Buying a Mac Pro 2009 - and then swapping processors - a few questions

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by GXPvince, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    May 12, 2008
    Which Mac Pro 3.1 should I buy if I wanted to just swap out the processors right away?

    This will replace my 1,1 for mostly Lightroom 4 and Photoshop work.
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008

    Buy a 2010 unit.

    2009 Mac Pros only accept lidless CPUs. These CPUs are impossible to come by because they're a custom part built by Intel for Apple (specifically for the 2009 Mac Pro CPU cards). You can pull the heat spreader off a normal CPU to create a "lidless" CPU, but this task is neither easy nor recommended. Some people have had luck using normal CPUs, but then you have to screw around with washers under the heat sink so the heat sink doesn't crush the LGA socket (since the additional thickness of the CPU heat spreader will force the CPU down into the LGA socket, destroying the board and CPU).

    In other words, if you're looking to swap CPUs on a Mac Pro- the 2009 unit is probably the worst possible computer you could buy to do this with. Every other Mac Pro has used normal CPUs (with the stock Intel heat spreader), **except** the 2009 unit. I don't know why Apple did this but it was a stupid design decision that they fixed in the 2010 model.

    That being said, I'm not really sure what CPUs that system will take- but the whole thing about them having to be lidless CPUs is going to be a pain in the ass to work around.

  3. macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2010
    A 3,1 is a 2008 model. Depending on the total cost of configuration, you might be better off just looking at a refurbished model. A 3.2 quad is $2139. A 6 core is $2549. Both include the standard warranty. A used machine would at least need to be cheap enough to be worth it after the cost of the cpu upgrade is tacked on. Up until the middle of this year, the 6 core was around $3800 new or $3400 refurbished. You could find a 2009 for $1500ish and install a $600 W3680. At that point it was worth it, as the amount saved was quite significant. Now I'm not so sure.

    Wasn't the lidless issue one with the dual package models?
  4. macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    Just to add: The single-CPU Mac Pro 4.1 uses regular CPUs. Only the Dual-CPU 4.1 has lidless.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Jan 17, 2012
    Confirming 2009 Single Processor Macs use regular Xeons (with the "lid"), and the CPU socket includes the clamp that holds the processor in. I put together a 3.33 hex upgrade for $1900 (including the Mac, CPU and 5770 GPU and tax), but have no warranty to rely on. Easy job, though!
  6. macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2010
    Although the 2009 duals are lidless, the swap to standard CPUs is pretty simple.
  7. macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    2.66 Mac Pro 4,1 (2009) or 2.8 5,1 (2010)
    W3680 or W3690 (latter if your pockets are deep, former is better value but latter is the fastest).
    16GB 1333MHz OWC ram
    SSD boot disc
    SSD working folder

  8. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2009
    Why OWC?
  9. macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Lifetime warranty tbh.

    They work properly with thermal sensors for hassle free upgrades.

    This isn't to say others would work too however.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
    are there any guides with pictures out there, explaining the need for thermal pads etc? many say they dont bother with washers, and just tighten, boot (or not boot), tighten a bit more...

    is it the other pieces that surround the CPU that also need cooling?

    just sort of terrified of ending up with a lifeless, 45lb door-stop.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jan 17, 2012
    A little more involved with the duals, but clearly not terribly difficult. There are a number of video and photo tutorials, some here at MacRumors... seek and ye shall find!

    The SP's do not use lidless CPUs, so SP CPU swap is very simple.
  12. macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
  13. macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2009
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    I'd suggest:

    1) You buy a refurbished Mac Pro 2.4GHz 8-Core Intel Xeon
    Eligible for OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program

    Originally released August 2010
    Two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Westmere" processor
    6GB (6 x 1GB) of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC memory
    1TB Serial ATA 7200 rpm
    18x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5 memory

    In Stock
    Free Shipping

    [ ]

    2) And swap in two of these:

    Intel Xeon Six-Core Processor X5690 3.46GHz 6.4GT/s 1366pin 12MB CPU, OEM

    Mfr Part Number: AT80614005913AB
    Process Type: Intel Xeon Processor X5690
    Core Count: 8
    Thread Count: 16
    Clock Speed: 3.46 GHz
    Intel Smart Cache: 12 MB
    Intel QPI Speed: 6.4 GT/s
    Lithography: 32 nm
    Socket: Socket 1366

    Part#: XE-X5690
    Price: $1588.99
    $9.99 Shipping
    [ ] However, you can most likely find a new pair of them on ebay for at least $200 less for the both of them.

    3) Then you could sale on ebay: (a) Two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Westmere" processors; (b) 6GB (6 x 1GB) of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC memory and (c) ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5 memory from your Apple purchase.

    You'd get a much faster system (but you would probably void your warranty) and you could spend the savings and ebay sales proceeds to max out video, 1333 mhz ram and storage as you desire. The cpu swap takes easily less than 30 minutes - I can do it in less than 5 minutes. Do have a tube of Arctic Silver thermal compound on hand. You may want to refer to post #1 here:

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