Granite's 2006 to 2008 Mac Pro Upgrade Guide

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by GraniteTheWolf, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. GraniteTheWolf, Jun 12, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014

    GraniteTheWolf macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2013
    This post is a summary of my build thread shown here:

    Have an old 2006 4-core mac pro and a couple hundred bucks laying around? If your good at hunting on ebay you can make that old 2006 machine into a 2008 with a simple swap of the logic board and processors!

    -Extra long T15 torx bit (about an 8 inch reach to get to the heatsink screws)
    -T10 torx
    -Various philips and flathead screwdrivers.
    -Thermal Paste
    -Coffee filters (used with thermal paste application)
    -Paper towel (cleanup for whatever reason)
    -Isopropal Alcohol (at least 95%)

    Useable 2006 parts:
    -Power supply
    -Ram (but NOT the 2006 ram risers)
    -Optical drive and complete tray
    -Hard drive Trays
    -Front fan (sort of)
    -Cpu cover (sort of)
    -Front IO board on case
    -Front speaker
    -Bluetooth card
    -Airport wifi card

    Parts you will NEED:
    First, naturally you will need a 2008 Logic board and 2 matching cpus to fit that board. I went with the stock 2.8 ghz xeons that originally came with it.

    2008 memory cage with rear fan

    2008 northbridge heatsink

    2008 Wiring Harness: PN 922-8501 593-0619-A.

    Lastly 2008 riser cards for the ram. You will see below that the 2006 ram risers do not fit in the 2008 memory cage.

    Things you wont need but may want to make it "perfect":
    -2008 Front Fan Assembly
    -2008 cpu cover
    These are not require for it to work, but the fit and finish wont be perfect as I will show you below.

    As you can see I opted to get a brand new 2008 case, this is not necessary but I wanted a new to me machine as far as case condition goes.

    First we must take apart the 2006 unit. Start by removing all of your smaller components such as the hard drives, front fan, front speaker, ram trays, optical drive tray, cpu cover, and graphics card. Dont forget the Airport card and bluetooth card if you have these as well.

    After those have been removed it is time to remove the old 2006 memory tray. This can be a difficult task as the plastic riser holders and rear fan snaps are very tough to undo. Use a plastic card or something to slip between the two to break the snaps apart so you can move the plastic holders inside to have more room upon removal. If you dont think you have the room, you should be able to remove the cpu heatsinks first to make life easier here.

    If you have a new case DO THIS STEP if not IGNORE this step if your keeping your old case:
    Next take the T10 torx bit and remove the 4 screws holding the power supply in place (above the graphics card area you will find these mixed in with the Philips screws...don't worry about the Philips screws, no need to remove those)

    With all the smaller bits removed you now have full access to the actual guts of your system. In this order use the long skinny T15 torx bit to remove the cpu heatsinks from the 2006 board.
    Upper CPU first, then lower cpu second.

    With everything listed above you should now have a case with nothing but a logic board remaining inside of it. If you got a new case, you can leave this case be and sell it//whatever you please with it. If you dont have a new case, then your not done yet! Remove all data and power cables from the logic board then prepare to remove the old logic board!
    Take note of the black Philips screws holding the 2006 logic board in place before you remove them. Remove the remaining screws, slide the logic board towards the front of the case, and carefully remove the board from the case! Dissassembly complete!

    Next step; assembly!
    First thing you must do is secure your new 2008 logic board in your old or new case. Simply carefully lower it in place, and slide it back so the rear IO goes into their holes, then screw it down. Dont put any screws in the 4 memory cage holes for the 2008 memory cage, it has its own built in screws.

    Once the logic board is secure plug in all the data and power connections you previously unplugged from the 2006 board, if not, your new case should have them already inside as mine did already laid out and ready to go. If your new case doesn't have these, you will have to transfer all your old cable over to the new case if you have a new case without cable.

    After the board is fully in and plugged in, its time to prep and install the 3 big heatsinks.

    In the image above I had done this in the wrong order. I ended up having to remove the top cpu heatsink and get the bottom one in first.
    I used the method of cleaning the heatsinks off with the iso alcohol and coffee filters to get them perfect before install. Following the cleaning I made a big + on each processor/north bridge as shown above, then I also put a dab on each heatsink and spread it around with a coffee filter to make a prep film to fill the pores in the conductive surface. I wont get into detail here, just look up Artic Silver's guide to prepping and installing heatsinks.
    All I can say is BE CAREFUL if your using a conductive thermal paste as I did. If you drip any of it on the logic board it can create a ground between different parts since it is conductive, and cause major problems or even destroy your new logic board.

    Heatsink install order:
    Bottom cpu
    Top cpu.

    Once those are in, install all the smaller parts you removed in the same order you removed them. After taking the 2006 apart you should be able to tell how to assemble it!

    When your finished your final product should look like this:

    This is where I said you need a 2008 front fan and 2008 cpu cover to make things fit perfectly. I am living with it like this for now until I find a good deal on those 2 parts on ebay.

    Only serious issue after this build, my front top fan as shown here:

    It is unnecessarily loud so I just unplugged it. I believe its because the 2008 fans are slightly different and the 2008 logic board's fan controller doesnt like the 2006 fans for some reason. My system is fairly quiet with that top fan unplugged, and my temperatures are great. 28-29c at idle, and when rendering it maxes out at 45-46c.

    If you made it this far, thanks for reading! If you actually followed my guide and converted your 2006 into a 2008, even better! This conversion isnt really hard with the correct tools and some past experience building custom gaming desktops//computer assembly in general.

    My Final Costs (US dollars):
    Ram risers: $35.99 shipped
    Northbridge heatsink: $24.95 shipped
    Motherboard & cpus included: $305 shipped
    2008 memory cage: $24 shipped
    Total: $389.94

    New case cost me $150 + 65 Shipping. That was not a required thing but an extra.
  2. ReallyRedCobra macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Very cool. I thought about doing this myself when i get frustrated with my 1,1. How much did you spend in parts though?
  3. GraniteTheWolf thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2013
    Ah I knew I forgot something. I will add my final cost of the build to the bottom of the first post.
  4. thagor4 macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2013
    FYI about hardware compatibility

    Hey there,
    I just recently did a nearly identical build, but I opted for the 3.0 GHz quad-core x5472's. I discovered one problem with the "usable" list of hardware that you suggested: the stock 2006 Mac Pro power supply, while rated for the same wattage, does not have the same amperage ratings per rail. in my case, it means that my 2008 logic board will not boot at all, while my 2006 logic board with 5160's and a MSI GTX 760 and 4 hard drives will boot just fine. The 2006 PSU has ratings between 13A 15A and 18A for the various rails, while the 2008 has 18A all across. This may seem like a minor difference, but apparently it's enough to cause me trouble. I wasn't sure if you'd used the PSU from your 2006 or not, but it seems to me that it's not a 100% guarantee that the PSU will work. Just thought I'd share for anyone looking to do the same thing. I'm going to have to source myself a new PSU and be stuck with my 2006 setup a while longer.
  5. GraniteTheWolf thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2013
    I am indeed using my 2006 PSU and it is working perfectly for me.

    For a backup I do plan to buy a proper 2008 PSU eventually, but so far after all these months I havent had a single problem with my current setup!
  6. thagor4 macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2013

    Well, I got a 2008 PSU to try, and it wasn't the issue with my setup either. The only things I have left to try at this point is the wiring harness from a 2008, and CPUs. I have the second of a pair of E5472 SLANR Xeons on it's way, and the wiring harness to see if I can figure out my issues. At this point, I've purchased the entire 2008 Mac Pro, excluding the case.

    I'll throw this out for anyone who might be able to help: When I installed the 2008 setup in my 2006 case, it will not power on. Diagnostic light shows trickle power, but it refuses to switch on, no fan activity etc. When I reinstall the 2006 logic board, everything runs fine. I have the 2008 ram risers, front panel logic board, main logic board, and both fan carriers and CPU cover, and both a 2006 and 2008 PSU to try. Both PSUs are in excellent shape, no stability problems with the 2006 setup whatsoever.

    And thanks Granite, despite my own issues, I really liked this thread. :D
  7. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    Also there is the "L" series of Xeon's that are low voltage for less heat. The highest 54XX model being the L5430 @ 2.67Ghz, but only using 50 watts. They are cheap on ebay due to all the servers they were in.

    The L5408 is 2.16Ghz, but only rated at 40 watts, fully half of one normal Xeon and 1/3 of the higher end models. Great if outright processing isn't your thing.

    I have L5335's I my 2,1 and they are great.
  8. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    I'd love to do this but seeing the price of 1,1s the past few weeks makes me want to sell mine. I see one right now that is not nearly as decked out as mine, yet the bids was at $396 with $75 on top for shipping! :eek: And another that went for $420 that had free shipping!

    I bought my 1,1 not even a month ago for $227 with free shipping. I almost want to sell mine and wait for 2009's to drop down a bit more.
  9. thagor4 macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2013
    Finally sorted out my problem

    Hey all,
    for those of you looking to do this conversion: I'm not sure if Granite got his case with the wiring harness pre-installed (the pictures made me think so) but I got a 2008 wiring harness for my conversion (I had a 2006 case/harness) and I can happily report that I am now running an 8 core e5472 setup with 16GB of ram. the 666MHz Ram does run with the 2008 board, but I plan to upgrade it.

    So if you plan to do this conversion, don't expect the 2006 wiring harness to work. Mine didn't power on with it. worked the first time with the 2008 harness. must be a different pin layout or something.

    Also: the length on the 2008 wiring harness is shorter. I had to modify the PSU fan bracket and feed the PSU connectors through to make everything reach. :D
  10. mac567 macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2014
    Apple 922-8501/593-0619-A

    I can confirm Thagor4s conclusion that 2006 wiring loom doesn't work for a 2006 to 2008 Mac Pro upgrade! The 2006 loom effectively shorts the power supply on being plugged in hence not booting as 2 pins are switched. Only the PS2 and PS3 cables need to be changed for the 2008 part for the PS2/3 dual cable Apple part number 922-8501 593-0619-A.
  11. GraniteTheWolf thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2013

    My brand new 2008 case came with a 2008 wiring harness already inside of it ready to go.
  12. mac567 macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2014
    no fan issues

    Finally posted on my new mac pro 1.1 transformation into a 3.1 !
    Worked out all the creases like the stock 7300gt card stopping the mac pro 3.1 booting and getting 2008 ps2/ps3 power cable to reach as it is shorter than 2006 cables. I cut off snap connectors on power supply side to be able to push the connectors though the power supply fan bulkhead further to give me the extra 2-3cm. I also had to snap in the sata motherboard connector in very firmly as that also stopped mac booting also!
    So thanks for your guide Granite I had no intake fan speed issues with 2006 intake fans with an efi flashed hd4870 like yourself but I think that problem is to do with unflashed nvidia cards in slot 1 or 2 and 2 being better!
  13. jagalactic macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2014

    Thanks a million for the great upgrade guide. I am ordering parts to do the same thing, and I have a couple of questions:

    1. I have an Nvidia GEforce 7300GT. It looks like this card won't work in the 2008 board due to 32 bit EFI. What card did you use? Any recommendations as to a comparable (and inexpensive) option? I don't have any burning need for a graphics upgrade (I'm an audio guy…), though I have a touch of irrational desire to see a boot screen.

    2. Did you (or anybody else) ever replace the front fan assembly to see whether the 2008 part solved the "fans running loud" problem? (one of my main reasons for going Mac in 2007 was that they run quiet enough to be in a recording studio, so I care about the noise…)

  14. energy23 macrumors member

    Apr 8, 2014
    I did a similar swap a week ago. I bought a used Mac Pro 3,1 for $650 with 16gb RAM, 500gb HD and another 1TB HD with a GT 120 GPU. The problem with it was the case was badly damaged so I bought a new one on eBay for $90 + shipping (wasnt cheap to ship).

    I swapped all the parts from the old case into the new one. I was surprised how smooth the process went, the only area I had trouble with was the long handled hex screwdriver for the processors, I had to go out and buy something long enough.

    My only gripe with my setup is that intake fans make a weird noise like 'rrrr-rrr-rrr-rrr'. Its not loud but if the fans were a but more consistent the Mac Pro would be at a nice noise level.

    Any suggestions where I can pickup new replacement fans and if I can expect them to be quieter?

  15. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Hi John. For no. 1 question, I think a Radeon 5770HD or a Nvidia GT120 are the choices for your 3.1 Mac Pro. Another choice is the Radeon 4870 512mb vram. All are Mac oem official cards with boot screens. I used to have a 3.1 2008 Mac Pro and it ran quietly and I did not have any problems with the fan noise. The front fan in the 2008 Mac Pro had 2 screws unlike the front fan of the 1.1 and 2.1 that only had 1 screw.
  16. jagalactic macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2014
    I want to make sure I have this straight. Are you saying ANY Radeon 5770HD or a Nvidia GT120 card will work, including the boot screen? The ones advertised as Mac Pro cards seem to go for a price premium.

    I have all the parts on hand except the video card, so I'm ready to hack as soon as I get a video card…

    Thanks for the help!

  17. jagalactic, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 7, 2014

    jagalactic macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2014
    I have just attempted this rebuild. I didn't buy a 2008 case, so I ordered replacement power supply cables. Unfortunately, (my mistake) I only got two of the four cables: PS#2 and PS#3. These two cables are interconnected in the 2008 version, which was not true in the 2006. I hoped that it was just these cables that were needed, but the system won't power up; I here a slight click or tick when I try, but it doesn't do anything. So I'll order the other two PS cables and try again.

    Meanwhile a few observations that might help others:

    • As previously noted, the 2008 PS cables are shorter, as apple changed from PS cables connecting at a bulkhead to not. I clipped of the latches on the PS leads and pulled them through the bulkhead, which was enough to make them reach
    • The 2006 case does not have logic board standoffs under the holes where the 2008 memory cage wants to be screwed down. I managed to get the cage in place and install the memory riser boards, but the cage does not fit very well in the 2006 case.
    • The optical drive cage was difficult to re-install - probably because my power supply cables are in the way (see above). Something is preventing the case from latching, and I think this is it.

    At this point I can't continue until I get the PS#1 and PS#4 cables. I sure hope that fixes it...

  18. jagalactic macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2014
    Huzzah!! My power supply cables (PS#1 and PS#4) arrived today, and she is alive!! I spent quite a bit of time on cable routing, and getting things to seat properly, but it all went together cleanly.

    This was a real PIA, and I was down for 9 days (due to not having all four 2008 power supply cables at initial rebuild time), but I'm quite happy with myself now.

    Anybody need a 2007 logic board with dual quads? ;-)
  19. GraniteTheWolf thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2013
    I'm so happy a few of you guys have found this thread useful, but I must leave a sad note. In a few days my 2008 8-core will have a new home at a friend's house.

    I just ordered an authentic (not an upgraded 2009...:rolleyes:) mid-2010 3.33 ghz 6-core machine. A decent upgrade from the '08 with some headroom to upgrade it later on to a 3.33 12-core. It will arrive late next week, so excited!

    I plan to carry over all my hard drives and my GPU & eSata card. Hoping it boots up and continues as if nothing changed :p

    My self built 2008 served me well. I never really had a single problem with it :D
    Just time for bigger and better for me is all. Really wanted to join the DDR3 hyper-threading xeon world :p
  20. applereviewguy macrumors regular

    Aug 22, 2011
  21. mac567 macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2014
    That linked harness on ebay should be OK. As I stated in my earlier post only Ps2Ps3 cable differs in pinout. Its part number is 593-0619-A
    There is just enough space to route the 2008 ps2 ps3 cable separately so I can switch back to original 2006 logic board at any time. I dont know why jagalactic had problems and needed to use the whole loom/harness.
  22. JacquesL macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2013
    John, I have the same issue!. How did you manage to secure the memory cage without the standoff. Did you move the original 2 standoff? Or left the memory cache loose?


  23. JacquesL macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2013
    Mac567 how did you figure out 2 pin are switched? Do you know which one? Do you think it is possible to swap the 2 wires?
  24. mac567 macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2014
    Buy the new cable or the loom depending on price!

    The pinouts of the 2006 and 2008 PS2 connector on the motherboard are different. Two pins in cable are switched whilst 2 are not connected (this is why it will not boot as connecting the 2006 power supply to a 2008 board with the 2006 cable shorts out the PS and its not good at all!)
    The 2008 power cable for PS2 PS3 is split off 2 different rails due to current requirements so it is a "composite cable" so you really need to get the new cable or loom if you like!
    You could probably pop out relevant pins/connectors from your existing 2006 cables and make the 2008 composite cable from a 2006 ps2 and ps3 cable but you will have to get out your multimeter as I will not tell you what to do as if you can't map out the pinouts its probably not good idea to mess with the cable!!
    As for the standoffs when you put in the memory risers in everything is secured but its tricky to feed them in as when the memory cage is not screwed down the plastic guides can be slightly off so the riser is hard to get in but once both the risers are pressed into the motherboard nothing can move!
  25. JacquesL macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2013
    Thanks, I installed the cable I received yesterday and now the power supply starts. However I am getting a processor-B error when I plug the 5770 video card in. No boot chime.
    However when I remove the video card, the system boots correctly and chime ...
    Not too sure what the culprit is:
    • faulty processor
    • problem with the video card (was working perfectly on the 2006 MB)
    • 2006 power supply doesn't provide enough power
    Will try to remove one processor to troubleshoot ...

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