Complete: Mac Pro 3,1 Upgrades

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by NOTNlCE, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. NOTNlCE, Oct 20, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013

    NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    DMV Area
    #1
    Hello all-
    I've been browsing this forum since I got my 2008 Mac Pro, and I've seen a lot of questions about whether they're worth getting in today's tech world, so I'd like to give you all a rundown of what I've been up to this past 2 weeks.

    I found a Quad Core 2.8GHz Early 2008 Mac Pro incorrectly listed on Craigslist for $200, with all peripherals included, plus a monitor. My original intent was to re-sell for more than I paid, but after browsing forums (such as these, and thanks for all the info you've posted here) I decided that I was going to keep/upgrade the tower. It came with 6 gigs of RAM, and a friend of mine gave me 8 more GB he had lying around. These were troublesome, and you all helped me get all 14GB up and running, so once again, thanks for your help. I ordered an identical Xeon processor on Ebay, along with some 2006 heat sinks for a total of $70, shipped. A note on those heatsinks: The 2008 Mac Pro Fan Array is slightly larger than its predecessors. I had to move the existing heatsink, which is standardly installed on the BOTTOM processor in the Quad Core models, to the top, as there is a nick in the heatsink that allows the fan array to sit properly. This nick is SMALLER in the 2006/2007 models, so the Ebay'd heatsink had to go on the bottom, or the fan array couldn't be re-placed.
    A word of warning, upgrading the processor in a 2008 is much MORE difficult than in a 2006/07 - The 2008 models have a heatsink on the chipset on the board, which does not need to be removed, but I found it much easier to just take it off and reapply the thermal paste. Also, on the 2008 models, the fan array has 2 binding screws, one at the top on the board, and one behind the processor shield on the bottom. The screws on the processor heatsinks are rather difficult to get to, even with the RAM cage and chipset heatsink removed. I needed to use an extended torqx drill bit to get my screwdriver to even reach the screws. Also, beware of the magnets that hold the processor shield in place, they had a tendency to pull the head off my screwdriver, making the upgrade a bit more of a hassle. But, after all that work, I had dual quad core 2.8 Xeons - THIS is a link to a 32 bit Geekbench
    I picked up an NVIDIA GTX 660 for around $100 after rebate at a local MicroCenter and grabbed a 6-pin Mac Pro power cable from Ebay for another 6. A word of advice here: flashing the graphics card isn't difficult, but as of right now, I am running the original Radeon 2600 XT AND the GTX 660, as DVI to VGA bricks the display under OS X. If anyone has the issue of OS X booting to a black screen with one white square in the corner, it is because you have a VGA display attached. Something odd here, though, if I booted into my recovery partition, the VGA ran fine off the GTX 660 and my DVI display was on the 2600 XT. Weird, but everything works now.

    NOW. Long story short, I was working off a 2009 MBP 13", and this saved me a ton of money since I got a great deal on the parts. For less than $400, I have a machine that runs the latest software and even though it's not the latest or greatest hardware, has more power than I'll need for a good while. So all of you out there who are wondering if you should get that 2008 Mac Pro? My answer is yes, for the reasons above. If you don't need a super high end workstation (haha, as the Mac Pro was originally designed for) but you want a darn powerful computer, it's a great idea.
    I'd like to end this with "RIP, the upgradability of Macs."
    Thanks for reading, and again, thanks to all the forum members for your continued help during this project. Couldn't have done it without you.
    -N
     
  2. rdsii64 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    #2
    Amen Brother

    I have had a octo core 3.1 for a few months now. It does what I need it to do faster than any machine I have ever owned. It will last me for a good while.
     
  3. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816

    gavinstubbs09

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Location:
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    #3
    Here's my story. I have a MBA and I do quite a bit of photoshop and FCPX rendering. The MBA is awesome, but the thing gets so hot some days I just can't use it. What did I do? Bought a 2006 MP for $225. After I bought it I went and got 4GB of Ram so I could have 6 total, and a 6 pin power for a HD5750 card I have to use rather than the stock 7300GT. I have yet to get it, but when I do I'll be happy. I wish I could run MV or ML natively (although I can MLPostFacto the thing) and be off.

    In the future, I already have some plans. Go get a pair of x5355 quad cores (sub $100 now on ebay) for a 8 core, most likely more ram, hopefully a official Radeon 5770 or a 5870 1GB, some 1TB WD Blacks, and a SSD for boot. I'd call that a beastly system!
     
  4. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #4
    Contrats NotNice on your Mac Pro. I am still using my 2008 3.1 Mac Pro and has given me many years of production without major problems.
     
  5. UncleSchnitty macrumors 6502a

    UncleSchnitty

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    #5
    Ive been working on my MacPro 3,1 recently. the thing is still a very very quick machine. Options are pretty good for upgrading these models. I just did a new graphics card (nvidia 660), I have 10gb of ram but I'm probbly going to throw in another 8gb, I have about 4.5tb of internal storage but I'm going to upgrade to a sata SSD soon (pci SSD are still too expensive)
    After upgrades I think this computer will run fine for at least another couple years as my primary.

    Also I agree with you saying its the end of mac upgrading, kinda sad unless of course you want enough adapters and accessories to be daisy chained together to take up more space then our towers hah
     
  6. dave-tx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    #6
    I'm still using my 8-core 2.8GHz early 2008 model, bought new just about right when it came out. I've added memory, lots of storage space (including an SSD-equipped Sonnet Tempo), and a new video card (not new anymore, I guess).

    I'm continually surprised and pleased at how it doesn't feel like a 5+ year old machine. I've often thought about buying a newer computer, but realize that I'm perfectly satisfied with its performance as an audio workstation, general use, and even as a game platform.

    This machine (and other pre-2013 models, I guess) is wonderfully upgradeable. Nice case design makes it easy to work on, too - and coming from years of building my own PCs, was also a very pleasant surprise.

    I haven't installed Mavericks yet, my fear of new OS's is high - I just moved from 10.6 to 10.8 a couple months ago, but I really want some of the new features, so I'm likely to do it once 10.9.1 comes out.
     
  7. NOTNlCE thread starter macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    DMV Area
    #7
    Bought a copy of iStat Menus - (great App, btw) and even under load, this machine outperforms anything I need to do. I've been getting pretty into Geekbench, recently, and I've found that this was a great buy. Had I not gone the Desktop route, I would have gotten a 2012 15" non-retina Pro, which has roughly the same specs as my current machine as far as the numbers go, minus the graphics performance, and the desktop feel. Overall, very satisfied with this computer, and I hope this thread helps others who are looking to upgrade their 3,1.
     
  8. djwalter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    #8
    I'm thinking of doing the same thing. I had a single quad 2.8 so to be sure I have to buy another processor and heatsink to add the second processor? In addition to the special wrench needed. I'm very comfortable with taking off the fan array as I've had to do it twice to add a bluray to the on board sata and to put in the usb 3.0 card that I had to run off the cd rom 4 pin molex.
     
  9. NOTNlCE thread starter macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    DMV Area
    #9
    Yes, you'll need an identical processor to the one you have installed right now, which in your case is an E5462. You've got one heatsink on the existing processor, and a placeholder shielding the other socket. So you'll need another heatsink as well, again, be careful about the heatsink you get, the 1,1 and 2,1 work but are slightly different. The screwdriver you'll need just needs to be really narrow, it's very difficult to remove the BOTTOM heatsink if you have to, (I did, because I needed to make sure the '06/07 heatsink was on the bottom, as it wouldn't fit in the top) but if you get another '08 heatsink, it's much easier to do.
     
  10. npaisnel macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    #10
    Is the processor upgrade just a straight swap ,?

    I have my 2008 MP3.1 and can't afford a new one. would prefer a 5.1 to the new black dustbin any how.

    So
    Mac pro 3.1
    3.0Ghz 8 core.

    28Gb RAm

    looking at fitting new GPU horsepower too, GT770 4Gb and a GT680 4gb cards .
    The advantage I believe with the 680 is that is runs from PCIe power so i wont need an external or a second internal PSU.

    Just two questions.

    What is the best I can upgrade the processor to? Processors ?
    Will it support 8gb sticks , so I could get up to 64Gb RAM rather than 32GB with 4Gb sticks. I have heard it is possible.. What do other think?
     
  11. NOTNlCE thread starter macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    DMV Area
    #11
    I wouldn't put any more money into this machine. You are already running two processors. The only upgrade to the Processors that you could do is to go to 3.2GHz Xeons, which produce more heat and have negligible performance increases. If you want to get a new GPU, for sure do that, since that can go with you to a new machine. I'm not sure about the RAM - High Capacity FB-DIMMs are ridiculously expensive. You could probably purchase a 5,1 Mac Pro for what it would cost you to put 64GB of FB-DIMMs in your 3,1 - if it's even possible. I would say, start saving your $$ for a 4,1 or 5,1 Mac Pro and perk that one up to max specs.
     
  12. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #12
    Your current 3.0ghz dual processors are fine. No need to upgrade to the 3.2ghz as the speed gain will not be that significant. In my opinion, just add a PCIe SSD or USB 3.0 card. Depending on what tasks you do, the 28g ram is fine.
     
  13. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #13
    A processor upgrade would be pointless. My wife has an 8-core 2.8GHz while I have an 8-core 3.2GHz & performance is pretty much indistinguishable in real life.

    An SSD preferably on a PCIe card like the Apricom Velocity will give you the biggest performance boost. It will be like having a totally new machine.

    You don't say what you are actually using the machine for but 28GB is probably plenty.

    You also don't say what your current graphics card is but of it's the base ATI2600 as shipped in the 3,1 then any more modern card will be an improvement. If you use Premiere Pro or Resolve or some other app that can use CUDA then an Nvidia card would be preferable. The GTX570 bought used is the best bang for buck CUDA card.
     
  14. Vicromono macrumors member

    Vicromono

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2015
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    I have been enjoying upgrading my 1.1 version but I am painfully restricted by the obvious. I have been shopping for a 3.1 - 5.1 and see 3.1 for as low as $300 but the 5.1 Mac Pros are still hold at around a grand. I see the many advantages to the last of the best macs ever made but could the extra $700 be spent better on upgrades to a 3.1? I purchased a new MBP 15" 2.5ghz i7 nvidia geforce gt 750m and it rocks on video games but fries my lap when I play. So, my standards have been set and what I want is a station that will better the macbook pro "frying pan". Cinebench scores are 37.5 fps on the 1.1 (8g ram, SSD, Sapphire 5870) and the macbook pro is 67.2 fps
     
  15. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    #15
    I agree, got my 3,1 for $300 a year or so ago and added some cheap upgrades. Well worth the money and will last me for another few years at least. Eight core 2.8, 24gb ram, Radeon 7950 3gb, 1tb SSD. Great in OS X with Logic and such, and also fantastic in Windows 10 for some games.
     

Share This Page