Best SSD install with Mac Pro 3,1 used for music

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Dafrog, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. Dafrog macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    hi all. I have a 2008 Mac Pro with 32GB of ram, four 2tb drives. I'm a musician so all PCI slots are taken: two UAD audio processor cards and a FireWire PCI because the native FireWire ports stopped working a couple of years ago (I need this because my audio interface uses FireWire ). It seems like the last thing I can do to get even better performance is to add a ssd drive and of course I'd like to use one that would replace my main drive which has all my software and virtual instruments. Samsung makes a 2tb evo for around $600.
    My question is, are ther any limitations to using such a drive? Can I connect it to the second optical drive on that machine? Will the improvement in speed be significant if the drive is about 80% full?
    I'm on Yosmite btw. And I can lose one of the Sata drives if it's a better way to connect the ssd.
    Alternatively is this silly? Should I just find a faster 2012 12 core and have a more recent machine to work with? Would it be just as fast as my 3.1 with an ssd?
    Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Get the SSD. If you can access the Secret SATA ports on your 3,1, nstall in optical bay#2 and make it your boot drive. Be amazed at the difference.

    If looking for the simplest solution, install your new SSD in an HDD bay with a bay adapter.

    SSD will work fine at 80%, and will keep working well if you enable Trim.

    If you need more CPU horsepower, you can always upgrade to a 4,1 or 5,1. Peruse this forum for info on upgrading 4,1 to 5,1, and changing CPUs in 4.1s and 5,1s before you buy a 2012 12 core.
  3. Dafrog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    Thank you for the prompt response. Besides not losing one of my other drives, is there a benefit to using the secret SATA instead of getting an adapter for one of the regular SATA bays?
    I do want to make this as easy as possible.
  4. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Can be cheaper if buy a smaller 500GB (and non TLC) drive to just hold OS and "working space" data and leave the bulk, intermittent usage, data on the HDDs. The 2TB SSD is being driven on exact 1-to-1 capacity matching on the HDD you are replacing. That drives the SSD price up since "competing" with $/GB of HDDs with $/GB of SSDs.

    Just getting your OS and largely temporary files away from your bulk data will bring an increase in performance. If these are four 2TB drive in some kind of RAID 0 variation then the difference between SSD and that HDD striping is enough for a substantial performance gain ( which ever bay you use).

    The optical drive bay doesn't buy easier. With a 500GB SSD and a 4TB HDD you could you to map two of those 2TB drives into one bay and the SSD could drop into the now vacate 2nd one. If can archive away some of that data ( do 4-5 year old projects not going to touch really need to be spun up and ready 24/7 inside your Mac Pro? )

    The SSD has the potential to saturate your Mac Pro's SATA bus. So more drives isn't buying much as the bandwidth to those other drives can be soaked up by the SSD.

    P.S. TLC drives aren't 'fragile', but they aren't best choices for far above average write workload either.
  5. Dafrog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    The SSD has the potential to saturate your Mac Pro's SATA bus. So more drives isn't buying much as the bandwidth to those other drives can be soaked up by the SSD.

    Hi, and thanks again. If I understand this sentence (quoted above) correctly, wouldn't that be a case for having all my virtual instruments on the SSD as well? I understand your point about old files, but the bulk of the disc space is taken up by instrument data which I play in real time, so faster access is a plus. Also it would be most convenient for me to work with a single drive for backup simplicity, hence my idea that I should get a SSD equal in size to my current 2TB 7200rpm drive, even though the price point is indeed quite stiff. Is that sound logic in your opinion?
    My current drives are not in a raid config. One is my itunes library, the other three are exact clones of each other which is what I do every time I upgrade the OS for safety. So I currently have a Lion drive, a Mountain Lion drive and the latest is Yosemite. Since everything is now in working order on Yosemite and I have a time machine backup of that drive, I can safely lose the other two or dedicate them to a different purpose is that made sense.
  6. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012

    Detailed instructions above on installing SATA optical drive; applies to SSD as well and shows how to access the "secret" SATA ports. Note you need a SATA cable and a power adaptor cable, too. You decide if you want to go this way or install in an HD bay. Mac Pro 4,1 or 5,1 have SATA ports ready to go in optical bay; that's where I have 4 SSDs mounted in my studio MP, two on optical bay SATA2 ports and two connected to PCIe card SATA3 ports. The optical drive mounted in lower optical bay makes a nice SSD shelf (I use an external burner in the studio, remote from my machine-room enclosed MP, so my internal optical drive is a shelf only).

    I don't think you are gonna' wear out one of Samsung's 3D TLC 850 EVO drives, but you can get the Pro if you're worried. Music doesn't consume nearly the space that video does, and your VI's are pretty much read-only so you won't be working the drive that hard.

    Unless you are playing monstrously large symphonic VI productions, you will only notice the SSD's speed when booting, loading and saving projects and opening new VIs. Really nice if you crash in mid-session; you can be rebooted in seconds. Just save often! And use those old spinners to back up in duplicate. The mind you save may be your own.

    As I understand it, SATA2 buss will likely be saturated only when reading/writing larger sequential files to/from an SSD. Small reads/writes to/from even the fastest SSDs (i.e. OS-related activity) are generally constrained by SSD internal speed, not the buss.
  7. Dafrog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    Duser, you are a blessing to guys like me. Thanks so much for taking the time. I take it from your moniker that you use Digital Performer as well (that's my platform) so your advice is right on the money. I just moved a great many of my VI libraries to an empty 2TB drive so that I could get my main drive to about 700 GB and cut the cost of the SSD by about half. I wish I had a free pci slot but between two UAD cards, the video card and the firewire card I had to install when the native firewire ports died on me I am maxed out. And that'll be about it for this machine till I upgrade to something more recent. Fingers crossed. Thanks again. Lastly, do you have any thoughts on other brands, in particular Crucial? The price difference is about $70 between their 1TB and the evo, and almost $200 with the the Pro. Cheers.
  8. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Samsung is tough to beat, and I would not shy away from the 850 Evo... the 3D TLC is very robust, much more so than the 2D TLC that predated it (and is still used in some drives). I have no experience with the Crucial products, but note their MX300 has 3 year warranty (compared with 5 for the 850 Evo). You can read in depth at linked reviews here:

    If you haven't already done so, come visit the DP crew at

    Have fun!

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7 September 22, 2016