We’ve had this “Early 2008” Mac Pro since, well, early 2008. It’d been showing its age but I fixed that.

Long-time readers may recall the occasion when in 2008 I asked the Net whether I should hack this computer; with a hacksaw, I mean. Or perhaps its 2012 life-extension therapy.

It’s the family mainframe, does homework and Plexus and BitTorrent (legal stuff only, you betcha) and drives the big high-end audio system through a Benchmark Media DAC1 USB, also it’s my 15-year-old’s gamebox, which means there’s a BootCamp Win7 partition in there.

How to · I was encouraged by Bob Lee’s Six ways to breathe new life into an old Mac Pro, and Bob’s was even older than mine.

So I got a new SSD; Crucial might not be the cheapest but they make it ridiculously easy to pick the right part for your box. I bought the SSD and the required Icy Dock container through Newegg.Then I bought Carbon Copy Cloner, which is just a nice rsync GUI, but I’ll pay $45 any time to not worry about picking the wrong command-line switches.

Then it took about 15 minutes to open up the Mac Pro and slide in the SSD, a minute to format it, three hours to clone the old system disk onto the SSD, and 30 seconds to tell the Mac to boot the SSD. And having now just spent 45 minutes or so installing Yosemite, I’m listening to Shonen Knife on the “new” six-year-old system while I type this (the music’s using 2.35% of a single CPU on what is after all a dual quad-core 2.8GHz Xeon).

The inside of the Mac Pro is pure industrial-design poetry. I needed a little jewelers’ Phillips-head to screw the drive to its tray, that was it.

The computer’s now unsubtly faster. It’s a system that’s fun to use again. My children will love me more.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: gurupanguji (Nov 25 2014, at 08:05)

I hear that Yosemite stopped TRIM support. Might want to check on that for long term SSD performance.

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From: Pierre (Nov 25 2014, at 08:12)

My main problem with the 2008 Mac Pro is how hard it is to justify replacing it. I've never owned a 6-yo computer before, and although it is indeed showing its age in single-threaded speed, its full eight cores can hum along through any workload, from the latest game (with a suitable video card upgrade; yes, upgrade is the key word Apple!) to a week-long map crunch.

Apple doesn't sell a non-compromised 8-core PRO Mac, not to mention a dual-CPU one, and current hackintosh support for dual-Xeon is pretty dicey…

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From: TC (Nov 25 2014, at 08:27)

i did the same with 2006 mac pro. but owc built fusion drive, customer booter ssd to load >10.8. upgrded cpu and video card.

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From: Jonathan Hollin (Nov 25 2014, at 09:26)

@gurupanguji There's really no need for TRIM with a modern SSD and particularly not with the Crucial models. The onboard Garbage Collection and ample over-provisioning are more than enough for consumer workflows.

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From: Timo (Nov 26 2014, at 09:54)

Yosemite didn't exactly "stop" ATA TRIM support - Apple never officially supported TRIM on non-Apple SSDs anyway so you need to use a third-party like Trim Enabler to turn it back on. It's the same on Mavericks - I run a home built "Fusion drive" on Mavericks with a non-Apple SSD and had to use Trim Enabler to, well, enable ATA trim.

Trim Enabler doesn't work out of the box on Yosemite because of Apple's requirement to have kexts signed. More details here: http://www.cindori.org/trim-enabler-and-yosemite/

As to rejuvenating older Mac Pros, the only reason I upgraded from an Early 2008 Mac Pro to a 2009 that pretends to be a 2010 one is because the early 2008 one don't support Windows 8's Hyper-V with all the features that are required for the Windows 8 phone emulator. If I hadn't needed that, I would also still have my faithful 2008 Mac Pro.

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From: PitBullCH (Nov 27 2014, at 15:46)

Yep - been there, got the T-shirt.

For my Early 2008 MacPro with 2x 3.2GHz Quad-core CPU:

Upgraded to OWC Accelsior 480GB PCI SSD for boot drive (removed the Apple RAID card some years ago and filled the 4 bays with 4x OCZ Vertex 2 240GB SSDs for scratch and temporary space). Permanent files are on the NAS.

Upgraded to EVGA NVidia GeForce GTX 680 GPU (have been through a few other upgrades in this area over the years).

Added a couple of USB3 cards.

Upgraded to 16GB OWC RAM a while back (yes should probably have gone 32GB or even 64GB at some point - probably the only performance upgrade remaining for me).

Could still add a better monitor than the existing BenQ running 1920x1200 - current GPU can support 2560x1500 (but sadly not 4K) and indeed a new monitor is likely in the next month or two.

Current system is acceptable for video/audio rips via handbrake, and manages a respectable 22K points/day with F@H, but it does feel somewhat sluggish with daily browsing and email tasks where the multiple cores can't be used.

Lack of Thunderbolt is painful and there is apparently no way this can be fixed due to mainboard restrictions.

5K iMac does not tempt me as do not want an all-in-one system, and current MacPro has limited upgrade potential (how will newer GPUs be supported ?). Seriously considering a Hackintosh as a replacement in a year or so.

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November 24, 2014
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