Mac Pro 1,1 Upgrades Pt. 3 New CPUs
Continued from Part 2…

I ended Part 2 with a devastating system malfunction and I am now back up and running. I don't know if it was a power surge or what, but it fried my Windows drive and made macOS Lion unbootable. I lost one of my 1TB drives (the one with Windows) but the drive that had Lion just destroyed my boot loader. I have since put in a spare 320GB disk for Windows and I was able to reinstall Lion. I decided to stay on Windows 7 this time because Windows 10's performance is quite terrible! For an example, I was getting 35fps in Minecraft on Windows 10 and 60fps on Windows 7. Plus, Bootcamp for Mac Pro 1,1 officially supports Windows 7, so all the drivers play nice. One thing I will point out for installing the Bootcamp drivers for Windows 7, is that they wouldn't run. I had to open a command prompt as an administrator and navigate to the Windows Support folder via the command prompt. After that,I could install the drivers just fine. Strange issue…

Back to regularly scheduled upgrading….

Well the time has come, Mac Pro got the upgrade of all upgrades. My Mac Pro 1,1 has grown up to a Mac Pro 2,1! How is that possible? This Mac Pro's design is almost completely upgradable, so almost every component can be replaced. Looking at the specs of both the 1st and 2nd generation Mac Pro, there really is only one difference, the processors. Turning to eBay, I found a set of X5365 processors for around $80. Each chip is a quad core running at 3Ghz and that brings a machine with two of those chips up to 8 cores. That's pretty impressive by today's standards. Taking apart the Mac Pro isn't too difficult, but there are a few tricky things. I'll provide a link to the video I used at the end. After the new processors are installed in the Mac Pro, the machine will require a firmware update in order to recognize them. This is the firmware that shipped with the Mac Pro 2,1 so, essentially, this is the point where the Mac Pro becomes a 2nd generation. One thing that I discovered the hard way was that you have to run the firmware update on macOS Lion. El Capitan does not know how to update the firmware on an old Macintosh. Once the firmware is up-to-date, you will notice that the Mac is now reading the system as a 2nd generation and, if you didn't mess up the processor upgrade, you should be seeing dual quad core CPUs. This nearly doubled my multi-core Geekbench score.

Moving on to the second upgrade I performed this week. As I pointed out in Part 2, the El Capitan installer needed at least 12GB of RAM to install. My RAM upgrade arrived from OWC and this Mac Pro is now running 24GB of RAM. El Capitan installed just fine and all is good, and may I add that this Macintosh is d**n fast!

From everything I read online, this Mac could only run up to 32GB of RAM, but some guy found that a specific type of RAM would run in the Mac Pro 1,1/2,1, allowing it to run 64GB of RAM! Holy Cow! I also want to put a second Radeon 5770 video card in this Mac Pro, allowing me to have dual GPUs and drive four monitors. One thing I did notice when disassembling the Mac Pro for the CPU upgrade, was that there are two more SATA ports on the logic board. If those work, I could have two more hard drives in there! I don't really use the optical drives, so I would take out the optical drives in favor of two more hard drives. In a perfect world, I could put six 8TB hard drives in this single computer. Doing the "complicated" math, that would mean this Mac Pro could have 48TB of disk space. With the 8 core CPUs @3ghz, 64GB of RAM, dual GPUs with 2GB of dedicated vRAM, this Macintosh could be one beefy system! For the time being, I think I am done upgrading this Mac Pro. I am very happy with the performance I have gotten and I have no immediate need to upgrade the system anymore. Of course, I am a power hungry nerd and will be upgrading it more in the future, but for now, I am happy.

Here are a few screenshots of Geekbench:



As a fun comparison, the current gen Mac Pro gets a Muti-Core score of 14572 and for an upgraded 10 year old computer to almost be as powerful as the current gen is quite impressive.

Empty Wallet Breakdown (costs)

Base Mac Pro - $200
Graphics Card - $100
X5365 CPUs - $80
16GB RAM - $120
SSD - $50
Video Card Power Cables - $40
macOS - Free ;)

Total - $590

So for just under $600, you can build a very powerful Macintosh that performs almost as well as the current generation and that runs the latest version of macOS. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me and I look forward to writing Part 4 when I feel it is time to perform an upgrade. macOS 10.12 will be coming out this fall and I will be trying hard to get that on this Mac Pro "2,1". In the meantime, macOS 10.11.6 has been released and I will have to get that installed. It should be pretty easy, assuming Apple didn't do something crazy in there to prevent the Pike boot loader from working.

Video Link:
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