Intel Mac Pro 1,1 as a demo machine?

category: general [glöplog]
So, I've got an Intel Mac Pro 1,1 which I use for my music production. It's primarily running Windows 7 via boot camp. However I'm wondering if with a bit of tinkering it might be worth turning it into a demo running machine?

Currently it has 2 x Dual-Core Xeon CPU's @ 3ghz. I can upgrade that to 2 x Quad-Core with a bit of hackery. But, the main issue is that its currently running the stock GeForce 7 series graphics card.

I've read up that you can run the GTX cards in it, but is it going to be worth it? I'm not 100% sure what speed the PCIe bus is so I'm concerned that even if I chuck a good card in there that it won't run at full pelt.

Advice please :)
added on the 2014-07-02 13:32:32 by djh0ffman djh0ffman
The MacPros are very picky what gfx cards you put in them, for example if i upgraded the ATI card in my MacPro with say an Nvidiaxxx, Windows would still boot, but OSX wouldn't.

I did scoure the mac forums along time ago looking for a card that was powerful and that would work for both Oss but i need to do some update on that research.

Will be good to hear what others have to say around here.
added on the 2014-07-02 13:39:28 by keito keito
Well as everyone always complains that demos don't work on ATI, I'll defo not be getting one of those!
added on the 2014-07-02 13:44:36 by djh0ffman djh0ffman
the ATI came with my mac pro which also has 2 x Dual-Core Xeon CPU's @ 3ghz and 16GB RAM. Mainly use it for audio production where i can be in windows or osx as need be. But been wanting to ugrade the gfx card for some time. The officials gfx cards offered for upgrade by apple themselves are way too overly priced, but there are other ways of course :)
added on the 2014-07-02 13:50:09 by keito keito
There are special Mac versions of Radeon and GeForce cards, like this: http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_8800gt_for_mac_us.html
I'm not sure what the difference is, but I suspect they have different firmware.
In which case one wonders: what would happen if you were to flash this firmware into a generic PC card with the same specs?
added on the 2014-07-02 14:04:17 by Scali Scali
The difference is indeed the firmware, and some cards are indeed flashable.
added on the 2014-07-02 16:26:57 by Sesse Sesse
yeah, i vaguely remember investigating this ages back (in the PPC era) and learning you could get a standard PC card and flash the firmware to get it running on the mac. I guess it's the same situation now, in which case, you need a card where there's mac firmware available, so do plenty of research first ;)
added on the 2014-07-02 16:41:24 by psonice psonice
The flashing options are indeed available, just do your research before u jump head first into it.
added on the 2014-07-02 18:09:25 by keito keito
The "official" graphics cards have an UEFI firmware included, giving them the capability of displaying the system boot menu. So if you use a regular PC card, you will not see the boot menu but can still boot just fine into either OS X or Windows and get an image on your display once the OS drivers are loaded.

Reflashing regular PC ATI cards with a modified firmware is possible, but the flash ROM chip on them may be too small to fit the full UEFI firmware image. Replacing the ROM with a larger one is possible, but requires some precision soldering work.

Although the PSU on Mac Pros is a 980W monster, at least the mainboard on my 5,1 only has two 6-pin PCIe power connectors. This makes it kind of risky to use the higher end cards , such as GTX680, GTX770, which require the 150W 8-pin connector. A simple 6-pin to 8-pin adapter may draw too much current and damage the mainboard.

There's a seller on eBay called 'macvidcards' who sells various graphics cards modified to run on Mac Pros - you might want to check what he has to offer. He even has some top-end cards which are slightly underclocked so that they fit into the power envelope.
added on the 2014-07-03 08:23:42 by firehawk firehawk
I'm currently watching some GTX 570's on eBay, they seem to go for around £50 but I guess thats not really going to be powerful enough to run most modern demos.
added on the 2014-07-03 10:11:29 by djh0ffman djh0ffman
id recommend the gtx 760 as a midrange card, i think it has 2 6pin power connectors, if that is still outside your range look at the 660 (Ti) or 750 Ti.
Also the new nvidia generation shouldnt be too far away, together with some interesting new low-to-midrange performance cards the price for the older generations should drop some moar.
added on the 2014-07-03 10:27:29 by wysiwtf wysiwtf
Hmmm, those higher priced cards are within range but they are PCIe 3 although by the looks of it i've got PCIe 2?

added on the 2014-07-03 15:07:26 by djh0ffman djh0ffman
PCIe v3 cards are backwards compatible, so you can use them on a v2 bus without any problems. I remember reading that there's a slight performance hit, but so small that it's practically unnoticeable.
added on the 2014-07-06 22:03:25 by firehawk firehawk