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I'd like to know if I need to be concerned about any hardware parts that I should include in a brand new Mac Pro purchase, instead of trying to hunt it down on 3rd party vendors (or whitelist vendors / hardware suppliers).

The main components I'm interested for "upgradeability" are:

  • Processors (if starting with two 2.4GHz Quad-Core "Westmere");
  • RAM (if starting with the least possible, which seems to be 6 x 1GB);
  • Video Cards (if starting with one ATI Radeon HD 5770, can a second one be purchased elsewhere?)
  • Hard-Drives (since these are mounted in specialized trays [if I'm not mistaking], are they also sold elsewhere? And can they be bought as SSDs?)
  • Power Supply (do I need to be concerned about this at all, or does it auto-adjust depending on the new component upgrades?)

I just want to be sure by choosing a Mac Pro with lower component specifications that I can in fact purchase upgrade parts cheaper elsewhere.

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closed as off topic by soandos, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Nifle, 8088, studiohack Nov 10 '11 at 16:25

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Have you checked They sell "mac" parts... Mac Pro parts are just regular parts, but you need to make sure you can find drivers... – tjameson Jun 24 '11 at 23:18

Everything can be purchased through another company, the only part that will be exclusive to the Mac Pro will be the PSU - they have a pretty special config in that case, but I think it is designed to handle a maxed out system (last time I looked it's a 980 watt PSU). You can buy either new or refurbs online but it's going to be the same part that ships in the Mac.

The GPU's for these systems use standard interfaces (PCI-E) but usually have custom firmware for Apple systems, you can buy from third-parties but most people buy for Apple for the high-end cards because of exclusivity. There are some standard cards that can be flashed with Apple firmware but it's better to just buy the right card in the first place so you don't sacrifice stability.

RAM & Hard drives can be purchased anywhere, just make sure you are buying SATA drives and the appropriate RAM for your system - most-likely Buffered ECC memory.

The CPU's are Xeon workstation/server parts and can be purchased from online vendors, for long-term cost reasons, I would get the highest configuration you can afford because you probably won't see any cost-savings later when purchasing upgrades and you'll have 2 CPU's sitting around...

If you purchased the dual quad-core system today and wanted to upgrade the CPU's within the next six months - you would spend roughly an additional $2400 for the CPU's. If you purchased today, you would spend $1500 for the upgrade off the bat.

The CPU is least-likely to be upgraded component so it's usually best to get as much as you can afford and ride it out - but 6 cores / 12 threads is pretty intense and may take a looong time for you to grow into it depending on what you are doing.

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