Adding 8x SSDs to a Mac Pro 5,1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mrmeister, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. mrmeister macrumors regular

    May 26, 2010

    I'm looking to buy a cheap Mac Pro 5,1 from ebay soon and wanted to add some fast storage to it. I was looking into the Newertech MAXPower RAID Mini SAS 6G2e card to give me 2 external SAS connectors to plug in up to 8 drives. This was all great in my head until I realised I'd neglected thinking about how to power the additional drives...

    I wouldn't want to use these in RAID, just JBOD, each as individual disks so that I can see an additional 8 volumes within Finder.

    Can anyone help me out please? I know that there is room to fit 8 drives in the optical bay (by removing the optical drives) but I don't really want to spend the $150 on the enclosure for that if I can help it.

    Also, I'm not against switching RAID card if anyone has any better alternatives. I just picked this because I'd seen a few people say it worked well, but something bootable (under OSX) would be nicer than this.

  2. AidenShaw, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016

    AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    This is a BTO config option for HP Z840 systems - why torture yourself with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? (...and a round hole in an end-of-life system)

    But to be helpful if you're stuck with the Mac Pro, I've used the SansDigital TR8X6G 8 disk external cabinets ($406 at Newegg) with a number of workstations that needed bigly local storage. The cabinet has two SFF-8088 connectors so it's an 8 disk JBOD as far as the controller is concerned. (If the controller has the 12 Gbps HD connectors, then you need a pair of HD to mini cables.)

    On a couple of systems, I've used LSI RAID controllers with dual 4 lane connections - but most of them use LSI non-RAID JBOD controllers (and software RAID-0 in the hosts). (I would never, ever consider software RAID-5 - I buy RAID controllers with big cache and battery backup for RAID-5.)

    No issues.

    ps: The Newegg page says 3.5" disks, but in fact the box comes with hot-swap disk carriers with mounting holes for both 3.5" and 2.5" disks.
  3. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    I can't give you anything super up to date, but when I was looking into it a few years ago, external SAS was clearly the way to go. Also, theoretically you could throw it into your PC you buy later ... but I guess you wouldn't need to because it'd have on-board RAID-0.
  4. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Unless you plan on moving your MP around, you don't really need anything in the optical bay except a splitter or two to power all your drives from the SATA power cables already present. Just rest the SSDs in there, with maybe some spacers if you are worried about heat. I've got four SSDs in my optical bay, sitting comfortably on my (unused) optical drive moved to the lower bay.
  5. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    Some internal solutions:

    Trans International DX4 is a replacement drive caddy that still holds a 3.5" drive but also physically mounts 4 SSDs above the PCIe cards. You need a SATA/SAS card and cabling for SSD data and power.


    OWC Multimounts let you put up to 4 SSDs in the optical bays. Again, you will need a card and cabling for data/power beyond two drives. This is only 4, not 8 like the one you saw, but it's a lot less expensive.

    By my count that would be a total of up to 12 internal drives.

    I have not done any of these myself, just throwing out some options.
  6. mrmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    May 26, 2010
    Thanks for the help everyone! I'm thinking even though it's more expensive, I might just save up and get an external enclosure like the one AidenShaw suggested. Then when I do upgrade my system (I'm planning on doing a BIG overhaul around this time next year on the new Skylake-X architecture) I can move it over to that system.

    As a side note, I have looked into the HP workstations too, even the older models, but thinking about it I would like to have 1 Mac workstation and 1 Windows workstation. I have tried the whole Hackintosh thing before, and although it worked, it wasn't without its problems... I think having a dedicated machine for each will be the way forward.

    Thanks again!
  7. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    Sonnet Tempo Pro dual SSD card, four drive bays, two in the optical bay. That's 8.
  8. h9826790 macrumors 604


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    May be 2x Quad mSATA PCIe SSD PCIe card is an easier option.
  9. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    I just don't like mSATA format. Hard to resell later and you have to use adapters if you want to use them again in on regular bays.
  10. maximage77 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2014

    Came to basically post this solution. Have had 14 drives running in a Mac Pro (13 SSDs and 1 spinner), using the DX4 for starters, quite neat little solution, plus 4 SSDs in the regular bays using MacConnect replacement drive trays that mount SSDs in a way that can allow them to connect to a RAID card but draw power from the back plane, plus 4 more hanging underneath those 4 using velcro tabs. Lastly I had a similar drive mount per above to allow 2 more in the lower optical bay but sideways, one an SSD, the other a HD. I think you can get a version that actually mounts 4 in that bay if you want.

    This was all running data off a SATA RAID card, apart from the traditional drive in the optical bay which was a large drive for Time Machine backups (also backed up externally too) and the first SSD in drive bay 1 which was used for BootCamp. So 12 drives off the SATA RAID card, one SSD and one HD off the internal bus.

    Power can be split off plenty of ways. Given SSDs usually draw fairly low power compared to a traditional full sized HD, I managed to split power off a number of sources between splitting the power in the drive bay etc. Unfortunately I couldn't give you the exact breakdown of how I did power as I have now moved to a Squid running 4x PCI-e SSDs plus an assortment of HDs for larger data needs.
  11. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
  12. mrmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    May 26, 2010
    Actually I will still be using the original 4 drive bays for some spinning HDDs of a high capacity for backups. Ideally they'll only actually spin up when in use, just to keep things quiet. Plus, I'm after 1TB SSDs and so far the mSATA options are a bit more limited for these - it's easier to find a deal on a regular 2.5".

    I don't suppose you remember the drive trays you used, do you? I'm very interested in being able to power from the backplane but not necessarily use those SATA ports.

    I have looked at that before (actually for the Windows computer I mentioned earlier - I was originally going to get a 6950x but then decided to wait for the new socket next year for future flexibility). As nice as they are, I am looking to install 2 blu ray drives in the Mac for backup purposes. Those 50GB and 100GB disks are a nice and (relatively) inexpensive way to back up important files in addition to the hard drives I have.
  13. mrmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    May 26, 2010
    Is this still available? The link you provided has the product, but with no picture, and when trying to search for it on their site it just doesn't come up at all... It's not the nicest/most up to date of sites.
  14. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    When I click on the link I posted, there's a page without a picture but it does have an add to cart button and it says in stock. So I assume it is still available.
  15. maximage77 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2014
  16. merlin17 macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2016
    When I install SSDs in the optical drive bay, how do I get the cabling from a SATA-III PCIe card into the optical drive bay? I haven't found a route that's big enough to get the SATA cable connectors through...
  17. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    In my 2010 there is a square hole that the existing optical bay cables go through. This is the largest hole I'm aware of between those two sections of the case.

    I've run some cables through there, but never SATA data cables, so I don't know specifically if those will fit.
  18. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    If you want to save some space inside of your computer you can use smaller m.2 or msata drives. There are many options to choose from

    Dual M.2 to 2.5" SSD Box
    Quad M.2 PCI-E card
    Quad Msata PCI-E card

    If you do (6) dual M.2 in the 2.5" slot you can have 12 SSDS just from that (Loss of CD-Rom spot) another option is to get (3) Quad M.2 (or msata what ever is cheaper with more gigs) to reach 12 drives.

    Another option is to mix and match, Get two PCI-E cards and (2) dual M.2 2.5" SSD boxes for a total of 12 dirves. Or get one pci-e card and (4) dual M.2 2.5" SSD boxes get to 12 drives.

    I'd suggest pricing out the different options and possibilities for the parts and pick the option that works best for you.

    At least with the PCI-E cards you'll get Sata 3 speeds. Without a new SAS you'll max out at sata 2 speeds with all 2.5" or 3.5in drives in the computer. There have been a few people on these forums that bought a Sata 3 SAS pci-card that they connected to the computer to utilize the oem slots at sata 3 speeds.
  19. haralds macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    I have been using the DX-4 and love it. It is fully populated with SSDs (2x512GB, 1Tb, 2TB.) It ships with a custom power cable. You do have to supply cards - I am using two CALDIGIT cards. The design maintains airflow.

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