UPDATE: This article was written in 2016. I’ve since written an updated review using the same Mac Pro and Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, available here.
Apple, for some reason, stops Boot Camp support early for Intel-based Macintosh computers. I frankly don’t understand it. It’s so easy to support newer Windows versions, as the burden (much like Linux) gets absorbed into the kernel.
I don’t know one Mac with an Intel CPU that can’t run Windows 10 well. Though I’m sure there is… the real key, is how to do it.
With the Mac Pro’s – it’s more tricky than you would think. The MacPro1,1 and MacPro2,1 have EFI that is so buggy it’s not even worth using for anything other than OS X. On those machines, you want to use Boot Camp’s Compatibility Support Module (CSM) to switch into BIOS mode.
With the MacPro4,1 and MacPro5,1 – those are the first truly UEFI complaint systems. Those you want to install any OS in UEFI mode. Even if Boot Camp wants to do it otherwise… you’re probably better off in UEFI mode anyways.
Third Time’s The Charm?
Did the MacPro3,1 absolve Apple’s EFI sins previously? Almost.
Running Ubuntu in UEFI mode on the Early 2008 Mac Pro works fine. Linux has accommodated Apple’s older, more buggy, EFI implementations of this era. They actually work quite well.
Windows… is another story. Combined with the Radeon HD 2600XT that is standard in these machines, and you have a pair that is quite unstable. Even with a newer GPU, I got resolution glitches and other issues in UEFI mode.
When I throttled Windows 10 back to the CSM, that’s when things came into place.
How to Do It Properly
Burn Windows 10 to DVD. Use the Media Creation Tool on a Windows PC. On your Mac, forego creating a Boot Camp flash drive. Just tell it you want to install Windows 7 or later (the Early 2008 Mac Pro should say install Windows 7 – it uses an older Boot Camp workflow). Insert the Windows 10 DVD. Partition using the Boot Camp Assistant.
Proceed through the Windows 10 install as if you were following the Windows 7 Boot Camp guide.
When Windows 10 installs, bypass any boot options that say EFI Boot. Choose “Windows” when holding the option key every time. That “Windows” text is actually a hard-coded target to load the Mac in BIOS/CSM mode. Even if you install Linux in BIOS mode, it’ll say “Windows” when you hold the option key.
If you have installed a PCIe card for SSDs (bypassing the 1.5Gbps bottleneck on the built-in SATA ports), I have some bad news. I couldn’t boot Windows 10 in BIOS/CSM mode after installing Windows 10 onto my PCIe SSD. This despite the card having a BIOS driver. What I did instead, was installed Windows 10 to one of the primary SATA drives, and then used my PCIe SSD as target for programs to install onto, and virtual memory storage as well – both I configured in Windows post-install.
Once you install, you are probably feeling naked without that Boot Camp tool suite in Windows. Well, don’t. Aside from not having to hold down the option key to toggle operating systems… you aren’t missing out on anything. On the Mac Pro, the only thing you need is to install the Audio driver.
If you go to Device Manager, all objects are accounted for. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple?
Unfortunately, the Mac Pro’s built-in speaker is silent. The default Windows 10 driver won’t speak to it… literally.
You want the Realtek High Definition Audio Driver, straight from Realtek’s web site. Version 4.27 R2.79 is what I used.
One more problem, Bluetooth. This is the one nut that I haven’t been able to crack without a bypass. For some reason, the Mac Pro’s built-in Bluetooth doesn’t enumerate at all. It doesn’t show up as an errored device, nor does it show up as an unknown device. Hence, I can’t even try to feed it a driver. This is particularly odd since it shows up in Windows 7 properly.
Using a USB Bluetooth dongle will give you newer Bluetooth LE and a unique MAC address set so pairing don’t get screwed up with your OS X pairings.
With that last step, you should have a fully-functional MacPro3,1 on Windows 10. Enjoy!