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Need Help Reviving 2008-Era Mac Pro

This is a discussion on Need Help Reviving 2008-Era Mac Pro within the Mac Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. I recently came across what seemed like a good deal on a handful of 2008-era Mac Pro desktop machines. Of


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Old 08-28-2015, 07:50 PM   #1
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I recently came across what seemed like a good deal on a handful of 2008-era Mac Pro desktop machines. Of the three I picked up, one turned out to be a dual-processor G5 machine, and the other two are dual-processor Xeon machines. The Xeon machines are the ones I'm trying to resurrect.

None of the machines had hard drives or video cards. I bought a couple of new hard drives and a couple of new (cheap) video cards, installed one of each into each of the two Xeon machines, and pressed the button.

Machine 1 turned on, but the power light is blinking about twice per second. Machine 2 turned on and the power light is on steady. I get no video from either machine (I have two monitors plugged into each - one via HDMI and one via VGA). A little Googling suggests machine 1 has a RAM problem (based on the blinking light pattern).

My question is (and I realize this is kind of open-ended), what's the correct order of steps to bring one or both of these back to life? I don't want to spend a ton of money on them, but I also don't want to throw away what I've already spent. I don't understand why I'm not getting any video (and no video is making it hard to troubleshoot anything else). Is it because there's no drivers on the brand-new hard drive? I thought I'd at least get 640x480 or something that would let me load an OS and drivers, but no dice. I have a bootable OS X install thumb drive, so once I see life on the machine I am ready to install.

For what it's worth, I opened up the case and started each machine, and I see no LED indicator lights anywhere inside (I think there are supposed to be some, but I don't know where). My next steps (barring any instructions to the contrary) are to connect the machines to my Macbook via Target Disk Mode, install OS X and the video card drivers, and see where that gets me.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
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Old 08-29-2015, 01:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
I see no LED indicator lights anywhere inside
This is a bad sign, do you get the Chime at bootup? If no, then probably the Motherboard shorted out. You can try to Reset NVRAM https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
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Old 08-29-2015, 05:12 AM   #3
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I get the chime on machine 2. Don't remember getting one on machine 1. Will have to revisit. Where are the LEDs located? Do I need to remove any other components to view them?
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:26 PM   #4
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Reset the PRAM or NVRAM, and then reset SMC: How to Reset Your Mac's PRAM (Parameter RAM)
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Old 08-30-2015, 11:13 AM   #5
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Good news? Bad news? Not sure...

I reset the PRAM on both machines, then did the SMC reset as well.

No change on machine 2 - it still starts up, gives me a solid light on the power button, but no video so I can't tell what it's doing (if anything). When I plug a thumb drive into the USB port on the front, the access light blinks madly like it's doing something, but nothing ever happens.

I thought there was no change on machine 1. At one point I opened the machines to fiddle with the RAM, and I realized that the RAM modules on machine 1 were installed in slot 4 on both daughter cards. I removed the RAM, reinstalled in slot 1, and tried again, and presto! I get a solid light on the power button instead of the blinking light. I also get startup chimes now on both machines (very loud startup chimes, FWIW).

Unfortunately, those were the only changes I saw. Still no video from either machine. I wasn't able to find a FireWire cable locally, so I had to order one from Amazon. Should be here tomorrow or the next day, and I'll see if Target Disk Mode buys me any more progress.
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Old 08-30-2015, 12:47 PM   #6
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It sounds like the Video cards are bad or not registering on those machines.
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Old 08-30-2015, 02:24 PM   #7
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I'm using an MSI F5450 MDIGH. A quick Google doesn't turn up anything as far as "don't use this card with a Mac." I *have* seen a couple of posts that various cards don't support Mac video until after bootup because there's no native Mac code on the chip (or something like that). Maybe that's my issue? That explanation seems to fit my symptoms (i.e. machine appears to power on, but without video - and with no OS installed yet, it never gets to the "post-bootup" condition where video would appear).
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:51 PM   #8
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More good news / bad news / ?? news...

Got my Firewire cable in the mail today and did a little more fiddling. I plugged the FW cable into both machines and started the Mac Pro in Target Disk Mode. After a minute or two, I got the "The disk you inserted is not readable..." dialog. I initialized the new hard drive (in the Mac Pro), and then started the Install OS X app. So far, so good.

In the Installer, I selected the newly-initialized HD and let the installer do its thing. Things got a little wonky here, but I think it was user error. My *laptop* restarted a couple of times (which seemed odd, since it was the desktop that was having the new OS installed on it), and eventually I got a nice, new login screen. I logged in using the username/password I'd created during installation and got an empty desktop.

Turns out, though, that I was booting into my laptop (I think). When I selected "About This Mac" it gave me the spec screen for my MacBook Pro, not the desktop machine. When I restarted using the Option key, my MBP original startup drive was missing (ruh-roh). Did the whole verify/repair routine and it came back. From my MBP, I was able to see the HD on the desktop. It looks like a fresh, new install of OSX - Applications/Library/System/Users folders. So I think the OSX install was successful. So far, so good (mostly).

However, restarting the desktop nets me no new behavior. It still starts up, gives me the chime, gives me a steady light on the power button...but no video. I tried restarting it in Target Disk Mode, and then restarting my MBP and selecting the desktop HD as the startup disk, but that *appears* to still start the MBP disk (about this mac gives the MBP info, not the MP info).

I think I'm making progress, but I'm aggravated. I think my next step is to take the video card back to the mom-&-pop store and have them put it in another machine and show me that it works (I don't think it's the video card - I bought one for each machine, and I've tried both of them and neither one works). If it works, then what? Buy another make/model/style? Try the same card in a different PCI slot (does it matter which one it goes in? Currently installed in slot 1)? Something else?
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spunk.funk View Post
This is a bad sign, do you get the Chime at bootup? If no, then probably the Motherboard shorted out. You can try to Reset NVRAM https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
Okay, I located the LED lights and have more info. Nothing lights up at startup (except the brief flash on the DIMM risers), but pressing the DIAG_LED button lights up LEDs 2 and 8 (trickle and power). Notably, it does NOT light up the GPU_PRESENT light, regardless of which slot the video card is installed in (tried two different (identical model) video cards in all four slots).

I've ordered a different video card off eBay that was supposedly taken out of a similar Mac Pro unit. It's and Nvidia GeForce GT120. Hopefully that solves my problem. If not, I suspect it's a logic board issue and likely more money than I want to spend on this project.
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