How would you upgrade this 2009 Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by juanml82, May 18, 2012.

  1. juanml82 macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    It's the base 8 cores '09 Mac Pro. Specs are as follow:

    Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2,26Ghz (eight cores total)
    6 GB of RAM (6x1GB)
    640Gb Internal HDD (we also have 2 1TB external drives plus 3 older 250GB external drives)
    DVD burner plus a problematic Pioneer BD burner
    Geforce GT 120 GPU

    We are currently running a single seat, so no NAS is needed. We mostly use Adobe CS6 and Final Cut Studio 3. Budget will be around $ 2000.

    So I'd say:
    More RAM. Definitely. There are two empty slots, so I'd say 2x8GB for a total of 22GB.

    GPU: My first idea was the Quadro 4000, which is around $ 850. However, how does it compare with gaming gpus like the GTX 570, which are around $ 350 and have more cuda cores than the quadro? Regarding this, Am I right if it think FCS will just ignore it and it will only be used for *some* things in Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects? And is there an online list with compatible gpus for mac?

    Storage: As long as I regulary backup older, finished, projects, the current storage space is good enough, although more storage never hurts. I'm thinking in speed though. Two or three barebones HDDs can be turned to a cheap raid-0 with disk utility, thus adding capacity and speed (but not redundancy nor backup) at a low cost.
    I'm also thinking in SSDs, with two ideas. One, for a system disk. I'm not entirely convinced of the benefit there, though. While the computer will boot up very fast and application will load almost instantly, the truth is I only boot up the computer once per day and once an application is loaded, it won't work faster because it's stored in a ssd - that's what ram is for. The operating system will be a lot more responsible and agile, but that's not usually an issue, render times are. I don't see how's that going to be affected by using an ssd as a system disk.
    However, as a scratch disk to hold After Effects cache and, given the lower storage capacity, one or two projects, it should be a great upgrade. How well OSX deals with ssd, though? Windows 7 uses a 'trim' command to prolong its lifetime and IIRC does a few other tweaks about lifetime and reliability. IIRC, OSX doesn't have anything like that, is that correct?

    Any ideas are welcome
  2. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    You don't mention what version of OS X you're on. I'm still on 10.6.8, and feel tempted to get a GTX 570 from MacVidCards, which requires 10.7.3. If you're on Lion, I'd consider the GTX. If you're on Snow Leopard, I'd consider a 5870. I have a GTX 285 for Mac, and I just tried it again for a few weeks, but it's just slower in After Effects, and also glitch-y at times, so I'm back to my trusty 5870.

    I use mostly Adobe CS (5, 5.5 and eventually 6) for video editing.

    RAM works best if it's all matched, so I'd suggest setting your standard 6GB aside and get 32GB (4GBx8) for $260 here. I have 32GB, and it's ideal for me, as I stopped getting any page-outs or swap file use, and find it rare to use more than 26GB during editing with Premiere and AE.

    I used an internal 3x2TB RAID-0 for quite a while, and it was great. Once I started editing DSLR footage, though... I noticed a lot of sluggishness. I also needed way more disk space for concurrent projects, so I went all in with an Areca RAID card and an 8-bay box for both speed and redundancy. Since then, no sluggishness, and I can play native DSLR with minor effects without rendering. That will put you over the $2000 budget though, so I'd say the internal RAID-0 will be ideal for you, provided you back up daily to other disks.

    You're right about the SSD. My boot disk is a Crucial M4, and it's nice, but it does nothing while editing. It boots faster, and programs load faster.

    You could get this eSATA / USB 3.0 card for $138 to speed up your backups.

    I also have OWC's LG 10x BD-R burner, which gives absolutely no problems.
  3. juanml82 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    I'm using 10.6.8. If the GTX 570 works right out of the box in Lion and has a comparable performance (or not a lot less) than the far more pricey Quadro, I'd just add the upgrade to Lion to the budget.
    I knew about dual channel with ram, but not about not mixing different capacities. I guess it's just a matter of buying more ram and selling the used sticks.

    The Esata/USB 3.0 is interesting
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I have my original Apple RAM stored in case of some problem, but never used it. Why bother with 1GB sticks unless you have to... that's my take on it. I've seen all sorts of problems discussed with mixing RAM, and it's so cheap that it seems silly.

    The 570 that MacVidCards sells has been modified to work out of the box with Lion 10.7.3, boot screen and all, and it's a lot BETTER than the Quadro, for less money. That's the word round the campfire, anyway.
  5. juanml82 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    Haven't decided anything about this yet. Question, though. As far as I see, there are no power cables inside the Mac Pro, the gpu takes it's power from the pci-e port, right? However, cards like the GTX 570 require additional power from two lines straight from the psu. does it mean puting a gtx570 into a mac pro requires an external power supply?
  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I wouldn't pour money into that machine. Sell it? Then put that money and your intended upgrade budget into one of the new MacBooks? Hear me out... you would get the same CPU performance, a better GPU, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a Retina display...

    Geekbench comparisons:

    Mac Pro (Early 2009)
    Intel Xeon E5520 2.27 GHz (8 cores)
    Score: 11803

    MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina Display
    Intel Core i7-3720QM 2.6 GHz (4 cores)
    Score: 11844
  7. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    The MacBook is way faster in other things like Adobe and iTunes conversions. Anything where clock speed matters it will annihilate that 2.26GHz. In fact I have users who prefer a 2008 quad over that thing.
  8. juanml82 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    For multi threaded tasks, such as video encoding or 3d renders, the raw power two quad core cpus can provide will always save a lot more of time than the computing power a single quad core can provide.

    To get more power out of a computer, you need to feed it with more electricity, which in turn means it will generate more heat, which in turn means you need bigger cooling systems, which in turn means the desktop form factor will remain for power hungry tasks.
  9. dansmac macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2011
    Temecula, California
    IMHO response.....

    Assuming you’re looking for commercial use and not a game toy. I would recommend a processor upgrade. Can be done pretty cheap these days and tons of threads on this forum on how to do just that. Super fast graphics is just not needed for CS6 or Final Cut. The old GT120’s can actually do the job just fine that came with the 2009 Pro. Don’t waste you money on SSD’s unless you are looking for bragging rights on how fast it boots or an application can load. Assuming you’re in CS6 for long periods of time, the biggest bang for the buck is internal memory. 24G minimum for CS6 to run ALL scratch in main memory.

    • One of the Mac's in our studio is an early 2009 and I upgraded the processor to 3.33 GHz six core (required and EFI re-flash to make it look like a 2010… again, tons of threads on how that can be done… it was a piece of cake)
    • 24G of internal memory
    • SSD drives (would not do it again for CS6 …. Maybe Final Cut if the movies are gigantic)

    And that is it. Super fast CS6 and Final Cut performance.

    Geekbench scores are worthless indicator for your particular needs. CS6 and Final Cut both benefit from CPU and main memory more than anything else. For sure you can get an extra kick in GPU performance in Final Cut with a new graphics card. Will do nothing for CS6. You can decide if that is worth the investment. It was not for my needs on this older machine.

    O’ by the by…. My Geekbench score on the 2009 is 15868 for what it is worth….

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