Installing Windows XP, the Right Way

When we first reviewed the Mac Pro, we of course tried to install Windows XP on it. 

Although Apple's Bootcamp beta now allows you to install Windows on a separate hard drive, you'll need to physically remove your OS X boot drive before beginning the install process otherwise you'll be greeted with the following error:


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Even with Apple's updated Bootcamp 1.1 beta release, we encountered serious performance issues with SATA drives under XP; the fastest transfer rate attainable, regardless of drive used, was only 3.9MB/s, which obviously made the system very slow.  Video and CPU performance was fine, but with I/O performance so low the system was a very poor performer in most applications. 


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Thankfully, some clever OS X/XP users figured out the cause of the problem: the Intel 5000X drivers must be slipstreamed into the Windows XP SP2 install CD and loaded during Windows setup, not after, in order to avoid the problem.  We couldn't find a reason why this was true, but after following the instructions posted here (and later mirrored here) our SATA problems went away. 

The fix is simple; you need to download and extract the Intel chipset drivers for the 5000X, as well as the SATA drivers, and use a tool such as nLite to slipstream the drivers into your XP SP2 install CD.

If you've done it correctly, your SATA drives should now operate in Multi-Word DMA Mode 2 instead of PIO Mode when viewed in Device Manager. 

With Windows XP now working at full speed on the Mac Pro, we run into another hurdle in making the Mac Pro the perfect XP/OS X workstation: the video card.  Apple only offers three video card options for the Mac Pro: a GeForce 7300 GT, Quadro FX 4500 and a Radeon X1900 XT.  The problem is that the first option is a fairly low end GPU, and the remaining two are fairly expensive upgrades at $499 and $399 respectively.  It would be much nicer if we could simply use a PC video card in the system, as it would greatly expand the possibilities for upgrades and do so at much better prices. 

PC video cards will actually work in the Mac Pro under Windows XP, they will not however work under OS X or during any of the pre-boot period of starting the machine (e.g. you will not be able to see the startup disk selection screen if you hold down the Option key while the system starts).  If you install a PC video card in the Mac Pro you'll simply get a black screen until Windows starts loading, at which point everything will look normal.  We used this fact to our benefit by running all of our Windows XP game tests with a regular ATI Radeon X1900 XTX.  Interestingly enough, when we tried to use a Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, we got a lot of display corruption as you can see from the screenshot below:

We couldn't do anything to get rid of the corruption, and aren't sure why it happened only with the 256MB X1900 XT. 

On the OS X side, if you try to boot with a PC video card you'll simply get a black screen from start to finish.  We've tried ATI's Radeon X1900 XT as well as the new GeForce 7900 GS (the GPU supports OS X, but the cards themselves do not) and had no luck in OS X.  As soon as Mac versions of these cards are readily available, users should be able to rip the firmware off of one and work on putting it onto a PC card.  Until then, your video card selection for the Mac Pro is going to be quite limited. 

Great News: Quad Core Works Windows XP Performance - The Test
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  • Jsilva - Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - link

    Hey guys I`ve reading your comments mac vs windows and I will say that I have worked extremely in a pc for years and this what I have to say

    Im a Music producer and I use alot of heavy softwares to make music today softwares require alot of resources from the computer, I was working in pc for years because as all we know mac is so expensive and I couldn`t afford it many years ago, then after working alot in pc i decide to save money and start using a mac and these are the reason :

    first microsoft dont care about the softwares they sell there is always a bug tu fix and when you download the right patch something else is screw it up then at some point you get tired to install buggy files to the computer and is so common than suddenly you have unexpected errors with the os even in xp that is the best windows system now for pc.

    I guess we dont need to talk about the horrible windos vista that is a kind of mac system copy as always seems that gates likes to copy only what jobs do.but in wrong way just take a look of the designers of the os i wont go to deep in that

    and add to that spam alot of them every where in internet plus hundreds of virus that people that doesnt have anything better to do program so add to your
    so called cheaper system license for all that shit to keep your pc secure if that`s possible at some degree

    so you can build the most powerful pc in the world but is not about to have american muscle in there is to have something that works smootly and will work everytime you need it and that`s what mac does believeme i have been working with mac i have used very heavy softwares and used the ram at maximun my hard disk is completely full and my mac work just as the first day i opened the box something i can`t say about my old pc that at the end i needed like one hour to shutdown the system due to that the system was like shit because of the extensive use

    when you need the computer to make your living you need something in that you can trust also I play live with programs like ableton live and i would never trust a pc for that what happen if the system starts to crash in the middle of the concert?? and that happen alot with windows also with all those virus, i had the bad experience that a fucking one screw my hard drives with alot of music in there my own compositions so i started to hate windows for many reasons and that`s just the first layer

    if we talk about how smart are alot of applications like expose to give you a short and easy example, all that stuff really works when you are using the mac alot, maybe if you just use the computer to check email, watch porn in internet and play video games a pc will work for you also to be a pseudo expert builder and argue with friends that you build the best machine in town with lights inside etc etc but for serious work i would recomend a mac you have tons of smart applications watch how easy is to get your back up with time capsule for example as a professional i need something that helps me to focus in my work and not to fix errors in the system that i guess that`s why microsoft is selling you the software he is not giving it as a gift , why should i work for them to fix my system??

    also microsoft just want to be competitive in price and not in quality check all the market where microsoft is involved, video games same story xbox 360 cheaper but the system is just crap and buggy and some that where really good systems like playstation have to go cheaper in components because they build good systems meant to last alot so now is not the same because microsoft is half price than ps3 now ps3 is alittle cheaper than before but you get less stuff in it and in the long therm you are paying more for something that doesnt work as suppous to, this is the same with pc`s , video game consoles palm os same shit all around with them but most of the users are only concern of who has the bigger engine in town and the cheaper one and not how to use it properly and the one that really works because at the end is useless the most powerful pc runing ever if crashes twice at day and you spend many hours fixing and going to forums to check what is that error that the computer is showing you.
    Reply
  • IrishLeprecaun - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    I have really nothing to say on the subject of Mac vs. Pc. But please for the love of all that is good on planet Earth, I ask you when you are trying to make a valid point do not spell and punctuate like a teenager. Hell I am teenager and I have better punctuation then you how sad is that. Reply
  • robinp - Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - link

    Anyone tried upgrading one of the early Mac Pro's with one of the 1333GHz FSB socket 771 Harpertowns? If not, does anyone know of a reason why it wouldn't work?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • defiancex0x - Thursday, January 10, 2008 - link

    upgrade the Mac pro to the quad core 3.0 LGA 771 133mhz cpu's @ 80w? Has it been tried yet Reply
  • Spetznatz - Thursday, January 10, 2008 - link

    Anand -- any idea if the same can be done with the new Penryn processors -- simply drop them into the first-gen Mac Pro motherboard?

    The 5420 (2.5GHz, 1333MHz FSB) at about $600 looks like a good price/performance swap for my current dual-core 2.0GHz Xeons).

    Ta
    Reply
  • InflatableMouse - Friday, July 06, 2007 - link

    Maybe I missed something obvious, but I can't seem to find how to put the system in quad channel mode?

    My Mac Pro is still running with the default 2x512MB and I'm about to upgrade to 8GB. I wanna know if I should go with 4 x 2GB or 8 x 1GB?

    I prefer the former but if performance is gained I'll go for the latter.

    I did read that banks should be filled 2 on board A and 2 on board B and I think it's logic to conclude that spreading 2 pears over the two boards creates quad channel. I still like to see that confirmed though ...

    Could someone clear this up for me please?

    Thx.
    Reply
  • JeffDM - Sunday, October 08, 2006 - link

    The first page goes on a few paragraphs about how rank within an FB-DIMM affects speed, but I didn't see any sure-fire way of how to determine the rank of the module before buying. I did find a document that suggests that 1GB and 2GB modules have a rank of 2, and smaller modules have a rank of 1. I can't find that page right now.

    I am still a bit confused as to how that makes a difference, is it as if there were two memory channels within the memory module? That would be a pretty interesting idea. It would be nice if this was benchmarked. If that's true, then the FB-DIMM concept doesn't seem so bad after all, the only problem is how much heat the AMB produces, the cost of the units and of course the latencies.
    Reply
  • JAS - Saturday, September 23, 2006 - link

    Anand: It was great hearing you discuss the Mac Pro on Leo Laporte's podcast.

    http://www.twit.tv/mbw">http://www.twit.tv/mbw
    Reply
  • CE750 - Sunday, October 15, 2006 - link

    In the end, I think Apple finally hit a home run, and some PC diehards who even if the Risen Lord came down and asked them to praise a Mac, would balk at the idea will never accept it.

    It always goes back to the silly gaming argument which is all but pointless when your talking about workstations. I mean can you play Quake IV on your Octane or Sun UltraSparc III workstation? Who cares about games? It's not like the game software is written for OS X anyway, it's for windows.. and DirectX that is where the optimizations are, not OpenGL.

    if you want to spend hours and hours tinkering with your build-a-pc box, knock yourself out. I just want a machine that works, and works well!

    Peace Out..
    Reply
  • Mhorydyn - Saturday, September 23, 2006 - link

    Hammong: I agree that I'd like to see some benchmarks done comparing gaming with 2 DIMMs and 4 DIMMs especially after seeing this: http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/06/26/xeon_woodcr...">http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/06/26/...#dual_vs...

    For those too lazy to check it out, it shows the 3.0 GHz Woodcrest (5160) scoring roughly 3800 MB/s for both the Integer and the Floating Point benchmarks using SiSoft Sandra 2007 (dual channel). Going to quad channel nets an increase of nearly 2000 MB/s (5740-ish).
    Reply

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