'09 Mac Pro Quad .... processor upgrade?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by whyrichard, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. whyrichard macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002

    My appologies if this is covered elsewhere, but with the new OS updates I figured I should seek out updated info...

    I have an '09 Mac Pro Quad, and I am wanting to update it to run the new OSX to the best of it's ability.

    What are my options?

    From what I understand, there is a Hex core processor update... is that right? Is this the 'best' route? ie most future proof route?

    It also seems there are entire motherboard trays I could purchase... does this make sense?

    I think I am mainly concerned with future proofing... it would be great if I could get another couple of years out of this... as I am coming into a bunch of 3d architecture modeling work and need to be running smoothly...

    I have just purchased a video card update:
    Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Video Card for Apple Mac Pro ~ 5770 5870 7950

  2. bookemdano, Jun 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018

    bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Is the program you use for 3D modeling CPU intensive? And if so is it multi-threaded (you can ask the developer if you don't know). If it is, then a hex core CPU makes sense. It may be that the software is more GPU intensive than CPU and so having all those cores sitting there won't really help.

    I think there is a lot of CPU guidance in the sticky threads up top, but people will likely have some recommendations for you. I myself picked up an X5670 (Westmere) which is a hex core (with hyperthreading so 12 "virtual" cores) @ 2.93GHz and it's been working great. You can definitely go a few steps up from that for more $$ but I'm not sure you'd "feel" the difference unless you were running multi-threaded CPU-intensive apps.

    Edit: Don't forget about RAM. That and an SSD will make the biggest difference in general speed perception IMHO. I've got 24GB in mine.

    Edit Again: Doing a CPU upgrade yourself on a single-processor 2009 is pretty trivial (on the dual processor it's more complicated). You can buy a CPU tray if with a new CPU already installed if you want to make it even easier but you have to make sure it came from a 2009 and not a 2010/2012. I believe there are problems if you mix them. If I were you though I'd save the money and just look for a Westmere CPU on ebay (which are plentiful as they are pulled from old servers). There are plenty of how-tos with pictures and/or video on how to swap the CPU. Just take your time and make sure you have the tools you need (like CPU grease, etc.) and it's really a pretty easy thing to do.
  3. whyrichard thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002

    This is all great advice, and I've heeded most of it. I run my os off an ssd, and have 32 gigs of ram. I think, actually, I am mainly bugged by not being able to run the most current OSX! How best to future proof my '09 Mac Pro for future mac os's??

  4. bookemdano, Jun 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018

    bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    What version of OSX are you running now? Did you never do the 5,1 firmware upgrade? It's true that Apple dropped support for the 2009 Mac Pro from Sierra, but smart folks here and elsewhere long ago figured out you can flash the firmware from the 2010/2012 Mac Pro to the 2009 which basically turns it into a 2010 for purposes of MacOS compatibility. If you haven't already done then you should do so (it's very low risk) and you can do it now without doing a CPU upgrade (but you will need your stock GT120 video card. Can't use the new 9770 you bought for firmware updates). And actually, if you were going to buy a Westmere CPU upgrade you would need to do this firmware upgrade first anyway. Once you have the firmware flashed then you can go to Sierra, High Sierra, and even Mojave (once you've got your Radeon 9770 installed). The current beta doesn't install on the Mac Pro but future ones will.

    Edit: As for future versions of MacOS in 2019, 2020 and beyond, there are no guarantees. It's quite possible (even likely) that Apple will drop support for even the 2010/2012 Mac Pro from next year's version of MacOS. Then it will be up to dosdude1 and the other savvy users here to try to find a way to run it anyway. The Mac Pro has a better chance than any of the other Mac models at running MacOS way into the future simply because hardware components are more easily changed, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

    So I wouldn't swap your CPU in an attempt to ensure future compatibility. I would swap it if you feel your current one is too slow or if you think your workflows would benefit from the additional speed/cores.
  5. whyrichard thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002

    I currently have an apple bought ATI Radeon HD 4870 512 MB. Will I need to dig out my original stock video card?

    I flashed my mac pro once in order to upgrade to Sierra, which is what I am running now. Is the flash that I did supposed to support high Sierra and and Mojave? I can't seem to see high sierra in my app store app on my mac pro...

    Is there another flash I can do?

    Thank so much,
  6. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    Not wishing to come over as blunt, but did you read the Wiki?

    It covers just about everything you need to know regarding upgrades etc.
  7. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Your 4870 should work fine for firmware flashing purposes (or any other purpose which requires the EFI/boot screen environment). No need to dig out the GT120. I more just meant that you couldn't use your 9770 for it.

    If you installed Sierra then you should already have the 5,1 firmware. High Sierra should show up in the App Store, I'm not sure why it wouldn't. Apple did not change the compatibility list between the two OSes so any Mac running Sierra will run High Sierra. Mojave dropped a bunch of Macs from its compatibility list but the 2010 Mac Pro (which is basically what you have now) is still on the list. It doesn't work presently with the beta but at some point in future betas and the official release it should.

    Maybe others might know why HS wouldn't show up in your app store, but if you have access to another Mac you could always download the installer there and move it over to your Mac Pro.
  8. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    It's covered here and everywhere!:oops: One thing no-one has mentioned, is that you must upgrade the FW to a 5,1 cMP before you do anything.

  9. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    I mentioned it here: #4

    And OP said that he already did that here: #5
  10. whyrichard thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002
  11. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    ^^^^Yes, as long as the COU is not a pre-production unit, and Yes. With the kit you get all the stuff you need for an extra $90. Buy what you need separately and save some money.
  12. adam9c1 macrumors 68000


    May 2, 2012
    That is a good wrench. I think it goes for about $12
  13. whyrichard thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002
    Will my bootcamp windows 7 encounter problems when I upgrade my processor?

    I just upgraded my video card, and things worked well for a day. But now Windows is saying it is not a geniune copy of windows and it is gives me no way of validating it. The link windows provides doesn't work...

    very frustrating....

    Will a processor upgrade cause a problem with my windows bootcamp installation?

  14. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Well if your boot camp partition is already in an unactivated state (due to the video card swap) then you're certainly not going to make it worse by doing a CPU upgrade.

    In fact, if you want to do a CPU upgrade you should do it now, then reactivate windows so you don't have to potentially go through the reactivation procedure twice.

    To re-activate Windows once all your hardware changes are done, click the Start button and then type "command" (no quotes), when you see Command Prompt appear in the start menu, right-click it and choose "Run as Administrator". You may have to enter your computer's admin password if your account is just a user account. Once the administrator command prompt opens, type:

    and hit Enter. That should reactivate Windows.

    or you can type

    which should bring up the activation wizard UI.
  15. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    That kit is a huge waste of money. For example the 3mm wrench is $2.25 on Amazon.

    If Amazon is convenient, you can get the thermal paste there too.

    And you'll need rubbing alcohol to clean the old paste off of the heat sink, which you might have around the house already. Or maybe an alcohol wipe in a first aid kit.

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