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I have a MacPro 1,1 bought in early 2007. Earlier this year I was about to recycle it but tried installing an SSD as a boot/apps drive. It has been a great success, it now feels like a new machine and I'm contemplating souping it up to 16GB of RAM and using it to run Windows VMs (I'm a .Net developer) in Parallels Desktop or VMWare or similar.

The RAM is going to cost < $50. I was wondering if this is a good idea in 2014 or if I'm going to hit a load of constraints imposed by the age of the hardware. Any comments or observations very gratefully received. I cannot and will not pay thousands for a new MacPro.

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Short answer, yes.

The MacPro 1,1 can run 10.7.5 as it's latest OS. I have a 2008 Black MacBook which runs the same. Despite being on an OS from 2011, you can still run the latest version (v7.1.0) of VMWare Fusion. You can also jam 32 GB of RAM in there. Plus, the Xeon from 2006 will almost be comparable to a Core i5 from a couple of years ago.

Like you, I also updated to an SSD. Even though the RAM in my MacBook is only 2 GB, it is an amazingly fast machine considering it's specs. SSDs are simply amazing, they are the best upgrades you can make.

I also have a 2012 Mac Mini. I installed the maximum 16GB of RAM and a 240 GB SSD. I am able to run OS X as well as a Windows VM and 2 Linux VMs with almost no degrdation in performance.

It's worth noting 10.7.5 might soon be cut off from receiving security updates, however I imagine you can configure some networking where the VMs have internet access yet the host machine only has access to the local LAN.

I'd say go for it. That machine is far from dead, there are still some amazing things you can do with it.

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The main limitation is that it won't run a more recent OS X version than 10.7 (Lion), which probably won't be supported with security updates for much longer. I wouldn't put it on the Internet, but it should be fine as a VM host on your LAN.

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Definitely Yes

My 08 is still well worth keeping going - it's still my main machine, with up-rated GPU, SSD, & RAM.
I see no reason why it shouldn't be worth keeping an 06 going for a while longer. Maybe Bootcamp rather than VM, if you need what speed remains in the machine. As you have plenty of drive bays, I'd Bootcamp to a different physical drive, seems to save issues in the long run.

You can hammer Mavericks onto it too, if needs be - see Modernizing the 2006 and 2007 Mac Pro to Go Beyond OS X Lion [far too much to précis here, but it doesn't look very difficult, just fiddly]

  • I tried installing Windows on Bootcamp as I've done with my MBP. However it seems that this machine only supports 32-bit versions of Windows 7 so I think I'll stick with Parallels or VMWare. – 5arx Dec 17 '14 at 14:48
  • That might change with the patched 64-bit EFI, but I've no evidence either way, sorry. – Tetsujin Dec 17 '14 at 14:54
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    It's sad to see a Mac Pro on lowendmac.com :( – Patrick McMahon Dec 17 '14 at 21:25
  • Indeed. It hurts me in the heart AND the wallet. – 5arx Dec 18 '14 at 11:41
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I have a MP1,1 that served me faithfully from October 2006 to around July of this year. Like you, I put a SSD in it and ended up with what is largely a new machine. Over those 7+ years I upgraded HD's, video cards, added some RAM and that's about it.

Unfortunately the upgrade cycle ran out of steam this year. App Store submissions require Xcode 6 now, and that requires 10.10 now, and that doesn't easily run on the 1,1. Yes, it can be run, but reading over the threads it is highly unstable configuration-wise and will break with every update I'm forced to install as part of Xcode upgrades. At some point it's sanity over money.

If you don't game, then just buy the Mac Mini. It has much more horsepower than the MP1,1 (I tested it) and is basically a small MP for all intents. But if you do game, it's basically useless. No, not basically, completely useless. If they make a MP6,1 with a single GPU that would be the machine for me, but they don't.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. Luckily I'm not developing for Apple (once bitten, twice shy). Are you going to keep the machine and repurpose it? – 5arx Dec 17 '14 at 14:46
  • The MP1,1 is currently sitting forlornly beside me on the floor, with the keyboard and AirPort Extreme on top. I kept it in case I would return the MP6,1, but since I no longer have concerns, I'm not sure what to do with it. I will say this though - it's simply too loud to use as a server or similar. – Maury Markowitz Dec 17 '14 at 14:48
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    To more directly answer your question, just buy a mini for your .net work. I do .net development for my day job and it worked amazingly well on a mini. The ability to Command-Tab between Mac and Windows is nothing short of a minor miracle. You don't REALLY need this, but having run Parallels on my old MP1,1 with 5GB of RAM I can't really recommend it. – Maury Markowitz Dec 17 '14 at 14:51
  • "At some point it's sanity over money." What a great quote. I'm borrowing this if you don't mind. – Patrick McMahon Dec 17 '14 at 21:24
  • My pleasure :-) – Maury Markowitz Dec 18 '14 at 14:23
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I have a 2006 Mac Pro 16 gig of ram 2 5355 quad core Intel processors 10.5 terabytes of storage and running yosamite using refit running Snow Leopard,lion,Mavericks,Windows XP, windows 7 ,Windows Vista ,and windows xp media media machine runs like new without SSD all these upgrades for very cheap and well worth it i use this machine to run Pro Tools 11 it performs magnificently. Look for rEFIt on the net it will change your 2006 and 2007 Mac Pro forever!

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