Mac Pro - Project Build

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by At_Op45, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. At_Op45 macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    Hi there. I am interested in upgrading an early 2009 Mac Pro. Below are my intended modifications and parts list. I was hoping to receive feedback and other insights on the project before I start it.

    On the Mac OS, I primarily intend on using Microsoft Office and general streaming like Netflix. On boot camp windows, I hope to play Steam games at 60 and above fps.

    I already own the graphics card and secondary HDD that are listed below in addition to the peripherals that are not listed.

    Using firmware updates, I hope to upgrade the os from Snow Leopard to High Sierra and eventually Mojave.

    Intended Base Machine:

    · Apple Mac Pro "Eight Core" 2.66 (2009/Nehalem)


    · 3 mm Cushion Grip Hex T-Key

    · Thermal Paste

    · Double-sided Thermal Adhesive Tape

    · ArctiClean 60ml Kit – Remover and Purifier

    · Lint Free Micro-Fiber Cloth


    · Intel Xeon X5690 3.46GHz Six Core Processor


    · 1TB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal SSD

    o To be used as Boot Drive

    o Needs caddy adapter

    · 5TB Hard Drive 7200 RPM 128MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5 Inch

    o General Storage

    o To be paired with equivalent specs HDD

    Memory (Ram):

    · 32 or 64GB DDR3-1333 ECC


    · AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0


    · 4 Ports PCI-E to USB 3.0

    · USB 3.1, Two-Port USB-C 10Gb PCIe Card*


    · Hard Drive Caddy Sled (Model A1289) *

    · SSD HHD Drive Sled Adapter 2.5 to 3.5 SSD Converter Caddy

    · Dual mini 6Pin to 8Pin Cable

    · Sata to 6pin Cable

    · AC Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Upgrade Kit


    · 64-bit Windows 10 Home

    · Microsoft Office 2016 (Mac)
  2. fhturner macrumors 6502


    Nov 7, 2007
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    Exciting project to look forward to, and kudos for being so organized w/ it! Here are a few thoughts I have right off the bat:

    • You may already know this, but you'll need a pair of the X5690 processors you list, since your 8-core system is comprised of two quad-core CPUs.
    • Given that yours is a dual-CPU 2009 system, you will need to either de-lid the X5690s or add some spacing to the heatsinks with washers to keep from putting too much or uneven pressure on the CPU in the socket. I prefer delidding using a vise, but others prefer the washer method or other delidding methods.
    • Instead of a 1TB SATA SSD, which will be limited to 3Gbps (~300MB/s) SATA-II speeds, you might consider a PCIe-mounted NVMe SSD such as a Samsung EVO 970, which is now well under $300 for 1TB. You'll see performance there of up to 1500MB/s, and with firmware (macOS 10.14.1, beta at the moment), it's bootable.
    Good luck w/ everything!
  3. mattspace, Oct 21, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018

    mattspace macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2013
    your mac has triple channel memory, so look at capacities that match 3 or 6 sticks. On a dual processor system, the most ideal option is to get 6 modules, so you could go with 48 or 96gb using 8gb or 16gb respectively.

    I looked at prices recently, and wow - when i did a memory upgrade in 2014, 16gb modules were US$179 each, now they're US$79 US$69.
  4. rippiedoos macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2013
    I just bought 3x 16G DDR3-1600 RDIMM used for €47 shipped. That's about $55.
  5. At_Op45, Oct 22, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018

    At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    Thank you for the recommendations and insights! I was originally thinking about using a PCIe SSD but was also concerned about slot management and spacing. I will certainly reconsider it though! In regards to the techniques you mentioned for raising the CPUs, may you please further elaborate?
    --- Post Merged, Oct 22, 2018 ---
    That's really good to know! Could you recommend any specific sites that offer the modules at that price? I can't seem to find any. Thank you!
  6. mattspace macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2013
  7. At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    Thanks for the share!
    --- Post Merged, Oct 22, 2018 ---
    Could you link the firmware updates needed to use the PCIe? Thanks again
  8. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    I primarily intend on using Microsoft Office and general streaming like Netflix. On boot camp windows, I hope to play Steam games at 60 and above fps.

    to use office and Netflix on osx or windows you will be fine (even with no upgrades you just need a newer OS for that) HDR or 4K? may not work as you need a 7th gen or newer i think ?

    Netflix is available in Ultra HD on Windows computers. To stream in Ultra HD, you will need:

    • A Windows 10 computer with the latest Windows updates installed.

    • The Microsoft Edge browser or the Windows 10 app .

    • A 60Hz 4K capable display (with HDCP 2.2 connection if external display).

      Every monitor connected to your computer must meet these requirements to successfully stream in Ultra HD.
    • Intel's 7th generation Core CPU or newer, or a NVIDIA GPU that meets these requirements.

    • A plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. You can check which plan you're currently on at

    • A steady internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or higher.

    • Streaming quality set to Auto or High. More information about video quality settings can be found in our Playback Settings article.
    for games, well you get what a RX 580 will give you as no resolution is mentioned i gess you are using 1080p?
    i can play witcher 3 well at 1080p with all normal settings max (all nvidia hair works are disabled) not shore which AA i had on but works fine.

    iv got two SSD's in the DVD bay just hanging lose works well.

    do want to point out that for Netflix, microsoft word and windows games you do not need 64GB of ram even 24GB may be much more than you need. it's cheep so have fun get what you want you just dont need lots and lots and lots of ram.
    using triple channel over 4 channel will make little to no difference in well the apps listed, back in the day when people cared i think you got a 3-6% speed boost from it in memory dependent applications, pro apps!

    and Netflix & word wont care about drive speed, if you are going to do anything with PCI drives the only gains for what you have listed are having a dedicated game drive on a pci card which may give faster loading times in some games but no FPS boost over a SSD on a SATA 2 bus. if you do use a PCI mounted drive skip SSD and use something much faster or there's no real point, the costs have relay drooped so it's not like a few years ago.

    install windows from a DVD if possible in legacy mode, if not usb is ok.

    good CPU, there is no faster for the old cmp

    for me id be tempted to get two 500GB SSD's, one for windows one for osx.
    iv never liked having them share a drive and in the past has only ever given pain to me.

    have realistic expectations and you will have a good computer to use.

    and while i always do try to point out that you dont need to have X ram etc etc dont let me stop you if you want to max everything out.
  9. At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    I hope to achieve 1080p quality and I don't plan on 4K streaming.

    Can you please elaborate on your two SSDs in the drive bay?

    I will most likely end up using 32GB of RAM.

    Would you recommend using a Lycom M.2 PCIe and Samsung 970 500GB EVO over a 1TB SATA 3 SSD in a sled?

    Can you link a tutorial to install Windows 10 via legacy mode from a DVD?

    Can you explain why you chose two SSDs for windows and osx respectively? And where would they be installed?

    Thank you for your insights and recommendations!
  10. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    well in the DVD bay of the 4.1 & 5.1 cmp there are two SATA plugs for two DVD drives but you can just plug them in to a SSD or any SATA drive, so i just have two lose SSD's in the DVD section.
    if you want to get fancy you can tape them down or use a zip tie or something (or even get a fancy mount tray) but as i tend not to movie my cmp much there ok lose, been like that for a year or two now with no problems.

    32GB is fine, it's what i have and i do light video editing + it's cheep now was only £45 when i got mine years back on ebay. most normal people only have 8-16GB ram and for word/netflix & games have no real problems.
    iv only seen my ram relay used when im editing video or when i used to play in AE (and to be fair in AE i had to little ram for what i tried to do).
    if your on a budget you dont need to worry about maxing it out is all
    if you use google chrome it will use lots of ram !! like lots, i use fire fox :p

    iv not used a PCI mounted drive, do a search or look there's lots of good threads on the topic.
    from my view point if your going to go PCI for drives and you dont already have the drives and the cost is close then why use a slower drive?
    (if you do already have the drives use what you have or if it's a lot cheaper go SSD)
    im not shore what the currant prices are but last i looked there was not a huge difference between them but there was a massive speed boost if thats what you relay want.
    now iv been thinking about buying some new bigger SSD's to replace my old 250GB SSD boot drives & if i feel crazy i may stick the old ones on a PCI card as iv filled all my drive bays and use them as a scratch drive for video apps.
    to me thats the kind of scenario that now works for SATA pci cards
    if i was to buy new drives id look at something faster if speed is what i want.
    but as i mentioned iv not used PCI drives and i dont relay need them for what i do my CPU is the slowest part to the point that drive speed dose not matter in my work flows, im even now seeing my GPU for video editing seems to be waiting on the CPU to do work which is sad.

    win 10 install, there's been some posts on it.
    id gess it's the same as installing win 7 (when i last did it, this is not using bootcamp)
    simply get win 10, put it on a dvd, put dvd in dvd drive, install win 10

    it's almost the same as with usb, for usb install replace DVD with USB drive and dvd drive with usb hole

    i use one SSD for osx & one SSD for win 7, been doing it for years now and for me keeps life simple.
    i can wipe a drive and re install without any problems, if one OS or drive fails it wont take both drives if i have problems like getting stuck booting in to windows then i can pull the drive and boot back in to osx, re set default drive and re install win drive next time i shut down.

    osx 10.13 & osx 10.14 wont let you share the drive with windows by default thanks to the APFS file system so you will have to stay on older versions of osx ;) gess thats the big one

    this is the best first place to look

    and do if you want go with any setup i try to say why i like what i like.
    and i dont do things how some people like so we are all different.

    i do things like keep my OSX install drive with only apps and required library's and keep all my files on different drives.
    so if i ever need to i can just wipe or replace my OS drive re install then reinstall my needed apps without having to worry about losing any data, as all my data is isolated from the OS on my data drive.
    im thinking about getting bigger than 250GB OS drive now as iv ended up with sound library's on the OS drive over 80Gb etc so thinking about moving up :D
  11. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    Welcome to the party! Exiting project, you most likely will be very happy with your final setup.

    To your question PCIe or SATA, here is my experience:

    Currently, I have two SATA SSD's in two blue OWC drive sleds. On top of that, I have two faster PCIe SSD's.
    The argument for the slower SATA SSD is the good compatibility with boot camp. In my experience, a boot camp setup (in my case Win7) works great and flawless when you use SATA. Apple seems to have kind of canceled its boot camp support on Newer OSX systems such as Mojave. Even on High Sierra, there are some issues, so my main system is on ElCapitan at the moment. The second SATA SSD is for Windows 7 which works great. Both SATA's are Samsung drives which work flawlessly with TRIM enabled. I call this in my world "the old OSX paradigm" because of the old file system. (pre AFS config). This side will be permanently frozen in its current state because I could not find a better and more stable system configuration. I love the integrated BlueRay Writer functionality as well.

    The PCIe SSD's represent the new High Sierra and Mojave OSX testbed based on Apple's new file system AFS. I run High Sierra on the HyperXPredator 960 and I use the Samsung 951 strictly for very fast applications, Drone pictures, and movies in 4K from the Mavic Air, VR & Steam stuff as well as experimental projects with Final Cut and Resolve.
    I just caught one of the last NON-CLOUD Lightroom 6 licenses as well.

    For you, this means SATA SSD is better if you use Bootcamp and OSX systems older or equal then ElCapitan.
    If you plan on having a pure Apple System with the newest OSX based on the file system standard, I do recommend
    a PCIe SSD solution. Since the new NVM SSDs work in Mojave, you don't need to search for those rare AHCI SSD blades anymore. In this case, you should read the blog on the NVM and how to upgrade your Mac Pro Firmware.

    However, If you love to have the ultimate Hybrid System, you may want to use AHCI SSDs like my setup. I really could not be happier at the moment.

    Future proofing, a free pass for 2022:

    In four years from now, I will make the transition to the new Mac Pro 7.1. or an iMac Pro2. My current SSD solution will be put into an Echo Express SE3 from Sonnet. The two fast PCIe SSDs will fit perfectly together with my two SATA SSD's on a double card like that.

    This way your investment into valuable and fast SSD storage is not wasted beyond 2022.

    Good luck and welcome to the MP 5.1 club

  12. At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    I didn't know there were two SATA connections under the optical drive. I'll certainly use them for two SSDs, with windows and osx respectively. If I do that, however, what is the point of having a boot drive PCIe? (I'm very new to all this so please excuse me if I'm asking silly questions).

    Continuing with using two SSDs in the optical bay, how would one divey the storage per os? As of now, I would like to have one SSD and HDD per os. If both SSDs are under the optical bay and the HDDs are connected the motherboard via sled, will that still be possible?

    I'll keep that information handy when I install Windows 10.
  13. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    good post @AlexMaximus ^^ yep windows it getting more "fun" so past osx10.12 you relay want to not share drives.

    :p to tell the truth back in the days of VISTA i just did not want osx on the same drive made me feel dirty :rolleyes: i forgave with win 7 but habits die hard ;)
    (and if im working on a project and my OS dies i do need to swap the drive out or reinstal fast without wasting times so for me it works)

    to me @AlexMaximus is where PCI drives relay fly, big photo library can start to be a drag (& adobe ever being slow on optimizations) and large video library's where tend to see real advantages is super fast drives.

    ^^ im still on light room CS6 grabbed the box edition when they announced they where killing sales of it and moved entirely over to resolve now for new projects (is there an easy way to bring large multi time line projects in to resolve from PP with XML or EDL ? pain working on old projects and having to import them one time line at a time in to resolve?)

    @At_Op45 if it was me id just grab two SSD's and stick them in the DVD bay, i dont use a DVD drive relay and you can get a usb one for like £20-30 if needed (you cant install a OS on a USB DVD drive you have to use internal for that but thats once a blue moon and only for windows so)

    PCI drives have the potential to be much much much faster
    if you need much much much more speed
    or let you have more than 6 drives installed.

    SATA drives are limited to 300mb sec per drive or total of 600mb sec for all drives? in the cmp (think it's 600mb sec max for all sata drives on that bus) but how often are you moving that much data?
    i work with compressed 4K video from Panasonic or canon cameras so thats only 10mb sec or so i think

    using the internal sata drives is simpler but not as fast, with PCI drives you may get faster loading times in games if your not limited by CPU or GPU speed. i dont know how much faster it will be than just a SSD and you hit cost to gains problems after a point
  14. At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    Thank you for the warm welcome!

    I will most likey use the SATA SSDs over the PCIe SSD in order to meet my boot camp needs.

    May you elaborate on your experience using Trim?

    Can you still update to Mojave with two SSDs under the optical bay?

    I'll certainly keep in mind the PCIe solution if I choose to go the clean Apple OS route.

    I think I may incorporate the dual slot adapter now because of the listed price. Before I was considering using a Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus for the same function but its way too expensive.

    Thank you again!
  15. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    use Trim if you use a SSD, the SATA port you use will not change anything.
    in this computer i have OSX on one SSD and win 7 on a second one plugged in to the two ports in the DVD bay, used to have my mac OS SSD in the 2nd slot before in the main bay, there's 6 SATA slots pick the one that works best for you & use it.
    there all the same just two in the optical bay and 4 in the main bit.
  16. AlexMaximus, Oct 22, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018

    AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    OWCMM352A52ST.jpg View attachment 797265 View attachment 797265
    The point of PCIe SSD is speed:

    Overview SATA SSD speed:

    Overview PCIe SSD speed:

    Overview Deep Geek Mutant solution:

    For kicks, make sure you check out this page:

    If you don't go beyond 1080 you most likely will be fine with SATA SSDs. If there is a chance for you to jump into 4K editing, you may want to go all geeky. If you don't, the good thing is, you could anytime. That's actually why it is so hard to find a better platform then the 5.1. Compared to the price tag of an iMac Pro, this 5.1 has been a real steal and a bargain and a fun premium project to pimp.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 22, 2018 ---
    The bracket you will need:
  17. At_Op45 thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2017
    Perfect, thanks! I'll add it to my list

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