Buying a Mac Pro 4,1 to upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by P4in, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. P4in macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #1
    Hello everyone,

    I am hoping to get a little clarification. I current own an iMac 27 late 2013 but the performance is starting to bother me.

    I plan to buy a used Mac Pro 4,1 then flash the firmware to 5,1 so I can upgrade both CPU’s to 6 core Xeon x5650’s.

    I’m confident with most of the process, I have the PCI cards for USB 3 and a m.2 ahci adapter.

    Where I am a little less confident is the GPU. I’m aware not all can be flashed to see the boot screen. I had planned to use a r9 280x but from my research it looks like the maximum power draw you can get with the Mac Pro (without an external PSU) would be 225w.

    I’m concerned this card would go over that so I’m now looking at a gtx 1060 mini which should stay well within the power range.

    The 1060 cannot be flashed so I would lose the boot screen however does anyone know if I keep the old MP GPU in one of the PCI slots would I see the boot screen? Would OSX automatically use the 1060 once logged in? (I would have installed the drivers)

    My apologies if I come across ignorant, I hope someone can answer this.

    Much appreciated.
     
  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #2
    You can keep the original GPU in there for boot screens if you need them, but you must have the monitor plugged in to that card at boot to do so. Do you think you need boot screens all the time? If not, you can simply remove the original card and keep it in a safe place to use when needed. The boot screens are really only necessary if you encrypt your MacOS drive, or if you allow the APFS conversion when installing High Sierra and wish to dual boot to Windows. If not, a non-flashed card doesn't matter, as you'll just have a black screen until further into the boot process, but otherwise you would never know the difference once fully booted.
     
  3. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #3
    Thanks for the response, I would be installing High Sierra and Windows 10. (Important for my 3D work)

    I guess I could just use the option within each OS to restart to the other installation. Just a little timely I guess.

    If I am correct, I believe some newer AMD cards now work natively which would give me the boot screen?

    I had no idea it was also needed for encrypting the drive, thanks for that info much appreciated.
     
  4. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #4
    The reason you need it if you encrypt the HDD is because you must login to your account earlier in the boot process. I don't think it's even possible to login blindly.

    If you don't encrypt, just skip the conversion to APFS on High Sierra, and you can use "Target Disk" in MacOS to boot to Windows, and the Bootcamp "Boot to Mac OS X" in Windows. If you go with APFS, the latter doesn't work right. That's what I did when I still had a cMP, and I only needed the stock GPU when I needed to install an OS.

    As for some cards having native boot screens, I hadn't heard that one, so I can't help you there.
     
  5. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #5
    Thank you for the help Darmok. Is there any work around to enable the APFS and have boot camp working?
     
  6. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #6
    Apologies for the bump, I forgot to ask about power. Hope anyone can help.

    The gtx 1060 mini can use around 150 watts while gaming. It has a single 6 pin power input.

    If I am correct the 2 pci power connectors on the MP logic board supply 75w each and the PCI slot also provided 75w.

    This gives 225w to play with. Since the card can only take a 6 pin though it means I can only use 1 port from the board and the PCI port too giving me 150w.

    I have seen you can get splitters which will convert both 6 pins from the board into a single 8 pin. Since the card has only a 6 pin is it safe to plug an 8 pin into it and would this provide the full 150w from the board alone? (not including the PCI slot)

    So in theory I would get 75 x 2 into a 8 pin, plug this into the 6 pin and then the PCI slot itself giving another 75w, resulting in the card getting 225w?

    Apologies again everyone for the bump, completely forgot to ask about it in my first post.
     
  7. ilikewhey macrumors 6502a

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    nyc upper east
    #7
    i would go with a amd 580 since the driver on that is native in osx.
     
  8. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #9
    Thank you all for your input, I really appreciate it.

    Ah that is interesting about the power. I have seen a few people run much more powerful and power hungry cards on YouTube without issue. That explains how they are able to pull it off then.
     
  9. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #10
    Not that I'm aware of. The "Boot to Mac OS X" option in Windows simply can't recognize APFS drives, so when you select it, it will just take you back to Windows again. You have to put your stock card back in to return to MacOS. I honestly don't think APFS is worth it on non-Apple SSDs, which you would obviously be using on a cMP. It's relatively painless to skip the conversion.

    http://osxdaily.com/2017/10/17/how-skip-apfs-macos-high-sierra/
     
  10. h9826790, Apr 15, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018

    h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #11
    It's easy.

    1) Disable SIP
    2) Use Bootchamp

    AFAIK, there is another software that can work even with SIP enabled. But I didn't try, so don't use that as example yet.

    But anyway, using APFS + Pascal GPU + macOS / Windows dual boot is not a problem at all.
     
  11. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #12
    When I had TRIM disabled on my SSDs, I saw significant performance decline over time. Like 1/4 the write speeds.
     
  12. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #13
    My bad, I want to say SIP, don’t know why I typed TRIM. The post is corrected.
     
  13. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #14
    I was wondering how disabling TRIM would help! I just took your word for it! Any major risks with SIP being disabled? Never tried that approach, as sticking with HFS+ was always good enough for me.
     
  14. kschendel macrumors 65816

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    Dec 9, 2014
    #15
    Let's back up a moment. You have a late 2013 iMac, which has a Haswell CPU, and you aren't happy with performance. So you are going to replace it with a machine that has a pair of CPU's that are a couple generations older and slower, not even the fastest of their generation, and this is going to speed things up for you, how exactly?

    Are you GPU-limited? or CPU-limited? or perhaps even IO-limited? What applications are you running and where are you looking for a speedup?

    I love the 4,1/5.1 Mac Pro's, a relatively recently upgraded 4,1 has helped paid my salary for the last 9 years, but let's not imagine things that aren't true. A middle aged Dell Optiplex with a Sandy Bridge CPU can beat my Westmere upgraded Mac Pro, at least for the first 30 minutes (after that it pukes due to thermals). If your work is nearly all GPU dependent then you might be getting somewhere. If not then I think you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
     
  15. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #16
    It’s GPU more than anything, I do 3D modelling and a lot of graphical work in Photoshop, Illustrator and some other applications.

    The iMac is becoming a bit clunky due to the mechanical HDD and the 755M GPU.

    With an upgraded Mac Pro I know I would be sacrificing some CPU performance but for rendering it should actually be slightly better. It’s mostly the GPU gains that I am doing this for, not to mention a PCI m.2 (ahci) to give me some read and write performance.
     
  16. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #17
    IMO, SIP is just a trouble maker, so I always disable it. Therefore, may be I am not the right person to discuss this issue.

    If anyone want to keep SIP enable, may try this tool

    https://twocanoes.com/products/mac/boot-runner/

    14 days trial.
     
  17. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #18
    I think you’ll want to max out your CPU from the start, which would be the x5690. Ive found that a single x5690 performs fairly similar to the i5-7500 in my iMac on most things. Yes, the 7500 has newer instructions and all that, but the extra coresand threads of the x5690 help make up for that.
     
  18. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #19
    The 3.46GHz Xeon is actually not that bad for most day to day task.
    EB4C1E11-51CA-45F4-84F4-92770A311FC1.jpeg
     
  19. P4in thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2011
    #20
    Just wanted to update you all. Thanks to your help I have successfully updated the firmware of my Mac Pro to 5,1 and installed 2 x x5650’s with lids on using washers.

    Today I am going to install Windows and have a go at flashing the r9 280x firmware so I can get a boot screen.

    Only small issue I am having is my idle temps are around 39c and the heat sink fans are running at 1111rpm instead of (what I believe to be the default) 800rpm. I guess this is either because the new CPU’s generate more heat or I didn’t tighten the CPUs enough to make a better contact.

    I had to be careful with tightening. At first the Mac Pro wouldn’t boot, so I tightened a little more and then it booted on second attempt.

    Thank you all for the assistance!
     
  20. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #21
    Don't worry, that's normal. There are lots of reference post in this forum, e.g. this one

    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/post-your-temperature-here.1958354/#post-22610964
     
  21. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #22
    Yeah, they do run hotter. You might hit over 70C under load.
     

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