Help me (almost) max out a 2009 Mac Pro (2 SDDs in optical bay 2?)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by rk25123, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. rk25123 macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2010
    Hi all! I'm looking for some advice on upgrades for my 2009 4.1 Mac Pro!
    I'm not too impressed with the new Mac Pro (prefer the current upgradeable form factor) and I also suspect it's going to cost a LOT, plus here in Italy there's not much market for used Mac Pros, so I decided to upgrade my current machine and hopefully get another 4 years of life out of it (by then the new one should be tweaked and cheaper).

    My current configuration is:
    2,66 Ghz Quad Core Xeon
    16 GB (4x4GB) RAM 1066 DDR3 ECC
    Radeon HD 4870
    4x640 GB 7200rpm HDD (1xHitachi, 3xWD Caviar Black)
    1xSuper Drive
    2 USB 3.0 ports (added with PCI Express card)
    2x USB 3.0 2TB HDD (WD MyBook)
    OS X 10.8.4 and Windows 8

    I use it mostly for Photoshop, Lightroom and 3D rendering (AutoCAD, Rhinoceros).

    Some updates are no-brainers, I'm definitely going to put a Xeon W3680 (already updated the firmware to 5.1), an EVGA GTX 680 Mac Edition and a Blu-Ray burner, what I need advice for are the SSDs and the RAM.

    Regarding the SSDs (and HDDs):
    I'm going to purchase two Samsung 840 PRO 256GB (one for OS X and one for Windows), I need advice on how to install them.
    Currently HDD 1 is for OS X+applications, HDD 2 for Windows+applications, HDD 3 for Time Machine, HDD 4 for Windows backup, one of the externals is for all the data and the other for the backup of important data. At first I thought I'd simply swap HDD 1 and 2 with the new SSDs and put the Blu-Ray burner in the second optical bay, but that would leave me with two unused hard drives, so I thought that the best solution is this:

    1- swap the Super Drive with the Blu-Ray burner (I don't think I'd ever need two optical drives)
    2- buy this or this World Computing/MM352A52ST/
    3- buy a SATA 3 bootable PCI Express card (suggestions?)
    4- install the SSDs in optical bay 2, connecting them to the PCI Express card
    5- make two partitions on HDD 1, one for Time Machine and one for Windows backup (would 320 GB each be enough? currently OS X+applications take up 196 GB, and Windows+applications 149 GB)
    6- create a RAID 0 with HDD 2, 3 and 4 for important data (projects, photos, etc.)
    7- use one external HDD for disposable data (movies, etc) and one for the backup of important data

    What's you're take on this? Are there any drawbacks or better solutions I'm not seeing?

    Regarding the RAM, is upgrading to 1333 MHz worth it? For now I'm happy with 16GB, but if I upgrade to 1333 MHz I'd probably go for 32GB, just to be future proof.

    All the updates (except RAM) would cost me around 1700€, do you think they're worth it? Would you do anything differently?

    Thank you for your suggestions!
  2. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    If your going to spend that kind of money I would think about finding used twelve core machine that will get you better performance than upgrading the processor. Even the eight core models depending on the processors can give you better than the six core you would end up with plus you end up with spare machine.
  3. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    A few disjointed comments: :)

    Point 5: the amount suggested will surely be enough to offer you a snapshot of what you are backing up, but in my experience:
    - with my usage pattern, time machine needs about X + 1,5X/year for keeping all backups (X being the amount of data to back up). If your files change more often, then TM needs more. Even if keeping a complete "change log" of all your files is not what you want,
    - time machine needs more time to run the backups when it also needs to delete old files to make space for new ones.

    Future proofing RAM: makes sense ony if you can assume either that the needed type of RAM will either stop being available or it wil soon become significantly more expensive.

    Regarding that last point: call me an optimist, but if I was in your shoes, I would wait to see what the configurations and price points of the nMP will be. 1700 € + the resell value of your current rig may help you to a nMP (with external storage). I'd hate investing 1700€ just to regret it, but YMMV.

  4. gerardomare1 macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2013
  5. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I did the 3.33 gHz hex upgrade with my 4,1 and love it.

    As far as putting an SSSD in the optical bay, unless you move your MP around a lot, consider putting the BluRay drive in the lower optical slot and simply placing SSD's on top of it. I've got three sitting in my optical bay. I used some double-sided foam tape to fix them in place on top of the optical drive.

    Cables can be routed neatly thru the opening at the back of the optical bay. If you need to power more than a single SSD in that bay, you might consider replacing the SATA data cable with one that doesn't pair the data and power connectors.You can then use a splitter on the power connector of the stock cable.
  6. RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
  7. rk25123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2010
    I thought that too, but here were I live there's not much market for used Mac Pros, so even selling mine to get the new one would be problematic, that's one of the reasons I want to upgrade the one I already got.

    About the RAM I meant that if I were to upgrade from 1066 MHz to 1333 MHz (but is it worth it?), I might as well take more, so that I know it'll last me.

    The problem is reselling, here where I live is no easy thing.

    Which SATA PCI card did you use to connect them? Is it bootable? SATA 3?

    I used this:
    It has native support, no drivers needed and works with about every USB 3.0 device!


    That's an interesting product!
    Thanks for the tip!
  8. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I used one of the cheap SATA3 cards based on the ASM1061 to connect my fourth SSD. $15 or so from EBay. Although it is only a single-lane card and will reportedly saturate the PCIe bus with two SSDs, I use one of the ports for occasional eSATA connectivity only. The card is supposedly bootable, but my first (boot) SSD is in a Mac Pro caddy so have never tried booting the from the SATA card. My second and third SSDs supplanted my optical drive... I use an external (my Mac is in a remote machine room), so all the internal burner does is sit quietly and physically support the SSDs.

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