Current Mac Pro - Swap out Quad Core for an i7?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by rmwebs, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. rmwebs macrumors 68040

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    #1
    Hi guys,

    Looking at getting a Mac Pro soon. I was just wondering, is it possible to swap out the Quad Core processor for an i7? On either the quad or 8-core model?

    Cheers
     
  2. gaspra macrumors member

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    #2
    Quad-core/hex-core is doable. 8-core won't happen. Core i7 doesn't support dual socket mobo (E5520 chipset).
     
  3. bigbutt macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Maybe just go with a 27" iMac . i7 today and 16GB support for a fraction of the cost
     
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #4
    The 32nm parts don't work in Mac Pros sadly. The only suitable upgrades are the Core 930, 940, 950, 960, 965 and 975 and as you mention, only for the single socket Mac Pro.
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #5
    You can do that in quad core as that has single CPU but you have to use Bloomfield i7 (920-975), the new 980X (Gulftown) won't work as the microcode is different (would need BIOS/EFI update but that does not exist for Mac Pro). In octo core you must use Xeons, more precisely Gainestown as i7s have only single QPI and dual QPI is needed for dual CPU configurations.

    i7 costs as much as equivalent Xeon though so I don't see why would you get i7 as it does not support ECC
     
  6. rmwebs thread starter macrumors 68040

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    #6
    Not really wanting another iMac due to the lack of upgradability and poor record (had two now - current one has been in to Apple about 6 times despite being kept in very, very good conditions).

    The reason for wanting the Pro is so I can do stuff like swap out the processor in a couple of years when I need more power. You'd be stupid to spend that amount of money and upgrade every year or two. ;)
     
  7. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #7
    Mac Pro is not really too cpu upgradeable. Already, Mac Pro's can not run recently released CPU like the 980x, even though the socket is the same. Apples lack of will to release EFI updates really cripples the upgradeability for CPU & GPU. and apple earns more cash.
     
  8. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

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    #8
    Well, you are just saying redundancies, but if you mean, can I upgrade my CPU for a more core version (like the i7-980X) or a faster clocked version, then the answer will vary. I believe Apple uses "Gainstown" class CPUs or Xeon E5520 as the low end CPU for their 8-core offering. So your upgrade options are limited to the E5520 < x < E5540 or from X5550 < x < X5570 or the W5580 & W5590 CPUs.

    You can sorta upgrade the CPU (which already an i7, but these CPUs are the Xeon variants for servers) if it's the same generation and for a higher clock. However, a newer generation CPU like the i7-980X class 6-core CPU can't be upgraded too because Apple uses their EFI updates to prevent that upgrade on their machines. In other words, physical compatibility is there, but the software compatibility is not.

    That nets Apple more cash as people who would normally upgrade to the new CPU, would have to just buy an entire new Mac Pro all together.


    Edit - Small note here, those CPU models are for the 8-core version. The 4-core variant seems to even take the desktop class CPUs like the i7-930 up. Except the i7-980X.
     
  9. Roman23 macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Consider a Mac Pro 2009 single-quad of 2.66 - Ok, it uses a xeon and ecc memory, things of which I really don't need. Given that if you look at the processor it is a standard, OEM Intel processor with integrated heat spreaders. 8-core 2009 mac pros use special, commercialized custom processors without integrated heat spreaders, or LIDLESS processors and are very difficult to upgrade - not to mention how astronomically expensive they are for 2.66 or 2.93.

    So, I just completed my upgrade from xeon w3520 to the core i7-975 which is the same equivalent 3.33 mac pro Apple sells and wants us to shell out 1200.00 for. I only paid 5-600 dollars for my processor. Desktop core i7's are going to be cheaper to a point compared to xeon.

    Of course, if you want to upgrade the w3520 which you have, or a w3540(2.93), you will need either the w3570 or w3580 - the w3580 is the same processor Apple uses in their top of the line single-quad core.

    Please also note: Dual band processors such as those in Gulftown and Gainstown won't work in the single-quad core mac pros, as you would need two of them for it to work.

    There was also a core i7-extreme overclock of 4.5Ghz. however when I asked the seller on ebay about this one, he told me the mac pro doesn't support overclocking in the bios. I had assumed that the processor was already overclocked and no further revision is needed.

    Specs of my computer: Mac Pro 2009 core-i7 975 with 6GB NON-ECC memory(If you go the desktop route, you MUST get rid of ECC memory and replace with non-ecc).


    While yes, the Gulftown based quad-core/hex-core would work, according to Nanofrog the current 2009 mac pros don't have the microcode or B1 stepping for this to work.. This has already been mentioned. If someone could get the code and modify it, then yes.. it would work.. but I don't think Apple is going to like that one bit.

    The most highest one could go in a single-quad core mac pro is either the w3580 3.33 or its desktop brother which is the core i7-975. Anything 980x or extreme isn't going to work due to the fact that you need the microcode to support it and it AINT' there in the 2009 mac pros - sadly.

    Just on ebay, I found an i7-980x for like 700 dollars.



    This would wipe the imac off the face of the earth.. since the Imac i7 uses a 2.8 ghz processor which isn't too far from the xeon equi of the 2.93 or w3540 processor.. But I can bet my system now that it has a core i7-975 with 6GB of memory and regular desktop non-ecc memory, it would beat the imac since nothing in my mac pro is xeon anymore..

    There was an interesting article I read somewhere that the desktop core i7's are faster to an extent compared to the xeons.. But for most on here, we really don't need ecc memory or xeon at all.


    32nm PARTS require B1 stepping and the microcode to support it and Apple isn't going to allow us to do that.. however, in the PC world this is possible. The core i7-975 is a really nice processor and for the money I paid, it was well worth it - given July 3rd was my birthday, I had to splurge a little and get one. Also, the desktop i7's seem to be a bit more faster than their xeon brothers.. non-ecc memory seems to be also faster than ecc memory as ecc memory checks for errors constantly.



    Who really needs it other than those who run their workstations as servers all day? And no, the core i7's are cheaper than the xeons as server processors are usually more reserved for those who need server based workstations to handle the loads each day. Me personally, I don't need that.. therefore the reason I decided to change from the w3580 to the i7-975. I did see somewhere posted on youtube that the core i7 is faster than xeon though the chips are exactly the same for some reason.. prob due to ecc memory versus non-ecc memory.

    You will be fine.. its up to you if you want to stay the xeon route or desktop route.. for me, the desktop route was the most viable as now I can use any non-ecc memory and not restricted to certain vendors. Just remember, if you go desktop you will need to get rid of the ecc memory - it won't default to non-ecc.. If you stay xeon, then you can keep your same memory as xeon uses ecc memory.

    For 600 dollars, its well worth the upgrade!!! a lot better than spending 1200.00 for the 3.33 from Apple.

    Yes, duals can also be upgraded, but you will run into more problems with that - See the article in Anadtech as the author of the article had to spend 2000 dollars for replacement chips and processor tray..


    If Apple DID come out with a 2010 mac pro using 980x, is it conceivable that the microcode could be copied and transferred over to the 2009s? Bear in mind this would have to be done secretivly and not posted at all, but in theory if one got ahold of a FLASH eepromer or flash device, is it then possible to copy the microcode over to the 2009s?

    This is only in theory, as I doubt it is even doable or even possible for the end user of these machines..



     
  10. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

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    #10
    Theoretically possible. Why would it need to be done secretively? Also, recall that all motherboards releases after the i7-920 was first released and up to the day before the i7-980X release did NOT support the 6-core i7-980X. Everyone who had one of those motherboards had to wait for a BIOS update to allow their motherboards to accept the new 6-core variant.
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #11
    Core i7-975 costs 999$, W3580 which is equivalent to it also costs 999$. That applies to all Gainestown CPUs at least. That's 1k unit price what Intel has released, it might vary. For example NewEgg has i7-975 for 979$ but W3580 costs 1083$ so i7 might be cheaper but the list price is the same. ECC is pretty important if you do big renderings, you don't want many days of work to be ruined because of memory error.

    Also, use the multi-quote button [​IMG], it's horrible to read when you have made 10 replies (also against rules)
     
  12. Roman23 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    But, I don't do big renderings..

    In fact, I don't use any pro apps on my mac pro.. I might get into some video editing just for fun to use as a skill, but at this point in my life I don't know what I really want to do anymore.

    Well, I did get my processor for like 600 dollars used if that helps.. Maybe retail yes, its around 1k, but I got mine on ebay from Velocity Micro for like 599 - 603 with shipping.
     
  13. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #13
    Used and eBay is always another story, you might have gotten a used W5680 for the same price. If you don't use pro apps, why did you even upgrade the CPU?
     
  14. Roman23 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Simple answer..

    In case I decide to prolong the machine... to make it my sole machine used for everyday tasks..I am sure within the next few years had I stayed with the w3520, it would eventually be a bottle neck for even everyday stuff.. I figured also that I would treat myself to a birthday present and as such.. I did. Once again, a W5680 is a B1 stepping processor and wouldn't work in any 2009 mac pro unless the microcode was flashed to the existing efi firmware..

    Are you good with extracting firmware? No, but seriously.. I like mac os x. Yes, I could have gotten a PC and put OS X on it.. but I can't just go into Best Buy and buy any laptop and install it? Until such a day where the hackintosh installations become standard where on any desktop pc or laptop it can be installed without problems, that is when I will consider it.. As for building my own PC? I don't have the time at this point or the immediate funds to even consider such a task. Yes, I can do it.. but I don't know what to get to make OS X work.. Windows 7 will always work, but I like OS X and if anything I would take that with me if I should ever depart from the Macintosh community or even Apple.

    Another reason why I got the 3.33 processor is so that if I decide to go to some schooling through the state, and its IT related.. I might go into web design or maybe photography.. but again.. my life is at a cross road right now. I just turned 38.. for most of my life I have been in customer service and sales, and while CS works just fine for me it doesn't provide a path for the future for me, and sales has been an utter failure from the start..

    So, I have to really sit down and think what I want to do with my life.. at 38, it is difficult since I have a sick wife to tend to and an 11-yr old to ensure will have a future also. Again, all of this is off topic, but the real reason in summation is:

    TO PROLONG THE LONGEVITY OF THE MACHINE. Thats why I did it.. the 2.66 is simply not going to hold up.. Now, when a 2010 mac pro comes out? I haven't decided yet on this, but it would most likely be a low end model as I don't need 12 cores for most of what I use my machine for, but I'd rather wait for a microcode hack so that I can then go with a 980x or gulftown xeon equivalent to prolong the very computer that I now have.

    I realized that the 2008 Mac Pro, using Penryn technology was a dead end and thus decided to move to the 2009. It wasn't a waste of money though, as my out of pocket expense for the 2009 was less than 100 dollars.


     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #15
    Sorry, I meant W3580, always struggling with these names, especially with Xeons.

    You will never be able to install retail OS X to any computer. Apple would limit OS X so that it would not work in other than Macs and possible sue Hackintoshers and the people who modify OS X. Building a hack ain't hard, just take a look at InsanelyMac and there will be step-by-step instructions and recommended components. Of course, it's not a Mac and there is no support but it never a bad option
     
  16. Roman23 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    The w3580 originally I had gotten was used..

    from Velocity Micro.. just that the company uses ebay to sell computer parts.. so yes, it was a used part... however at the last moment I asked the seller about the i7-975 and he told me it was much better for the kind of uses I use my computer for.. therefore I went with the i7-975 instead.


     
  17. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #17
    Wrong. This is already happening.
     
  18. Roman23 macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Ok, lets talk about this.

    I have two such programs I downloaded... Empire EFI and boot-123 - Which one would I use on any PC laptop say if I went to Best Buy to purchase a 300-500 dollars laptop?


     
  19. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #19
    Maybe I misinterpreted Hellhammer. He wrote:

    You will never be able to install retail OS X to any computer.


    There are two interpretations of this:


    Will I be able to install retail OSX on a computer, without kexts, without bootloader, without dsdt patch? Yes, this is happening!

    Will I be able to go to a store, put on a blindfold, spin 3 times and point out a random PC, and it will support OSX? No.
     
  20. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

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    #20
    Exactly, all we have to do is closley match up Apple's hardware choices and that's it. After that we can have some more upgradeablility without having Apple twist our arms (see HDD & RAM prices, oh god)
     
  21. rmwebs thread starter macrumors 68040

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    #21
    Wait....if you can get a computer with VERY close specs to Apple's own, it'll boot OS X without going 'hackintosh'?!

    Is it stable?
     
  22. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #22
    I said any computer. Of course it's possible if you do your research and buy parts that are supported but you can't go to a store and pick one blindfolded and then install OS X in it. Might work, or not. Of course I wish it was as easy as installing OS X to a Mac but I really doubt it that it's going to happen (can be already if you choose right parts but I meant any computer)

    OP, check InsanelyMac, there are step-by-step tutorials and recommended parts
     
  23. mmulin macrumors 6502

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    #23
    you still will have to hack it..
     
  24. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #24
    no


    what's coming now is BIOS remakes

    a user named Cartri is modifying PC bioses for native support of all functions... aka he is turning the bios into mac bios

    http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=210994


    About:
    This project consists on a hacked gigabyte bios file (based on the latest official bios for each motherboard) which you can flash to your motherboard (ONLY) trough Q-*‐Flash, and, once booted, have a normal functional computer for any OS, and the possibility to boot under Mac OS X with enhanced features normally achieved trough the use of a DSDT.aml file or modified bootloaders. The Final idea is having a bios that boots OSX (we will still need a bootloader for now but I pretend to implement that into bios in future releases) without the need of any DSDT.aml or hacked kexts stored on your disk.
     
  25. mmulin macrumors 6502

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    #25
    As you said "coming" but not ATM.
     

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