From Windows to a used budget Mac Pro - My Experience

Discussion in 'Nerd Squad - Electronics Talk' started by odingalt, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    For the past 30 years I have been a Microsoft operating system user. I have never owned a Mac. However, I need to do web development, and frankly, Windows is not friendly for web development (at least not for open source platforms such as javascript, python, php, etc.). Since Mac has a unix operating system underneath, it's able to do some things that Windows cannot.

    Back in 2010, I spent $2,400 doing a DIY build of my own Windows work station. That work station still has more than enough computing power for me needs. So, I could not bring myself to drop $3,000 on the latest Apple Mac Pro. It would have way more compute than I needed, and Apple is notorious for overpriced hardware anyways. I decided that I would try to buy a used Mac Pro that is comparable to my now 5-year-old Windows workstation:

    AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black CPU
    ATI Radeon HD 5870 GPU 1GB
    16GB DDR3 1333MHz PC3 10666 RAM
    7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3 6.0GBPS hard drive
    Budget 128GB SSD Drive
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

    So I researched, and researched, and researched on used Macs. I decided it was important that I be able to upgrade to El Capitan (the latest OS X as of this writing). Supposely Mac Pro computers from as far back as "early 2009" (also known as Mac Pro 3,1), with a RAM upgrade, would be able to go all the way to El Capitan. The absolutely dirt cheapest early 2009 Mac Pro I could find was $528 including shipping from Used Apple Mac Pro MB871LL/A also known as A1289:

    Single quad-core 2.66 Ghz Intel Xeon W3520 CPU
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 GPU
    3GB DDR3 1066MHZ PC3 8500 RAM
    7200RPM 640GB 16MB Cache SATA 3.0GBPS hard drive
    No SSD
    MacOS X

    Based on benchmarking data, this machine with Intel Xeon W3520 was actually going to perform comparably to my old Amd Phenom II X4 965 Black. However, the A1289's video card, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, had performance specs 30 times slower than my Windows ATI Radeon. And the 3GB just wasn't going to cut it. Mac's can only accept very specific video cards without hacking the firmware on the Mac or on the video card. Being a newbie, I wanted to keep the hacking to a minimum. It turns out this A1289 Mac Pro initially could be purchased with a GPU upgrade to ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB. According to benchmarks, Radeon HD 4870 would only be 2 times slower than my ATI Radeon HD 5870. So I bought one off E-bay for $95.00 including shipping. (If you want to hack firmware, you can get one for around $50 and then reprogram the GPU's firmware to boot on a Mac. We won't cover that tutorial here).

    Lastly we purchased 4x4GB Hynix RAM set from E-Bay for $55 including shipping. Performance? Who knows, we can buy different stuff later if this RAM sucks.

    We had a used logitch marble mouse laying around as well as a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, so we will re-use those. We looked into purchasing a DVI capable KVM switch (so we could use one keyboard, one mouse, and one monitor and share them all between the Windows and OS X computers) but a reliable DVI KVM switch runs about $250. Instead we purchased a refurbished 24" LED Acer monitor from newegg for $114.99 including shipping.

    Our Windows 128GB SSD was growing too small, so we purchased a new 240GB SSD to install in windows - we will try to use the 128GB SSD in the Mac Pro. (Well actually it's 2x 64GB SSD in a RAID stripe configuration). So, our Mac Pro, if all goes well, will have the following

    Single quad-core 2.66 Ghz Intel Xeon W3520 CPU
    ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
    16GB of Mystery Ram (supposedly to be compatible it must also be 1066MHz PC3 8500)
    7200RPM 640GB 16MB Cache SATA 3.0GBPS hard drive
    2x 64GB SSD in a Raid Strip
    OS X El Capitan (eventually)

    I purchased up all the goodies from various vendors - the Mac Pro tower, RAM upgrade, and video card upgrade - at a cost of $678.00 including shipping. (This excludes the monitor at $114.99, and I already had keyboard and mouse laying around, and I am not counting the SSD's even though a 240GB SSD would add around $100 to this build).

    For $678.00 I do expect that this Mac Pro will perform amiably against my Windows built (at 1/4th the cost). It's important to note that this Mac Pro, back in 2009, retailed for $2,499. So we'd expect it to perform on par with my Windows machine.
  2. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The Mac Pro tower was received, along with mystery RAM upgrade and ATI video card upgrade.


    Before tackling the video card and RAM, we should power up and test the Mac. Plug it in... press the button... hear that familiar Mac start-up sound and..... flashing folder icon with quesiton mark? What is this crap?


    Ahhh... it turns out the Amazon seller completely screwed us. They yanked the 640GB Apple hard drive from this unit prior to shipping it. That's right, the Amazon seller screwed us. (They advertised it as including hard drive and being fully tested prior to shipping - an obvious load of bull).

    After writing lengthy 1 star reviews of my purchase and of my seller, I remembered that I had a 1TB 7200RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0GB/s 3.5" drive just sitting in my Windows PC un-plugged. (I normally run two 1TB hard drives in a RAID mirror, and this third unit was my back-up back-up from a previous failure of one of the disks in my RAID mirror). How does this hard drive rate compared to the Apple brand 640GB 7200RPM 16MB cache disk I was supposed to receive? Well, somewhat comparably. In some tests, the Barracuda won. In other tests, the Apple won. (We make a bold assumption that WD6400AAKS Western Digital is the same as the Apple build, which it is not, because the Apple built model will have proprietary apple firmware most likely. But in all honesty all the physical parts are the same as well as the HDD controller chip so it seems safe to assume they will perform similarly):

    Barracuda ST31000524AS:
    Apple stock drive (Western Digital WD6400AAKS):

    All right, well while I wait for the Amazon seller to decide what to do about shipping me a dud, I am going to try to install OS X on my spare 1TB Barracuda.

    It turns out that installing OS X from scratch, without a recovery disk, without a setup disk, and without a second working Mac in your home, and without any buddies that own a Mac, is one of the most difficult tasks you will ever do, and will basically require that you break the law in order to just restore the computer back to the stock condition in which it was originally shipped to its original customers back in 2009.

    You CANNOT install a newer version of Mac than 10.6 on an early 2009 Mac Pro. It just cannot be done. You have to start with 10.6, and then, and only then, can you start to work your way up to newer versions. 10.6 was the last version available before Apple moved all their downloads into the App Store. (Newer versions you cannot buy disks - this is why you must buy 10.6, it's the latest version that you can still get on a DVD disk). Technically 10.6.8 is the verson that introduced App Store OS X updates.

    So, this is the story of trying to install OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 on an early 2009 Mac Pro. There are ONLY TWO WAYS to install OS X on an old Mac Pro to a non-Apple blank hard drive from scratch:

    -Purchase 10.6 install disks from the Apple store, and wait for the disks to show up in the mail (lame!). Downloaded version not available, you must get the disks! Newer than 10.6 not available, it will refuse to install on your old Mac Pro
    -Use Usenet groups to obtain a copy of 10.6 retail installer disks
    -Ignore all other shitty advice that you will receive from Mac fan boys on Google - the only two ways to do this are to wait for disks to come from Apple, or get lucky and obtain copy of said disk from usenet groups (don't bother with torrents, there aren't any).

    For those of you who want to try to obtain a downloadable version of 10.6 retail install disks, you're in for a long uphill battle. First off, don't bother downloading anything that is a .DMG file and don't bother downloading anything that is an .ISO file. None of them worked (Tried burning them to DVD and tried flashing them to a bootable USB stick). We just kept getting a "prohibited" sign (it looks like a "no smoking" sign) telling us that something in the file system on the USB stick or on the DVD is wrong and it won't go any further. Mac says "cock blocked!":


    Eventually you will find "Mac.OS.X.10.6.[Snow.Leopard].Install.DVD" containing a file called "MacOSX106.toast". A .toast file is basically the Mac equivalent of an .ISO file. After burning this .toast file to a DVD using PowerISO, slipping the DVD into the Mac Pro tower, you will be able to successfully boot. Hurray you! If you would have just waited for those Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 disks to come in, you would have saved yourself a lot of internet searching. (Hint, go to usenets and don't bother with torrents, be sure to find a Mac .toast file, and then burn it to DVD using PowerISO).

    Once you get your Mac Pro tower working (whether it be with the stock 640GB hard drive that your e-bay or amazon seller should have included, or by doing a fresh clean install of 10.6 on your own aftermarket hard drive), then it's time to attempt our RAM and Video card upgrades! First things first, we go into the system information screen to verify our specs on this computer to make sure we got what we paid for from the seller. Turns out we got 6GB of RAM instead of 3GB. We did receive a Mac Pro 4,1 with the appropriate CPU we expected:

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  3. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    All right. What do we have so far? We have a working Mac Pro tower with Snow Leopard 10.6 installed. We have 6GB of RAM (better than stock) and a slow-as-hell stock video card. Impressions so far?

    This Mac Pro aluminum case is HEAVY! I like it. Accessing the insides is super easy. Installing a 3.5" hard drive is super easy. Accessing the RAM is super easy. Accessing the DVD drive... haven't figured that out yet. This is definitely a quality case. You will spend $200 or $300 along buying an equivalent case. I had purchased a Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 for over $200 back in 2010. This Mac Pro aluminum case is comparable but doesn't include sound deadening materials (See below). My Windows case is... well... cable management is ridiculous. The Mac Pro accepts up to four hard drives with no cables (that's right - NO CABLING REQUIRED). If there are cables running around in this Mac Pro, they must be hidden in the upper compartment. This Apple Mac Pro case is worth the money, hands down.

    Other than a weird and extremely loud jet engine noise that comes from the Mac Pro when it boots or wakes from sleep, it's runs nice and quiet! Maybe it's because I am not doing any heavy computing, or maybe it's the fact that Apple kicked ass and this design doesn't require lots of huge, noisy, high RPM fans constantly blowing to keep the unit from melting. I have my old Windows PC sitting here with a huge Zallman cooler (albeit in a quiet Cosmos PC case) and it sounds like a jet engine compared to my Mac Pro tower. Windows build I had purchased the Cooler Master Cosmos because it has sound deadening material inside, I also bought what at the time was supposed to be a silent power supply. I had to install 3 or 4 more internal fans to keep air circulating because my 7200RPM drives were failing due to head buildup inside this quiet case. The Mac Pro is quieter with the case open, than my Windows computer with the case closed.

    OSX installation (once you have the discs!) takes 30 minutes from start to finish on a 7200RPM disk, which is nice. And it only rebooted one time to do the installation. DVD drive in the Mac Pro is noisier than the DVD drive in my Windows PC. The Mac Pro DVD drive does a lot of weird clicking and whirring when it runs. My windows DVD drive just spins up like a small jet engine and whirs steadily during OS installation.

    Other impressions? Too early to tell. But I am liking the Mac Pro already. Time to install the video card and RAM! Let's do them one by one. We'll start with the video card since it seems more legit than our shakey Hynix/Chinese aftermarket RAM.
  4. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, holy canoly. It turns out the Amazon seller shipped us a tower that already included the ATI Radeon upgraded GPU! I went in there to replace the old card, but it was already the same as the card I purchased from E-Bay. Anyone want to buy a Mac-ready ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB for a good deal? Will take any offers.

    Screen shot 2015-10-30 at 11.46.51 PM.png

    So while I was in there, I popped out the 3x 2GB chips, and installed the 4x 4GB mystery Hynix/China/E-bay RAM that I purchased. After booting up quickly, OS X gives me the warm fuzzies. Thanks OS X:

    Screen shot 2015-10-30 at 11.43.56 PM.png

    Screen shot 2015-10-30 at 11.49.17 PM.png

    All appears to be running happily with my Chinese aftermarket RAM. Time to run some benchmarks head to head against my Windows PC!
  5. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    First up, Windows PC build:


    Single-core score: 1766
    Multi-core score: 6281

    Full results here:

    Next up, Mac OS X build.

    Screen shot 2015-10-30 at 11.55.33 PM.png

    Single-core score: 1935
    Multi-core score: 7298

    Full results here:

    MacOS wins on this bench mark. I wish I could run full bench marks, but alas I do not have $1,000's of money to spend on real benchmarking software to put these systems head-to-head. We'll have to rely on the piecemeal of data available for all the various parts within these PC's. Suffice it to say that at a glance, these two computers appear to be in good competition with each other. Seems that we get what we pay for - in 2010 I bought my Windows PC build for around $2,400, and this Mac Pro would have sold for around $2,499 plus some additional cost for the video card and RAM upgrades.

    Windows is still probabaly a better deal, but by a small margin, and many Apple users would argue that the Mac ecosystem brings a lot of value in intangibles not available on Windows. I would tend to agree - after watching Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows Edge browser released, I'm not necessarily impressed with the Windows ecosystem.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  6. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Now that the system appears stable, it's time to take a stab at updates. Updating is much less painful that the Windows Update system. Go to the Apple icon, go to Software Update. It analyzes your system rather quickly and then proposes some updates.

    (Note that one dislike I have about Mac Pro or OS X 10.6 is there is apparently no equivalent to Microsoft's "Paint", therefore I am not able to trim this screenshot below prior to posting it to this thread):

    Screen shot 2015-10-31 at 12.07.57 AM.png

    Looks like I will be able to get to OS X 10.6.8 without a hiccup. At OS X 10.6.8, the App Store will come into play with regards to any further updates.... rebooting now, will see what happens when reboot is done.
  7. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, now we are on the update roller-coaster. I guess this is to be expected of any desktop computer of any variety in this day and age.

    Screen shot 2015-10-31 at 12.20.36 AM.png

    In the process of running all these updates and sitting in front of the Mac OS X computer, I realized there was a really annoying noise behind me. A really loud and annoying noise like a box fan. It turns out the annoying noise was my Windows computer humming along at what must be 40dB of noise. I powered it off. The resulting silence in my home office is astounding. I can't believe how much quieter this Mac Pro runs.

    My ears are still ringing from when the Windows PC was on. Ahhh.... so quite in here now. Well, back to running updates. Will see if we can break this Mac Pro with too many updates.
  8. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    While running the last round of updates on the Mac Pro, I noticed still an annoying electronic humming from behind me. My Windows PC was already off. Is it the printer? No my Brother printer is off. It's the large power brick for my XBOX One console. My Mac Pro is literally quieter than the XBOX One power brick.

    So I literally just unplugged my XBOX One to stop the power brick from grinding away.

    Now I hear a new noise. It is my cat outside, meowing through the walls into the basement home office. Never heard that before from my basement office.
  9. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Safari sucks. Still can't understand why Mac OS can't ship with a functional browser. Installed Chrome. Safari would just keep randomly stopping and not loading pages, requiring constant refreshing. There is a search bar separate from the address bar, which is different than Opera, Firefox, IE, and Chrome (basically there's the rest of the industry, and then there's Safari).

    App store sucks. It says I need to give it credit card information, then gives me a red error message to a broken URL telling me to go to the Itunes app for help. I can't get a credit card entered and therefore can't do anything related to the app store. Have no idea how to get help on this issue.

    Home and End buttons behave differently on Mac OS X than on Windows. Will have to figure out how to remap these to my liking. I also keep trying to do CTRL-whatever on my windows keyboard, but need to do STARTBUTTON-whatever instead, which is freaking me out. Haven't decided if I should try to conform (learn), or just go all out remapping right away.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  10. bonefisher

    bonefisher Well-Known Member

    Remain CALM!
  11. NYjetsNY1

    NYjetsNY1 Active Member

    As someone who has grown up with both Mac OS X and Windows, it's interesting to read the struggle of someone going from a PC to a Mac. Especially doing it the hard way!

    I do know the struggles of installing OS X. Luckily for me, when I was wiping old Macbook Pros, the IT department had bootable USB sticks that would reinstall OS X from scratch.

    It's definitely annoying that you have to do 10.6 before you can go to any other version of OS X. Again, have dealt with that. Seriously Apple, why? I haven't found any solutions for that.

    Safari does suck. Chrome is infinitely better. Also try to just hit the "None" option in the app store. It's there somewhere. You do not have to give payment. They just make it hard to find that option. I believe it's just a row down from where the other options of payment are, and then check to the left.

    I've always preferred OS X. One day I think I would like to work for Apple...

    The cool thing about Macs is that you can install essentially limitless windows operating systems with ease using either Virtual Box, VMware Fusion, Parallels, or Boot Camp. I've installed and destroyed virtual windows computers countless times, lol.

    Anyway, when you get everything set up and figured out, try visiting this link:

    Resetting the PRAM and SMC speeds things up a lot. I can't give you a great reason why.

    I think the directions are just:
    1. Shut the machine down
    2. Unplug it from the power
    3. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds
    4. Plug it back in and turn it on.
    Anyways, welcome to OS X! Get used to hitting Command-anything instead of just CTRL-anything. You could always remap.
  12. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    App Store sucks, and so does Apple support (unless you pay $150 an hour for premium support but I'm not about to try that). But seriously I shouldn't have to pay for support just to get going with App Store where I would fork over more money to purchase things. If I register for a new Apple ID, it gives me the option of "None" for the payment, but it still fails to pass the payment review page. It gives a super generic "please contact iTunes support for assistance at the following url". It doesn't say why it fails, just pops up a red message telling me to contact iTunes support. So I contacted iTunes support (filled out a whole bunch of forms, including the part where it asks me for my Apple ID). 24 hours later, iTunes writes me by e-mail and asks me for my Apple ID.... (and a screenshot of the message, as if that will make it any more "real" than what I already told them it was). Provided them my Apple ID for the second time and a screenshot of the world's most generic error message, have been waiting 20 hours this time for a reply. I tried registering for a new Apple ID and it didn't require payment info but it still failed in the same place with the same error message.

    UPDATE, just as I was writing this, iTunes support wrote and told me to contact the account security team to verify my information. (Guess what guys, I don't need to any more, because I'm gonna bootleg me some Mavericks, because El Capitan has a 2.5 star rating in the App Store!). If you ever run into the same problem, you could try to call 1-800-275-2273 "Account Security US" and skip waiting for iTunes support to give you the number.

    OS updates suck (as of right now I'm still permanently stuck at 10.6.8). You can only update to the latest (unless you've updated to something else before, which I have not), but you can only do so through App Store, and so if you can't access App Store, then you are totally completely utterly screwed. So now one would look at downloading and burning some bootlegged copy of OS X Mavericks (apparently any time you need an OS you should just plan on bootlegging a version for yourself). 10.6.8 doesn't have a recovery partition, and so there will be no restoring to original state if a Mavericks installation goes badly. 10.6.8 doesn't have all sorts of stuff. Most of the good stuff didn't arrive until 10.7 or 10.8. I think my advice to someone looking to purchase a used Mac Pro, I would be sure to purchase a version that has the built-in internet recovery mode, where it will connect directly to Apple servers and download the OS for you. Mavericks installation takes around 45 minutes this time, not as fast as 10.6.8. Will update this post when it's done -- at this point in time I'm not sure if all the setup work I did over the past 24 hours will be wiped out (not sure if this is a clean install or an upgrade install that is happening - it didn't offer any options).

    There is no officially supported way to install two video cards in this machine. Even if you jerry-rig the system to accept multiple video cards (to get multiple monitors), various applications and OS X versions will have various problems (up to and including completely not working), so unless you are a hardcore Mac modder, it's not worth trying to shoe-horn multiple video cards into an early Mac Pro (4,1 in my case).

    Things I miss from Windows today

    -An awesome start button search bar that finds everything. Mac Finder sucks. (Waiting to try out Spot Light on the newer OS X)
    -Full screen apps without having to use a shortcut key combination.
    -Self-hiding navigation bar.
    -Highlighting a file and pressing delete to send the file to the trash can
    -Windows shares that just work (Without having to manually add every folder under an SMB share manually... one... by... one... so painfaul)
    -Notepad. (When I drag and drop a file into TextEdit, it literally pastes the file inside the open document instead of opening it. Maybe a shortcut required?)
    -Paint. 10.6.8 has no equivalent to Microsoft Paint.
    -Never thought I'd say this, but I don't like how many 3 key ombination shortcuts are required in Mac. I rarely in Windows have to use more than 2 key combinations as shortcuts.
    -Mac e-mail client sucks. (To be fair, Windows doesn't have any e-mail client at all, this is pretty nitpicky)

    Yesterday I was pretty fond of Mac Pro, today I am pretty pissed off at it because I've had this thing here for a couple of days and I can't do any work on it whatsoever because a bunch of the apps I want to run are not compatible with 10.6.8. All the good stuff came in 10.8.

    If OS X at 10.6.8 is as good as Mac gets, then I'm not a fan. Hoping for good things from a newer OS X version. Spot Light, recovery partitions, there is some other stuff I'm forgetting right now.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  13. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    #$#(@*#&^... 1-800-275-2273 offices are closed.

    I am convinced that my Apple ID was flagged because the serial number on my Mac Pro was off the radar awhile. Or something. Here's what Apple would probably say if you asked them:

    "Well since this serial number was gone for awhile and is now coming back on-line, it's suspicious, maybe it's some sort of stolen and recycled used hardware. In any case we want to verify your identify to discourage illegal hardware". Or something.

    What Apple internal documents really say: "We don't make any money off customers who buy used equipment. These people are cheap, they will never sign up for Apple Care. What's worse, these people will probably buy third party hardware and make it work, or buy cheaper second hand Apple certified hardware. In any case, these people are not a revenue stream. We don't care about supporting our old hardware - we only care about continuously fleecing customers on an hourly basis. Let's flag this account so life is difficult for this customer. Yeah, that'll teach 'em. Next time they'll know to buy a $3,000 brand new Mac Pro and also spend extra to sign up for the extended Apple Care. Also be sure to wait until our offices are closed before you write him back to make it extra stupid."
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  14. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good news! Bootlegged Mavericks 10.9 will load from a boot-able DVD and won't necessarily wipe out your existing files. Still doesn't have spot light search, but, based on really lousy reviews of Yosemite and El Capitan, I'm probably going to stop at Mavericks and wait for Apple to figure out what they did wrong with their two latest big OS X releases. The internet is chock full of angry Apple customers with huge compatibility issues with all sorts of Apple hardware and Apple software. Especially audio and graphics designers (which is pretty much Apple's most loyal following).

    I'm rolling to 10.9.5 using the App Store updater (strange it will let me take these updates but no major updates without solving my App Store ID problem), and will look to see if I can set up a recovery partition on this drive. Once 10.9.5 is on I should be able to load my base development package:

    -Microsoft Visual Studio Code (Code editor)
    -GitX or Source Tree (Git GUI)

    There are other softwares to load (many others), but my main reason for purchasing this Mac Pro was for Viking Forge development, and for that I only need Git, NodeJS, and a code editor.

    Can anyone recommend?:

    -A good FTP client? I use WinSCP on Windows (of FlashFXP back in the day)
    -A good e-mail client? I use Thunderbird on windows
    -A good telnet client? I use Putty on windows
    -Any other must haves for Mac OS X?
  15. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mavericks automatically found and added all of my Windows PC shares on my local network! Hurray!
  16. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Native unix! Hallelujah, I have arrived!

    Pictured is Microsoft Visual Studio code (a code editor), SourceTree (a GUI GIT manager), and the good old Mac OS X terminal window.


    Windows is sorely... sorely... sorely lacking in the unix style web development department. I've been running a LAMP web server for several years. Basically if you do javascript/php/python or similar languages, you need to have a Mac. Windows won't cut it. Trying to develop these languages on Windows is a nightmare. A Mac OS X computer can basically be your server environment. This way you can develop code locally on your Mac OS X and then execute it just as if it were running on the server.

    On Windows? Not so much. Windows can "emulate" unix, but it just ain't the real thing.

    I'm so happy to finally have the proper tools for web development! On Windows, there was simply no way to run a local copy of the Viking Forge. The only way to debug/develop on Windows (at least for a NodeJS app with particular modules) is to run a test server out on the internet, write the code on your local Windows machine, and then FTP the files to the test server after every change. Due to FTP slowness and having to run other commands through a remote terminal window (instead of scripting everything locally), it takes days to debug a simple portion of a program that on a unix environment would only take hours. With a Mac OS X based on unix, my code changes are instant - I can save code changes directly to the local disk which is also where a local copy of the test server is also running. And I can script a lot of stuff in this test environment to speed up the development and debug cycle.

    O' so happy with my Mac Pro again.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  17. modded matt

    modded matt Active Member

  18. odingalt

    odingalt Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So, I am running a dual monitor setup now on the single ATI Radeon 4870 that is inside my Mac Pro. But I still have that second ATI Radeon 4870 sitting in plastic... the only trouble is that the early 2009 Mac Pro only has two mini-PCI 6-pin power ports on the motherboard, and those are both already being used to feed the first ATI Radeon 4870. There is a good discussion on Apple's support forums regarding getting power to a second power hungry video card:

    After routing around in my big tub of miscellaneous cables, I was able to come up with two brand new PCI power splitters. They are "y-splitters", splitting from PCI 6+2 into two PCI 6-pin. If you needed to purchase these cables, you would buy something like this:

    A single 6-pin PCI power cable is officialy only rated for 75 watts. But if that were true, then Apple's original design was already overloading the mini-PCI power ports just to feed one single ATI Radeon 4870. Since the Mac Pro motherboard has two such connectors, officially it can only deliver 150 watts, but the power rating of a the Mac version of the ATI Radeon 4870 512MB is unknown. There are benchmarks for Windows versions of the ATI Radeon 4870 but remember that these have different memory configuration (usually 1GB or 2GB) and there is also an "X2" version of the same card. Let's make a bold assumption that since the PCI power cable is only officially rated to deliver 75 Watts each, and there are two, then the Mac Pro ATI Radeon 4870 512MB peak power draw under heavy continuous graphics load would be 150 Watts.

    I would argue that the real unofficial maximum raiting of a single 6-pin PCI power cable is much higher, as much as 5 amps per circuit, or 15 amps total per cable, 15 amps at 12V being 180 Watts. There are some that would argue a single PCI-6 power cable can carry up to 8 amps per circuit, 24 amps total or 288 watts. Two PCI-6 power cables under my scenario of 15 Amps can give a combined 360 watts. Or for the more risky players, 288 x 2 = 576 Watts which is way more than what two Mac Pro ATI Radeon 4870 512MB cards need at peak loading.

    So I'm going to go ahead and risk running two of these video cards off of the motherboard's two mini-PCI 6 power ports. I'll do this using the splitter cables I found in my old cable tub. I went ahead and installed the second video card, right next to the first one:


    I did do a little "load balancing" between the two mini-PCI power ports. I made sure that each of the motherboards mini-PCI power port split to both video cards. In other words, power port 1 feeds into video card 1 and video card 2; power port 2 also feeds into video card 1 and video card 2. I did this out of paranoia and maybe a little OCD, but you probably don't need to do this since it's all one big power bus anyway. You really can't see much but there's a close up of four different PCI-6 pin power cables plugging into the two video cards:


    Here's a closeup of the crossfire ports on the cards. There wasn't enough clearance from the CPU/RAM aluminum tray to the video card to insert the Crossfire cable. Which doesn't matter since OS X Mavericks does't support Crossfire anyway, as far as I know. You won't have to worry about installing a Crossfire cable unless you are bootcamping Windows on this computer, at which time you will want to relocate these two videos cards such that you can get the crossfire cable installed.


    If I run into any overheating issues or computer damage running in this configuration, I'll update my post. I will be ordering two additional monitors and some additional monitor cables and will be trying out a quad monitor display in the next couple of weeks.

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