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View Full Version : Upgrade options for "Apple Mac Pro "NEHALEM" 2.8GHz?




SamWavy
Jan 14, 2012, 11:06 AM
I currently own a Apple Mac Pro "NEHALEM" 2.8GHz (Mid 2010) Model.

Model identifier: 5,1

My current specs are:
- One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor
- 8GB OWC DDR3 ECC SDRAM Memory
- 1TB Hard drive + 2TB WD Caviar Black Drive

I'm planning on keeping it for another 3 years because I got a really good deal on it.
What are some upgrades option? Processor?

I have a decent ($1500) budget for upgrades and extra for Apple LED Cinema Display.
Do lots of graphic designing, photography and video editing.

Looking to add more power, and speed, so while running photoshop, final cut, logic, it runs smoothly.
Instead of upgrading to the new Mac Pro later this year, I'd rather keep this one and spend on upgrades.

Let me know,
your advice will be much appreciated.

Thanks



Vantage Point
Jan 14, 2012, 11:25 AM
At first glance I would suggest doubling your RAM to 16gb - check you activity monitor for the amount of ram usage on your most demanding tasks. I use Photoshop and I often use up all my available ram (8gb in my MBP). Photoshop CS5 lets you set the max amount of ram which seems to perform best when set to 70% of total ram making only about 5+GB available. See attachment showing my use of Photoshop with only 9mb of free ram left

Another suggestion is to add a 120gb SSD drive for exclusive use for your OS and software.

Both of these upgrades, more ram and faster SSD application drive can make a more noticeable performance difference than upgrading your processor

wallysb01
Jan 14, 2012, 11:29 AM
For 1500 bucks you can max that Mac pro out.

The W3680 (6 core 3.33) retails for about 600 and is a some what simple drop in.

Then you could upgrade to 32 or 48 gb of ram for 400 to 700 bucks. But how much you should really get depends on what you need the Mac pro to do. If you can get away with 16 or 24, you might as well save your money.

Then there are hdd options. I'd recommend putting in a couple more 2tb drives and RAID0-ing them for scratch space. You'll want to buy the same drives as your current 2TB too. That should all cost you just 300-ish.

The next thing would be adding a gpu, but as with the ram and hdd, it depends on what you do and if it. Could benefit from another or a better gpu.


Those are the basics. And you could pretty much do all of them on a $1500 budget. But then you might require additional features, a gig Ethernet card, for example. Again you'll have to specify what your doing for more specific advise. But I hope that's a good overview.

firedownunder
Jan 14, 2012, 01:04 PM
Echo Vantage Point; more ram and SSD for boot. Save some $ to boot.

SamWavy
Jan 18, 2012, 07:20 PM
Thanks for all your replies.

I've decided to do the following upgrades (next week)..
1. W3680 (6 core 3.33) - $600
2. OWC 24GB 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM - $330
3. 2TB Caviar Black Drive + 2TB Caviar Green Drive - $300

Is the 128GB SSD for boot really worth it?
I only turn my Mac on once a day, and I don't mind waiting for everything to load.
Won't the 24GB's of ram speed up everything anyways?

ashman70
Jan 18, 2012, 07:23 PM
I have an SSD in mt 2008 MP and it does speed up the launching of apps, and the overall feel of the OS, so I would say its worth it, yes.

goMac
Jan 18, 2012, 07:26 PM
Video card. Depending on what's already in there, get a 5770 or 5870 if you haven't already.

SamWavy
Jan 18, 2012, 07:28 PM
video card. Depending on what's already in there, get a 5770 or 5870 if you haven't already.

I already have a 5770

Blue Sun
Jan 18, 2012, 07:35 PM
OP, you'll get the biggest performance boost from an SSD.

Peace
Jan 18, 2012, 07:38 PM
Make sure the memory is 1333 Mhz.

I've thought about sending mine in to OWC and just have them do the work for me and upgrade to the 6-core 3.33.

I'm not real comfy doing it myself.
Also. Doesn't doing this void the Apple Care ?

ClassObject
Jan 18, 2012, 08:22 PM
Thanks for all your replies.

I've decided to do the following upgrades (next week)..
1. W3680 (6 core 3.33) - $600
2. OWC 24GB 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM - $330
3. 2TB Caviar Black Drive + 2TB Caviar Green Drive - $300

Is the 128GB SSD for boot really worth it?
I only turn my Mac on once a day, and I don't mind waiting for everything to load.
Won't the 24GB's of ram speed up everything anyways?

I went from a 4x1.5Tb raid 0 to ssd + 2Tb drive. I don't notice much difference as I rarely boot. Large file transfers are slower but I don't do that often. The purpose for me going to ssd was to get quieter. The ssd did that. No more drone from the Raid.

wonderspark
Jan 18, 2012, 10:11 PM
You'll love the W3680, and RAM is always helpful for video. You did well!

thekev
Jan 19, 2012, 01:44 AM
Those upgrades sound amazing.

chaosbunny
Jan 19, 2012, 03:12 AM
... and extra for Apple LED Cinema Display.

Be careful, as far as I know you can't use a current Apple Cinema Display with the Mac Pro because the Mac Pro doesn't have thunderbolt, only displayport. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it's something you should research.

Shouldn't matter though, the ACD is a bad choice for design/photography work anyway. Due to the extremely glossy screen it's hard to focus on tiny details especially when working with dark designs or pictures. Reflections will constantly be in the way, even in a dark room. Get a big Eizo, Nec or Quato monitor.

I'd rather invest in a really good screen before the processor upgrade. Like others have mentioned, the biggest performance boost in terms of value for money would be a ssd.

WardC
Jan 19, 2012, 05:32 PM
I would 200% recommend the SSD drive. I personally believe a Solid-State drive (if you already have ample RAM) is the best upgrade you can add to any machine. It will drastically increase your boot times as well as your Application Loading Times, Media Loading times, and webpage renders. Having a boot disk SSD with all of your Apps loaded will allow you to have hyper-fast Application boots and web browsing will be instantaneous.

I would recommend running a 2-disk RAID-0 array on your Mac Pro to hold your music, photos and video (all large files) which would otherwise fill your SSD. You can alias your iTunes folder to the RAID as well as Photos, Movies, etc or re-locate your Home folder (I alias and it works great).

The size of SSD I would recommend is 120GB. Anything larger than this is not necessary on a Mac Pro if you have extra HDs installed. A 240, 256GB or 512GB SSD might be more suitable on a MacBook if it is your only drive. I have an OWC 120GB SSD in my Mac Pro and a 256GB Toshiba Apple SSD in my MacBook Pro.

Once you have gone SSD, there is no turning back, it is like night and day. The speed increase is tangible, no more waiting for apps to boot or for files to load, it really does make a huge difference.

jasonvp
Jan 19, 2012, 05:50 PM
It will drastically increase your boot times as well as your Application Loading Times, Media Loading times, and webpage renders.

You mean decrease, I hope. :)

The effect on web browsing speeds won't be noticeable that much at all, so take this specific bit with a grain of salt.

I would recommend running a 2-disk RAID-0 array on your Mac Pro to hold your music, photos and video (all large files) which would otherwise fill your SSD.

I really hope you mean RAID1 otherwise known as mirroring. Storing important and worthy things on a RAID0 (stripe) array is just asking for disaster. If one of the drives in the array fails, your data is gone, completely. RAID0 should never be used to store important files unless it's also combined with RAID1 (ie, RAID10).

jas

derbothaus
Jan 19, 2012, 05:57 PM
You mean decrease, I hope. :)

The effect on web browsing speeds won't be noticeable that much at all, so take this specific bit with a grain of salt.



I really hope you mean RAID1 otherwise known as mirroring. Storing important and worthy things on a RAID0 (stripe) array is just asking for disaster. If one of the drives in the array fails, your data is gone, completely. RAID0 should never be used to store important files unless it's also combined with RAID1 (ie, RAID10).

jas

Never is a strong word. Just backup the RAID0. All better now.

jasonvp
Jan 19, 2012, 06:13 PM
Never is a strong word. Just backup the RAID0. All better now.

That seems like a sub-optimal solution, really. Why bother backing up when you can just RAID1 it and have a live back up?

jas

derbothaus
Jan 19, 2012, 07:21 PM
That seems like a sub-optimal solution, really. Why bother backing up when you can just RAID1 it and have a live back up?

jas

Because you also gain speed in RAID0 usually close to 2x. RAID1 usually slows down both drives vs. the speed of just one drive.
RAID1 is good for mission critical but not "backup" per se. Maybe just me.

goMac
Jan 19, 2012, 07:38 PM
Never is a strong word. Just backup the RAID0. All better now.

That's what I do. I run two drives for RAID0, and 1 large drive backing that up with Time Machine.

Never lost a single bit of data since I've had the machine (and I've had my RAID fail due to drive failure.)

WardC
Jan 20, 2012, 04:30 PM
Yes, I did mean "decrease" boot times when using the SSD. I meant increase the speed of boot.

Also, RAID0 is the way to go (with two drives). I would not do a 3 or 4 drive RAID0 at all, although very fast, that increases your odds of failure because if you lose one of those 3 or 4 drives, then all your data is zapped and unrecoverable. If you run RAID-0 and carry super important data such as family photos, home movies, or work data, etc, then a backup to an external disk (or internal would be the ideal way to go. A single drive is fine for backup. The advantage to using a RAID-0 stripe (as said before) is that you get 2x the read and write speeds that you would get with one hard drive alone.

You need to make sure that you are using two identical drives when doing the RAID-0, I would recommend two 1TB or 2TB drives which are cheap enough these days. I know there are 3TB and 4TB drives around now, but I have no experience with them. 1TB drives are cheap enough now that you get really great capacity and they can easily be RAIDed using Disk Utility.

Loa
Jan 20, 2012, 07:21 PM
Hello,

Read most of the replies, and IMO you got some strange info.

RAM: only get how much you really need. Check your page-in / page-out ratio after a couple of hours of work: if it's very high, you won't get a significant benefit from more RAM.

CPU: for image / video work, more clock speed will always be better. Going to 3.33 is a roughly 20% boost, and those extra cores will help you with some video apps.

HD: you need both ample room (for video) and a lot of sequential read/write performance. The only way to get that without a much bigger budget is to get a RAID0 set with as most drives as you can fit in the Mac Pro. If you can get 3-4 drives in that RAID0 set, partition them and RAID the fastest portions of the drives together.

SSD: boot times and app launch times are meaningless for a working professional. You rarely boot your Mac, or the apps you constantly use in any case. Enough RAM = SSD won't matter for Photoshop; fast enough RAID0 = SSD won't help you much with video. I have a SSD, and the Mac is indeed snappier. But if you get out a stopwatch and measure actual app performance, you will be disappointed.

GPU: the 5770 is more than enough for PS and video work.

As for RAID0 being "risky", that's just theoretical boloney. Everything is risky without a complete back-up solution, and a RAID1 is NOT a back-up solution. Regardless of what you choose (SSD, HD, RAID0, etc...), you'll need a back-up solution in any case: in that sense, the "risk" of a RAID0 is meaningless.

Loa

jasonvp
Jan 20, 2012, 07:35 PM
Everything is risky without a complete back-up solution, and a RAID1 is NOT a back-up solution. Regardless of what you choose (SSD, HD, RAID0, etc...), you'll need a back-up solution in any case: in that sense, the "risk" of a RAID0 is meaningless.

With all due respect, your post is meaningless as well. If you take the MTBF of any given HD in your RAID0 array, it has now become the MTBF of the entire array. Lose one drive, and the entire array is gone. Period. And the more drives you add to that array (ie, the bigger you make the array), the more data you can potentially lose.

RAID1 is a perfect backup solution if you're only concerned with hardware failure. Clearly no array type is going to protect you from stupidity. Meaning if you accidentally delete something, RAID isn't going to help. But if your concern is that of protecting against hardware failure, then RAID1 (or RAID10) is a perfectly acceptable solution.

Let's look at it from another perspective. Let's say you take 4 1TB (or 2TB since we're imagining things) and RAID0 them all together. Now you have the potential for a 4 (or 8)TB filesystem. How are you planning to back that up economically? Do you have a SAN locally or something?

jas

Loa
Jan 20, 2012, 08:13 PM
If you take the MTBF of any given HD in your RAID0 array, it has now become the MTBF of the entire array. Lose one drive, and the entire array is gone.

So? You have a back-up. (and read my second point below)

RAID1 is a perfect backup solution if you're only concerned with hardware failure.

Hardware failure is extraordinarily rare. In 20 years of computer usage, I've only had 1 drive fail on me.

Data loss is usually caused by data corruption or human error, two threats that a RAID1 won't protect you from.

Let's look at it from another perspective. Let's say you take 4 1TB (or 2TB since we're imagining things) and RAID0 them all together. Now you have the potential for a 4 (or 8)TB filesystem. How are you planning to back that up economically? Do you have a SAN locally or something?

Backing up a x TB RAID0 requires an extra x TB of drives.

"Backing up" x TB of data using a RAID1 requires an extra x TB of drives.

What, in God's name, are you saving?

RAID1 was not designed as a back-up solution, but as a redundancy protection for mission critical systems that just can't be allowed to go down. For what I do, I can deal with the time it would take to replace a drive in my MP. RAID1 has 0 advantages over real back-up, and a few drawbacks. Simple as that,

Loa

wallysb01
Jan 21, 2012, 01:15 AM
Let's look at it from another perspective. Let's say you take 4 1TB (or 2TB since we're imagining things) and RAID0 them all together. Now you have the potential for a 4 (or 8)TB filesystem. How are you planning to back that up economically? Do you have a SAN locally or something?

jas

As Loa points out if you have X TBs of data you need X TBs of back up, RAID0 RAID1, whatever. So I don't much see your point.

Also, I'm regularly working with hundreds of gigs of data, but I don't keep it all backed up all the time. My RAID array has two directories. Data and scratch. Only the data directory is backed up. The jobs I run will create hundreds of GB of temp files as they run. I don't want those being backed up. So I run jobs write them to scratch, and when they are finished move outputs to the data directory. If time machine where trying to back these files up while the job was running, one, it would slow the job down, and two, it wouldn't be able to keep up anyway.

Anyway, point is: Do what makes sense for you. There are a lot of ways to mix and match this stuff. Let's try to just give some good information and not argue over what is never or always best.

Destroia
Jan 23, 2012, 01:59 AM
Be careful, as far as I know you can't use a current Apple Cinema Display with the Mac Pro because the Mac Pro doesn't have thunderbolt, only displayport. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it's something you should research.

Shouldn't matter though, the ACD is a bad choice for design/photography work anyway. Due to the extremely glossy screen it's hard to focus on tiny details especially when working with dark designs or pictures. Reflections will constantly be in the way, even in a dark room. Get a big Eizo, Nec or Quato monitor.

I'd rather invest in a really good screen before the processor upgrade. Like others have mentioned, the biggest performance boost in terms of value for money would be a ssd.

Half of this. The Cinema Display IS compatible with the Mac Pro (which is probably the only reason the Cinema Display is still produced). The Thunderbolt Display is almost identical from the looks standpoint, however it has the Thunderbolt connection which the Mac Pro does not. :D