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First Gen Mac Pro


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It was an accident really. I was wandering through a recycling center and spotted a pile of G5's ready for teardown and noticed one with the rear facing towards me had a different bulkhead. I've only seen a second gen G5 once but I remember it was very different from the first gen junkers I always saw so after I was cleared to take it from the pile to the cashier I paid $40 (G5's are so unreliable they're just about free now) and went home. Only when I got back and got some rest (this was in the middle of a roadtrip) did I discover it was not a G5 at all. It's the 2.66ghz first gen. It has two optical drives but no hard drives (but all the caddys are there) and no ram (but the risers are there) and no video card. PLugging it in and turning it on got power and a rapidly blinking white light which seems to indicate a memory error (well no surprise given I don't have any ECC DDR2 handy) so it's looking more and more like this machine was decomissioned, stripped of useable parts and sent off to the recycler. It might end up being a fully functioning machine. I actually feel kind of bad now paying only $40.

 

Anyways, if everything checks out we'll pimp it out with 32gb of ram and dual 3ghz quad core xeons now that these components are relatively cheap. I can then start considering replacing my entire desktop with this. I wonder if it will support multibooting OS X and Windows 7....

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What an excellent find! Lucky you!!!

 

But, ugh... keep it as a single boot. Too many Intel Mac users get into trouble with Boot Camp, run Windows and then get a Windows Virus that infects and destroys both the Windows and Mac OSX Partitions and end up scratching their heads says, "But Macs done get viruses!" "That's correct, you got a windows virus from running Windows on a Mac! Duh!!!"

Edited by Elfen
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Unless you can get all the parts you want as pulls from retired servers, etc, you might want to rethink dumping too much money into that turkey. Cutting to the chase: a fully, totally, 100% tweaked out 8-core example of that machine might have roughly the total theoretical horsepower of a decent (but not amazing) quad-Core i7 but per-thread it's never going blow you to the back of the theater.

 

(One thing to consider about having 8 cores in that machine: when you have eight of them the share of memory bandwidth available to each core is actually somewhat less than a typical Pentium III machine, with higher latency thanks to the FB-DIMM technology.)
 

Personally I'd say, sure, go ahead and scavenge enough RAM to see if it'll go; with the addition of a video card the thing would make a decent Linux or Windows 7 box as-is, but I'd totally recommend against spending more than... not much, on it. It does suck that the original video card is gone. I looked into trying to flash a generic video card for a first-gen Mac Pro and pretty much what I came away with was the only third-party cards that have a compatible EFI bios floating around in the wild are as rare as hens' teeth. Linux or Windows will work okay with a PC video card stuffed in there, although it'll be sort of awkward as you'll loose the ability to access the "magic key combination" boot menus, etc, from the Mac firmware.

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I have a number of connections who decomission old servers as their job. Getting the ram will be easy but the matched CPU's might take a few weeks more.

 

 

 

But, ugh... keep it as a single boot. Too many Intel Mac users get into trouble with Boot Camp, run Windows and then get a Windows Virus that infects and destroys both the Windows and Mac OSX Partitions and end up scratching their heads says, "But Macs done get viruses!" "That's correct, you got a windows virus from running Windows on a Mac! Duh!!!"

 

The fun thing about my network is that I have a tape library hanging off it. Its capacity is 20tb and basically all you do is sync local folders with the cached volume on the server once a week so I no longer worry about file loss in cases like this. I've actually reduced my current system's local disk capacity from 2.3tb to 500gb because of it. Things like SSD's are suddenly a lot more economical for me. Also, considering the new mac pro is a goddamn trashcan I'm totally content maxing this out and using it the next five years for a daily driver.

Edited by CelGen
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Just a quick note about the memory: the Mac Pros were pretty infamous for requiring special heat sinks on all the RAM so you may have hit-and-miss luck with RAM pulled out of servers. (Where nobody cares about fan noise and the systems are designed around having the RAM sit in a high-speed wind tunnel.) The 32GB of RAM in mine was intended for use in a Dell 1950/2950 and just has conventional non-finned heat-spreaders on it; the system works okay 99% of the time but I *have* witnessed it hang once or twice; I don't know if that's just coincidence or a heat problem (the fans don't seem to be overspeeding or anything, and ironically the only times it's ever hung are in OS X, not the Linux it usually runs) but I don't recall it ever hanging before it was upgraded from 8GB of heatsink-equipped RAM. Good luck with yours!

 

Do you have a lead on a video card or do you just plan to do without a "fully working" one? (You *may* be able to get OS X on there using a PC-targeted card, supposedly as long as your card has drivers it will eventually be initialized during the boot process, but you'll be flying blind until then.)

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I'll second the problems with ram pulled from old servers, I added the 4GB from my dell PE2950 to mine and it caused a few hangs once the system had been on for 10 - 12 hours. But since i was setting it up as a server i just ramped the fan speed up and called it done. when it was in testing i had them set at a minimum of 1700RPM, now it is installed as my server (so it is out of earshot) i just ramped it all the way up to 2900RPM. The fans are actually quite quiet when ramped up a bit, so if you are having stability problems i would ramp them up to 1000 - 1200 RPM and see if it makes a difference

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I've 24GB of RAM in my MP 1,1 which I sourced from eBay - they are Micron modules with thin heatsinks.  I've had no issues with them, nor noticed fan speeds ramping up any more than usual.

 

Regarding CPU upgrades, the x5355 CPUs (2.66Ghz quad core) you can get for < $50 pair, the x5365 (3.0Ghz quad core) still are < $150 for the pair.  One day when they get closed to $100 I'm going to bite, but they would only give a meagre performance increase over 2.66 parts anyhow.

 

JB

Edited by Byrd
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