Apple Mac Pro
The Mac Pro is a series of workstation and server computers designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Inc. since 2006. The Mac Pro, in most configurations and in terms of speed and performance, is the most powerful computer that Apple offers. It is a high-end model of the four desktop computers in the current Mac lineup, the other two being the iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Mini. (Wikipedia)
The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful desktop computer. It took over from the Power Mac G5. Its UNIX architecture is more in-line with workstations and servers rather than being simply a desktop computer in its own right; this makes it a very powerful beast indeed. Primarily created for such tasks as video editing the offshoot of this being its capability to handle day to day user tasks is more than ample. When configured with sufficient RAM the Mac Pro can handle many browser windows open AND programs running at the same time with very little loss of performance being experienced by the user.
The link to UNIX means the Mac Pro is ideal to use as a server. To run a Mac Pro as a server a program called MAMP (Apache, MYSQL, PHP for the MAC) can be very easily installed. Although MAMP is primarily for local use (testing websites in a local environment) it is quite easy to open it up to the internet at large (this website is running on a Mac Pro with MAMP installed).
Memory & Storage
As Mac Pros were primarily used by business users who required raw power to speed up various processes (video editing in the main) many of the older machines currently on sale have been upgraded over the years and have copious amounts of RAM and hard-drive space. Even if this isn’t the case such upgrades do not place too much stress on a person’s wallet as there are plenty of spares out there on places such as Ebay.
Value For Money
The Mac Pro offers incredible performance for very little outlay. When you consider it can run websites (such as this one) without upsetting the day to day running of the Mac whilst carrying out ‘other’ pursuits, effectively combining server and computer in one, then you should begin to understand what incredible value for money these Mac Pros are. ALSO, it is possible to run Windows in Dual Boot mode (boot up into a version of Windows) or you can run a program such as Parallels and run both El Capitan and Windows 7/8 at the SAME TIME!
I have parked my servers and Windows computers and now only rely on My Mac Pros for all my computer / server related tasks. I currently own 2 old Mac Pros – 2006 and 2007 versions. They absolutely rock!
My interest in Mac Pros came about by being introduced to an iMac. I was impressed by the way the iMac went about its business without needing constant updates or even a virus checker – it just worked, and quite well at that. What I wasn’t impressed with, though, was the installation of programs and the inability to run certain games I was playing at the time. Over the years I came back to the iMac and tried out various OSX version updates – such as Yosemite. I wasn’t absolutely sure, but the installation of programs seemed to be easier and the whole operating system that much sweeter. Windows finally become a itch I couldn’t scratch, with Windows 10 the final straw.
When shopping for an iMac I became aware of the much cheaper alternative – the Mac Pro, especially the version which was limited to the 10.7 Lion, OSX. I purchased one of these beasts not knowing too much about its limitations – but they were considerable. When I found out how to hack the system so that El Capitan would work I was well and truly hooked as the power of the Mac Pro (even a machine so old – 2006) was and is impressive.
My First Mac Pro
I purchased my first Mac Pro back in 2017. I will be honest with you, I didn’t really know much about them at the time. I had some experience of an iMac so I figured they were more or less the same, except, of course, the iMac was a complete system in itself – a combined desktop / monitor. After scouring Ebay for a ‘bargain’ I found one that suited my purpose (or so I thought). I forked out the princely sum of £275 (with FREE delivery!). Such a sum didn’t break the bank at the time – I considered it a steal, to be honest with you.
The spec of the above machine was this …
Apple Mac Pro 2.1 2x 3.0GHz QUAD-CORE INTEL XEON 1TB 16GB RAM 10.7 LION OS X
As you can see there was power aplenty, with 2 very powerful XEON processors right at the limit of their speed (3.0GHz), a huge amount of RAM and more than enough hard-drive space for my needs. I really couldn’t believe how much for so little.
On receiving the ‘beast’ I was taken aback by the sheer size of the thing and the weight – it was built like a tank! Wow, if you have only been used to flimsy, cheap computer cases then you will be knocked off your feet with the build quality of a Mac Pro of this lineage. Every part of the Mac Pro seems superbly engineered, with easy access to slots and hard-drive bays (hard-drives slide in and out on caddys).
What the Mac Pro lacked was a wireless keyboard and mouse, but as I had a number of these lying around this wasn’t a problem or an additional expense for me. Of course, another missing part of the configuration puzzle, was a lack of monitor, but again, as the Mac Pro was replacing a computer already in situ then it was simply a matter of swapping cables over – or so I thought (no it wasn’t – see below).
ATI Radeon XT1900
The working windows computer setup in my house used a wireless keyboard and mouse, along with utilising the TV as a monitor through an appropriate cable – a VGA to SVGA cable. The graphics card installed in the Mac Pro was an ATI Radeon 1900 XT. I hadn’t paid enough attention to this as there were no VGA connections available. I was expecting a few teething problems and this was just one to overcome, though, I did find it a bit annoying at the time – annoyed at my own stupidity or laziness, that is. I therefore needed an adaptor or a new cable. I purchased a DVI to VGA adaptor off Ebay for just a few £s – but it didn’t work! I then purchased the appropriate cable – a DVI to HDMI cable, which did work – thankfully.
Once connected to the TV it was game on. Everything came to life as I hoped it would. These Mac Pros are not the fastest to boot up, which can be a bit disconcerting, but boot up it did – eventually. As luck would have it the Mac Pro came with the ability to connect to the internet (not all do!). Once connected I then experimented with all sorts to get the hang of things. It quickly became apparent to me more work was required as OSX Lion was just too outdated – hardly anything worked with it! By this I mean the latest version of Firefox, or Opera, or any modern browser for that matter, wouldn’t install, never-mind run. I was stuck with an operating system where very little worked to my satisfaction. I quickly understood why this version of Mac Pro can be picked up for so little money. What to do about it? To be honest with you I parked the Mac after a while, kinda giving up in the process, and went back to my Windows, computer set-up.
I came back to the Mac now and then, especially went I came across a reference to a hack – a work around the Lion OSX limitation. I read up on how to go about this, but I must admit, I didn’t fancy the procedure much – just seemed too much fuss and bother. Probably the fact I had little experience of the Mac OSX to begin with was putting me off at this stage. I eventually decided to have a go at installing Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration to see if I could at least breathe some useful life into the Mac Pro. Further teething problems became evident when I tried this approach – the wireless keyboard and mouse refused to play ball.
When I tried to reboot the Mac to the boot-up screens – I just couldn’t access the boot-up screens using the wireless keyboard and mouse – no key combinations worked and the Mac just remained unresponsive. More expense was on the cards as I then invested in both a USB keyboard and mouse (along with some extension cables as I was some way from the screen – my sofa being some way from the screen or TV in this case). I gave up installing dual boot after a while, but not before I had wrecked the Lion OSX which was initially on the drives (or at least I could no longer boot into it). Yes, I know, I should have made a backup – well, I hadn’t. What now? Thankfully the Mac wasn’t the only way to access the internet in my house as I also had a Windows computer available.
To be honest with you I can’t remember exactly how I overcame this, but I do know I eventually reinstalled OSX Mountain Lion (CD worked I think – downloaded on my Windows machine and created using a special program) AND the hack needed to run both El Capitan (I will attempt to find the sites I used with this info needed for this). I do remember it wasn’t that hard – just a bit unsettling and fiddly. Trouble is running El Capitan unearthed another problem – and one requiring a fair amount of dosh to sort out – a new graphics card was required! Although the Mac would run and display the resolution was low and fixed. It was obvious the graphics card was no longer working as intended – it was defunct! There was no way around this bar for acquire a new graphics card, one which could handle El Capitan.
After double and triple checking which cards were right for the job (easier said than done – I will list them myself in due course) I picked up another bargain by bidding on a Sapphire ATI Radeon 5770 HD 1GB PCI-Express 2.1 x16 HDMI PC / Mac compatible graphics card (displays as an ATI Radeon HD 5000 1024), costing me just £39.99 (with FREE delivery). Another great buy I reckon as these cards can be costly. Once swapped over the Mac was ready to go. There is a strange drawback to these cards though – you lose the boot up process – it just doesn’t display.
HD 5770 Graphics Card
All through this debacle I was becoming all the more knowledgeable about Macs and the operating system they used, also my scouring of Ebay had built up a comprehensive listing of suppliers of bits and pieces. One such supplier sells small hard-drives with the hack and El Capitan already installed. To upgrade my next Mac Pro (the one I’m using to type this) I bought such a cheap hard-drive and simply cloned it over to the much larger hard-drive this Mac users. This is so much simpler and of course I have the hacked El Capitan hard-drive to hand for any other installation on this or any other Mac Pro I get my hands on.
Both my Mac Pros are now flying. I can install all the modern programs and on top of that the whole thing is much smoother and faster overall. The full power of the Mac Pros has been unleashed – and it is considerable. I couldn’t be more delighted.