The Computer Blog

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Technical Notes on Building up My Mac Pro

I bought the standard configuration Mac Pro with twin 2.66 GHz Xeon 5100 CPU’s, 1 GB RAM (2 x 512), a 250GB hard drive, and a Nvidia GeForce 7800 video card. The configuration I’m running now is a machine with 3GB RAM, a 500GB operating system(s) hard drive, a RAID 1 set composed of two 250GB SATA hard drives, and a 300GB OS X backup hard drive. I’m running Tiger (OS 10.4.8 currently) and Windows XP SP2 using Boot Camp, both operating systems located on the “boot drive”. The machine is hooked to a 23 inch Apple Cinema Display and is controlled via a Logitech S530 keyboard and mouse set.

Here are the notes I jotted down about the machine as I built it up:

--Installed an extra 2GB (2 X 1GB) of RAM from Other World Computing. Works great!

--Most of the time spent was spent building up the Windows side of the machine. For the OS X side, I used Apple’s Migration Assistant to transfer all my applications and data from my old G5 PowerMac to this machine. I then chose to reinstall some Universal Applications to make sure I got the performance out of them I was expecting. For the Windows side, everything was from scratch. It had to be, since Windows won’t allow me to “clone” it…

--Loaded Windows XP SP2 and all updates as well as Office 2007 up on the Windows side.

--XP only recognizes 2GB of my 3GB of RAM. I tried using the “/3GB” switch in the boot.ini file as Microsoft suggested, but it had no effect.

--XP does not see the RAID 1 hard drive set, which is what I expected since that’s a software RAID set. I’m not even going to attempt to get XP to recognize them; I’d just as soon Windows left them alone.

--I loaded my copy of Corel Draw 11 up on my Windows partition since I had a Corel clip art application and collection that is Windows only.

--I hate how Outlook handles in-line photos in e-mail. It’s one of the major reasons I use Mail.

--Logitech S 530 keyboard CD eject function is not recognized under Windows. Tried Logitech S510 Windows keyboard drivers and got full mouse functionality but nothing additional on the keyboard. Must use right-click on CD icon to eject CD when in Windows.

--The Mac Pro’s analog audio port doesn’t work under Windows. I learned the hard way that even in OS X this port is software controlled. Some folks have gotten the port to work under Windows using newer Realtek drivers, but that didn’t work for me. Needed an integrated solution that would work under both operating systems and got it by using an old USB based Griffith iMic for sound. Logitech Z4 system is hooked into it and working great.

--The machine is very quiet. I almost never hear the fans. Most noise comes from the hard drives when they’re copying data, and that’s pretty minimal.

--Installing a second optical drive was fairly easy, though the IDE cable isn’t long enough to attach to the second drive totally out of the bay. I had to angle the drive toward the case and hold it just outside its slides to get the power and data cables on before turning it parallel and sliding it into place.

--Hard drive installations are a snap. You pull out a tray, mount the hard disk in the tray with four screws, and slide the tray back in until it’s snug. That’s it.

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