Saturday, 7 May 2016

Mac Pro 1,1 Case Mod

Want a Mac Pro but have no budget for it? Well, build a hackintosh and put it in a Mac Pro case.

I bought a faulty Mac Pro some time ago and after being unable to fix it, I decided to modify it to be a PC case with hackintosh installed.

This is how I went about modifying my case and hope it would help someone wanting to do something similar.

My goal is to make this look as much like a Mac Pro as possible and retain its layout when possible. 

Things to take note: 
The case is significantly taller and longer than a regular atx case, do ensure u have enough space if you intend to put it in a shelf. I personally had to modify my shelf a little to make the case fit.
Do make sure you get an mATX or ITX board.

Now onto the mod: 

First, the power supply.

Extended hole for cables
I initially wanted to modify the power supply to 24 pin but realized that the amp rating for the 5v rail and 3.3v rail is too low to be used. So I took out the PCB of the Mac Pro power supply and put the PCB of an atx power supply I had laying around into the case. 
The screw holes did not fit so I used a plier to rip out 4 standoffs in the case and used epoxy to glue to the desired location for the power supply.
Now after that is done, the cables need to pass through to the motherboard. I decided to use the same cable routing route as it originally had. 
But... metal plate was blocking my way. To enlarge the holes, I recommend that you use a dremel but do note that the metal is quite thick. For me, as I did not have a dremel, I removed some 30 over T8 screws and pried open the back of the case to remove the metal plate. Then, I proceeded to drill out the metal and put it back in. The method I did was very time consuming and I recommend that you try to use a dremel or something if possible.

Sadly, in the process of removing the case, I damaged the optical drive slot so I ended up without any optical drives. Should you be tearing the case apart, do be cautious about the optical drive slot/cover. 

Then after installing the power supply, I realize that the cables are too short. The quick way to fix this is to get a extender. However, I went to extend the wires by soldering to keep costs down(very time consuming and tedious).

Connection of SAS-SATA
I then modified the SAS Cable to 4 SATA connectors. I spliced and manually soldered to 2 SATA cables with I cut both into half. If you choose to go this route, do note to NOT connect it like this : SAS-copper wire-SATA cable. Instead connect it using SAS-SATA. This is because it is impossible to solder to the ground of most SATA cables. I'm not going to explain further as it'll make it very confusing. Alternatively, just get a SAS to SATA converter at Taobao or Ebay etc, it doesn't cost really much.

Next, I rewired the front panel for it to work on a PC motherboard. I wired it up using aquamac's wiring diagrams. As of currently I have the power button and USB working. Personally I was initially a little confused with the wiring of the power button. The connectors are supposed to connect to 1 of the power on pins and to the one beside it(MSG pin).

Screw on COM Port
Lastly, onto mounting the motherboard. I recommend doing this step the last as if you want to tear the case down you risk damaging your work.For me as I wanted it to look as original as possible, I used the original standoffs. I used a plier to remove the standoffs, which came off easily. Alternatively a hammer could be used, just knock it gently and it should come right out.
Then I glued the standoffs according to the screw holes on my motherboard. 
For the IO, I used an angle grinder and to cut out a rectangular hole for my IO. To make it fit, the top part of the IO shield was cut and a screw was put in the com port to keep it in place. 
This is not the best method, if you have any ideas of better methods please do comment below :)

To mount on the exhaust fan, I drilled 2 diagonal holes in the fan plate to fit the fan. It is connected directly to my power supply with 5v. It's wiring is different from normal 120mm fans. Do check the useful links below for the one I used. Because the larger fans are thicker, I used the original power supply fan of the Mac Pro instead which is thinner.

SSD mount

Lastly, onto the part on mounting hard drives. I wanted to put an SSD in it but no adapter mounts would fit. I used a small piece of acrylic and drilled holes to fit 2.5 inch drives. Although it would be slightly misaligned, it would still fit. Just push the drive up slightly.

Well that's pretty much it for the case mod! Happy modding!

More pictures of the build:

The end product

Back of the case
The insides


For me, this mod technically costs $0(excluding cost of system)

After disassembling the system there was a lot of parts, of which I sold off in Carousell. After selling some of the parts I had more than what I bought the Mac Pro at, which that extra cash would cover for the acrylic used in the hard drive bay.
Self advertising here-Do check my account out at if you're interested!

Functions I might want to add in the future: 
Front panel audio 
Water cooling
Dual power supply 

If anyone has suggestions on how this mod can be improved do comment below :)

Useful links