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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Breathe new life into your old Pro! Run Mavericks and FCP X on early Mac Pro!

For a few hundred dollars you can make several small, but key upgrades, and get your old Mac Pro running the latest and greatest software. Save all the money you have invested in peripherals, like ram and hard drives, and save yourself from having to purchase Apple's new expensive Mac Pro. If you have tried to install Apple's new operating system, Mavericks, on your computer, but were met with a pop up message from Apple telling you that your computer is too old, then read on!!!

In classic Apple fashion, when they wrote the code for their new operating system, they set a cut off on how far back they were going give support for. Unfortunately they decided to not allow Mavericks, and other new software, to run on the earlier models of Mac Pro towers (Mac Pro 1.1 from 2006). Even though these machines have specs not much different, then their supported predecessors, and can definitely handle the workloads. What you'll see in the accompanying video will be poof of that.


Apple reasoned that since these machines had a 32 bit EFI, they should be left off the approved list because Mavericks would only work with the newer 64 bit EFI computers. In fact, they just didn't write the code to boot mavericks with a 32bit EFI, as someone else later did. More on that later.

If you want to continue to do professional work on an earlier Mac Pro, Apple would have you throw it away and buy a whole new one. Seems like a waste. These older Mac Pros were built with modern features like 64bit processing, and multi threaded CPUs that the software couldn't take advantage of at the time. So the hardware has always been well ahead of the software. And now that the software is finally taking advantage of these modern technologies, means that restoring your old mac a viable option, rather than throwing it away.

Here's the scenario.

You have an older MacPro that is not officially supported for Mavericks. This means you cant use the latest Final Cut Pro X, you cant run Mavericks, and a host of other limitations.  Again, while your hardware is probably very much capable of handling these options, Apple has seen fit to rule those computers out through limiting code.

OK, we all hate that, but that is historically the Apple's M.O. in an attempt to boost hardware sales.  So, if you have $5 grand for a new fancy round MacPro, so you can run Mavericks and FCP X, then your in good shape and need read no further. Enjoy.

If on the other hand you would much rather continue garnishing the benefits of your older investment (including Ram and other peripherals), then you may want to consider a few custom modification that you can do to you older Mac pro, in my case a Mac Pro 1.1, to give it a new life and allow it to run how it was intended to operate, in 64 bit mode, and with multiple cpu threads.  Giving you a longer window to get use out of it, without a significant new investment.

How do you go about doing this?  Stick around, that is the purpose of this post.

Here are the steps I took in order to make my older MacPro 1.1 capable of taking advantage of the new software technology:

1.  Video card: My MacPro had the upgraded nvidia 4500FX video card.  This card does not work with FCP X and Mavericks.  Frustrating, even though it was a premium card at the time, it is only open GL 02.  The new mac software needs open CL (GL.03) (or something like that).  I looked up the cheapest compatible card for mavericks, and purchased a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB for $65 bucks on eBay.  I sold my nvidia 4500 for aprox $125 , so I actually made money on the deal, and now there were no more video card warnings when I launch FCP X!  The new cheaper card works like a charm!

2.  Main HD: The next item that I upgraded was my main HD with a new samsung 500GB Solid State HD.  My video will show details of how to do this, but its amazingly fast.  My MacPro 1.1 boots up faster than an iPad.  There's no HD noise as the OS loads.  Basically the fan goes high, then quite, then the OS is fully loaded.  Its awesome.  See video...

3.  Install Mavericks - Technically Mavericks is programed NOT to run on these older MacPro computers, but it was really not that complicated to learn how to do it, and run mavericks natively with full update capabilities. This process is whole topic in itself. I will have future videos on how to do this, but you can google it for now.
Once you complete these steps, your old Mac Pro will be like a new computer.  Utilizing all the hardware, that the new software can now take advantage of. The old Mac Pro finally comes into its own in an unusual and efficient way.

The outcome.

My MacPro 1.1 is running mavericks off of a new SSD drive, with a current Apple approved video card.  Its as fast as any computer I have ever used, runs Mavericks, runs FCP X, and updates flawlessly!  All this accomplished for a couple of hundred buck for the hardware and a little time and effort. View the accompanying video to see it for yourself! In the meantime, hit me with any questions you may have, and keep an eye out for upcoming videos!

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