Mac Pro 5,1 - Complete Noob

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Baryla, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. Baryla macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2015
    Hey guys, I am planning on purchasing a Mac Pro (NOT the new black cylinder version). I have been looking at a 5,1 version with an 8-core X5550 @ 2.66Ghz with 16GB Ram etc. and I have a few questions.

    I was wondering how customisable they are? Will I be able to put any RAM, GPU, SSD and/or possible a new CPU in the future if I decide to upgrade?

    Is Apple still supporting the 5,1 version with software updates? (I saw that all Pros before 2008 will NOT be able to run Yosemite). Any guesses on how long they will support the old Pros?

    Will I be able to run both Yosemite and Windows 10 (when it officially launches. No hate, I will only run it for games :D)

    Will I need certain adapters, cables etc for the upgrades?

    Is there something that I should know that could potentially put me off from buying one?

    I'm a Web Designer so I'll be running 2 (possibly 3) screens at the same time with software like Illustrator, Photoshop etc.

    Thanks guys. If this has been asked before, please point me to the write thread. I'm new here :) If not, I would be grateful if you could answer my questions.
  2. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    You can upgrade any of the major components in the old Mac Pro, with the caveats that you're limited to certain socketed processors, and you're never going to get faster I/O, SATA speeds, or RAM frequencies. Thunderbolt isn't available, and things like speedy SSDs or PCIe flash or USB 3 or faster wireless or bluetooth require add-on cards or alternative solutions. Whether any of that matters to you is of course a matter of needs and taste.

    Right now the 4,1 and newer Pros are still supported, and the 5,1s probably have at least two more years of support. I'd say there's no chance 10.11 will be unsupported on these Macs.

    As for Windows, I'd expect Apple won't really be worried about the old Pros running 10, but I doubt there will be any issues with it either.
  3. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012
    The 5,1 was current as of "mid-2012" with a refreshed release, so it would likely be supported at least until the next OS release to keep the 3-year warranty cycle fully supported. After that, it's Apple's call - would hope they continue to support these machines with OS updates for at least 5-7 years after purchase (2017-2019), but really depends on how the feature updates/upgrades progress until then.

    The machine is stock with USB 2.0. Can be upgraded to USB 3.0 with a card, but that's an added cost and takes up one PCIe slot.

    RAM on a single processor tops at 32GB "officially" (4x8GB or 2x16GB), but will support 48GB unofficially (3x16GB sticks) on 6-core (single-CPU) machines.

    There are CPU upgrades available after-market, but nothing officially available from Apple. There are sellers (eBay, Amazon, etc.) who offer dual-CPU upgrade boards that can just be swapped out, or you can do it yourself. If sticking with single-CPU, there's a 3.46GHz (or close to that) available.

    As for GPU, there are a lot of options - some with EFI and some without. This is well documented on the forum and information on the "sticky" at the top as well. The newest "official" releases are the NVIDIA GTX 680 for Mac and
    Sapphire HD 7950 Mac Edition. There are modded cards that offer other options, as well as options that utilize external PSU's for even beefier performance. For the work you're doing, some of them may be overkill.

    SSDs are available as direct SATA drives (with a sled or adapter) or can be added as PCIe drives. Benefits to both, but there are lots of options and considerations.

    You'll never have Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2. Some of the "handoff" style OSX features are not officially supported either.
  4. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    The specs you mentioned above, 8 core x5550 2.66ghz is for a 2009 4,1 cMac Pro model. Though you can find some nice 5,1 cMac Pros at good prices. They are very customisable. You can put PCIe SSD blades, USB 3.0 card or install up to 6 internal Hard drives
  5. Jardins de Vin macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

    Nov 6, 2012
    OP was probably looking at a 4,1 flashed to 5,1 I think? This is something you should also consider, OP. Some people sell their 4,1 as a 5,1 (sometimes called "2009 5,1" but these are harder to customise from what I understood.
  6. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    If the machine you are considering is actually a 2009 eight core (dual-cpu), upgrading CPU poses some additional concerns. You will either need to use a de-lidded CPU or be very careful in tightening the heatsinks down.

    Single-CPU 2009s are simple to upgrade, just like 5,1 single and dual CPU mac pros.

    All 4,1 and 5,1 mac pros are fantastic machines to upgrade.
  7. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I have 8 internal hard drives in my 5.1 2009 Mac Pro utilizing the optical bay with a SSD(W7) piggy backed on a HHD. I have 2 SSDs on a Sonnet Tempo PCIe card and I still have 2 empty PCIe slots for a USB 3.0 card and or up to 4 more hard drives. Two drives per PCIe slot.
  8. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012
    If you don't mind tying up all of your PCIe slots, you could install at least six SSDs in there via PCIe adapters (like Apricorn Duo x2). Your regular hard drive sleds could be adapted for an additional four SSDs. Then could tap into the optical bay for a few more, or utilize a PCIe expansion chassis...

    What does this all mean? You have many SSD upgrade options.
  9. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    I'm super happy with my 2012 5,1. It was running both Mac and Windows but now it is back to Mac only.

    Current configuration is a W3690 hex, 24GB OWC RAM, Blu-ray burner, Apricorn Vel Duo x2 PCIe card with Yosemite on a 960GB M500 SSD, three WD RE 4TB HDDs for data, one WE RE2 2TB HDD for data and one WD RE2 2TB HDD as internal Time Machine to back up the external Time Capsule.

    There are many possible options. I can add another M500 SSD and RAID OS X, or add another Windows installation. I could also use a second SSD as a fast Photoshop drive. 48GB RAM is also possible.

    Additionally if I did not need the OD any more I could install another HDD. Also the just-OK HD 5770 GPU could be replaced by a much better one. I still have slots available for USB3, eSATA or USB2 cards.

    The Mac Pro towers are just too good to be true. Too bad the technology is aging and Apple has no interest in that kind of computer anymore.

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