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Rico Cremer

Old (but cheap) Intel Xeon E5450 Sierra build

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Old (but cheap) Intel Core2Quad Xeon 5450 Sierra build


I got hands on a cheap (old!) NEC PowerMate VL280 SFF system (I bought it for €25 -> around $27), based on an Intel dual core E2200 processor.

The current specifications are:

CPU: Intel Core2Quad Q9450, 266Ghz  Xeon 5450 (Quad Core), 3Ghz
RAM: 4GB DDR2 800MHz
GFX: Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 1GB GDDR3 Gigabyte GT 710 2GB GDDR3, Low Profile 
2 x SanDisk SDSSDA120G 120GB SSD
1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm HDD
With a cheap Bluetooth 4.0 USB dongle

The motherboard is a mBTX model, produced by Foxxconn especially for NEC (Foxconn VL280u).
It uses the G31/ICH7 chipsets
It has HDA Azalia audio, Realtek RTL8111C Ethernet and intel GMA3100 integrated graphics

I am currently running macOS Sierra 10.12.3 on it (Updated from Yosemite -> El Capitan -> Sierra).
Eventhough it's a very old setup, the machine is working really well. No hiccups, no lags. I run Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 without problems and I am also able to play games through steam (for as far as my graphics card will let me, of course)

The kexts I'm using:

iMac-van-Rico:~ rico$ kextstat | grep -v com.apple

Index Refs Address            Size       Wired      Name (Version) UUID <Linked Against>

   13    0 0xffffff7f80b52000 0x2000     0x2000     org.tgwbd.driver.NullCPUPowerManagement (1.0.0d2) 93D39664-55FB-9220-39AD-A436B33DB160 <7 4 3>

   22    4 0xffffff7f80c91000 0x19000    0x19000    org.netkas.driver.FakeSMC (1421) 8252BBE6-2A73-35AC-919C-10AF2BE3909B <10 7 5 4 3 1>

   26    0 0xffffff7f80ced000 0x5000     0x5000     org.hwsensors.driver.CPUSensors (1421) B55A2F0E-B46D-37C8-A97B-7AE135B31C79 <22 7 5 4 3>

   37    0 0xffffff7f80dba000 0x8000     0x8000     org.hwsensors.driver.ACPISensors (1421) 155F9C59-516A-3F60-AF5F-A88AF5A50C73 <22 10 7 5 4 3>

   44    0 0xffffff7f80e58000 0x13000    0x13000    org.hwsensors.driver.LPCSensors (1421) 4330388E-D0CE-3F11-8FEA-B59093997949 <22 11 10 7 5 4 3>

   47    0 0xffffff7f80ea5000 0x67000    0x67000    com.insanelymac.RealtekRTL8111 (2.2.1) FDD47F63-B851-312E-AC10-047DCBD6708F <46 11 5 4 3 1>

   49    0 0xffffff7f80f19000 0x15000    0x15000    org.hwsensors.driver.GPUSensors (1421) FB18C477-DB7C-3FEB-9213-021111B225FC <22 11 10 7 5 4 3>

Other than sleep, everything works. Or well, the system goes to sleep correctly, but when it wakes up my ethernet, mouse, keyboard and monitor are not functioning. It's not bothering me, though. In energy settings I disabled my computer from going into sleep, except for my monitor.

Also, even though my graphics card worked OOB, it was using the default radeon framebuffer so I patched the Ipomoea framebuffer to match with my graphicscard.

Schermafbeelding 2017-02-19 om 19.31.54.png

Schermafbeelding 2017-02-19 om 19.31.11.png

Find a cheap socket 775 motherboard with DDR3 support so that I can put the system in a normal mATX case
Buy the Xeon E5472 (€15 on AliExpress) and mod it to work on the 775 socket
Upgrade the RAM
Upgrade the Graphics card


I replaced the Radeon HD 6450 with a Gigabyte GT 710 and sleep/wake is fully functional. Also, I replaced the Q9450 with a Xeon E5450.
AppStore/iTunes/iCloud/iMessage/FaceTime fully functional.


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Hello Rico,

I'm Cosmos from France ! =)

I have on my desktop the same motherboard, a NEC Vl280U. I would like to put change my CPU for a Xeon like you (it seems to be the best CPU without outpass the limit of 95W).

My question is how to update the BIOS before ordering my new cpu on ebay or aliexpress ? There is nothing on the website of NEC, neither on Foxconn's one.

Will I have to do something else after ? 

My OS is Ubuntu 17.04 and I am quite a novice in all those things ^^


Thank you for your help =)


Best regards,


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