5.1 2.8 Quad Core Upgrade Q.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Kooki9, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. Kooki9 macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2018
    Hello Friends,

    Thanks to the great inputs from my previous thread, I got me a Mac pro 5.1 that should be arriving Thursday or Friday. I can't wait and I am quite happy for it to replace my 2012 iMac. Side note: Ironically, my iMac is refusing to work properly since I did the new/old purchase. So much so I am taking it to the Apple Store this Monday. :S

    I don't want to splurge too much. As I've gotta get a keyboard, mouse and a monitor (thinking BenQ SW2700PT-) and a new GPU(thinking sapphire 580 8g) and like many out there, I can't afford/justify a 6K spending.

    Here's what arrives in the 5.1:
    MacPro 5.1 Mid 2010
    2.8G quad core xenon
    250 GB SSD and 3 TB HD,
    18 GB DDR3 (8,8,1,1)

    Now I'm looking at what I can potential upgrades can be done to the machine itself. So if I was to add on an extra 100 / 150 dollars to it. is it worth it?

    My questions I guess are:
    1. Would you recommend doing a bit more of an upgrade?
    2. Is it worth upgrading the CPU? - To a X5690 6 Core 12 Thread 3.46GHz?
    3. Is it worth adding more RAM? And if so, what's the max RAM I can pore into this beast of a beast to be?
    4. And maybe, are the Monitor and GPU compatible with each other or does anyone know of any issues when combining these two?

    As I'm a photographer but will be going into video in a bit more.
  2. spacedcadet macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    I have the same base spec 5,1, bought a few years ago and upgraded.
    I put in the 3.33ghz 6 core as cheaper at the time, but I expect the 3.46ghz is cheap now.
    I have a 500GB SSD boot drive and a few 4tb drives for work, backup etc.
    56GB RAM is the max a single processor allows. 3 x 16gb and 1 x 8gb.
    Still running Sierra but latest Adobe Creative Suite for graphic design and photo editing.
    Just waiting for the RX580 to arrive.

    Sure someone with more knowledge will chip in about video upgrades, but max RAM, then fast SSDs, maybe on the PCIe bus I think?
  3. Kooki9, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018

    Kooki9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2018

    Ah it's great to read someone who's done the same or has the same machine. I've read different blogs or posts about other set-ups but not really one of the same.

    My first step is gpu and screen (next week I hope). Then maybe the cpu.

    I wasn't sure about the ram needing an upgrade or not.

    I'm also new to the ssd drives concept and I think I need to read up on it a bit more. From what I understand (in a nut shell) is that it stores files that are used on a regular basis etc for faster speeds.

    I also have 2 lacie porche design HDs. I think I'm gonna rip them out and put em straight into the computer. Right now they are rather too slow as external drives 4tb, 5tb. But I haven't done a final decision on that yet

  4. Zeke D macrumors 65816

    Zeke D

    Nov 18, 2011
    I got a very similar spec'd cMP a year or two ago. (It had a 1TB HDD and only 8GB RAM) I immediately upgraded the RAM to 32GB (this was before the crypto miners caused RAM prices to skyrocket) 16GB is probably fine for daily driving. I ran the 5770 that came with it until I could find a GTX680 for under $100. I went a little crazy, and upgraded the drive to a PCIe 2.5" SSD, that I've since upgraded to an AHCI, and just bought an NVME drive. I found a good deal on a dual-CPU tray, and a pair of hex-core Xeons, but for video/photography, the extra cores and RAM really only gain you render time. Photoshop doesn't multi-thread well, so maxing out your CPU shouldn't be high priority. (faster clock speed will help, but...)

    The system you're getting as spec'd will be a solid machine. you can upgrade piecemeal as super deals become available to you. As is, you'll be happy doing photography & audio/video. My only suggestion is to get a nice 4k monitor and a video card to drive it. The GTX680 can be had for $150 (thanks crypto miners!) and it'll support 4k. I do book covers, so the 4k is a must for me to see covers at 100% for fine work.
  5. Kooki9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2018
    Yeah I'm thinking in time, like next year if it's worth upgrading the tray. Right now they are a little steep in price for sure.

    I haven't bought ram in years (not since I moved to Mac like in 2005 or so) and I don't remember it ever being this crazy in prices.

    I can't find the gpu card you're talking about. When I do a search I come up with cards from 600 dollars to 1k. So I'm guessing that ain't it.
  6. Kooki9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2018
  7. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    There's a small part of me that actually thinks that the card's superb Mac Pro compatibility is keeping the prices up. I say this because when I look at Ebay it seems like a surprisingly large number of the 680's for sale have been flashed for Mac. Far more than I would expect given how niche the Mac Pro is.

    The 680 hits the sweet spot in many ways:
    • It's on Apple's official list for Mojave-compatible cards
    • 4K support
    • Fits in the power profile
    • Uses Apple's native drivers (or web drivers if you prefer)
    • Supports OpenCL for the older stuff, Metal for the newer stuff, and CUDA for the Nvidia stuff
    • Suuuuuuuuuuuuuper easy to flash
    Honestly I think it's the best choice for low to moderate use if your workflow doesn't need or can't take advantage of the high performance of the newer generation cards.

    There used to be better choices for low power use like the GT120, but those are falling behind in compatibility.
  8. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    56GB RAM is max, but the Xeon is triple channel so it runs best with just three sticks. Maybe you just need to pull those 1GB sticks and get a matching 8GB stick. Honestly I think 24GB is will plenty unless you're working on some crazy stuff. X5690 is the highest you can go and it's not even that expensive these days. You don't need to delid which is great and it's got a soldered IHS so nothing to worry about there. I have the RX580, it is Apple supported so don't need to worry about Nvidia driver support. I think this can done for under $400 for sure.

    My problem with the GTX680 is that is so damn old...
  9. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I would consider a USB3 PCIe card. They're not very expensive, and will save lots of time loading SD cards, connecting external disks, and so on.

    Use Activity Monitor to see if you're running out of memory. There is about a 5% performance improvement if you go to just 3 identical RAM sticks. Of course, there is a 1000% performance hit if you go to swap. In my experience, it seems that my MP somehow uses memory more efficiently than the MBP sitting right next to it.

    Use Activity Monitor to evaluate if CPU (single thread and multithread) is holding you back.
  10. Zeke D macrumors 65816

    Zeke D

    Nov 18, 2011
    The GTX680 is indeed old, but it’s metal compatible, after flashing gives you boot screens, and is supported natively by OS X. The 2gb card is sufficient for playing RuneScape, most OS X games, and can even run FFX on the windows side. The problem is that they’re going for $150 - $200, and at that price, it’s dangerously close to half the cost of an 8-pin RTX2070. If the RTX2060 in a 4 or 6gb model drops with a $399 MSRP, then the 2060 is the better deal. Even if they make an entry RTX2050 with only 4gb for $299, then that’s the way to go. If that happens, then I expect the GTX680 to tank on the secondary market. ($75 - $100 is what these cards should cost.)

    USB3 is nice to have, but will you really be transferring large files to thumb drives? Will you be doing USB time capsule backups? If you answered “no,” then don’t bother. If you answered “yes,” then I’d reply, “why?” Time capsules are so cheap now that Apple discontinued them. You can get the 2tb for $109 - $159 now. Plus, Dropbox or Apple cloud is vastly superior than distributing via USB thumb drives. $1 a month gets you 5gb of Apple storage. You can buy a single $25 Apple gift card, and you’re good for two years. (I have the $4/month plan, so every other Black Friday, I pick up a $100 card for $80.)

    RAM is a tough sell right now. The prices have been inflated by 60% with the crypto craze that’s almost died out this cycle. 16gb is a good place to be (or 18gb in your case.) I edit 10x14 inch 300dpi book covers on my 4K monitor, and even after several hours of editing in Photoshop, the commit charge rarely goes over 10gb. If you figure in a 50% overhead for spikes and tertiary programs, 16gb is still enough. (You won’t gain enough speed by going triple-channel, so the 18gb dual-channel is enough for what you describe your usage is.) I only produce 1080p video, and 16gb is usually good enough. The extra ram might help if you’re rendering crossfades or screen type, but you really only gain speed. (I also process audio as WAV files.) the premium price you’ll pay for ram right now just isn’t worth it.
  11. spacedcadet macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    USB 3 card is essential, although it doesn't play nicely with sleep in my experience with external drives mounted on it.
  12. Kooki9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2018
    Yeah I think I will be getting a USB 3 Card at some point. - I am thinking of getting a BenQ Monitor which has the usb 3 card output. But I haven't read anyway where how or where that connects to. - So lots of research to do I guess. :)

    Sorry for the late reply. The 5.1 that arrived, arrived with a bit of a bump. So I've had to be dealing with that unfortunately. :(

Share This Page

12 November 28, 2018