Mac Pro 1,1 Upgrades Pt. 1
Like most Apple users, I have lusted over the Mac Pro since its original incarnation in 2006. Its sleek aluminum body and easy expandability. The raw power to do whatever your heart desires. Mac Pro has always been a special kind of machine in my eyes but, like most Apple fans, I never had the funds to buy one. Instead, I went down the lines of using Apple's iMac, and there's nothing wrong with that! iMac is a killer computer. I currently use a 27" late 2012 iMac with a quad core 3.4GHz, Intel i7, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and I have a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video RAM. This is a great computer! It runs Apple's latest operating system (and I'm currently running Sierra) and it also runs some graphics intensive applications like Final Cut Pro and Pixelmator without any hiccups. So, I have this great iMac--why did I mention the Mac Pro in the beginning of this article?

I found a 2006 Mac Pro online for only $200 and I could not pass it up. I started becoming aware of the Macintosh's existence in 2007, and this is the machine I have lusted over for the better part of a decade. This model has two dual core 2.66GHz Intel Xeon CPUs, 8GB of RAM, three 1TB hard disk drives, and a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 graphics card with 256MB of video RAM. This is a pretty run of the mill 2006 Mac Pro and will make for some fun upgrades. This machine can officially be upgraded to macOS 10.7 (Lion), but I wont accept using a much older version of macOS and have found a way to install macOS 10.11 (El Capitan). But, there are a few things standing in my way before I can do that. El Capitan does not work with the GeForce 7300 graphics card. After I installed 10.11 on this Mac Pro it would crash after about five minutes of being booted up. So, I needed to upgrade the graphics card and I decided to go with the ATI Radeon HD 5700. I did a lot of research and many people said this was one of the best cards to upgrade to. I found one on eBay for around $130, which was a little bit more than I wanted to spend, but I don't want to have to upgrade the graphics card again for a little while so I think it'll be a worthwhile investment. A great thing with this card is that it can drive three 1080p displays and, since I will be moving the current graphics card up a few slots, I will be able to drive five displays off one Mac Pro. I am hoping that macOS will take advantage of both GPUs.

The day after I purchased the card I realized that it requires two power cables running into it. Since I did not have those, I went to eBay and could not find any that weren't being shipped from China. I don't have anything against Chinese products, they were just estimated as one month ship times and I didn't want to wait that long. I turned to Other World Computing (not a paid sponsor of The Apple Post) and they had the wire I was looking for. These wires were $18 each! Crazy expensive, and I'm sure I got ripped off, but I didn't want to take any chances of them being the wrong wires. While I was on OWC's website I threw in a 64GB SSD. I was intending to purchase a SSD for this Mac Pro at some point in the near future so I saved on shipping by throwing it into this order. I'll be able to run macOS 10.11 on a SSD with a decent graphics card upgrade by the end of this week. This will already boost this machine's performance dramatically.

Mac Pro 1,1 also supports up to 32GB of pc2 DDR2 RAM. Since I have gone way over my impulse buy budget, I am going to hold off on my RAM upgrade. 8GB of RAM should be sufficient for now. Another upgrade I will be doing next month (after my next paycheck) is the 8 core Xeon upgrade. From what I have read online, the Mac Pro 1,1's processors can be upgraded to two Xeon X5365 CPUs. This will bring the Mac Pro up to a whopping 8 core system with each core running at 3GHz. Currently on eBay, these CPUs run for around $80. After the CPUs are installed, you have to flash the Mac Pro's firmware to Mac Pro 2,1 firmware. Essentially, by doing the processor upgrade, the Mac Pro becomes the second generation. I was curious if that would raise it's 32GB RAM limitation but, from what I have read, it does not.

There's also a second reason I want to go this route. I have some friends who play a lot of Windows games and I don't currently own a Windows PC and I don't want to put any real money into getting a good gaming PC. Mac Pro will allow me to do this. Yes, I could install Windows on my iMac, but I don't have any spare disk space on it. As I mentioned above, the Mac Pro already has three 1TB hard disks in it, so I threw a copy of Windows 7 on one of them. It performs great on my non-upgraded Mac Pro already. I am assuming Windows will play nicely with the Radeon 5770. I have not decided if I want to put Windows 10 on it or not since I am perfectly happy with Windows 7, but I really like the xBox integration in Windows 10. I am not going to be spending much time in Windows so it really doesn't matter to me. I would, however, like to become more familiar with Windows 10 since I am currently deploying Windows 10 at the college where I work. Another reason I needed a Windows PC in this house was to image MS-DOS floppies. As most of you can tell by now, I collect old computers. I am partial to the Macintosh, but I do have quite a few PCs in my collection. I have a USB 3.5" floppy disk drive that works great with macOS but I cannot image floppies within macOS.

Join me on as I attempt to transform this 10-year-old Mac Pro into a serious productivity machine, and stay tuned to Your Geek Needs on YouTube for the great content this machine will push out.
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