Advice for SSD in 5,1 mac pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mactrunk, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Mactrunk macrumors regular

    May 12, 2005
    I've searched the forum, but wanted to get the latest opinions.

    I'm wanting to add a SSD to my current 5,1 mac pro.
    I've seen some recommendations for adding a PCie card that gives SATA3 and boot-ability.
    Will an SSD boot reliably from a PCie card?
    Is SATA3 going to give better speed? Worth it to use a card or just put the SSD in a drive bay?
    Looks like the Samsung is the favored SSD here.
    Opinions about the best SSD?

    Many thanks.
  2. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    The Samsung 840 EVO or 840 Pro are the cards favoured by the majority at the moment. They are both 2.5" SATA III drives so would need an adapter to fit into the SATA II drive bays.

    What others do is either use a SATA III PCI card that takes standard 2.5" drives (such as the Highpoint Rocket 640L) or ones which take "blades" which are like bare SSD drives with no casing.

    It really depends on what you want to use your SSD for. If all you want is a simple, affordable boot drive then a SATA III SSD and adapter into the existing SATA II sleds is the easiest way to get the majority of the extra speed an SSD offers over an HDD.

    If you want more sped then some form of SATA III PCI card will be needed and you will have to make sure they are notable in OSX. Some have issues booting into Windows from OSX so do your background reading and ask. It depends on how you use your Mac Pro. The cards you will see mentioned are there Apricorn and the Rocket.

    I use a Rocket 640L (non-raid) card in my machine with two Samsung 840 Pros. The drives are in a caddy in the lower optical drive bay and extender cables feed down through an existing gap in the case to the 640L card in my top PCI slot. I should state that I did need to flash the firmware on the 640L and I had to use a real PC with an MSDOS or WinME install image to get round the BIOS attempting to protect the firmware of the 640L. Once flashed, I have a card that boots in OSX and Windows and wakes from sleep as expected with the downside that all the drives are recognised as external. This was because the card is supped tallow hot swapping of drives through the Eject function.

    I wrote a guide to installing the 640L and drives here... so feel free to ask any questions.
  3. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    As I have previously posted I am using a Samsung Series 840 500 GB SSD (The EVO wasn't yet released when I bought I bought mine) with an Apricorn Velocity Solo x2 card. As I and others on this forum have attested, the Solo x2 is fast and works very well.

  4. Macshroomer macrumors 65816


    Dec 6, 2009
    I use an 840 Pro on a Velocity x2 card and love it, booted right up, no issues and pretty much as fast as the PCIe slot will allow (?)

    I'd go this route, it is the fastest and keeps a drive bay free.
  5. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    OP: You can also keep your drive bays free by mounting the SSD in the optical bay area and using the second optical SATA interface. You wouldn't need a PCI card either then.

    Booting from the PCIe bus is a bit slower due to the power-on drive search looking for external drives last. For normal OS X operations, I have found no perceptible difference with the boot SSD on a PCIe card or using the Mac Pro interface (drive sled or optical bay). Either interface location works well.

    If you search the threads here, you will find issues with some of the PCIe SSD cards co-existing with each other due to possible controller chip conflicts, however I have had no problems with Sonnet Pro Dual SSD and Solo X2 cards by themselves.

    I have good luck with Crucial M4 and Samsung 840 Pro SSDs.

  6. Macshroomer macrumors 65816


    Dec 6, 2009
    That is where I used to have it, an OWC 120GB that still resides there but performs strictly cache and scratch duty. It's amazing how much you can expand these MacPro's!
  7. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    Yeah ... I keep my Windows BootCamp SSD up there in the optical bay.

    I have 2 hard disks and 4 SSDs running in mine, and still have 1 open drive bay and 1 open PCI slot for future expansion (that could be 1 or 2 additional SSDs on PCIe card). :)

    Really like my expandable Mac Pro!
  8. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    Ah, I believe the Optical Drive Bay qualifies as a Drive Bay. The use of a PCIe SSD Card allows the speed of SATAIII and keeps all 6 internal drive bays available for other uses.

    I know all 6 of mine are full.

  9. Mactrunk thread starter macrumors regular

    May 12, 2005
    Many thanks for all of the helpful replies.
    I love this forum!

    I'm thinking I'm going to go with the PCie slot.

    My only concern is the aforementioned longer boot time.
    Does it take much longer for the MacPro to search for this?

  10. sunnyj macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2010
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    Booting from the pcie slot takes approximately 10 seconds longer.
  11. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    Mine takes a bit longer than that, but I have several external RAID disk systems on eSATA ports which may slow things down. I just wanted to point out that there would be a unexpected slight delay with a external boot drive vs. a internal boot drive.

    In any case, it isn't a problem, considering how infrequently you actually boot or reboot your computer.

  12. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Yeah. It's like a professional desktop tower. Or in 1999, what they called a home computer.;)


    It is not as fast as the Samsung's for boot purposes. Even with them on a SATA2 bus. For block copy yes, for iops and 4k randoms, no.
  13. nox-uk macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2012
    I've taken mine off my velocity and put it back into a drive bay. There was no perceptible difference in operating speeds, but there was in boot times. It's way faster from a drive bay.

    No reliability problems booting from pice SSD.

  14. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    LOL - I understand!

    As disks get faster, the BIOS initialization times put a limit on the boot times.

    My home workstation has 3 RocketRAID eSATA cards. Each takes about 30 sec at POST time.

    Even if the disks and CPUs were infinitely fast - I'd still need 90 seconds to boot.
  15. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    personally I have concluded for my usage, the SATAII bays are plenty enough for my SSD's. Both are SATAIII spec, but the mac's boot time and their seemingly instant access time is plenty.

    Ok I dont often deal with huge files, so its not an issue for me and I can see where some needs would notice a speed boost with a PCIe or card with SATAIII; but its down to what you do with the system that matters.

    I like my swift boot time for those gaming days where I jump in and out of bootcamp, but even then the thought of my MP taking an extra minute to boot isn't an issue. I am primarily a home user and my only productive work is the odd website or design work in Corel/Photoshop.

    I did think about a Velocity X2; but I can't justify the cost versus the speed in my use case.

    As for reliablity - the intel 520 256GB is holding up well after being a system disk for almost two years now. These days its purely for Windows 7 and gaming/Corel Draw.

    The Samsung EVO is new to me, but I can't see why it should not outlast my Mac Pro.

    both are Trim capable and so very fast.

    My preferred mount is the OWC Sled for SSD's - nice and neat and engineered very well.

    (for now my EVO is in the optical bay as I needed to steal its SATA Power port for a USB3 card I am reviewing, but when I make a wiring loom it will go back in the sled, nice and neat).

    I used to care about benchmarks and such forth, but nowadays I've realised that seeing a bench on my Intel SSD in SATAII versus SATAIII is just numbers. My actual experience is that its seemingly just as quick in either method. Apps start fast and load/save times are so fast I can't tell the difference.

    The only time I drag out benchmark software now is for review purposes.

    I think if you could share what you use your MAc Pro for on a daily basis; then we could give more targeted advice on which solution is best for you.

    Of course if you don't mind the extra seconds on boot time and budget is not a concern; then go for the PCIe solution (get a x2).

    Happy Days

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