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2012 Mac Pro in a 2015 World

Coming from a QUO computer Hackintosh it feels really nice to be back home in a legit Mac. For about a Year and a Half I ran my little G4 Mod Hack on just about any job you could think of….Alexa, Red Dragon, F55, BMCC, C300 etc.

QUO

It’s a robust little unit, has 4 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt 1.0, so you can handle almost all the drives out there.  On the occasion I’ve lost drives where it can no longer find the directory.

Z77-MX-QUO-AOS_io

The main reason I left my Hack was due to the PCI Bandwith. When running a Rocket-X and a GPU the board bumps down to 8x per Lane, I need the ability to run a Rocket with Resolve which requires 2 full 16x lanes. The case and board aren’t built for that kinda load. I’ve been looking at the Mac Pro through iPowerResale and found a good deal for a 2012 Hex-Core Mac Pro. I was on a Pampers Commercial doing an easy download job and my Hack would not boot, took until after lunch along with a disk error on one of the Master Drives.

No Mount

Reapir

At that moment I had realized I needed a legit system, my G4 Hack had given me problems through out all of February… I was unhappy. I did some tests running a 10.10 OSX Drive with H3C BIOS and then going back to 10.8 Drive with H2B, since then it’s been stable. They say a Flash will solve most issues but at the heat of the moment it didn’t occur to me until after the shoot. I still needed a 2nd system, I figured this is the best decision I can make given what we know today.

There’s been a lot of people who need a system right now and don’t know what to get. The main reason I went with a Hackintosh was the challenge and plain ignorance. I should have bought a 6-Core in 2012 but it would have cost me $2999 with base specs. My buddy CJ ran a Hackintosh which gave me the confidence to take a stab… “IT CAN BE DONE!” I think everyone should at least have one Hack, the basic computer knowledge you learn is priceless. Using one in a professional environment can lead to be troublesome, having a good back up system is key if not you’ll be in trouble when things go down. There’s been days when I had candles lit on my cart, you would find me on my knees praying for it to boot and load all drives lol. With my new system that won’t be a problem.

The best case scenario for a Hackintosh is a personal system or an at home/office set-up. On the field is a different story, like I said make sure you have a back up system that will finish the day. I have biddies who use their Hack at home for ColorGrading and love it does everything they need for about half the cost give or take.

Pros/Cons of the 2012 Mac Pro

Draw Backs

  • Slower PCIe 2.0 & SATA II ports
  • No Thunderbolt Support
  • Power Issues when running High End GPU
  • PC GPU must be Flashed to run PCIe 2.0 along with Boot Menu ($200 SetBack)

 

Benefits

  • Up to 48GB RAM on Single Chip or more on Dual Chip
  • Dual PCIe x16 Lanes (Run a Rocket and GPU at the same time)
  • USB 3.0 & eSATA PCIe Options
  • Run up to 3 GTX Cards through a Cubix Expander

 

Graphics Card

 

MacVid

Graphics Cards for the Tower Mac Pro can get a little confusing. It’s not so much about the drivers or proprietary cards like it use to be back in the day, but more so about power restrictions, boot up Icon, and enabling PCIe 2.0. Macvidcards has been around for some time now, they’re based out of LA and with a team of two they manage to Flash majority of the PC Graphics Cards to be compatible with the Mac Pro. You can send your own card or buy one from them. Flashing is around $200 if you provide a card, email them for compatibility and time frame.

What Are The Benefits of Buying a Flashed Card?

Some people may question why they should install a card flashed with a Mac BIOS as opposed to an official Apple released card or a stock PC graphics card (GPU). Here are a few of the benefits:

  1. Apple releases very few GPU options and they are often out of date compared to what is available for a PC.
  2. A Mac BIOS enables you to see the gray boot screen at startup (where you see the Apple logo and hear the iconic boot chime). This is very helpful for users who regularly need to switch boot drives and operating systems.
  3. When installed in a Mac Pro a stock PC GPU will only be able to utilize the outdated PCIe 1.0 format. A card flashed with a Mac BIOS will be able to work at PCIe 2.0 speeds, supporting twice the data rate.
  4. Cards with our Mac BIOS are able to run their full monitor arrangement (unless specifically noted) and make use of the most up to date technologies, including 4K monitor support and CUDA, OpenCL and OpenGL support.

 

gtx980

The best card on the Market is the GTX 980 (Standard Version not Superclocked) until we see newer cards Summer 2015. The only downside to this card is the RAM size but everything else checks in.  Available for under $600, flashed will be at $780. This card will run with the Two 6-Pin Power Ports on your Motherboard without exceeding the power limit. The 980 GTX pulls a total of 165W which is perfect. Barefeats did some amazing tests which you can see the benchmarks below.

BF 980.1BF 980.2

They’ve also done tests with Dual 980 which is a great way to go if speed is what you need while still conserving on cost. A single Titan Black will run you about the same as two 980. If you decide to run Dual 980’s be sure to use external power.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.34.21 AM

 

Titan in a Mac Pro

The legend of the Titan has brought us here….To the point that we want to stuff it in a Mac Pro cause its such a fast card. My system has a Superclocked Titan which is awesome but there are some precautions that must be taken.

1. A separate PSU is needed to power the Titan. The 5.25 Bay PSU are hard to come by now a days since they’re all sold out; luckily I tracked some down through VisionTek for a nifty $50. If you run a separate PSU make sure to get a (M) SATA to (F) MOLEX Adapter to trigger the 2nd PSU. Otherwise you wont get an image on your monitor after the computer boots. The adapter will run from your Optical Bay SATA Power to the Adapter to the MOLEX on the PSU. Be sure to trim the sleeves on the SATA  Male part of the adapter to make fit as show on the pic below. To run Dual cards or a Titan you will have to leave the door open unless you plan on drilling and modding your case.

20150301_191511~2

2.Titan Cards needs to be flashed to run at PCIe 2.0 along with a Power Clamp to run internal power. It seems that people run the Titan off the two Mini 6-Pin after flashed, adding a Rocket-X would be risking it which is a $300 cost if your blow your circuits. So if you decide to go internal power get is Flashed and don’t run another power hungry cards or drives. I’m still paranoid so I’m sticking to my External PSU, rig at your own risk and tests. If you decide to go internal you will need a Mini 6-Pin to 8Pin Adapter. Our Friend over at MacRumors did some tests for us check his post for more details.

Titan MP

 

I hope this clears up some grey space for all the Mac Pro owners out there so they can make the best decision on their system. By the end of the year I will be building a new Xeon computer but this Mac Pro should hold me over until then. If you still own a Mac Pro I wanna say you can squeeze another year or so depending on what loads your handling. At some point you’ll have to consider getting a trash can or build a PC system.

Please ask questions in the comments if I left any details out.

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