About processors in Mac Pro and are they user upgradable?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hajime, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. hajime macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    I plan to buy a Mac Pro. Can I get a Quad-core system now and then later upgrade to 8-core processor by myself? I know that the processors in the Mac Pros are XEON processors. Anybody knows detailed specifications?
  2. FireSlash macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2007
    This has been discussed several times. Yes, you get the same board, and the processor is a standard Xeon chip, but you'll end up investing a lot more later since you also need to purchase the Apple heat sink. Don't expect to find one of these suckers on the cheap.

    It's better to invest a small amount more now on the quad 2.8s, and add the other parts you might have wanted later, with aftermarket parts. Apple charges insane amounts for memory, and you can get most other parts cheaper through other mfgs as well.
  3. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    It is possible to upgrade, but it will void your warranty. It isn't too hard to get to the processors, it's just a little tricky... and good luck finding a legitimate deal on a heat sink, I've put a lot of research into it, and have found them very hard to find and have a trustworthy source.
  4. schnee macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2008
    Way, way less cost-effective than paying just paying the extra $400 up front.
  5. Lord Zedd macrumors 6502a

    Lord Zedd

    Oct 24, 2007
    Denver, Colorado
  6. tuxtpenguin macrumors regular

    May 19, 2007
  7. rhyx macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2008
    Get all 8 now. Later on it won't be worth the trouble.
  8. hajime thread starter macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    Thanks for the advice. I have a few questions: 1) My original plan was to buy a single quad core and if necessary, upgrade to a faster one (possible faster than those available in the market now). Is there a problem for the Mac Pro to run two quad processors that have different speeds? What is the current cpu's speed limitations of the motherboard? 2) Do you think the motherboard will be upgradable? 3) some of you mentioned about difficulty and cost in getting the heat sink. Why do we need a heat sink from Apple? Isn't the cpu a standard one from Intel? Doesn't the heat sink come with the cpu in the box in the commercial version? How other PC users who use this cpu deal with the problem. Obviously, they don't use the heat sink from Apple.
  9. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    1. Likely yes (there will be a problem), since some PC people looking for the second Xeon hunt hard for CPUs to match their single and may end up buying 2 matching ones and selling the single.

    Though I have no idea what the tolerances are for non-matching CPUs and if the EFI makes any difference.

    2. The motherboard is an Apple part. Sell machine buy new one is the general way to upgrade an Apple motherboard. Or pay $1k or more for the logic board alone.

    You lose less selling the machine an buying a new one.

    3. If Apple designs the motherboard and the case, places fans, etc. why not add your own heatsink design.

    And Apple isn't normal in any of their parts ordering with Intel, so why should Xeons be any different.
  10. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    1, No you cant run 2 CPUs at different speeds. (they'd both have to run at the speed of whichever is the lower clocked one)

    2, The main board would be upgradable if only you could find the apple one (and if they change the board in the future it may come with a case redesign and thus leave you with certain location problems for the other hardware inside).

    3, The heat sink used in a Mac Pro is different in size, shape and performance to the bog standard intel supplied one. This is why the Mac Pro runs cooler than an out-of-the box built clone system running 2 x Xeons with stock intel coolers.

    3a, Most PC home builders would use a third party cooler (Personally Id never dream of using the crappy ones intel ship with their kit). In a standard PC case this isnt usually a problem, however in a Mac Pro the case is tightly constrained to an apple reference design so the choice of adding an aftermarket CPU cooler is going to be resticted at best, impossible at worst.

    Tae the advice here and get the 2 CPU mdel now. Its cheaper, comes wth the apple warranty and even when newer faster ones come out - are you going to have to have them???

    (This comesfrom 15 years PC experience of chasing the latest and fastest hardware as soon as its released - its tedious, expensive and to be honest unless you are Ray Tracing or High-end video editing; not necessary. The cool factor just isnt worth the hair loss - Thats why Ive just switched back to the Mac Pro myself.

    Hope this helps .
  11. hajime thread starter macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    Thanks for the information.

    I am doing computationally intensive simulations. I need a fast system with lots of memory (6GB or more).

    The reason I am hesitated to get a 8-core system now is that the applications I use (for example Matlab) are not multi-threaded. I read that there is no gain in performance by even upgrading from a 2-core to a 4-core cpu. So, I wonder if it is better to spend that extra $400 on memory.

    It looks like if I plan to build a PC with equivalent specifications as the Mac Pro, I better buy the Mac Pro because it runs cooler, better designed system-wide and perhaps cost similarly as a home built PC?

    It looks like you are running Vista on the Mac Pro. Is it 64-bit? How does it perform compared with the PC?
  12. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    I'd only get the Mac Pro for raw performance and not if you're on a budget. The single processor, quad is an option but you can build your own machine with similar performance.

    You might be much better served by a Q9xxx based system if you're not dependent on running OS X with a high computational load.
  13. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    Vista is running lovely on the Mac Pro (64bit Business version) - It feels faster than on my old OC'd PC!

    No worries with it running on the mac - I just booted the Mac from the disk and installed on a spare 320GB SATA drive. Setup the Mac drivers (very easy) - and viola

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