Early 2009 MAC PRO 2.26 Octa upgrade questions.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by morphin1, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. morphin1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    India
    #1
    Hi all,
    Am hoping this thread can become a sticky for queries related to above topic.
    I am planning on buying an early 2009 MAC PRO 2.26 Octa core for video/photo editing.

    My questions are:
    1. When I buy the stock MAC how do I get the OS on a new 1TB HDD?
    2. Will three 4GB Dimms work in the beginning as I cannot afford the 24GB RAM up front?
    3. If I install the Nvidia GT285 will the MAC PRO's powersupply suffice with 4 2TB HDD's?
    4. Can the 2 Nehalem processors be upgraded at a later date on my own and if so what is the procedure and are there special versions of the processors like the video cards?
    5. Will RAM other than OWC work on the MAC PRO? Like crucial,Transcend,etc? If so what should be specs and do they need special heat sinks?
    Thanks for the help in advance.
    Cheers
     
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #2
    1. Fresh install.
    2. Yes. (What "the 24GB"? If you have 4GB sticks, you can have up to 32GB)
    3. Of course.
    4. Yes, but it's almost not worth it.
    5. Yes, but it's meaningless from whom you buy it. Buy what is cheapest. No heatsinks.
     
  3. morphin1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    India
    #3
    Thanks Tallest.

    I live in India and Apple vendors here are snobby idiots who think upgrading a MAC will condemn them to hell. They do not encourage upgrade of any sort and that feels really stupid.

    I asked them if they will load OS X on my new 1TB HDD they went bonkers and denied my request and even stated that this will void my warranty :)

    Since I am a new MAC user how do I install the OS X on my own? and is it tough?

    I asked question 5 as I would like to source as many parts from India as possible so is there anything specific in RAM that I should look for in MAC RAM?

    And the 24GB RAM(me and my arbitrary numbers hehe) since I thought that Nehalem works best in group of 3's so 4gb*3=12GB and 2sets=24GB haha.

    Also will just the 3 Dimm's work in the beginning?
    Cheers
     
  4. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #4
    Nope, just take out the standard drive, put your new one in bay 1, pop the first restore disk (you get two) in, and boot from the disk (hold Option at start). Go through the install, and when you're done, shut down, put the stock drive back in (bay 2), reformat it (erase it and make it OS X Extended Journaled)) and voila! You have an extra 640 GB to play with.

    1066MHz DDR3 RAM. Just be safe and buy from OWC. :)

    Oh, sure; I see. Yeah, you can use just a single set of three.
     
  5. morphin1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Damn Tallest you are the best. Thanks for the help and lightening fast responses. you are an :apple: god lol.
    Cheers
     
  6. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 16, 2008
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    near Cambridge
    #6
    Just a couple of comments with regard to 2 (the memory).

    If you want just 12GB for now 6x2GB is much cheaper than 3x4GB and will run faster (roughly 70% because it is 6 channels instead of 3 but sometimes it has to be accessed via the internal interchip interface). You'd have to dump the original memory when you upgraded (ie sell it) but by then 4GB memory might have halved in price anyway.

    The OWC 4GB sticks will not operate with any other memory, this probably doesn't matter but it would mean that when upgrading from 3x4GB to 6x4GB you'd be reliant on OWC rather than having a choice of vendors.

    Also on upgrading the processors, Apple uses uncased processors and if the upgraded are the normally available cased variety then there is a small gap left between the heat sink and the surrounding voltage regulator chips so somesort of copper shim might be needed. So as Tallest Skil said it is probably not worth it - easier to sell the whole computer and buy an updated one.
     
  7. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #7
    I would suggest you download super duper or carbon copy cloner (free) and clone the drive. Once done, go into system preference and change the start up disk to the new one and use the smaller one as your backup. But, if you plan on removing some of the software already installed, use your disc's and start from the beginning and install what you want. Still use the mentioned software or time machine for backup.
     
  8. m4rk0 macrumors member

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    Dec 28, 2008
    #8
    why? because of prices?
     
  9. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    #9
    The main issue is that Apple uses processors without their metal cases (heat spreaders) whilst the only processors you can buy as a consumer will have the cases. If you search on these forums you should be able to find photos etc.

    You can put new processors with the cases in (people have done it) but this leaves the big heat sinks floating above the voltage regulator chips surrounding the processor so there is a gap and these regulator components are no longer properly cooled. The choice then is to either ignore this which may affect the longevity of the components and have knock on effects or else try to put a good heat conductor such as a copper shim in the gap (with heat transfer paste).

    The other alternative is to try and remove the cases from the very expensive new processors but as I think they are soldered on you will need to use emery paper and file them away. This would, of course, invalidate the warranty so I wouldn't recommend it.

    Back on prices. Xeon chips don't drop in price much (if you look at the prices of the 5400 series they are still high) so when you come to upgrade in say a year or two's time you'll be paying as much for 5500 chips probably as the newer chips that are then out and probably will have 6 cores and be faster. The situation is different if you do the upgrade now but then you have two 2.26 Xeons which are caseless and might be difficult to sell. (The newer chips may well require different sockets or chip sets etc so would imply a new computer). On top of that, historically Mac Pros have kept good prices so selling and buying new is generally a better route to upgrading than doing it the more traditional pc way (I have no personal experience of this but it is what many people on the forums have said).
     
  10. m4rk0 macrumors member

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    Dec 28, 2008
    #10
    i see.
    i recall reading in this forum that 2.26 dual quad cores have different part numbers on the heat sinks and some other parts, too, than the ones found in 2.66/2.93 dual quad cores and some people were doubtful about upgrading the cpus on 2.26 machines. how did they manage to do it? are heat sinks/logic boards totally exchangeable among 2.26/2.66/2.93 mac pro dual quad cores?
    from what i know, just the 5500 serie xeons work on the current selling mac pro, right?
     
  11. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    The quad core uses the 3500 series Xeons (and these do have their cases intact) and presumably use the X58 chip set. The octo core mac pros use the 5500 series. Upgrading the quad core should be very straight forward as it is just a case of replacing the chip in the socket (and removing and replacing the heat sink of course with associated tasks such as removing and reapplying heat sink compound). But the only upgrade that makes sense for the quad would be to put in the W3570 and these are very hard to come by (in the UK at least). Also I don't know of anyone who has tried it so there may be problems on the software side (OS).

    Someone has done the upgrade from 2.26 to 3.2 (replacing E5520s with W5580s) and has reported success. Unfortunately I forget which thread this was reported on. Of course issues such as the effecacy of heat sinks and the cooling of voltage regulator modules etc probably don't have an immediate effect. If you did the job with care and got some copper shims of the right size then if the heat sinks were a bit less effective then probably the fan would just run faster and the machine be noisier (or you might have to use a third party application to make the fan run faster).
     
  12. m4rk0 macrumors member

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    Dec 28, 2008
    #12
    yeah, i remember 3500 series xeons have the heat spreaders "intact" while the 5500 series xeons haven't it.
    but i kind of remember that someone was writing that some parts in the 2.26 *OCTA* are different from the same parts on the 2.66-2.93 *OCTA*
    anyway if i am ever going to upgrade i think i would do it with the either 2.66 or 2.80 or 2.93 xeons (the latter more likely) with the same TDP.

    i have two questions:
    1. what is the "correct" stepping? do both xeons need to be of the same?
    2. what is the right copper shims size?


    yeah, i remember, he has like 4 RE3 if we are referring to the same person.
    it would be great if he (or someone who did the upgrade) could give me some advices.
     
  13. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    near Cambridge
    #13
    I'm not sure what you're referring to as "steppings".

    I don't know what size shim - basically it would need to be the same thickness as the heat spreader, you might find some drawings on the Intel web site otherwise it would be a case of measuring the gap when doing the upgrade. You probably would want the shim to be a bit thinner to allow for some thermal paste. I'm no expert. I guess you would also need to be sure that the shim wasn't go to slip and electrically short something. There are also other strange possibilities when you mix metals. Scott Mueller in his upgrading pcs series of books used to be very hot on not mixing gold and other metals for memory sockets/pins as corrosion could result leading to long term problems of reliability (though I can't see how this would affect
    heat sinks).

    Personally I'd advise against upgrading the processors, given the cost of Xeon chips (and thus any mistakes might be costly), the fact that Apple wouldn't support the modified machine and it might be more difficult to sell when you came to replace it. Better to go for the system you want/need now and look to sell it and buy a replacement in three to five years. Of course RAM, hard drives and the graphics card are all easily upgraded and given OpenCL etc the importance of the CPU may diminish anyway.

    Otherwise build yourself a much cheaper Linux workstation which is easy to upgrade but you'll miss out on OS X.
     
  14. m4rk0 macrumors member

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    Dec 28, 2008
    #14
    CPUs, thus xeons too, are sometimes referred for their steppings; i guess you can kind of look at steepings like 'revisions' - but i am not expert in this, so this is why i am asking.

    as for the upgrade thing, it all depends on the prices of the xeons when i can get them, because if i can get them used, and then use the "old" mac pro xeons for something else, then it would make sense, for my needs. and anyway i plan to keep the machine for at least two/three years (well, i am not that sure of the latter, as i purchased every mac pro till now lol)

    for me os x is a no-brainer, 'cause i base my workflow on os x and have everything running smoothly there.
     
  15. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    OK, I know what you mean now (ie C0 and then D0 for Nehalem). These are just the generation of the manufacturing process, newer ones are a bit more over-clockable and may have very minor fixes but essentially the chips should be the same if you run them at the standard frequencies (which for Xeon in a workstation is the sensible thing to do).

    Once your pro is beyond the apple care time then you can probably be a bit
    more free in experimenting with upgrades. Just make sure you don't damage the logic board as Apple charge an awful lot for replacements (I've heard).
     
  16. m4rk0 macrumors member

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    Dec 28, 2008
    #16
    do you know what stepping is currently used in the mac pro?
     
  17. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    #17
    I think all the Xeons are D0 stepping. It is on the Intel web site.

    I wouldn't get hung up on steppings, they are only really an indication of how up-to-date things are or how long a particular chip has been out. It is nothing like the major changes such as going to 32nm (which will result in new model numbers).
     
  18. m4rk0 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #18
    well ok i'll sit here and wait for someone to give me advices on the difficultness of doing the copper spacers thing.. cause i don't have the new chips in hands now and i wouldn't like to buy something i am not able to do. :rolleyes:
     
  19. Tutor, Jul 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  20. Tutor, Jul 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  21. m4rk0 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #21
    i knew those links (especially the thread where you posted the screenshot) but thanks anyway for pointing them.

    which card do you mean by "the card that is destined for OSX86"? the mac edition HD4780? well, "unfortunately" i have it already installed so i think i'll keep this one and add later a second, more powerful one. anyway to run the card you'll need the netkas injector, wont you?

    right now my biggest concern is about the CPUs upgrade and the related problems, so i think i'll just collect all of the information (and risks) for this upgrade and keep eyes on used replacements; i am looking forward the anandtech article too, as i think it should contain important info for both of us.

    it's okay, thank you so much for the help. :)
     
  22. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #22
    No need to make a shim. Simply use adhesive thermal conductive pads. Something like this: http://www.tglobal.com.tw/en/l37-5.php
     

    Attached Files:

  23. Tutor, Jul 6, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  24. Tutor, Jul 6, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  25. m4rk0 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #25
    very very interesting. i'll look forward to know more about this solution. could you update this thread if/when you do any tests?


    i thought that just "MAC editions" (i.e. HD4780 and so on) video cards would be destined for OSX; do you say that those two cards are destined for OSX because of some EFI related chip?
     

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