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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:30 AM   #1
mac666er
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Mac Pro with Westmere x5690 (3.46GHz)

Hi,

Well, after reading the upgrade posts here and there on this forum I decided to take the plunge and go all the way on the Xeon path under Apple.

A lot of credit goes to Phillipma1957's thread: He did it before me and much better:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1122551

First, a couple of things:
  1. I know that a self-built Linux box would be cheaper and could be had for less with probably more CPU power, especially with AMD Opteron processors. But at the same time, I wanted to have a Mac Pro maxed out as I use Snow Leopard, I like the case and like the overall Mac experience. (i.e. I didn't want a different case, deal with different issues when upgrading a hackintosh's OS or hardware)
  2. I use it for 3D animation, with Pixar's Renderman. I play games from time to time, but this is mainly for graphics, video editing and rendering. Before I bought the processors, I expected halving my rendering times in Renderman, and that is exactly what I got. (going from two e5620s to two x5690s)
  3. I also wanted to have to manage as few systems as possible. I did NOT want to have a PC for this, a Linux server for that, a laptop for this too, etc. I only have this Mac Pro for all my needs and can access the firepower via SSH when needed from a mobile space with my iPad
  4. Lastly, I have an AMD 5870, and for 3D animation and even games, I think is reasonable for the price. The only card that is better is the nvidia 580, but: a) it would not work under Mac (like it would not run Autodesk Smoke, which I use and is NOT available in windows) and b) will provide small marginal performance in other OS's. I believe this is also the case for the 6970, which is not supported yet, at least for 3D GLSL under Lion.

So, here is what I did:

At the beginning of the year I knew I would be doing something like swapping the CPUs, so I bought the cheapest Westmere dual processor Mac Pro from the refurb store.

I got a hold of two xeon x5690s.

Using the hex 3mm tool, I took the CPU tray out and unscrewed the heatsinks, exposing the CPUs.

I cleaned the heatsinks and the CPUs in their sockets still. Now that I think about it, it should have been much easier to just take them out of their sockets and clean them afterwards. I wanted to clean them neatly as I am selling them on ebay to recoup some of the costs of the upgrade!

I remembered phillipma1957 mentioned to be careful with the cotton swabs and pads as to not leave them near the pins of the sockets, as some cotton would be left behind. So that is really the reason why I did it.

In any case, the cleaning was a little bit cumbersome and was not perfect, so I took the cpus out of their sockets anyway and cleaned them more afterwards.

I used arctic silver cleaning solutions, and it is great. I used to clean my old my MacBookPro when I cleaned the heatsink. And they work as advertised, it is really that good! I just have one complaint. Back when I bought it, they would sell me these big solutions the size of a small bottle and in two installations of 4 CPUS, I have used drops only. That is right, I have full bottles that will probably last me more than a lifetime.

The most exciting part was getting the Xeons out of their packaging and into their sockets. I was a little afraid of bending pins. As the lever is quite hard on pressing the CPU, but alas, that is the way it works! Also, I think my arctic silver solution has dried from years of use, or rather of not using it as often. And it was hard for me to create a smooth thermal mix screen on top of the CPUs so you could read the letters still and it was uniformly applied. so I decided to just wipe it clean again and apply a little to each CPU and let the heatsink spread it when re-assembled. So I don't really *know* for sure if I used too little.

I have owned macs since 1990s and this is by far, by far, the easiest to upgrade. The CPU swap is really just as promised back in the ZIF (zero insertion force) socket days. Just swap and off you go. No adjusting the height of the heatsink, no jumper settings, no taking off the metal cap on the CPU, no nothing. It is great!

I was already kind of expecting something would go wrong and the mac would not start up, but I did the swap on Thursday and have been rendering, emailing, listening to music and downloading items without a hitch pretty much every day for hours. I am writing it from it right now. And the CPUs are idling at around 35 degrees C. 75 degrees C when fully used (the fans kick in and the temps come back to 35 degrees C)

And lastly, I know in theory, the TDP of above 100 watts per CPU was still acceptable, as some other people had claimed to have done it and OWC says also you can do it. But I *still* was kind of anxious to see if it WOULD work

I love it!

Yes I know that it was a little expensive, but, not all decisions are economic in nature! :P love my Mac Pro, until Xeon Sandy Bridge comes out! lol
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:38 AM   #2
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I'm impressed, very informative... I secretly wanted to do this, but went with what I could get from Apple without modifying the CPUs, does System Profiler recognize the upgrade? What are your Geekbench scores?
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:38 AM   #3
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A screenshot of system profiler:
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:50 AM   #4
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That's really badass, I definitely want to see your Geekbench score. Mine gets a score of 21,249 in 32-bit mode.
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:57 AM   #5
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nice job! How much did the CPU's cost you?
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 12:59 AM   #6
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That's really badass, I definitely want to see your Geekbench score. Mine gets a score of 21,249 in 32-bit mode.
Thanks! I would imagine the score would be twice of a dual processor Westmere MacPro @ 2.4Ghz. At least for the CPU score
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 01:04 AM   #7
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Geekbench score is 24547. I guess it is not that high since:
  1. it is in 32-bit mode
  2. some of the tests are 1 core only!
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 01:30 AM   #8
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I would've expected more from a cpu that costs $1.800-$2000 each than just ~10%ish (compared to the 2.93)
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 02:01 AM   #9
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Well,

The CPUs were $1,500 each or so.

As for the speed increase, well, the 3.46 GHz CPU is ~ 17% or so faster than a 2.93 GHz cycle per cycle (as they have the same number of cores).

I would expect to see that type of increase in performance on average in CPU tasks. Again, I guess this would vary on single thread vs multi-threaded tasks.

I would expect also to see much better performance on mutli-threaded floating point operations per cycle, but perhaps still close to a linear increase. I roughly estimated I would get twice the performance of my original system, and that is roughly what I am getting on rendering images.

Finally, I will say it again, arguing for the best performance and the best bang for the buck with a mac pro, even on a mac forum, is an uphill battle. The argument is just not there. I bought it NOT for economic reasons. To get the absolute best performance per $$ and possibly the best performance money can buy, I think the best way is to get an AMD Opteron workstation, built by the buyer. And this is even after Sandy Bridge comes out. (and the new Opteron chips come out, as there are now 4 CPU socket motherboards)

And this, this, is precisely why I think eventually Apple is going to get out of the Mac Pro business. Why sell them if the performance and performance per dollar are what people are looking for. XServe got the axe because of that. Apple does not compete on those spaces, never has and as long as Steve has a say on the board, never will. And they shouldn't.

Workstations are becoming commoditized and Apple is concentrating on portable computing. And they are really differentiating themselves there. Apple can't make a better offering to gamers/power users based on hardware alone. A systems builder will always be cheaper (because they put labor themselves and get commoditized parts from the lowest bidder). You will just see that thread on this very forum over and over again of people wanting to build a mac from parts.

Instead, if you want the best performance, build a rig. You can water cool it, Over Clock it and so on. But more importantly, you can tweak it to your apps strength.

I think, and this is only my opinion, Apple will only sell items with a premium that you CANNOT get anywhere else. At least for a time, while others catch up.

Apple, now, can offer very little in the workstation space. If the Lion on A6 processors rumors are true, it would be interesting to see a mac mini that is so power efficient that an atom PC can't compete with it. Heck, you can't build an iPad, no one can at those prices. You will not be able to build/upgrade those macs because you will NOT be able to get A6 processors anywhere. Hackintoshes will be.. just harder to get by...

I see Apple getting out of the Mac Pros eventually, perhaps not soon, but some day. And if we are lucky, they will put in A6 processors in them maybe? That would be something you really can't buy anywhere else, but we will have to see if they perform well.

In the meantime, I do enjoy my Mac Pro! thanks for reading the rant!
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 02:51 PM   #10
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Nice upgrade. Thought about doing what you did but instead built a pc instead with X5670 and using win7 64. Working better than expected.
As for apple moving away from xeon's to A6, pretty sure something like that will be happening. Win8 will apparently run on atom processors. Guess time will tell.
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 05:31 PM   #11
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I really enjoyed reading this post...the upgrade is as easy as I thought it would be....however, I have a 3.33GHz 6-core, so I would need a processor board + the processors to do the 12-core 3.46GHz upgrade to mine...

As for Geekbench, the 64-bit speed will be much faster than your 32-bit score you posted, you should be approaching 30,000 on that. It doesn't cost much to register your Geekbench to unlock the 64-bit tests, especially considering you invested in those $1500-a-pop processors...it is worth being able to run the 64-bit tests...

This is cool, but I think I am probably going to hold off until Ivy Bridge until I get a new Mac Pro...the 3.33GHz 6-core is suiting all my needs fine, I am not doing serious video or 3D render stuff, mainly lighter use, lots of internet stuff, music, and photo editing. A little video here and there, but I am not compressing hour-long 1080p stuff, that is where a 12-core could help you out...

Thanks again for sharing your upgrade experience...enjoy the new speed boost you got, but remember, there will always be a faster box around the corner!
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 05:58 PM   #12
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Wonderful! I like how you have so much RAM and an SSD on board as well, you can never have too much of a good thing
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 06:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WardC View Post
I really enjoyed reading this post...the upgrade is as easy as I thought it would be....however, I have a 3.33GHz 6-core, so I would need a processor board + the processors to do the 12-core 3.46GHz upgrade to mine...

As for Geekbench, the 64-bit speed will be much faster than your 32-bit score you posted, you should be approaching 30,000 on that. It doesn't cost much to register your Geekbench to unlock the 64-bit tests, especially considering you invested in those $1500-a-pop processors...it is worth being able to run the 64-bit tests...

This is cool, but I think I am probably going to hold off until Ivy Bridge until I get a new Mac Pro...the 3.33GHz 6-core is suiting all my needs fine, I am not doing serious video or 3D render stuff, mainly lighter use, lots of internet stuff, music, and photo editing. A little video here and there, but I am not compressing hour-long 1080p stuff, that is where a 12-core could help you out...

Thanks again for sharing your upgrade experience...enjoy the new speed boost you got, but remember, there will always be a faster box around the corner!
I was going to say 3k for the cpu's but not 12.99 for mac geek bench? Seriously some one did your upgrade and pulls 30000 or so on 64 bit
g bench.

STILL A VERY NICE UPGRADE!!

you know you have 32gb ram but that machine can use up to 96gb 3 sticks of 16gb for one cpu and 3 sticks of 16gb for the other cpu.

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=D3-13R16GH

6 sticks at 220 each = 1320
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 08:53 PM   #14
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What may I ask will you use 32GB for? Seems I see a lot of people with mac pros using 32GB and some just get it just for the heck of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mac666er View Post
A screenshot of system profiler:


----------

Like me, your an enthusiast and as such you wouldn't need a sandy bridge or ivy bridge mac pro since you really don't do much with it except for the same stuff I do.

Marcus


Quote:
Originally Posted by WardC View Post
I really enjoyed reading this post...the upgrade is as easy as I thought it would be....however, I have a 3.33GHz 6-core, so I would need a processor board + the processors to do the 12-core 3.46GHz upgrade to mine...

As for Geekbench, the 64-bit speed will be much faster than your 32-bit score you posted, you should be approaching 30,000 on that. It doesn't cost much to register your Geekbench to unlock the 64-bit tests, especially considering you invested in those $1500-a-pop processors...it is worth being able to run the 64-bit tests...

This is cool, but I think I am probably going to hold off until Ivy Bridge until I get a new Mac Pro...the 3.33GHz 6-core is suiting all my needs fine, I am not doing serious video or 3D render stuff, mainly lighter use, lots of internet stuff, music, and photo editing. A little video here and there, but I am not compressing hour-long 1080p stuff, that is where a 12-core could help you out...

Thanks again for sharing your upgrade experience...enjoy the new speed boost you got, but remember, there will always be a faster box around the corner!
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 10:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by philipma1957 View Post
snip............
http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=D3-13R16GH

6 sticks at 220 each = 1320
Will 3 of those work in a 5.1 single processor MP?

JohnG
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 10:39 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mac666er View Post

<snip>
Your point of view is definitely valid!
You did mention you will keep this till SB-E comes, but honestly, after spending this much on the upgrade why not just keep it?

As it is, your MP is definitely a beast!
Grats again
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 10:45 PM   #17
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Will 3 of those work in a 5.1 single processor MP?

JohnG
Yes for SP hex, but not sure if one can put only 3 sticks in a 5,1 DP system.

Can anyone confirm?
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Old Sep 20, 2011, 11:25 PM   #18
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Yes for SP hex, but not sure if one can put only 3 sticks in a 5,1 DP system.

Can anyone confirm?
The question was for a SP MP.

AFAIK, a DP must have the same # of RAM chips for each processor. Not sure what the minimum # is. i.e. 2, 4, or 6.
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Old Sep 21, 2011, 01:13 AM   #19
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The question was for a SP MP.

AFAIK, a DP must have the same # of RAM chips for each processor. Not sure what the minimum # is. i.e. 2, 4, or 6.
Yep, it's why I said yes for SP(three sticks for triple-channel). DP was only a side note

When I had my 12c 2.93 it had 2 sticks in each riser, so then I'm guessing a minimum of 2/riser is what one would need for a DP system...
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Old Sep 21, 2011, 02:03 AM   #20
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mac666er, what processor did you start out with?

EDIT: Never mind
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Old Sep 21, 2011, 11:18 AM   #21
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The question was for a SP MP.

AFAIK, a DP must have the same # of RAM chips for each processor. Not sure what the minimum # is. i.e. 2, 4, or 6.
At work we recently upgraded to 6x 16GB RAM sticks (bought from RAMJET: http://www.macmemory.com/ItemDescrip...Item=MU16xP96G). A few days after install, one of the sticks failed. So long as the 5th stick was in the right slot, our Mac Pro did recognize and run on 80GB of RAM (5x16).

Now, I'm not entirely sure how efficient this was, or what kind of performance was lost because of it, but it did seem to be using this RAM during some pretty RAM intensive tasks I ran during that time.

Ramjet very promptly shipped us a replacement 2 sticks, and we mailed back the pair that included the one that failed.

Also, I'd be cautious buying this much RAM from superbiiz. While the price difference is pretty large, ~$800, Ramjet and OWC do offer a lifetime warranties (superbiiz is only 30-days). These 16GB ECC sticks are just so massive and produce a fair amount of heat (and of course will also be near rather massive CPUs that will also create a lot of heat), that I'd be worried that with a lot of usage that they will die at a possibly expensive frequency.

But I suppose it just depends on how risk averse you are, how willing to deal a with a possibly difficult replacement policy you are, and how much money you're willing to pay/save for these things.
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Old Sep 28, 2011, 10:51 PM   #22
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What may I ask will you use 32GB for? Seems I see a lot of people with mac pros using 32GB and some just get it just for the heck of it.
I use renderman, photoshop and maya at the same time. With the pictures I make, that takes roughly 24GBs of RAM (Active) with 8GB to spare for other tasks. I found 32 GBs the bare minimum for not using Virtual Memory. (really 24, but 32 if I want to open another program for some other reason, like XCode , FinalCut, Nuke or as I said Smoke.)

With an additional program opened, I find myself hitting a 30GB ceiling real quick.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by blunti View Post
Your point of view is definitely valid!
You did mention you will keep this till SB-E comes, but honestly, after spending this much on the upgrade why not just keep it?

As it is, your MP is definitely a beast!
Grats again


I meant that this Mac Pro will only be the fastest, at least in theory, up until the Sandy Bridge Xeons hit the market.

I didn't mean to say I would sell it then, on the contrary, I think I will hang on to it for around 3 years.



----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by philipma1957 View Post
I was going to say 3k for the cpu's but not 12.99 for mac geek bench? Seriously some one did your upgrade and pulls 30000 or so on 64 bit
g bench.

STILL A VERY NICE UPGRADE!!

you know you have 32gb ram but that machine can use up to 96gb 3 sticks of 16gb for one cpu and 3 sticks of 16gb for the other cpu.

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=D3-13R16GH

6 sticks at 220 each = 1320
I don't need more than around 32 GBs right now, but I guess my next upgrade would be to have probably 64 GBs of RAM in a year or two. I quite honestly, can't see myself using 96GBs of RAM, but I would love to!!

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Old Sep 28, 2011, 11:03 PM   #23
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the 64bit geekbench score is 27952:

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/488316


And no, I didn't mean to appear to cheap on not paying for the geekbench license... It is just that I thought the test would be too artificial in my taste to be useful.

Don't get my wrong, I love benchmarking as the next guy, but, as I said, it seems to me a little artificial. For example, I am not entirely convinced by having tests weighted by single core tests.

In any case, for my particular use, I would pay special attention to the floating point score: 47094. I am willing to say that the Mac Pro I started with (2.4 GHz dual procesor 8 core (16 virtual)) had probably a floating point score of 23000 or so.

With that in mind, I think this was a reasonable, but expensive upgrade. I love working on 3D and seeing that, on average, it takes me half the time now to do the same things as before, at least where the CPU is concerned. That is definitely worth it.

But, I agree, the average user won't see that benefit in games, productivity apps and the like. Even in transcoding with handbrake, you will probably have to have several instances of the program running at the same time to fully exploit the CPUs.

I am happy with this upgrade and actually do recommend it
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Old Feb 5, 2014, 06:32 AM   #24
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Xeon 5690 3.46GHz

Does anyone knows if an Intel Xeon X5690 3.46GHz processor are compatible with a Mac Pro 2010 with a mono Quad Core 3.2GHz? If I'm asking this question, it is because I know that the Intel Xeon 5600 series are designed for dual-processor, hence my question. In other words, does someone has already successfully tested a X5680 or X5690 Xeon on Mac Pro 2010 with a single CPU?

Thank you.
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Old Feb 5, 2014, 06:46 AM   #25
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Yes, the X56xx series can run as in single CPU or in a dual CPU setup. W36xx is single CPU only.
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