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I'm considering purchasing a Mac Pro in order to save money on upgrades in the future. I know how to build my own PC from scratch and I was wondering if I could use the same principles if were to buy Apple supported hardware. Do not get this confused with a Hackintosh, that's not what I'm striving to achieve.

Would I be able to upgrade the logic board? and CPU? Or the Power Supply?

Do you have experience with this and how did it work out for you?

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3 Answers 3

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The usual way people upgrade between revisions is to buy the newer revision, shift any hardware over that they want to keep (like a high-end graphics card), wipe the drives & reinstall MacOS X, and put the old machine up for sale locally or on eBay. Unless you live nowhere near a major metropolitan area, you won't have issues reselling the machine if you want to. Every time there's a new model, you usually see a bunch of folks selling their old systems.

The logic board may be interchangeable between different systems, but you're flying in unknown territory with that one - the logic board is tightly integrated with / customized to a lot of other components in the chassis (front panel controls, power supply, etc.)

Since Apple only sells parts to Apple Authorized Resellers and their technicians, your only option for purchasing a logic board (or replacement non-standard PC components) would be through ebay or a handful of used-mac-parts companies (like iFixit.) They buy new or used systems and disassemble them for parts.

CPUs on systems with socketed processors have some upgradeability; people have upgraded their Mac Pros this way (some Mac Minis and iMacs also had socketed processors, too) and documented as such on the usual Mac-related web boards/forums. This is expensive on the Mac Pros, given they're Xeons.

There should be no need to upgrade the power supply; they're reliable and designed to handle the maximum capabilities of the machines, which include some pretty 'big' GPU configurations. No, you can't pop an ATX supply in.

Depending on which generation of Mac Pro, the memory is specialized; some take FB-DIMMs. There have been reports that some aftermarket ram modules don't work well in some Mac Pros (temperature/heatsink issues), but a major manufacturer/reseller like Crucial should supply working memory.

Drives are completely standard SATA. Same with CD/DVD-ROm drives (verify the drive model works with OS X first.) There's an optional hardware RAID controller card that's probably not worth it. Areca, Adaptec, and others make compatible RAID controller cards; if bootability is important to you, check on this, as not all of them are.

Graphics cards are standardized for the most part (save some which have custom connectors; for example, mine has a DVI port and a mini-displayport.) The question is compatibility with MacOS X, but there are a very large number of compatible cards, and the Hackintosh community has pretty thoroughly documented that one for you already.

Sidenote: consider an iMac. It can drive a second display out of the box, they have a second internal hard drive bay, the i7's are as fast or faster than the Xeons in some applications, and they're a LOT cheaper than a Mac Pro; probably quieter and use less power, too. Spend the $ on more memory or an SSD, etc - an iMac with an SSD will wipe the floor with a Mac Pro without.

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Apple uses custom logic boards, but I've heard of people upgrading the CPU if it uses the same socket type. The power supply on my 2008 Mac Pro would be hard to get to for a replacement. The key upgrade options are new hard drives, more memory, and better video cards. I've used those three to keep my '08 Mac Pro running fast enough to more than meet all of my current needs.

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What if I bought the exact same logic boards Apple uses? or would that not matter / not possible? –  jwmann Jan 10 '12 at 18:46
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Apple does not sell them directly, but you might be able to find them on eBay or the like from owners who are getting rid of them. However, Apple is (or at least was) prone to change the size and shape of those logic boards between hardware releases, so there's no guarantee the new boards would fit in your older Mac Pro. –  Stephen Rudolph Jan 10 '12 at 19:10
    
Awwww, that's no fun.. Maybe I should build a hackintosh? I wish OS X was open-source –  jwmann Jan 10 '12 at 20:05
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I have found different website that will sell Apple parts.

  1. http://newegg.com ( I actually but memory for a PowerBook from them)
  2. http://www.mac-pro.com/
  3. http://www.ifixit.com/Mac-Parts
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That mac-pro.com is really useful. –  jwmann Jan 10 '12 at 20:03
    
I'm glad it! Can you accept my answer if it works for you? –  Chillie Jan 10 '12 at 20:28
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