MP 1,1-5,1 cMP 5,1 12 Core Upgrade Strategy Advice

dickiedunn

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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My desire is to update my MP 5,1 to High Sierra and hopefully Mojave.
I was waiting for years for the new 7,1 announcement, and now that it's done, it's too expensive for my limited needs (and means).

Current Setup

- Mac Pro 5,1 (Mid 2012) 12 core 3.06 GHz 6-Core Xeon
- Boot ROM Version: MP51.007F.B03
- 64 GB RAM
- ATI Radeon HD 5870
- 512 GB SM951 AHCI M.2 in an Angelbirds PX1 in PCIe slot 3
- MacOS Sierra

My priorities in order:

1. Compatibility/Stability
2. Noise Level (low fan noise)
3. Speed (no gaming, some 1080p video editing, hoping for future 4k video)
4. Cost

The only legacy software I’d like to run is Adobe Creative Suite CS 6, including Lightroom 6 and Premiere Pro. I’d like to not have to move to the CC subscription model.
Can anyone confirm CS6 works with Mojave?

I’ve read through these forums, which are incredibly helpful, but I still have some questions:

I’m thinking the AMD Radeon RX580 8 GB hits the sweet spot. Either the Sapphire Pulse, since that seems to be the best supported or the Sapphire RX580 Nitro+, if that is any cooler? Again, quieter is better. Any other thoughts?

On the updating side, is it best to upgrade to HS first in order to update the firmware? I assume yes, and if so, should can I do that directly onto the SM951 boot drive, or should I do it with a SATA connected old HD mounted inside?

Thanks for any advice.
 

Alex Sanders74

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2013
272
59
Toronto, Canada
1. CS6 with Mojave - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/250007572
2. Get the Sapphire Pulse RX580 - recommended card from Apple and least likely to give you grief
3. Firmware updates - High Sierra first but use the internal SATA ports on southbridge with HD. NVME has mixed success.

Hope that helps a little. Someone else may have differing opinions regarding GPU, but offering advice as to what I would do if they were for my 5.1
 

dickiedunn

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
21
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Alex,

Thanks for the input and links. One thing on the firmware update. My SM951 is the AHCI version, not the NVME one. I suppose it's still best to update via an internal SATA drive from what I'm seeing.
 

jscipione

macrumors regular
Mar 27, 2017
207
110
Alex,

Thanks for the input and links. One thing on the firmware update. My SM951 is the AHCI version, not the NVME one. I suppose it's still best to update via an internal SATA drive from what I'm seeing.
You may update to the Mojave firmware from an AHCI SSD connected over PCIe, as long as it's not NVMe. That's a nice system you have there, I wouldn't bother updating it anymore except to put an RX 580 in there. It doesn't have to be the Sapphire card, just about any RX 580 should work. I'm curious what kind of power your machine draws idle and under load with those dual X5675's. I have a very similar setup with dual X5680's (3.33ghz) and I draw about 250W idle and just over 500W when the CPUs are fully engaged.
 

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502
May 14, 2008
333
121
1. CS6 with Mojave - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/250007572
2. Get the Sapphire Pulse RX580 - recommended card from Apple and least likely to give you grief
3. Firmware updates - High Sierra first but use the internal SATA ports on southbridge with HD. NVME has mixed success.

Hope that helps a little. Someone else may have differing opinions regarding GPU, but offering advice as to what I would do if they were for my 5.1
Just note the that sapphire pulse does consume just barely more than 2 slots of space ... depending on what you may want to install in slot 2 you may end up hitting the fans on the 580.
 

Soba

macrumors regular
May 28, 2003
132
216
Rochester, NY
Alex,

Thanks for the input and links. One thing on the firmware update. My SM951 is the AHCI version, not the NVME one. I suppose it's still best to update via an internal SATA drive from what I'm seeing.
Updating from the SM951 AHCI drive should work perfectly. I had no trouble updating from mine, so I would just try it first to see if it succeeds (I expect it will).
 

dickiedunn

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
21
0
Soba,

Thanks I’ll give it a try. It shows up on my desktop as an external drive though. And when I do the high Sierra update, that will install the new rom?
 

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2008
732
37
Tulsa
My RX480 8GB Nitro+ is dead silent unless I'm doing some moderate to heavy gaming at which point it's still pretty tolerable. So I'd say your choice of GPU is great unless you need that extra slot it would take up. In that case I'd recommend the 480 Nitro as it only takes up 2 slots not 2.2.

I also don't see the issue with doing the firmware update from the AHCI SM951 but I did do mine with the old SATA HD installed internally to be safe.
 

kohlson

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2010
1,989
539
And when I do the high Sierra update, that will install the new rom?
See the top sticky on upgrading to Mojave. There is a discussion on updating the firmware, and what each level does for you.

Note that @Ludacrisvp mentioned that the RX580 takes barely more than 2 slots. YMMV. I have a Sapphire Pulse RX580 8GB and it fits in slot 1 (the extra wide one) with no issues with respect to slot 2. But, many people have reported that this seemingly same card does interfere with slot 2.

The only other "adds" you may want to consider are a SATA3 interface, and a cache disk for your CS6 work. There are reports that a dedicated SSD for cache improves performance in CC. Dunno if it would work in your case.
 

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502
May 14, 2008
333
121
Note that @Ludacrisvp mentioned that the RX580 takes barely more than 2 slots. YMMV. I have a Sapphire Pulse RX580 8GB and it fits in slot 1 (the extra wide one) with no issues with respect to slot 2. But, many people have reported that this seemingly same card does interfere with slot 2.
It is like 1mm / 2mm too wide for slot 1 if the card in slot 2 has anything that is on the back of the PCB.
heatsink clips / or ICs on the back are able to hit the fan or apply pressure to the center of the fan.
My RAID card for example and mSATA card both contact it, the GTX 650 will also contact it (all of them in different locations on the card). I got around this by using a display port card cover that came with the 580 slightly wedged between the cards as it adds the 1 / 2 mm of extra room to stop contact.
 

dickiedunn

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Interesting, it sounds like a tight fit. Is it fair to say the RX 580 Sapphire Pulse will be the same or quieter than my current Radeon HD5870? I’d love to see some performance improvements (especially in Lightroom 6) but really don’t want a louder machine....
 

Ludacrisvp

macrumors 6502
May 14, 2008
333
121
Interesting, it sounds like a tight fit. Is it fair to say the RX 580 Sapphire Pulse will be the same or quieter than my current Radeon HD5870? I’d love to see some performance improvements (especially in Lightroom 6) but really don’t want a louder machine....
I'd expect the dual large fans in the 580 to be quieter than the single tiny fan that I suspect the 5870 has (my 5770 had one small fan). That being said the only GPU fan I've ever really heard from inside the Mac Pro (or any computer really) is the 8800GT Mac card that went full fan speed during POST until chime. So I don't believe you'd hear the RX card.
 

Slash-2CPU

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2016
299
156
New Orleans, USA
The fans on the RX 580 are usually off at idle/desktop. Except when I'm using the RX 580 to encode/decode video, it is silent. Even then, it's a whisper. The fans do barely ramp up at power-on, but I only know that because they did it while I was putting the foam wedge in.

You can stick a foam wedge or port cover as Ludacrisvip mentioned between slot 1 and 2 cards to keep the fans from hitting slot 2's rear-mounted components. Not elegant, but perfectly functional and costs nothing.

Do all the updates from your AHCI SM951. I used that drive for years and went all the way to Mojave and firmware 142.0.0.0.0 with it. I then cloned it to a NVMe 960 PRO and later updated to 144.0.0.0.0 from the NVME drive without problems.

Avoid the 970 EVO. It's not stable in 4,1/5,1 Mac Pros. Maybe Samsung fixed the firmware I think, but I still wouldn't bother trying it.
 
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dickiedunn

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Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Thanks Slash-2cpu, that is very helpful information. Ok, looks like that’s what I’ll do. Just upgrade the SM-951 to high Sierra, install the RX580 and then upgrade again to Mojave. All the bios should be upgraded by the upgrades. Finally I too would like to upgrade to a larger nvme m.2. What PCIe card are you using? Would it make sense for me to keep the SM951 on another card or just try to sell it? I often have the problem of slow write speeds on it, which I hear from another thread is common with the ahci version of the SM951.
 

Slash-2CPU

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2016
299
156
New Orleans, USA
970 PRO would be my first choice. There are definitely other drives that work fine.

Single m.2 to PCIe adapters are all the same as far as basic function. The $17 Lycom DT-120 will bench test identically to the much prettier to look at Angelbird Wings. If you do a lot (multiple GB's continuously) of reads and writes, get the cheapest one with a heat sink. The drive will perform a little better and probably live longer with a heatsink. A heatsink the size of a quarter is infinitely larger than stock(none), and is perfectly adequate. Additional power control circuitry and lights do not really do anything.

I am using the SI-PEX40129 dual m.2 PCIe card. It allows the m.2 SSD to read and write about 2x faster on benchmarks, and a little faster in real-world use. It makes a good amount of heat and is not cheap. If I did not need it, I would be using a cheap DT-120 and a glued-on $1 heatsink. The fan on the dual m.2 card is a little noisy.

Do not try the cheap dual or quad m.2 cards. They will not work in 4,1/5,1. The Macs do not have the chipset required to use them. Unfortunately, only the expensive dual or quad m.2 cards that have PCIe switches on the card work.

If you need the additional drive space for working, I would maybe keep the SM951 AHCI. If you do not need the space, I would sell it. Once you start using the 970 PRO or and NVMe drive, you'll understand how slow the AHCI command set is. SM951 also runs hot. I don't like hot-running electronics.

When you are done with everything else, check that TRIM is working. If not, read up on how to enable it. It is critical for keeping and maintaining fast write speeds.

RX 580 Nitro+ Special Edition. At the time, it was the same price and the non-Special Edition. It's a completely not noticeable 1.3% faster than the non-SE.
 

dickiedunn

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2019
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Thanks for your reply. That is very helpful. I’m actually thinking of adding the SI-PEX40129 dual m.2 PCIe card, that way I can use a new NVME card, like the 970 Pro and my SM951 AHCI on one slot, and get the benefit of the 2x speeds. You mention it is loud though, so that is a big negative (along with the price) compared to a fanless card.

I already have the Angelbirds PX1, so I’ll use that. I’d be getting another card in addition (using another slot).

I’ve read some concerns about frying the logic board by connecting the power cable of the RX580 to it. Is that an issue, or is that only for other cards?
 

Slash-2CPU

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2016
299
156
New Orleans, USA
Not LOUD, but I can hear it.

I'm running a combiner I made to use both 6-pin motherboard power connectors to the one 8-pin on the RX 580. I'm sure someone makes one.
 

TheIguana

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Sep 26, 2004
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crjackson2134

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Mar 6, 2013
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Was under the impression that some NVME drives don't cooperate with firmware updates. Not sure about his specific model though.
Some machines don’t cooperate with firmware updates in general, with or without NVMe. I’d hardly call that a mixed success for NVMe.

They’re are plenty of ways to upgrade the firmware, NVMe notwithstanding. The fact that on some machines, the firmware update process may necessarily require an SATA drive, is no reason to give the impression that NVMe may be problematic. This would be a false impression.

It would be more accurate to say, that upgrading the firmware may have mixed success when booted from an NVMe SSD. On some systems, it may be easier to update the firmware from a drive that is connected to a Southbridge SATA Port.
 
Last edited:

Alex Sanders74

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2013
272
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Toronto, Canada
Agree with your statement here for sure. In the interest of making sure it went smoothly I offered the path of greatest success, but probably should have offered some background info to the OP. Appreciate your clarity on this point.