Mac Pro 4.1 CPU upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by BrioBriss, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. BrioBriss macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2013
    I'm actually looking for faster render times in Maya 2013. As I get told the render time is due to the performance of the CPU, I'd like to upgrade since my render times are kinda slow actually.

    So, considering I have the original CPU that came with the Mac Pro 4.1 (2 Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2,26GHz), what's the options that I have? Also, I'm working 80% of the time in BootCamp Windows 7, don't know if it can change things?

    And last question, if I upgrade my CPU, would I have to change anything else? I mean, would I have to change something else to use the CPU at their full performance?

  2. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    Maybe this link in the Forums.....

    can be helpful:

    Not being a big fan of CPU upgrades, dont have too much experience first-hand. But had heard some CPU upgrades requires a change of fans, heat sinks and things like that. I suggest you to make a throughfull investigation of all the issues, before doing this kind of upgrade.

  3. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    The single CPU upgrade is super easy... I did it and love it. Flash EFI from 4,1 to 5,1 and drop in a hex 3.33. Done.

    Word is the dual CPU 4,1's take a little more effort and the upgrade is a tad fiddly, due to no IHS on the stock CPUs and no CPU retaining clamp. Also, you need to use the proper (more expensive) CPUs.

    The only hardware issue is RAM speed, but its not really an issue.

    Lots about all of this here at MacRumors... search.
  4. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Good news is your 4,1 with 2 @ 2.26 is 100% capable of being FASTER than anything you can buy at Apple store.

    Mine just became a 2 @ 3.33 12 Core.

    Bad news is that it is FIDDLY as stated here already.

    $1500 and you can have a faster Mac Pro than Apple will sell you for $5,000. Or you'll screw up the upgrade and have a GREAT doorstop/boat anchor.
  5. curbsyde macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2013
    Is there somewhere I can read more about this particular upgrade? I have a 4.1 with 2 @ 2.26 and am looking at either upgrading it or biting the bullet on a new system soon.

  6. PowerPCMacMan macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    PowerPC land
    Upgrading dual processors 4,1 Mac Pro

    This is not as simple as others say it is. The 4,1 Mac Pro's processor board uses lidless processors, those without the IHS(Integrated Heat Spreaders). If you try to use regular IHS processors you run the risk of the pins bending under the force of the heatsinks..

    The only way I can think of doing this is taking the 4,1 to 5,1 firmware and applying it. Then get a 5,1 processor board(they use the same case, so its plug and play). Your 4,1 processor heatsinks won't work with the 5,1 processor board, so you will need the correct 5,1 processor heatsinks.. last but not least, the processors.

    Verdict to all this: Single is easier to upgrade.. DUAL will cost you as much as a 5,1 mac pro itself!

  7. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Here and

    Lots of people have done it, a few have messed it up.

    You stand to get a great deal on an upgrade, or end up spending $$$ on burned up parts.

    I literally have taken my 2 @ 2.26 to being FASTER than anything Apple sells today, for a lot less money then they charge for something slower.

    I do not believe that you can use a 2010 CPU tray in a 2009
  8. sarthak macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2012
    I'm also looking at upgrading to a Hex 3.33. Using MP (see sig), so for the 4,1 single Quad Chip you don't need a lidless processor or any washers? Just to confirm that it's as simple as plug-n-play (after 5,1 flash).

    I was quite hesitant on doing the upgrade because I thought the 4,1 single uses lidless chips and you have to use washers to compensate (misinformed). I could just pick up a W3680 and drop it in?
  9. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    Correct, you don't need any washers or any weird processor. I did this to my 4,1 2009 Mac Pro, and it was easier than I imagined.

    It's definitely as simple as:
    1) Run the 4,1 -> 5,1 update app, and shut down Mac
    2) pull out CPU tray
    3) unscrew heatsink
    4) lift heatsink
    5) clean old thermal paste
    6) flip spring holding CPU down
    7) lift out old CPU
    8) drop in new CPU
    9) re-latch spring on CPU
    10) apply fresh thermal paste
    11) replace heat sink
    12) tighten screws on heat sink
    13) insert CPU tray back into Mac
    14) power on Mac with PRAM reset boot

    If you happen to have 1333MHz RAM installed, you'll notice it now runs at 1333 instead of 1066MHz, provided you got a 1333MHz RAM supported CPU such as the W3680 or W3690. My original CPU was the W3580 3.33MHz quad core, and when I ran the 5,1 firmware updater app and rebooted with PRAM reset, it suddenly ran at 1333, since that particular CPU supported 1333, and all that was holding it back was the 4,1 firmware.
  10. deppest macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Agreed, the dual CPU MP 4,1 upgrade is a bit fiddly but was perfectly doable for me, even with my limited hardware skills. I've posted my experience with some pictures and a description of the upgrade process (
  11. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    I just bought the 2009 8 core in order to do this. I'm probably going to use someone to do it,

    Even if you want to do it yourself, his series of reference articles are useful
  12. tarafran macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2008
    Key West
    I bought a loaded tray on Ebay with 2 X 3.46 12 core and 64 GB of ram
    My 2009 4.1 is now 5.1 running cooler ,and clocking at 39000 on Geekbench
    That 's around the new 2013 "garbage can " bench
  13. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    Mind me asking how much that tray set you back?
  14. bxs macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Yes... I also would be interested in the price you paid for this.... thanks. :)
  15. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Same here!
  16. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    I've been putting a lot of time into looking into this. I would start by looking at this as a great resource

    He offers to do the upgrade as a service, and provides detailed, step by step guidance if you are going to do it yourself here.

    I've noticed the finished trays on eBay myself, from a seller called "goofier", in Kingston NY. I also noticed him selling off a damaged board, a reminder that this carries a risk of failure.

    Here's the top of the line, most expensive upgrade, and will tell you what he paid for his tray

    Check his inventory for cheaper options for dual and single cpu MP

    Important note about the CPU lids, de-lidding, etc.
  17. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    3499, if the identical kit on Ebay at the moment is anything to go by.
  18. tarafran macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2008
    Key West
    $3499 and i get to keep my original tray or sell it
    The Upgrade took 5 minute
    I'm running PCIe Audio cards and not ready to go back to external chassis or thunderbolt enclosure
    That should give me a good 3 /4 years of Mac pro life
  19. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2010
    Berlin formerly London
    You guys in the US don't know how fortunate you are with these prices.

    That loaded tray at that price would be only approx £2,186 here !! ( no chance )

    I looked at a 12 core 3,46ghz used refurb and that would have been £3,900 !

    OR over $6000 !!

  20. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    I know the vendors that are offering these machines, and how they are making them, and I don't see why you couldn't do the same yourself. Get the cheapest 2009/10 base dual core, and start upgrading it. I saw one on ebay germany and one on ebay uk this week, both went for about 1100 pounds I think.

    Because I'm an American living in London, I'm going to bring my 2009 dual core over, I got it a bit cheaper than this.

    The issue is what 6 cores you use, the faster the pricier. But, these are all second hand server chips, and the prices are going to fall with time, so those 3.47s are going to come down in a half year/year I would think. I think 2.93 is the sweet spot now, you would geek bench in the mid to high 20Ks for about 7-800 pounds. Add a 4k quality video card for 3-500, and there is your machine
  21. bxs macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I have the 2009 MacPro4,1 8-core 2.26 GHz also. Here's my upgrade plan...

    1) I also have a 2009 MacPro4,1 4-core 2.66GHz and have just sold it for $850.
    2) I will now put that $850 into upgrading my MP4,1 8-core 2.26 GHz.
    3) I will be buying two Intel X5670 (6-core at 2.93 GHz) processors from Amazon... approx cost $800 for both.
    4) I will upgrade the Firmware on my MP4,1 8-core from 4,1 to 5,1 via the Mac Pro 2009-2010 Firmware Tool.
    5) Will then remove the MP4,1 (now 5,1) processor tray and install the new Intel X5670 processors
    6) Reinstall processor tray
    7) Boot the upgrade MP5,1 to have 12-cores running at 2.93 GHz

    I expect to see around a 1.77x speed increase.
  22. tarafran macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2008
    Key West
    I just upgraded the video card to a PNY GTx650 with Nvidia
    It's the Pc card booted right away
  23. MattsanaX macrumors newbie


    Mar 27, 2012
    Gothenburg, Sweden
  24. flowrider macrumors 601


    Nov 23, 2012
    ^ ^ ^ ^I believe you mean 2.93 Hex, not quad. 6 cores vs. 4.

  25. TruckdriverSean macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2009
    Texas, US
    I have NOT performed this processor upgrade, only read about it here and elsewhere...

    ...but it sure seems to me that this video skips a lot of steps!

    Testing with CPU -A, adding thermal pads to the voltage regs, attaching the sensor from the heat sink etc.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding something.

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