I’ve had my Mac Pro for nearly a year now. What a great workstation, chock full of 3GHz Xeon goodness — four cores worth. It’s run Mac OS X exclusively, with the exception of brief forays into old school OPENSTEP goodness via Parallels. I had never installed Windows under Parallels or Boot Camp as I never had the particular desire to shell out several hundred dollars for a Microsoft operating system for which I had no need. But, as I’ve been doing lots of console gaming of late, I’ve kept my eye on the gaming scene in general and confess that the phenomenal looking Crysis for Windows caught my attention. Crysis demands more from the host hardware than likely any game ever made, and it occurred to me that my quad Xeon box with its ATI X1900 XT could probably deliver a half-decent Crysis experience, even if the high-end graphics card is getting a little old to be on the absolute bleeding edge of gaming. When I found from my employer that I qualified for a license to install XP Pro at home, I decided to Boot Camp my Mac Pro.
The setup experience was not a horribly smooth one.
My first step was to swap a larger Seagate (500GB) into one of the Mac Pro’s drive bays. I then began the Boot Camp process, allocating 100GB of that disc to Windows. Partway through the install, I was faced with the first Blue Screen of Death my trusty Mac Pro had ever been forced to share with me.
If this is the first time you’ve seen this stop error screen, restart your computer. if this screen appears again, follow these steps:
Check to make sure any new hardware or software is properly installed if this is a new installation, ask your hardware or software manufacturer for any windows updates you might need.
If problem continues, disable or remove newly installed hardware or software. Disable BIOS memory option such as caching or shadowing. If you need to use safe mode to remove or disable components, restart your computer, press F8 to select start up, options, and select safe mode.
STOP: 0X0000000A (0X00000010, 0X000000002, 0X00000000, 0X8051AA58)
Oy. A little googling revealed that installing Windows XP via Boot Camp requires the use of an install disc containing Windows XP SP2. Likely the disc I had been given was an earlier version. What to do?
I found that I could generate an SP2 install disc from what I had been given by way of a process known as “slipstreaming.” It requires that one have a Windows PC on hand (which I do) and involves copying the contents of the XP install CD to a directory, downloading the Windows XP SP2 update installer to that PC, merging the contents of the installer with the XP install files, and writing out a bootable Windows XP install CD that contains Windows XP SP2. I found a solid guide which helped me along. (How it pains me to admit that I found anything generated by Paul Thurrott to be helpful to me — what an asshat that guy is.) I was glad to find that Nero Burning ROM v8 (at the time of this writing) has a time-limited trial download available.
With the new disc in hand the install was a breeze. I got XP SP2 up and running, installed Apple’s Mac Pro XP drivers, grabbed the latest version of DirectX 9, installed Crysis and I was all set. And what a great looking game it is. I’ve not had but so much time to fiddle with various setup configs, but it seems that I can run the game with most settings on “HIGH” at a resolution of 1280×800 for a nice, smooth game session on my 30-inch ACD. I look forward to spending more time playing Crysis and tweaking its config for optimum visuals / performance. [ UPDATE: I found an excellent guide to tweaking out the Crysis config files to achieve the visuals / performance sweet spot. ]
Now if I could only figure out how to get XP and the ATI video drivers to properly rotate the image on my secondary, portrait display….