Sunday, October 29, 2023

Last of the Mac (Intel) V8 Cheese Graters

xena's configuration before I upgrade the OS

Early in my time at Google (2008), I wanted to switch from a VGA monitor to a larger monitor which supported dual DVI, which my spiffy work Mac laptop already used in the office. This meant I might also upgrade my (as it turned out to be last) Pentium Windows PC; I got seriously carried away and spent too much money to get 42 pounds of a high-end Mac Pro (the ones that look like cheese graters) with:

  • 8 64-bit 3.2 GHz Intel cores
  • 8 GB of memory
  • 500 GB disk (and space for three more)
  • Four Dual DVI ports

The Mac Pro was christened xena, the Warrior System (Second of her Name). Both xena and my on-call Mac laptop talked to a 30" HP monitor,  the same model as I used at work. 

    She later got mid-life upgrades of two SSD disks (160 GB and 512 GB), 2 TB hard drive (for Time Machine backups), and a USB-3 card.

    xena was ahead of her time for a home machine. She was sufficiently ahead of her time that she was always under utilized, and 16 years later, xena's performance specifications are still not horrible. (Her power consumption was and is horrible, but nobody's perfect!)

    After seven years, xena was retired in favor of a 2015 iMac (kendra, fourth of her name); we also replaced my spouse's system with the same model. That wasn't an upgrade for me per se, but kendra did have a slightly higher clock speed, twice the memory (16GB), and used a fraction of the power.

    kendra and her twin lasted seven years as well, and were replaced last year by Mac Studios twins (tamara & minerva) using an Apple M1 Max chip with again twice the memory (32 GB),  and 1 TB SSD.  Again, they may not be upgrades, but the pure SSD makes it far smoother. kendra and her twin both got food chained to family in Syracuse.

    xena is still here; after eight years of retirement I'm still looking for a use for it, but it's such a nice system I can't ship just it off, especially she's sort of The Last of the V8 Interceptors.

    For reasons not completely understood by even me, this summer I acquired three upgrades for xena:

    • A 1 TB SSD drive 
    • Another 8 GB of memory (doubling it)
    • A Metal-enabled Nvidia GTX 780 video card

    The 1 TB SSD was because I didn't want run on platters, and I had stolen the 512 GB SSD (mentioned above) for another system. I want to make it triple boot (MacOS, Linux, and Windows 10), and that wasn't happening on a mere 160 GB SSD.  

    The video card makes at least a some sense for two reasons. First, the old cards would occasionally cause corrupted video for reasons I never figured out. Second, one cannot do (an officially unsupported) upgrade of MacOS beyond a certain point without a Metal-enabled video card.

    The memory was mostly simply I didn't want to even think about memory when I do find a use for the machine.

    I've been sitting on them until Katherine was free to install them (which happened this weekend). And oh, my goodness, they work!  

    Now I just have figure if I will:

    • Do an unsanctioned-by-Apple upgrade, 
    • install Ubuntu,
    • get a dual monitor KVM for kendra, xena, and foghorn-leghorn (a Raspberry Pi 4), and
    • most importantly, determine what actual use I could possibly have for the machine.
    Decisions, decisions …

    Update: I upgraded to MacOS Ventura, and she now also has Windows 10 (w/WSL 1) & Ubuntu 22.04 Desktop on it.  I have a keyboard/mouse switch, I question if I even want a true KVM.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment