4,1 RAM and storage upgrade questions

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by macmesser, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. macmesser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Location:
    Long Island, NY USA
    #1
    I'll be flashing to 5,1 and upgrading a Mac Pro 4,1 from eBay as soon as it arrives. I know thing one is to max out the memory but I'm wondering if it's at all worthwhile to try to do the 3 channel RAM thing. Would any speed boost realized by 3 identical sticks in slots 1 thru 3 be significant, or would more RAM in the 4th slot confer more speed still? Is this even a compelling speed boost or will it get lost in the sauce of other upgrade variables?


    Regarding disk storage, it has two (a 640GB and 1TB) HDs already installed, neither of which I will really feel safe with even if they test out OK with TechTool Pro. I'm thinking of adding an SSD boot drive and the fastest 1TB SATA I can afford. Will the on board controller be able to utilize a 6Gb/s SATA? Should I go for a PCIe card like the OWC Accelsior for either boot or work drive? Is there a fast HDD boot drive solution which would be as good in terms of speed as an SSD? Do SSDs have a high failure rate in Mac Pros?

    Thanks for any insights.
     
  2. macmesser thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 13, 2012
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    Long Island, NY USA
    #2
    Mac Pro 2009 does not support 6G according to OWC but I don't know if the 5,1 flashed 2009 will. The Accelsior card will do better than 6G.
     
  3. xav8tor macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    #3
    Most tests have shown only a few percent speed difference in triple over dual channel RAM. Whether you need that depends on your apps. I have one where I'm not willing to sacrifice any speed, so I went with triple channel. RAM amount: 12 GB, 24, or 32 again depends on whether you/your apps can take advantage of it. 12GB is plenty for me (3 x 4 GB sticks for 100 bucks at Newegg - Apple compatible with temp sensor).

    SSD's are no problem in a Mac Pro. I have two and am looking at a third. If the second Superdrive slot is empty, you can use that too for SSD's. The Pro is limited to SATA II unless you get a PIC-e host card, which will run at around 5 GB/s and is one reason why I wouldn't spend money on the Accelsior. I wouldn't use a valuable slot for an SSD. YMMV.

    The 5.1 flash alone won't really do anything. What you get is the ability to swap CPU's for something like a W3680/3690 hex. That will give you a huge boost over something like the 2.93 quad that was in my 4.1. You'll also be able to run 1333 MHz RAM i/o 1066. Aside from an SSD, the other big boosts you can achieve are an Nvidia GPU like the GTX 670/680 under OS X 10.8 and USB 3.0 via something like a Caldigit PCI-e card. I did all of the above and am happy with the result.
     
  4. macmesser thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 13, 2012
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    Long Island, NY USA
    #4
    Thanks for response. It's nice to have the flash option if I decide to add a W3680 which might not be necessary, at least right away. Also, if adding memory it might as well be 1333 MHz. I'll look at the graphics cards as well but might get by. Probably my best upgrade for the short term would be a boot SSD with the onboard controller, although OWC has an inexpensive card for 3Gb SSD drives. I think the OS should run faster from an SSD on the board controller since this would bypass the mechanical overhead of a standard HD.
     
  5. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    #5
    I just finished installing my new 6 core W3680 aafter the EFI update. RAM is 1066 MHz. Here's what happened:

    BEFORE

    Mac Pro (Early 2009) Geekbench Score 8519
    Geekbench 2.3.4 Tryout for Mac OS X x86 (32-bit)


    AFTER

    Mac Pro (Mid 2010) Geekbench Score 13844
    Geekbench 2.3.4 Tryout for Mac OS X x86 (32-bit)
     
  6. Ommid macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    #6
    How did that translate in real world performance?

    Can you tell the difference yet?
     
  7. macmesser thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 13, 2012
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    Long Island, NY USA
    #7
    That's a hefty boost. What processor was installed before the flash, so I can get an idea of what the initial Geekbench score and overall boost means?

    Do you know what happened to the onboard SATA controller? Specifically, does it now support 6G drives?
     
  8. xav8tor macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    #8
    MM, for me I went from the W3540 (2.93 quad) to the W3690 (3.46 hex). Geekbench went from around 9000 to well over 16000. How that translates into the "real world" is dependent on the app in question. With my upgrade, you see a large boost in clock speed (up to 3.73 Turbo), so CPU intensive apps will yield a corresponding increase. For those that depend on cores/threads, there's a large increase also with two additional physical cores. As for SATA, the Pro is physically limited to "3G" unless you install a faster PCI-e controller.

    In the many threads on this, and other forums, I don't think I've read a single post where someone was disappointed in the 4.1 to 5.1 upgrade with a CPU swap, most going with the 3680, which can be had for around 600 bucks. Along with a newer gen GPU, you can transform a 5.1 into a real beast, especially in Boot Camp (Windows) for GPU intensive work. The OS X Nvidia drivers aren't quite up to speed yet. The only things quicker, core for core, are the top end Sandy Bridge-E5 CPU's at around 25 to 30% on benches, maybe average 10% faster in the usual tested apps.
     
  9. macmesser thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 13, 2012
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    #9
    Thanks. Pretty much what I'll be doing. Next thing will be the new GPU.
     
  10. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #10
    You can put a 6G drive in your machine regardless. It would simply throttle down to 3G speeds. Firmware wouldn't change any of that because the SATA controller simply does not support 6G on the hardware level (and neither does the 2012 Mac Pro, for that matter).

    Apple has historically used Intel's board chipsets in Mac Pros. Intel lacked native 6G support in all of their chipsets prior to Sandy Bridge (I think). So until Apple adopts newer architecture in the Mac Pro (2013, Tim Cook says), we're stuck with 3G without a third-party expansion card. :p
     

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