Using a 2008 Mac Pro as a gaming computer

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by gtext, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. gtext macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    #1
    Hi,

    Wondering if I could modify and use this Mac Pro to run an on line cycling training program called Zwift.
    For those that don’t know this program is normally used with a smart indoor trainer which interacts with the program. The computer is used to run a monitor or TV through HTMI. https://zwift.com 1

    This Mac Pro which has for years been running faultlessly in my business each day has been semi retired for the last couple of years (as have I) and not used so much.

    Its an early 2008 Mac Pro
    OS X El Capitan (the latest version it will run)
    2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Xeon
    8 GB ram
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256 MB (that I know isn’t good enough)

    Recommended specs for running Zwift are:

    Minimum spec

    Mac OS 10.9 or higher
    Intel Core 2 Duo
    4 GB Ram
    1 GB dedicated GPU or embedded Intel HD 4000AMD R5

    Recommended spec

    Mac OS 10.9 or higher
    Dual Core Intel Core i5 or AMD
    8 GB Ram
    2 GB Radeon R9 200 series or NVIDIA GTX 650

    Extreme spec

    Mac OS 10.9 or higher
    Quad Core Intel I7 or AMD
    8 GB Ram
    2 GB Radeon R9 290 series or NVIDIA GTX 970

    What I’m seeing I’d need is a better graphics card and get around the HTMI connection.
    But how does the current spec stand up against these recomendations. if possible I’d go for the highest spec possible?

    People are also running successfully using Apple TV 4k. Some slight loss in display quality with Apple TV not supporting shadows but ok. Could struggle a bit in large group rides where there’s lots happening.

    Any of this possible on the Mac Pro?
     
  2. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #2
    I have a Mac Pro 1,1 from 2006, and it is used daily by my children. It used to be my main Mac, and I have upgraded it many times over the years.

    It currently is running Mac OS 10.9, and can run World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor at a playable framerate. This sounds like similar specs to the software that you want to run.

    I cannot remember all the specs, as it has been a long time since I messed around with the Mac Pro, but I did upgrade the GPU a few times over the years, all were purchased via the online Apple store. I also have 11GB of RAM, and I turned off virtual memory, which seemed to have a big improvement on performance on Maverick.
     
  3. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #3
    It appears as if you meet the OS and memory requirements. The level of Xeon CPU technology in the 2008 Mac Pro is roughly equivalent to the consumer Core 2 level of technology. Meaning it meets the minimum CPU specification. If the software utilizes more than two cores then it may perform better than the minimum level. Others can speak to graphics cards, that's an area where my knowledge is weak. There are numerous threads discussing graphics cards but be aware most are focused on the later 4,1 and 5,1 models (which were a step up from the 3,1).
     
  4. jbarley, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018

    jbarley macrumors 68040

    jbarley

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    #4
    I'd start with Zwifts free trial, see how it goes and plan any needed upgrades from there.

    BTW "OS X El Capitan (the latest version it will run)", actually El Cap is the last version supported by Apple.
    Your 2008 MacPro can run Sierra or High Sierra quite comfortably.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 10.25.09 AM.png
     
  5. andrew nz macrumors member

    andrew nz

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Christchurch new zealand
    #5
    I am in a similar situation.
    I have been playing warcraft without issue until blizzard made the hardware requirements beyond my current system.
    They seem to routinely purge their subscriber base with silly requirements.

    what would the minimum Mac Pro system to run warcraft assuming what blizzard say as min specs are actually accurate?



    The min Mac os seems to be 10.11.x but the graphic requirements seem hefty because radeon 79x cards are not supported.
    My Mac Pro 1.1 will run el capitan but does not support later graphics cards than the radeon 79xx/r9.
    I had been playing warcraft under 10.10.5 and radeon 5770.
    And playing the game well without issues.

    --
    See below minimum spec and preferred spec by blizzard:

    macOS® 10.12 (latest version) macOS® 10.13 (latest version)

    PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i5-760 or better Intel® Core™ i7-4770 or better

    VIDEO NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 750M or better
    AMD Radeon™ R9 M290 or better
    Intel® HD 530 (macOS 10.13 or higher, 45W)
    2GB VRAM
    Metal capable GPU

    --

    What can you advise about Mac Pro. Wold I need Mac Pro 3.1 or later?
    The idea is to keep my 1.1 for daily duties because it has been specced well and try to find a gaming option with later Mac Pro and then eventually migrate ....

    i think I cold get away with 10.11.x el capitan which is the unofficial minimum.
    What can you advise about the graphic card? yes is needs to be metal capable and R9/79xx will support metal.

    advice appreciated. Cross post this if you need.


    andrew
     
  6. Theophany macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    NW London.
    #6
    What resolution/level of detail do you want to play at?

    Bear in mind WoW is heavily CPU bound, so your CPU will likely end up being the limiting factor once you have an appropriate GPU. I believe WoW also dropped OpenGL support, as of the latest expansion, so a Metal capable card is a must.

    Honestly, if you're looking at upgrading from a 1,1 you may as well go for a 4,1/5,1 as they are the latest machines and have the longest life expectancy. WoW is the only game I play frequently and my 4,1 handles it just great at 3840x1600 on fairly high detail settings.
     
  7. andrew nz macrumors member

    andrew nz

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Christchurch new zealand
    #7
    hello.


    yes the GPU needs to be metal capable and the r9/79xx I have in the 1.1 apparently is not adequate for the new version of wow although it is metal capable. Open Cl has been ditched for future wow play.

    i intend to play at monitor native resolution which would be equivalent to 1080p, so at least 1920x1080.

    From what you have said, then at least minimum Mac Pro 4.1, or 5.1 if possible.

    what about the GPU? what would be the most economical card?
    After the radeon 5770 era i am unsure about their specs and builds.


    andrew
     
  8. Theophany macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    NW London.
    #8
    If it's 1080p only, you might be able to scrape by with a GTX 680 on the nVidia side, though a 780 or 980 would be preferable if you want to turn up the detail settings. Bear in mind that these will require either custom firmware and/or nVidia's web drivers.

    I'm not massively familiar with the AMD side of things, but anything newer than a 7970 should be fine, so R9 or RX cards should be fine. I'm not 100% on which AMD cards work out of the box, but there are plenty of red team users in these forums who should be able to help you out!
     
  9. ssgbryan macrumors 6502a

    ssgbryan

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #9
    I am using an RX 560 - it works just fine in Diablo III. 4Gb of ram & inexpensive.
     
  10. andrew nz macrumors member

    andrew nz

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Christchurch new zealand
    #10

    I have seen numerous RX 570 with different specs.

    Is the RX 560 plug and play with mac pro 1.1-5.1 and would the correct drivers already be in el capitan 10.11.x?
     
  11. ssgbryan macrumors 6502a

    ssgbryan

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #11
    No - you need at least 10.12.6 (SSE 4,2 instructions), so the 1,1 - 3,1 are out. :( It should work in Windows 10, which doesn't need SSE 4,2 instructions.

    The same can be said for the Nvidia 10XX series. I made the mistake of thinking a 1030 would work with 10.11.

    OTOH, I now have a GPU for my computer I got from Goodwill (HP Z210 workstation - $40 + shipping) :D
     
  12. andrew nz macrumors member

    andrew nz

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Christchurch new zealand
    #12
    is there a real alternative to use the macpro 1.1/2.1 and a newer card? i do not want to get a 5.1, which are quite hard to find for sale in my location, so extending the life of my mac is preferred.

    Here is a short list of the cards bizzard say are compatible ,m but again the deciding factor is 10.11.x:


    Radeon Pro 450
    Radeon Pro 455
    Radeon Pro 555
    Radeon Pro 560
    Radeon Pro 570
    Radeon Pro 575
    Radeon Pro 580
    Radeon Pro Vega 56
    Radeon Pro Vega 64
    Radeon RX 400 Series
    Radeon RX 500 Series
    Radeon RX Vega 56
    Radeon RX Vega 64
    Radeon Pro WX 7100
    Radeon Pro WX 9100


    Anyone have comment about these?


    andrew
     
  13. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #13
    Install an NVMe SSD and you'll be good to go.
     
  14. ssgbryan macrumors 6502a

    ssgbryan

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #14
    None of those will go - they need 10.12 (I have a RX 560).
     
  15. andrew nz macrumors member

    andrew nz

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Christchurch new zealand
    #15
    what is the agreed consensus about last era and edition of gpu's in Mac Pro 1.1?
    Would Radeon R9 280x be the terminal point, or can the next series Rx's become useable?
     
  16. fireedo macrumors regular

    fireedo

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Location:
    Indonesia
    #16
    I'm sorry maybe irrelevant but my cMP 2009 also act as my gaming machine

    all games that supported Mac very playable with native resolution on my system

    Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 00.39.47.png
     

Share This Page

15 July 11, 2018