Mac Pro 3,1 upgrade questions.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by crazyeyes, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. crazyeyes macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hi guys I have an early 08 2.8 quad core Mac Pro with 4gb ram and a few standard hdds. My question is should I upgrade the memory in my current machine at the expensive prices of the memory for the 08 Mac pros and also throw a ssd in it, or sell it and look for a newer 2009/2010 Mac Pro that will be cheaper to upgrade memory in?
     
  2. MassMacMan macrumors regular

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    #2
    I'd go for a newer machine. The 2009 and 2010 machines are relatively inexpensive to significantly upgrade, since you can flash the firmware of the 2009 machines to 5.1 and then add a hex core 3.33 and 1.33 gHz memory. Add an SSD and fast GPU, and you're good to go.
     
  3. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    That processor is about $500-$1000 depending where you look to me that's not inexpensive.
     
  4. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #4
    The memory is incredibly expensive, you've got that right. I just did a huge '08 upgrade about a month ago. Keep in mind that since you have a Quad Core, there's actually an empty processor socket on your logic board. A twin Xeon 2.8 goes on Ebay for about 37 dollars, and a heatsink for about 30, so regardless of whether you choose to upgrade or sell, I think that would be a good thing to start with. You can end up getting close to $300 more for an 8 core vs a 4 core, at the cost of around $75 and a little bit of work. I got lucky with my RAM upgrades, a friend of mine had 667 FB-DIMMs lying around. It took a bit of work to get them all up and running properly, but the performance impact is negligible. I would scan Ebay and try to find a good deal, particularly RAM that is listed incorrectly? If you look under "server RAM" those are FB-DIMMs, as opposed to paying "premium" for "Mac RAM." If you don't need the power that the 2009/10 machines bring to the table, I would just go ahead and do upgrades (if you can get lucky with a RAM sale.) But you're absolutely right, FB-DIMMs are absurdly expensive, even used. Just my two cents. Good luck with your upgrade!
     
  5. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #5
    In my opinion, selling and going with a 2009/2010 model makes much more sense. The high costs of the RAM for the 3,1s is the primary reason. Plus, you will be getting faster bus speeds, faster PCI-e slots with a newer model, and far more CPU upgrade options with a newer model.
     
  6. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    I've thought about buying the second processor for my computer. Is it hard to install and get working?
     
  7. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #7
    It's a good amount of work to open everything up and install the processor. However, once I got it installed properly and closed everything back up, it booted up perfectly fine. Just saw two Xeons instead of one. There's a protective heatsink where the empty socket is, the tough part is removing that and installing the new heatsink. There's not much work room, and you need a long, narrow screwdriver with a Torx head.
     
  8. stjames70 macrumors member

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    Jul 5, 2009
    #8
    3,1 upgrades

    We have two of the 3,1s. Considering that most software really does not utilize the extra cores efficiently, I have always wondered why to upgrade the machine itself at all. The 3,1 is really easy to upgrade with a RAID card (we have an ARECA 1882ix), graphic cards (one of them uses a GTX 680 and the other has a GTX Titan), one has 16gb RAM and the other 32gb RAM.

    The only thing that I have ever noticed making those machines go much faster was the addition of SSD drives. One of our machines uses 4 HD platters, the other has 8 1TB SSD's in a RAID 1+0 config plus two one TB SSD's connected to the ODD1 and ODD2 ports which serve as the boot drive and backup to the boot drive. Objectively, the 3,1 with all those SSDs just flies. Both machines have the latest version of OS 10.9, and I could not be happier with both of these machines.

    They have served us well for the five plus years they have been in existence, and for our needs as solid servers for our office, I don't think we will dump these until Apple somehow no longer supports an upgrade path for these puppies. Until then, I am going to abuse these workhorses until the CPUs just get fried (unlikely considering they are XEON class).

    That being said, we will probably buy the new MacPro trash can since it is time for some new capital expenditures.
     
  9. Gav Mack, Nov 14, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #9
    I bought my 3,1 octo 3.2 fully stuffed with 32gb ram for 640 bucks. I would source any parts such as the ram second hand such as from eBay, as long as they have a 14 day return option which will be more than long enough to stress test the memory out properly. Also get a used second 2.8 cpu assembly complete by the same method, there are plenty out there knocking about.

    SSD is an absolute must, a Velocity Solo X2 PCIe for SATA-3 though I haven't quite cracked the bootcamp booting problem with mine off it just yet.
     
  10. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Wow that was a great deal on your Mac Pro.


    So as far as the velocity solo x2 goes is it as fast and reliable as the owc mercury accelsior? Also how hard is it to set up the solo x2 with two drives in raid 0? I am now thinking about just throwing an ssd in mine and the second processor and then upgrading the ram. I think just the pcie ssd will speed up my photography work quite a bit!
     
  11. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #11
    There is a thread here somewhere where test results were posted comparing RAID-0 performance with a single Solo x2 (using the second SATA port) vs. using a pair of Solo x2 cards. The difference was pretty dramatic as I recall due to having a single controller managing 2 SATA ports when a single x2 card was used.

    I believe they also tested the Mercury Accelsior card in that same thread, although it was the original version. The new one may be faster, and has a pair of eSATA ports as well.

    I use a Sonnet Tempo Pro dual SSD card with a pair of Samsung 840Pro 512GB SSDs in RAID-0 for my photo library and it works great for me and is faster than the Mercury Accelsior card.

    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempossdpro.html


    -howard
     
  12. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    The sonnet card looks nice but is there a specific reason it is 3x the cost of the solo x2
     
  13. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    Austin, Texas
    #13
    My Sonnet will happily boot Windows! I know that much.
     
  14. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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  15. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I could have sworn you just asked about the differences in the card. I don't really know or care about your desires.
     
  16. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #16
    To be fair, you should compare the cost against 2 ea. Solo x2 cards, but it is still more costly, although it only takes up one card slot.


    I (and some others here) was never able to boot Windows from the Sonnet card, and Sonnet Support confirmed there was an issue. They promised a firmware update, but I haven't seen it yet.
    How did you do it?

    I originally bought the Sonnet Pro card with the idea of having both OS X and Windows SSDs mounted on it. But that didn't work for me, nor did just having a single SSD with Windows mounted ... no boot.

    I even tried my "ultimate" configuration: a 512GB SSD partitioned as two drives and a 256GB SSD where I used both disks as a 512GB RAID-0 for OS X and the remaining 256GB partition on the larger disk for Windows. I actually created this pairing which ran fine when mounted in the standard Mac Pro drive bays ... but I couldn't get it to work with either the Sonnet Pro card or a pair of Solo x2 cards in the PCIe slots. It wouldn't boot Windows even though the RAID-0 worked fine while PCIe mounted.

    -howard
     
  17. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Why would I need two solo x2 cards? I thought you can run two drives off of one card?
     
  18. hfg, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013

    hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #18
    Yes, you can run 2 drives from one card using the aux. SATA connector if you can find power for the drive somewhere (too bad they didn't add a power connector as well). The problem is running 2 drives at the same time from one card, as you would be doing with RAID-0.

    As I mentioned in my response post above (#11):

    There is a thread here somewhere where test results were posted comparing RAID-0 performance with a single Solo x2 (using the second SATA port) vs. using a pair of Solo x2 cards. The difference was pretty dramatic as I recall due to having a single controller managing 2 SATA ports when a single x2 card was used.


    edit:
    I will try to find that thread as this interests me again as to whether the issue was due to the SATA controller with 2 drives, or due to PCIe bus bandwidth when using 2 cards when running a 2 SSD RAID-0. There was a definite speed advantage to running 2 Solo x2 cards.

    edit2:
    Check out this thread, note post #43, 65 & 66:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1418445&page=3
     
  19. crazyeyes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Why would I need two solo x2 cards? I thought you can run two drives off of one card?
     
  20. hfg, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013

    hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #20
    This still isn't the test I was looking for, but check out the attachment:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=15503642&postcount=43

    You run 2 cards for speed ... double that of single SSD when in RAID-0 as expected.
    1 card with 2 drives in RAID-0 gives only 50% better performance than 1 SSD.

    1-x2 1-SSD -- -- approx 460 MB/s
    1-x2 2-SSD -- -- approx 600 MB/s RAID-0
    2-x2 2-SSD -- -- approx 950 MB/s RAID-0
     
  21. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #21
    Don't put in any more money into that machine unless it is for something that could carry over into something newer (i.e. a hard drive, or maybe a video card). I'd sell that sucker and use the proceeds towards an Early 2009 Mac Pro (as that will give you the best bang for your buck in terms of used Mac Pros). Deck that machine out as you see fit, and let it run you until the second rev of Cylinder Mac Pros, then sell your 2009 Mac Pro and use that money towards said second rev of Cylinder Mac Pros and have that be the machine that truly gets you through the next long haul.
     
  22. Phildo macrumors member

    Phildo

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    #22
    Get the newer 2009 or 2010 Mac Pro. This will also mean cheaper DDR3 RAM, instead of the DDR2 that the 2008 uses.

    Then upgrade the processor when you're ready to.
     
  23. BinaryTim macrumors member

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    Dakotas
    #23
    Yes

    Definitely go for the newer machine for the cheaper RAM, you'll be better off all the way around. All PCIe 2.0 slots, faster BUS and memory, more FireWire 800 ports, better compatibility with more graphics cards, etc.
     

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