Having felt recently that my Dual 2GHz G5 Power Mac was getting a bit outmoded, I decided to invest in a machine that would be so fast it might outlast any other I could buy, so my attention turned naturally to the 3.0GHz 8-core Mac Pro, possibly the fastest desktop computer made today. Looking at the prices that Apple charges for RAM and hard drive upgrades, I decided to order my new Mac Pro with the minimum RAM and disc and do the upgrading myself. I wanted the Apple Raid card so I could setup a fast, redundant disk array, and I wanted lots and lots of processor cores. I ended up ordering a Mac Pro in this configuration:
- 3.00 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
- 1GB 667 DDR2 FB DMM ECC-2×512
- ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB
- 250GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s drive
- 16x SuperDrive DL
- Airport Extreme & BT 2.0+EDR
- Raid Card
- Apple Keyboard & Mighty Mouse
- Mac OS X
- Country Kit
I then went to Newegg and ordered 4 Seagate 750GB SATA drives, and 4 sticks of 2GB Fully Buffered ECC RAM by Transcend. The RAM was explicitly described as suitable for Mac Pro, and several reviewers were pleased with its performance in their machines.
The RAM and hard drives arrived a few days before the Mac Pro, and I decided I would open up the new computer and upgrade the RAM and hard drives before it was ever powered up. Back in the day I built many PCs, and I started repairing electronic devices for a living in 1968, so I have no fear of tinkering inside a computer.
On delivery day I saw that my new toy was out for delivery at 5:34 AM, but it did not arrive until exactly 8PM. The poor FedEx guy looked like he was ready to collapse from working so long. I got out my camera and took a series of photos as I unpacked and upgraded my Mac Pro.
Adding or replacing a hard drive in a Mac Pro is as easy and simple as it could be. You just slide one of the drive carriers out, each one is numbered, and use the provided screws to mount your SATA II drive to the carrier. There are no cables to connect, the connectors on the drive mate with the motherboard when you slide the drive back into place.
The RAM was even easier, just pull out a RAM card, plug in your DIMMs, and slide the RAM card back into place.
I removed the original hard drive and RAM, replacing them with my larger, bigger, faster selections.
Since the only hard drives in the Mac Pro now were the ones that I had installed, there was no operating system available and I had to install it from the provided DVDs. But first it was necessary to create a RAID array on which the OS would be installed. When you buy the Apple Mac Pro RAID card, for the ridiculous price of $999, you get to create a bootable RAID array.
I chose to create a RAID 0+1 array, meaning that my 4 750GB drives would give me a nominal 1.5TB internal storage, in fact once it is all initialized and formatted it worked out to 1.36GB, plenty for onboard storage, even with my 70 websites, 38,000 high resolution digital photos, and 8,000 MP3s. Plenty!
Once the RAID was created and the OS was installed the last step was migrating my applications, settings and files from my old G5 Power Mac. This was so easy it ought to be illegal. All I had to do was boot the Power Mac into target disk mode, by holding down the T key as it booted, then connect the two machines using a firewire cable. Because of my billions and billions of web pages and digital photos it took 14 hours to transfer my data, but once I finally got to use my new Mac Pro it was and still is amazingly, mind boggling-ly fast. I mean fast. I mean wicked pissa fast. How about hard drive write throughput for 2MB files of 506MBps? iPhoto runs faster, Adobe/Macromedia Dreamwrecker runs faster, Photoshop seems as fast as Preview – well almost as fast.
I’m very, very pleased. Yes, it was expensive, but I use my desktop computer more than I do anything else so I do expect to get my money’s worth out of this investment. Photos are here.
[tags]Mac Pro, hardware, RAID, upgrade, OS X, 8-core, Xeon, Intel, Apple, Mac[/tags]