Adding a cheap SSD to my 2008 Mac Pro

Windows 10 on my 2008 Mac Pro maxes out the disk i/o while booting, checking for updates and doing whatever it does after startup, plus add Steam and Origin to launch at boot and disk i/o sits at 100% for several minutes after boot. My Windows 10 disk up until now has been a cheap Hitachi/HGST 7200rpm 500GB HDD.

I boot Windows 10 on my Mac Pro only for occasional gaming, so I haven’t been overly eager to install an SSD. It wasn’t until these recent SSD deals with 480GB for as low as $65 that I decided to pick one up.

I’m aware that the 2008 Mac Pro only has a SATA2 disk controller by default so won’t be able to take advantage of the maximum SATA3 SSD speeds (max 600MB/s), but even at SATA2 bandwidth (max 300MB/s) the i/o will still be multiple times faster than what’s capable by a 7200rpm magnetic disk.

For the last couple of magnetic 2.5″ disks I added, I used a cheap $5 2.5 to 3.5″ 3d printed bracket from Amazon. While it works and holds the disks in place, it’s not sturdy enough to get the drives inserted into the SATA slots when you push the drive sled into the machine. You need to reach under to find the back of the drive and give it a push, then it seats into the slot. I decided to try a Sabrent metal bracket for the SSD. When it arrived I realized I had already used one of these in the past when installing an SSD into a 2012 MacBook Pro. These are pretty sturdy and work well:

$5 3d printed adapter on left, Sabrent adapter on right

A few notes as reminders to myself on the install:

  • Windows 10 will not install from the ISO burnt to a USB flash drive, no matter whether you set it up from Windows 10, MacOS, or Linux. I tried multiple times, and it will not boot. Strangely, MacOS will boot and install from a USB flash drive just fine.
  • Windows 10 will not install to a fresh, blank HD or SSD if there are other disks already in the Mac Pro. Remove all the other disks, leaving just the target disk for Windows 10. Boot from DVD, complete the install, then insert all the other disks back after completing the install

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