Ultimate Mac Pro for PowerPC Apps

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lastmile, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. lastmile macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2008
    I've been piecing together a maxed out Quicksilver G4 for old OS 9 apps and have been thinking about what the ultimate Mac would be for running apps that require a PowerPC.

    The latest version of OS X with Rosetta which allowed Intel Macs to run PowerPC apps was 10.6.

    I think that makes the graphics card the limitation. The best graphics card would be a 5870 (or flashed 6870?) or a Quadro 4000.

    So that would make the ultimate Mac Pro capable of running PowerPC apps:

    Mac Pro 5,1 (or firmware upgraded 4,1,)
    Dual 6-core 3.46 GHz W5690 CPUs
    128 GB RAM (96 GB available in OS X)
    One of the graphics cards listed above
    SSD drive for OS and apps
    Large drive for data storage

    I'm considering building a scaled-back version of this but I also want to be able to boot into a more modern OS for daily use.

    I'd also like to have a better graphics card available for when I'm using a later OS, like a 680, 780, etc.

    I'd also like to only have one monitor connected. I would switch inputs when using 10.6 vs. the later OS.

    A x80 GTX could be installed in the bottom slot and use both 6-pin power cables. I assume it would be ignored by Snow Leopard. That would leave me with no remaining power cables and require the use of a GT 120 as the graphics card under 10.6.

    An alternative would be a lower-end card for OSs above 10.6. I've seen some 960 cards that only require one 6-pin connector. That would allow the Quadro 4000 to be used under 10.6. It only requires one 6-pin connector and only occupies one slot.

    If I were running Seirra (just an example but I know I want to be running at least 10.9), how would I get the OS to ignore the second graphics card (the one I was installing for use under 10.6)? Would setting it to just mirror the main desktop work?

    Note I have built Hackintoshes, but the idea behind a system like this would be to be able to get multiple versions of OS X up and running without problems.
  2. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    In my experience, unless you have a practical need to have all instances of OS X versions running on the same machine, otherwise it is more trouble than it is worth to do so, compared to having multiple dedicated macs capped at various generations.

    For instance, for running PPC apps, Rosetta is half-emulation which inevitably keeps a certain PPC era apps from running 100% bug free. The latest PPC native OS X is 10.5, but IIRC the generally precept "latest stable version" for this purpose is 10.4.11. A Quicksilver that you already have is in fact a good machine to run this on, not to mention the ability to dual boot into System 9 and/or running Classic for double duty.

    I am currently working primary on Sierra already due to projects requiring it (Adobe CC), but I keep a MBP 8,1 running 10.6.8 with me at all times, this machine has a Swiss knife role where running Rosetta is possible, iCloud partially works (mac.com emails), has Thunderbolt (and 10.6.8 has drivers for it), still has Firewire 800, and is portable.

    I got a 8 core Mac Pro 2,1 at the office with 10.6.8 as well, currently being an afp file server and audio I/O with an external USB DAC. Despite having 32GB RAM in it and a considerably better graphics card, I find it less useful than the MBP, simply due to lack of Thunderbolt and not being portable. Also a lot of pre-10.7 apps still run 32-bit, which means natively they cannot utilize more than 4GB memory while running in 10.6, Final Cut Pro 7 namely.

    I think it really depends on what your aim with such an "ultimate" machine is, if you dual / triple boot Sierra on top of the older OS X instances, you will end up fine-tuning the hardware to one specific version which will inevitably run less smooth on the other.
  3. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Dec 1, 2013
    Houston, TX USA
    See if you can run some OS9 benchmarks and compare them to the top dog of the day for extra credit. :D
  4. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    One of the issues with an Intel Mac is that you have zero support for OS 9(and before) apps unless you want to mess with Sheepsaver or one of the other emulators.

    Even for PPC apps, I'd still keep two computers around. For OS X native and carbonized apps, I'd have a Quad with an X1900XT boot either only into Leopard or dual boot Tiger and Leopard. I'd then have an MDD or MDD2003 with a dual 1.42 card and heatsink from a FW800MDD and put in a Geforce 4Ti.

    Of course, I'm saying that as someone with dozens of special purpose machines lying around. For the time being, I have a dual 1ghz Quicksilver with a Radeon 9600(and a few other odds and ends) for OS X work. It dual boots Tiger and Leopard, although Leopard is the primary OS(I've had issues in the past with getting the Apple-shipping SCSI card to work in Leopard). I don't run OS 9 on it because there is no hardware acceleration with the 9600. For MOST OS 9 programs, that same desk has a 9600/200MP with a Radeon 9200 and the RAM maxed(1.5gb, and it didn't come cheap). I've been planning to replace the Quicksilver with a dual 2.7 G5 for a while(I need PCI for SCSI) and probably will once my X850XT gets here from England. Once I do that, the Quicksilver MAY get bumped to OS 9 duties, although with a 4Ti rather than a 9600.
  5. flehman macrumors 6502


    Feb 21, 2015
    I remember when the 9600/200 was the bees knees...that model came out the summer before I went to college. I could only afford a 7300/180, but I pined for a 9600. Thankfully the 7300 was a great machine too. (Of course the Pismo I bought to replace the 7300 is STILL the best Mac I've ever owned but that is another story.) Amazing to hear how many of these machines are kicking around.
  6. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    To be honest, I was shocked just at the physical size of it when I first got the computer. It is a beast in every way.

    It's unfortunate that the dual processor implementation in it is a bit weird. Photoshop is the only Mac native program I know of that can use the second processor, although BeOS can also use it. Interestingly enough, I ran Tiger on it at one point using a kernel that a friend patched for 604 compatibility, and Tiger didn't see the second processor(OS 9 sees it but can't use it).

    All that aside, the whole 7300/8600/9600 machines are great all around. I have an 8600/200 that now has a 700mhz/1mb Sonnet G4 upgrade and runs Tiger very well. I know of folks running Leopard on similar hardware-I just haven't taken the time to work the bugs out of getting it to boot(Leopard KPs while booting).

Share This Page