MacPro 3,1 Upgrade Path

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by techwolf, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. techwolf macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2012

    After some consideration, I decided to make a few upgrades rather than replacing my MacPro 3,1 Early 2008 Mac Pro (2.8ghz, 8 core).

    Current Specs are:
    OS 10.6.8
    6GB 800mhz DDR2 RAM
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 (512M)
    Stock 320G Seagate ST3320820AS_P SATA HDD

    Primary computer use is general web surfing and casual gaming, though will be getting Diablo 3 when it comes out in May so that's largely why I'd be making an upgrade.

    My current thoughts on upgrades are:

    Replace SATA with OWC 120GB 6G SSD Drive

    To mount that in my Mac, it looks like I'll need the NewerTech AdaptaDrive 2.5” to 3.5” Drive Converter Bracket ( Technology/ADPTADRV/)

    Next up is the video card, because the GT120 is really showing it's age.

    ATI 5770 1GB Video Card

    And last, a modest RAM upgrade taking me to 10 gig.

    PC6400 DDR2 ECC 800mhz 240-pin 4Gb RAM Upgrade Kit World Computing/64FB2MPK04GB/

    I'm mostly looking for alternative ideas or suggestions, such as better bang-for-the-buck video card options, or alternative SSD ideas.

    Much appreciated
  2. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    My thoughts:

    An SSD will definitely give you quite a big performance boost over a mechanical drive. OWC makes good products and is also a great company to deal with. I buy a lot of stuff from them. The drive adapter would work fine.

    Graphics Card
    Believe it or not, the 5770 is actually $20 cheaper at Apple. I'm not sure why OWC marks it up. Better yet, buy it from B&H. $229 and free shipping.

    As a casual user, you'll probably not see a ton of benefit in upgrading your RAM from 6GB, especially at what 2008 MP RAM costs. But if you wanted to do it anyway, OWC is a great place to get it. Also check out Trans Intl and Memory America. They're often cheaper.
  3. gpzjock, Apr 19, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    Diablo 3 will expect better.

    Blizzard always make the minimum specs of a game "barely playable mode" so a 5770 will be the poor man's GFX card in this case. I installed WoW on a minimum spec iMac G4 a few years ago just to see the effect, with an 800mhz CPU, 32 mb Geforce2 and a 15" LCD screen I had 8 fps with everything turned off. More like Fog of War than World of Warcraft.

    I would propose a much more radical upgrade path to extend the life of your Pro.
    The SSD is a fine idea, get it and be happy, use the 320 as storage. The 2008 mobo only goes 3Gb/s so a 3G SSD is the right one but only $2 cheaper from OWC thanks to the discounts:

    I would put 8GB for just $70 more than the 4GB you like.

    Upgrade to Lion for the improved OpenGL drivers and the option of a better Nvidia card: $152 after rebates and it should drop straight in. Better still and $199. Note this card has more performance than a 5870 which Apple sells for $449 :eek:

    $150 + $195 + $30 + $152 = $527 upgrade for Lion, 14 GB RAM, a fast drive and 10x the GFX card grunt.




  4. Greg M macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2008
    No love for Newegg here?

    I just purchased 2 4gb sticks of PC6400 for $199.
  5. gpzjock, Apr 19, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
  6. bitfactory macrumors 6502


    Jul 22, 2002
    I wish those cards had mini-displayports. I have the same 08' MP and I don't want to upgrade my 5770 and have to use some kind of adapter.
  7. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    It should also be noted that the NVIDIA video cards mentioned will work under 10.7.3 with flashing, but you also don't get a boot screen. And apparently, the 10.7.4 developer preview breaks these drivers and it's hard to say whether or not that will continue be the case when 10.7.4 reaches release. But I imagine using ATY_Init to inject the dirvers would still work if all else fails.

    Also, if you buy a PC NVIDIA card, you'll need to source the PCIe power cable(s) separately. Mac Pros have miniature style 6-pin connectors on their logic boards. This is the type of cable you would need.
  8. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA

    This got a little garbled.

    The cards will work WITHOUT flashing and as a result, no boot screen. If you find one with DIsplayport, it is a simple $20-30 adapter to make Mindisplayport work.

    Just yesterday we cracked EFI to work on these cards. SO I expect that MacVidCards will shortly have 3,1 and later compatible GTX560/570/and 580 cards. This will include DIsplayports. And I will be testing on my 27" Apple MDP to be sure that cards will give boot screen etc on Apple OEM displays.

    Will know better by MOnday of next week what sort of cards will be possible.
  9. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    Good point about the cables.

    This thread is the most up to date one on Nvidia GFX cards in Mac Pro 3,1 unless you head over to
    It looks very likely that most Nvidia GFX cards are easily accessible under Lion.
  10. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Typo on part. Good catch. WITHOUT. ;)
  11. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
  12. umbilical macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2008
    FL, USA
    Im looking for the same thing, same machine here!

    I have just 2gb ram, so I want buy 2x4gb = 8gb so total 10gb

    crucial brand is the best memory? around $300

    I see one on newegg for $200

    what the difference in memory? I mean one brand can be more faster than other??? or is the quality of the product? confused

    about the SSD I want a 120gb, intel, sansung? the OWC is really good?? I prefer trust on big brands or Im wrong?

    I recently buy the ft 5770 so im ok with graphics card
  13. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    I went with an OWC 120gb SSD in 2010 you can buy a 250gb one for the same price now. Nearly 2 years on and still as fast as the day it went in.

    Check MemoryAmerica for deals before buying Crucial RAM. They sold me 2 x 8gb kits (8x2gb modules) for far cheaper at the time.

    I flashed a Sapphire HD5870 Vapor-X card and saved about £150 over an Apple one. The card cooler is vastly superior in ability and quietness too.
  14. Greg M macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2008
    Get the Newegg ram. I got it and it worked fine.

    You can get 256gb SSDs for under $200 and 512gb for as little as $340. Crucial M4 is a about the best drive for the money, meaning that it's a top drive that also happens to consistently be the lowest price. The price on these SSDs has been dropping almost weekly since early spring.

    I got a 120gb and 240gb Sandisk for $280 about a month ago.

    Check slick daily for the best deals. A little patience will net you some serious savings. The Samsung 830 shows up a lot on sale as well as the Crucial and sandisk drives.
  15. Atomic101 macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2010
    Don't forget the free overclock speed upgrade at ZDNET.,39038647,39192217-1,00.htm

    My 2008 used to run at upto 3.15 using this. Since lion the only way to get it to work is to start up 32bit mode (hold 3,2 at startup) run zd overclock & then restart in 64 (hold 6,4).

    However I don't know if mountain lion will support this as it appears not to have a 32 bit mode.
  16. umbilical macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2008
    FL, USA
    thanks to all for the suggestions!!! :)

    hi, you mean this memory for $200?

    or the crucial for $270

    about the video card, well I order the apple 5770, I receive this week... so maybe a bad buy... I'll can save buying other flashed or the saphire that dont need flashed, but no apple on screen boot and no dvd player etc... so well Im not a gamer so the apple I think is ok...
  17. Greg M macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2008
    The cheapest you can get. Mushkin is a good brand.
  18. BigJohno macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2007
    San Francisco
  19. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    My system too is looking to acquire a newer graphics board and am looking at the ATI Radeon HD 5770. The price difference between Apple and OWC is about $7 because we have an Apple store close by and get charged sales-tax.

    But it would be very easy to swing by and pick up my card at lunch or after work and not worry about it being left at the front door.

    Otherwise my system is set with 1TB, 2 500GB and the original 320GB drive. Memory is currently sitting at 12GB which seems good.

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