Mac Pro upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TreasureIreland, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. TreasureIreland macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2008

    I'm looking to upgrade my Mac Pro to enhance performance, however I'm not sure what area needs upgrading. My current specs are:

    Processor: 2 x 2.26 GHz Quad Core intel Xeon

    Memory: 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC

    Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4870 512 MB

  2. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    Nice machine.

    We need more information if you really want our help.
    We could make random suggestions, but there's no way to know if they would help you.

    There are 5 things that could be done to help you
    1) More cores - requires firmware upgrade to 5,1 and new cpus
    2) Faster cores - optional firmware upgrade and/or new cpus
    3) More memory - cheap and easy, but pointless if you don't need it
    4) Faster Disk Drives - most people love SSD
    5) Faster Video card - May not matter if you're not using the one you have

    Why do you want to upgrade?
    What applications do you typically use?
    Are you using much swap space?
    When you're working, how much cpu usage do you see?
  3. Edie Brickell macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2010
    Your Mac system configuration is quite good. I guess you need to keep your Mac clean by deleting unnecessary duplicate files. You need to remove useless data, unwanted applications which you do not use for a longer time from your Mac and create some free space. Keep your Macintosh HD space free upto 20% of your total drive space.Good Luck for your Speedy Mac again!!
  4. TreasureIreland thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2008
    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Have since cleared it of any apps or files I no longer used, but it wasn't much anyway.

    I'm not sure memory is the problem, it doesn't seem to struggle with that.

    I was wondering whether to upgrade the graphics card, as I do use it for gaming, and lately I have not been able to play it on max settings, but I think this may be a game bug.

    The next graphics card up is the 5570, or the 5870. Do you it would be worth it?

    I haven't been able to check the amount of CPU usage whilst gaming, as it plays full screen.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502


    Apr 14, 2013
    Gaming is very dependent on resolution. I would upgrade in this order:

  6. sTcA macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    I've the same machine as the original thread (just NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, 512Mb).

    - I want to update to get a faster use.
    - I use this machine mainly for photography (no video, no games) so photographic softwares (CaptureOne, LR, PS).
    - I only have 7200rpm internal drives (Raid1 for data, not the OS)
    - CPU doesn't seem to be the bottle-neck
    - Drive W/R seems to be always at maximum level
    - RAM gets close to 90% often
    - Geekbench score 11854

    Suggestions to improve performances with a reasonable budget ?
  7. Tesselator, May 8, 2013
    Last edited: May 8, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008


    An SSD won't help much really. A little while loading maybe. It depends how much I/O the game in question does but I've found of the 20 or 25 most recent games I've installed they don't I/O much. But they're big! The 20/25 games I just mentioned occupy "254,738,628,551 bytes (255.89 GB on disk)" and I've go another 4 or 5 ready to go. Thus for storage i would recommend a two or three drive RAID0. The Seagate 3TB (ST3000DM001) drives are very fast and only cost $135. RAID1 is pretty much only a waste of hard drives. Use RAID0 with a backup!

    8GB is "enough" but OS X wants 24GB to operate at it's fastest. You will notice a performance increase between 8GB and 24GB - although the difference between 16GB and 24GB is only barely noticeable and only in some situations. 24GB of all matching RAM for any macpro right now is under $300 if you buy used - and actually closer to $200 with a little time spent shooing around.

    GPU Card
    I personally would never put an ATI card in one of my machines so I won't recommend that to you either. If you have the budget I'd get the JetStream GTX 670 OC which you can find for like, $350 in its 2GB incarnation with a little looking. It uses two 6-pin connectors so no need to modify or add anything extra. If the budget is tighter you can find a factory OC'd GTX 570 for $100 these days. I just paid $90 for this one in lightly used condition which should arrive in the next day or two.

    CPU Core Speed
    For most games you won't benefit from more cores but you will from higher clocks! That's an expensive upgrade tho. And I guess you already the basic differences between the various clock speeds available for your machine.... No? If I were upgrading for games I think I would do this one last - and probably wait till the procs reduced to about half of their current prices.
  8. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    Depending on the OS, 8 gigs may be sufficient (10.6 manages with 8 gigs) or not (10.7 wants more than 8 gigs, but will show it through general slowness). Having no idea of your games of choice, I can't say of your GPU, but the general rule (make sure your GPU is at least as new as the games you play) probably applies.
    As noted, games do not need an SSD,

    Same suggestions apply, with further:
    If your "projects" (the images you currently work on) are of manageable size, an SSD may give a speed boost, but add more work (moving done projects off the SSD and into "storage" on the HDD).
    I've no idea how much LR and PS use GPU acceleration, and apple's own options are quite pricey, so I'd really evaluate the expected benefit before investing.

    P.S. also remember that (theoretically) HDD transfer speeds are a function of data density as much as rpm's, so a 1 TB platter running at 5400 is faster than a 500 GB platter at 7200 rpm

  9. devinci99 macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2008
    for latest official Mac GPU...

    Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition 3GB DDR5 HDMI/DVI-I/Dual Mini DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 11196-15-40G by Sapphire Technology

    Amazon has it for $459 now. Bit pricey, but is EFI compatible which means you see boot screen if you're booting from it.

    The nVidia 6xx series works as far as I now. I bought a 650 this weekend from BestBuy to troubleshoot something (why my system is crashing with GT120 on 3rd monitor). No boot screen, but once OSX is up and running, the initiates the GPU, and I get video from the monitor. Until then it's blank with no signal.
  10. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    You can take a 2x6-pin PC 7950 3Gb and flash it so you get the boot screen. Netkas has the details. The only down side is you lose the PCIE 2.0 speeds for PCIE 1.0 but if you are gaming you won't really notice that.

    The price differential may be enough to persuade you.
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    But is this really a 95+% gaming only context? Broad spectrum OS/App/home directory on a SSD gives overall general performance responsiveness improvements.

    If not even 64-bit apps 16GB ( let alone 24GB ) won't even make a difference.

    And if it is still 95+% gaming only that likely huge overkill.

    As long as the GPU is capped at the top end. But in terms of priority of those specs and RAM, IOPs ( to storage) , GPU , and CPU ... likely will exhaust upgrade budget before get to CPU.
  12. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Depending upon where tracking latest PS or committed to "older" PS because it is good enough, there can be some upside to moving to a GPU that supports modern OpenCL.,3208-6.html

    It isn't going to give across the board speed ups but if make high usage out of accelerated ( OpenGL and OpenCL ) PS subcomponents, there is real speed improvements. Leveraging OpenCL just started with CS 6... given the need to show substantive improvements with the subscription model Adobe is very unlikely to slow down further transitions to OpenCL of a wider variety of effects.

    If you are not going to track Adobe's likely improvements then the GPU would be low priority.

    An SSD for OS/App/Home directory is likely to have across the board improvements across all applications and general usage.

    Whether you want to go

    SSD : OS /Apps/Home dir
    SSD : working space ( temp and scatch space files )
    RAID-1 : long term data

    depends upon budget, but that would be substantial speed up.
    ( 1 OWC Electra 3G 256 GB + 2.5"->3.5" adapter $250 OS/Apps
    1 Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB + 2.5"->3.5" adapter $330 Working Space

    For an Apps drive the OWC Sanforce drive is fine (and stay away from enabling TRIM hack for it). For high density of jpeg and compress image files, it is not so much the top option. )

    See above. Spreading out the different classes of data over more devices will help.

    The OS is going to soak up RAM ( e.g., as a file system cache of getting data off the HDDs and into RAM). The problem indicator is more so the Page in : Page out ratio and the swap usage (ratio of RAM:"Swap usage" ratio to be high. Swap small and controlled ).

    Relatively high swap usage and/or relatively high page outs are indicator of a problem. Activity Monitor will indicate what you usages of these are in the "System Memory" tab.

    That said if tracking the latest OS upgrades 10.8 and up with 64-bit only kernels pretty much assume folks will have at 8GB of RAM to do anything. So if running larger memory workload. If you Photoshop and LR sessions are using 3-4 GB of real RAM each then probably would usage to move up 12-16GB of RAM. eight 2GB DIMMs is only about $146.
  13. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    If you want to have a different opinion just have it alone without quoting and arguing with me. I've spent a lot of time trying perhaps hundreds of different configurations and these are my finding. Especially, I can barely understand your English.

    1. OS X uses percentages to determine when to load and unload various caches. This activity can get pretty intense in low memory situations. It's still considerable at 8GB. It's a noticeable degradation at 12GB. At 16GB it's occasional and at 24GB it's pretty much completely quiet.

    2. Yes, that loading and unloading chatter can cause lagging in games and produce beach balls in applications, etc.

    3. Does that even make sense? I can't understand the meaning due to the lack of almost any sentence structure.

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