Poor Victoria has been attempting to slowly kick the bucket over the years. I already had to replace the power supply in the Mac Pro once before, and she’s been running solidly since. With the exception of my WiFi signal to the router upstairs in my landlord’s part of the house. If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve likely seen at least one of my outbursts over the shitty connectivity I used to have with it (and in doing so, ruining the connectivity for the rest of my apartment unit).
The Airport Extreme unit that ships with the 2008 Mac Pro—Apple upgrade kit MB363Z/A—is clearly no longer sold these days, in the advent of the advances in wireless technologies over the past half decade. OtherWorldComputing refused to say that the existing MB988Z/A upgrade kit (part number 661-4907, for the 2009 and later Mac Pro models) would work with my Mac Pro (although now I find that years ago, some Apple representatives told previous 2008 owners to use this when MB363Z/A was discontinued).
After searching for a while, it appeared another kit was available that many a 2008 Mac Pro user was going with: the part number 607-7212-A for another compatible wireless module, albeit what appears to be a European model of the Airport Extreme in the 2010 and newer iMacs. Having three antenna ports, this seemed a bit advantageous, especially considering my issues with signal retention with the router upstairs (if it was more a signal issue than dying wifi card issue). Multiple reports ensured it worked with my Mac Pro, so I opted for it.
Installing it, I hooked up all three antennae (yes, the Mac Pro has three antennae for the Airport Extreme, of which typically only two are used on their cards). Firing the system back up, I prayed that (a) the card was even recognized, and (b) it would work better than the old, stock Airport Extreme module. Lo & behold, it did. It established a connection with the router even faster than usual, and my latency in an online games was ridiculously good (being rather sensitive to connections, Diablo III seemed like a good test of connection stability)! And instead of being stuck unable to reconnect with the router when the router goes through its occasional reboot, reacquisition of signal was extremely quick & efficient. I’m pretty sure the faults with the old card were probably hardware/age-related, lest that third antenna lead make that huge of a difference.
So it seems Victoria has gotten herself another lease on life for a while. The replacement Airport card was <CAD$20, so even though it shipped from Ireland, it was worth the wait over paying USD$50 for the North American Mac Pro-specific dual-antenna module. All in all, for going on nearly 6 years old now—hard drive & video card upgrades aside—sinking in less than USD$200 in repairs (closer to USD$300 if you count the UPS I purchased to go along with the power supply replacement for safety’s sake), this desktop has held up extremely well. The processors & memory are still more than adequate for the hard crunching I push it through these days (mostly PyMOL with APBS, Handbrake, and Adobe Lightroom 4, although I will eventually learn to use Gromacs and R more to really push the system), so hopefully she’ll keep alive until I have the money to afford a replacement when she finally does kick the bucket!