do have one observation, For everything you are trying to packin the macpro you may want to go the hackintosh route. The reason I say this is adding the windows viedo card and extra ssd's you may overload the power supply system, and with the 2 video card it could make OS X not as stable. I use my 2008 macpro for both windows and OS X but comprimised on the ATI 5770 video card. I an not a big gamer except for X-plane and FSX.
    Good Luck
  14. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    You do know the Mac Pro has a 1kW PSU, which is absolutely plenty?
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The power rating doesn't mean much if the PCB traces can't handle the power draw (PSIG connectors have specification limits that are less than what the OP would ideally like to do with them). Nor do we know how the rails are split (how many, what each is attached to, or how much headroom remains on each).

    The design decisions to use PCB traces to transfer power (keep it cleaner internally without having to deal with as much cable management) has caused some limitations (it was never intended to run multiple high power graphics cards, given there's only 2x 6 pin connectors, not 4, or any 8 pin at all). It's a workstation = it wasn't designed for high-end gaming. ;)
  16. dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    Ok just seeing.

    Trying to conserve PCI slots, that the PSU cord would take up. I may want eSata or USB3 in the future, who knows. ;)
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    You can always modify the case if you have to in order to preserve the PCI bracke/PCIe slot (removable panel for example, as it can be replaced in order to sell it). Though if selling it isn't a concern, you could possibly cut a hole in the back panel as well (a Dremel would do well here).
  18. dndlnx thread starter macrumors 6502


    Dec 9, 2010
    Ok so thought about your suggestions. I'm considering sticking with the GT120, and using the 2 auxilary cords for a 6950.

    then using extra optical bay for an SSD

    2 things -

    1) About having PC cards in a Mac Pro... Will the 6950 be constantly running, even when I'm booted into Mac OS. Would it go idle at all, or something? I ask because on the PCs I've built, the card/fans run harder until it boots into Windows. ie if I'm using using Mac OS (which will be most of the time) will it always be going...waiting to boot into Windows? :(

    2) Is the GT120 adequate enough to drive the 27" cinema display? No games or anything. But HD content....stuff like that.

    I'm not 100% sure if this is a good idea yet....:)
  19. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    I'm not sure it is any cheaper to combine them considering what you could get an entry level iMac for and a custom built gaming PC. Depending on your Mac OSX needs you might even be able to do a Mac Mini or just go pure Windows.

    The minute you start putting unsupported hardware into your Mac you lose the simplicity that the walled Apple garden provides. My advice is to stick with supported configurations. You don't want to spend more time fiddling with your system than you are actually using it.

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