Mac Pro 4,1 flashed to 5,1 upgrade recommendations

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by shadowcomposer, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. shadowcomposer macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2018
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hey --

    So I've read through the lengthy 4,1 to 5,1 wiki sticky and I'll admit I'm having trouble sifting through the info and finding what's relevant to me.

    Basically I want to try and do one final "upgrade" to squeeze the last breath of life out of my late 2009 mac pro. I've already successfully upgraded the CPU and flashed to 5,1, and have been running OS10.10.5 for years now (it seems) and from everything I read it seems like it's possible to move up to High Sierra, but with some slight modifications to my system (namely, the system drive).

    Background: I'm a composer and I will be using my machine to run Logic Pro X. It appears as though be current with High Sierra has advantages now with the latest version of Logic, hence my interest in upgrading.

    So, here are my basic questions:

    -Can anyone recommend an SSD that would be compatible with my machine for use as a bootable system drive? Is a SATA SSD sufficient (such as a Crucial MX500), or would I benefit from a PCIe? And which to get? I would prefer a situation the requires the least amount of firmware updating and terminal tinkering, though I do acknowledge a certain amount is probably necessary.

    -Should I anticipate any other problems with OS10.13.4 in regards to any of my other hardware (i.e. memory, graphics card)?

    Many MANY thanks in advance for your generous thoughts...

    System specs:

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro5,1
    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 3.46 GHz
    Number of Processors: 2
    Total Number of Cores: 8
    L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB
    L3 Cache (per Processor): 12 MB
    Memory: 20 GB (DDR3 ECC 1066 MHz)
    Processor Interconnect Speed: 6.4 GT/s
    Boot ROM Version: MP51.007F.B03
    SMC Version (system): 1.39f5
    MC Version (processor tray): 1.39f5

    Card Type: AirPort Extreme (0x14E4, 0x8E)
    Firmware Version: Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (

    ATI Radeon HD 4870:
    Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 4870
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    Slot: Slot-1
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 1024 MB
    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x9440
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    ROM Revision: 113-B7710C-176
    EFI Driver Version: 01.00.318
  2. bookemdano, Jun 3, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018

    bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Maybe others can chime in, but this will be easier than you think. You've already done the hard part, which was flash your 4,1 up to 5,1 firmware. The 5,1 is natively capable of running High Sierra. You could just upgrade to it on your current disk, or you could do a time machine backup of your current drive and then restore it to an SSD (or use some other method to clone the HDD to SSD) and then upgrade to High Sierra. Or you could install an SSD and do a new install of High Sierra to it and migrate your files via migration assistant or manually.

    As for an SSD, for simplicity's sake, I suggest you just buy a SATA III SSD. I like the Samsung EVO line, so something like this:

    If you have more money to spend, go ahead and go up to a higher capacity. 1TB drives are getting pretty reasonable now, although 500GB is still the sweet spot IMHO. It partly depends on how large your current HDD is and how full it is. If it's 2TB but only 200GB used then you could get away with replacing it with a 500GB SSD for now. You have four bays so you could leave your HDD installed and just add the SSD so you could utilize both drives for storage.

    PCIe SSDs are definitely faster, but right now they involve a bunch of compromises and/or hacks. Considering you're coming from a spinning HDD, you will notice an immense speed difference even with a SATA SSD. And SATA is easy because you don't have to hack anything or worry when an upgrade comes out.

    Smart folks are hard at work on getting PCIe SSDs to boot on these old cheese graters. But they are in the very early stages and I wouldn't recommend attempting it to anyone at this point, much less someone like you who needs their machine for daily work.
  3. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040


    Mar 6, 2013
    Charlotte, NC
    PCIe SSDs already boot out of the box as long as it’s AHCI and not NVMe. I have one and it runs at max speeds without problem 1510 MB/s.

    Since NVMe is easier to find affordably, NVMe bootup is what people are working on.

    Also, NVMe is supported and usable under High Sierra already. Just not bootable at the moment.
  4. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    The MX500 is just fine. I am using the 2TB version right now for boot / apps/ scratch disk.
    SSD + 8TB.png
    MX500 2TB.png

    However, I recommend go 1TB or above, some performance review shows that the 1TB (and above) providing very good performance even compared to the more expensive Samsung SSD. On the other hand, the 500GB is slower in almost all aspect.

    I am also running the latest 10.13.5. I am quite happy with it. Since 10.13.4, High Sierra is definitely a stable enough OS for daily use. But I highly recommend stay with HFS+, and SSD is a must for HS. It's really designed to use with SSD. If you run HS with HDD, it will be painfully slow.

    I am not aLogic Pro X user, so leave those experienced member to tell you if it's a good idea to upgrade to the least version of Logic.

    Unless your workflow constantly demanding more than 500MB/s read / write from the storage. I don't think you can benefit a lot from the PCIe SSD. It will still faster, but may be not to a noticeable level, and may not worth for that extra cost.

    Regardless you go for NVMe, AHCI, SATA SSD. You should still run at least one simple terminal command to activate TRIM. But that's it, no extra work need to be done in High Sierra unless you want to boot from NVMe. However, IMO, NVMe should be use for working, but not booting. You may able to benefit from a NVMe SSD as project drive, but I rarely see any prove that booting from NVMe can provide significant benefit over SATA SSD. The exceptional case may be when you are running out of RAM. When the system they to use SWAP, then fall back to NVMe is definitely much better than SATA SSD. However, in this case, you should upgrade the RAM, but not SSD.

    Your 4870 is a flashed card, but should work with HS without any issue. Memory is very universal to OS, basically either boot or no boot (more on the hardware side), shouldn't give you any trouble on OS upgrade.
  5. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    You didn't mention memory - enough? My understanding of Logic is more tracks mean more memory.
    - Does a newer version of Logic support more tracks, or other memory-consuming features?

    Also, do you notice a lag in waveform rendering? If so, perhaps a faster graphics card.
  6. shadowcomposer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2018
    Los Angeles, CA
    wow thanks everyone -- very encouraging.

    Re: memory -- most of my memory intensive stuff is dealt with on another computer and piped in via audio. I was considering switching over all of my 3 non-system rotary drives used for samples (data intensive audio instruments, essentially) to one of those 4x SSD PCIe carrier boards from Amfeltec... am I right in assuming the read throughput through a single x16 pcie slot is greater than that of four separate SATA II 7200rpm drives? Might be overkill if HS isn't going to reduce the performance of my non system drives, since they are totally sufficient for my needs at the moment.
  7. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Yes, even you just install one modern PCIe SSD on that amfeltec card without any RAID, it will still at least 2x faster than you RAID all four HDD in the native SATA II port in RAID 0.
  8. ojdude macrumors newbie

    Jun 4, 2018
    You are also correct regarding the person claiming Mac Pro pci booster sockets provide 150 watts each as false. They are indeed as you say rated at 120 watt max before the shutdown point. Each 75 watt mini 6 pin DOES have #3 12V rails. And that equals 120 watts max. The SATA ports in the HDD bay areas carry a max of 60 watts EACH. This is why the dual SATA to 6 pin adapters (boosters) work just fine for any card with a 6 pin socket. However with cards with 8 pin sockets these are not enough. 8 pin pcie have 4 12V rails and the power is in fact 180 watts max. Many think they are only 150 watt max. This is not true. If they were ONLY 150 watts each many factory premium overclock cards would shutdown a Mac Pro under Furmark as these will run to 400 watts +. Because the 8 pins are in reality 180 watts each this gives the card 435 watts incl PCIE slot. If they were "only" 150 watts each you would only have 375 watts and I can assure you with this card: GV-N98TG1 GAMING-6GD under Furmark will return a power draw of 400 watts. And that is without any further user overclocking!!
  9. zozomester macrumors regular


    Apr 26, 2017
    My new fast Fusion drive: Amfeltec squid with 4x Toshiba XG5 + Curcial 1TB sata SSD.
    Benefits: You do not need to clone the drive and the speed remains

    Attached Files:

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