New Video Card

My circa 2010 Mac Pro tower has been dying for a month. More specifically the video was failing, and I could only boot into safe mode. I swapped out the stock ATI Radeon for a Sapphire HD 7950 which appears to have fixed it. I’d rather have a new computer, but after all these years there’s still nothing else that will do the job this model does unless I build a Hackintosh; and that’s more effort than I want to spend right now.

What went right:

Swapping in the new card wasn’t too difficult. This ease of upgradability is a big reason I prefer modular Mac Pros. It may be a seven year old computer, but it’s a lot more powerful today than when I bought it: four times as much RAM, ten times the storage space, two SSDs, 2 extra eSata ports, and now a faster video card that supports 4K. On the other hand, still no USB 3 or Thunderbolt ports.

I don’t have any 4K video or monitor handy to test it, but the new card does seem at least marginally faster than the old one. Some HD videos that used to stutter no longer do.

What went wrong:

I ordered the new card on Friday morning from OWC and paid $20 extra for “Next Day Air” so I could install it on Saturday when I had a lot of free time. Apparently “Next Day Air” doesn’t actually mean next day air, and I didn’t get the card until today, Tuesday.

The Sapphire manual incorrectly stated that I needed to install drivers from CD first. Fortunately OWC support told me I could ignore that.

The Radeon card was dying at the same time Crashplan is going offline, and before I had fully backed up my system to Backblaze. I lost several days of backup time because Backblaze doesn’t run in safe mode.

The hard disks and CPU all seem fine. However some of my important files are on a RAID-0 striped pair of 2 TB disks. My backup plan if the new video card didn’t work was to get a cheap used Mac of the same vintage and swap in my RAM and disks from the old system. However I realized I wasn’t sure if that was going to work for the RAID. I should figure that out before the next disaster. Better yet, I should just swap out the RAID set for a single larger disk. I set the RAID up back when 2 TB disks were the biggest I could easily buy.

With luck I won’t have any more disasters until Apple finally releases a true non-trashcan Mac Pro sometime this year. If they don’t, then I suppose I’ll eventually move to an iMac, and add a Synology or Drobo or some such thing to it to get enough storage space.

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