Using a 2008 Mac Pro as a gaming computer


#1

Wondering if I could modify and use this to run an on line cycling program called Zwift.
For those that don’t know this program is normally used with a smart indoor trainer which interacts with the program. The computer is used to run a monitor or TV through HTMI. https://zwift.com

This Mac Pro which has for years been running faultlessly in my business each day has been semi retired for the last couple of years (as have I) and not used so much.

Its an early 2008 Mac Pro
OS X El Capitan (the latest version it will run)
2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Xeon
8 GB ram
ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256 MB (that I know isn’t good enough)

Recommended specs for running Zwift are:

Minimum spec

Mac OS 10.9 or higher
Intel Core 2 Duo
4 GB Ram
1 GB dedicated GPU or embedded Intel HD 4000AMD R5

Recommended spec

Mac OS 10.9 or higher
Dual Core Intel Core i5 or AMD
8 GB Ram
2 GB Radeon R9 200 series or NVIDIA GTX 650

Extreme spec

Mac OS 10.9 or higher
Quad Core Intel I7 or AMD
8 GB Ram
2 GB Radeon R9 290 series or NVIDIA GTX 970

What I’m seeing I’d need is a better graphics card and get around the HTMI connection.
But how does the current spec stand up against these recomendations. if possible I’d go for the highest spec possible?

People are also running successfully using Apple TV 4k. Some slight loss in display quality with Apple TV not supporting shadows but ok. Could struggle a bit in large group rides where there’s lots happening.

Any of this possible on the Mac Pro?


#2

There are other threads on here where I’ve talked about looking for a GTX680.

I’m currently using a 3,1 (2008) Mac Pro as my main gaming PC with such a card, and it’s great.


#3

Thanks I’ll take a look at those threads.
What i’m being told is that it is a pretty graphically hungry program.
The best experiences I’ve seen are those using Alienware computers.
Just not sure how the specs (processor etc.) they specify compare to what I have.


#4

I have this computer, I’ve got a GTX 950ti in there. It can do some gaming. But I don’t really game. Be aware, with very minimal patching, it can run High Sierra. Mine is. It finally settled down with the last update (.5 maybe?). I also have 18GBs of RAM in there and I’m running RAID 0 SSDs through the PCIe slot via a card. My mechanical drives mostly store backups and footage for my video editing projects.


#5

What’s going on with programs such as Zwift is that they’re graphically recreating real road courses. Your biggest question to ask is what kind of PCI-E ports your Mac is using and then whether you can find a suitable video card that can be flashed to support your Mac.

As it is your video card is significantly under specification. The rest of your computer should be OK to use Zwift at some level, it just depends on how much effort you want to put in.


#6

I would try the following.

  1. Get a reference design Nvidia 680 GTX and flash with Mac EFI

  2. If you can find one cheap, a Sapphire Pulse RX 580 8GB
    You won’t have bootscreens.
    Will likely have to hack 2008 Mac Pro to run newer operating system.

  3. Nvidia 1080 GTX and run it with drivers from Nvidia.
    You won’t have bootscreens.

Have you thought about just installing windows on the Mac Pro and taking advantage of better graphics drivers to run your application?


#7

Everything @leon said. :slight_smile:

I have bought multiple EVGA GTX680 cards on Gumtree for around $120 each. :slight_smile: They are awesome.


#8

Do Macs support SLI or no?


#9

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I’ll look further into that in the future. For the moment to keep it simple I’ll go with an Apple TV 4K, as what I’m seeing it does a pretty good job. Oh and can be used for other things too.