How to prioritize upgrades for Mac Pro 3,1?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by BigYellow, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. BigYellow macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2006
    Hey guys,

    I have an 8-core 2.8GHz machine that's starting to feel a little tired. I'm running an Nvidia 8800GT, 2GB RAM, and conventional HD's. I'm thinking that upgrading to a new video card, upgrading RAM to the 6-8GB range (total), and adding an SSD for a boot drive would each give it a boost, but as far as "bang for my buck" goes I'm not sure where to start.

    Primarily where I'm looking for performance gains is gaming in Boot Camp, but I should mention that ideally I'd like to maintain a boot screen, which apparently is pretty rare if I buy a PC video card and flash it. I understand I can leave the stock 8800GT in place, and use that on the OS X side, but I would like to avoid switching my monitor cable whenever I reboot if at all possible.

    Thoughts? And thanks in advance!
  2. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    1. SSD
    2. RAM to 8GB+
    3. GPU to AMD 7950 Mac Edition.
  3. sarthak macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2012
    Since you have 2GB of ram, that is the first thing you should upgrade. You're probably eating up the RAM very quickly. I just did a quick test, after a cold boot, login and launching Mail and Safari, I am using 2.80gb of RAM. In you're case, you only have 2GB, it's just bare minimum.

    1. RAM to 8GB
    2. 128GB SSD for OS and Apps while all your data files go on Hard Drives
    3. Video Card to a GTX570 (if it works with 3,1)

    Those are my suggested upgrades.
  4. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2006
    As far as RAM and Video card upgrades, where am I going to find the best deals? I remember being referred to Memory America a couple years back because they had the appropriate RAM on sale, but it doesn't seem like such a great deal anymore.

    For the GPU, what're my pro/cons between the GTX570 and AMD7950? I was doing a bit of light reading today and the GTX570 apparently has benchmark results very comparable to the 8800GT, even though on paper it's a much more powerful card? I should mention I'm probably running Win7 64-bit, and 10.7 (I've read there are some bugs with 10.8 and the new 7950)

    As far as SSD, again doing some googling today everyone seems to have a different opinion on which make/model offer the top reliability and performance...
  5. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    The 2008 takes legacy, outdated memory modules now. There are no deals relative to what you'd pay for a newer machine.

    Unless you absolutely need it for your workload going past 6GB is dubious. You can save money that way. Since tracking the 65-bit 10.7+ OS then being a bit over 4GB is better because everything ships with at least 4GB these days. The OS libraries and file system caches are going to want the elbow room that at least 4GB affords. 2GB is likely bumping into barriers. Depending upon how long going to keep the machine and workload you could just get away with 4GB for a while.

    Memory is sunk cost that won't transfer to a newer Mac Pro.

    I'd be skeptical of any vendor that was offering "insanely great" deals on this kind of memory. This is exactly where vendors like customers .... backed up into a corner looking for legacy part replacements. Pricing always goes up. The primary reason why there would be a huge undercut is it someone is just trying to "unload and run" for some reason. (e.g., unload used RAM as new. )

    If you blow your upgrade budget on RAM and SSD upgrades I wouldn't worry about this gap too much. The 7950 requires moving to 10.8.3. If move to 10.8.3 there are also other Nvidia options. Probably better to uncork your RAM and storage I/O limitations and then see if still have a performance "problem".

    Here the card may move to a newer Mac Pro so something with a PCI-e v3.0 interface has more long term upsides if retire this 2008 box in next 1-2 years.

    10.8.3 fixes some bugs. Some quirks reported may not be 10.8.3 bugs but bugs in other stuff that 10.8.3 just surfaces. Anything new is going to draw reports that blah,blah,blah doesn't work. Until the root cause is nailed down what needs the most fixing is hard to nail down. ( drivers may need tweaking. Old ktexts may need updating , etc. )

    In the current SSD space, top reliability and top performance is a bit of a oxymoron. Since your 2008 model isn't particularly oriented toward super fast 6Gbps SSD top performance, I'd look to tip the balance to reliability.
  6. BigYellow thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2006
    Ok so what I'm thinking is RAM and an SSD, and then I'll give it a couple months and see if I'm happy with it.

    I'll upgrade the RAM to a total of 6GB for starters. Any recommendations or stiff warnings about brands/distributors to look for or avoid?

    As far as SSD's, obviously I'm going to have some bottlenecks with my older machine. I believe the SATA is capable of only 3Gb/sec, so I'm guessing anything new is going to be capable of higher speeds than this... Which directions would you guys point me in for SSD reliability?
  7. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Samsung 840 series or OWC are both good SSD drives.
  8. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Samsung and Intel over OWC. Warranties are paramount.

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