Maximizing Mac Pro 2012 tower life span

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by cueboyzn, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. cueboyzn macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    I recently bought the Mac Pro Quad Core 3.2 (2012) and I want to ensure this tower lasts me as long as possible. I am not one of those that views the 'new Mac Pro' as something I see myself getting. So with this in mind, what would be the most important upgrade paths that would ensure the longevity of this machine? I am thinking of buying the 6-core Westmere 3.33 / 3.46 GHz to upgrade the processor in 2-3 years, also thinking of buying the ATI Radeon 5780 to upgrade the graphics card. As far as RAM goes and SSD I know those can be added later, so would anyone have suggestions if these 2 components are the most important things to buy now? I heard the processors are on the way out in the next year or so, so this is my reasoning. Please feel free to add your suggestions / recommendations. Thanks :)
  2. flowrider, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013

    flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    I was exactly where you were a 5 weeks ago. The new 6,1 Mac Pro does not look like something I want. The lack of upgradeability was a big negative for me. I felt my 2008 3,1 was not that upgradeable, and I wanted my next machine to be around a long time.

    However we differ on the solution. I decided on a new Dual 2.4 GHZ (E5620) Quad core 2010 machine. I felt that the dual CPUs would give the machine a longer life. So far my Upgrades have been:

    1. I moved my flashed Nvidia GTX570 from my 3,1 to my new machine, and put the HD5770 in the 3,1.

    2. Six sticks of 4GB Ram (new total = 24BGs). The Xeons are three memory CPUs and work best with three sticks (single CPU) and six sticks (dual CPU).

    3. Samsung 840 Series 500GB SSD.

    4. Apricorn Velocity Solo x2 card for the SSD.

    5. I replaced the stock E5620 CPUs with the older but faster W5590 CPUs.

    The machine is better than 30% faster than the original machine, and in a couple years when the X5690s become affordable, I may just upgrade the CPUs again.

    Your ideas for future upgrades are sound. A RAM Upgrade would be first on the agenda. The Radeon HD5870 is an obsolete card, but the Mac Edition Sapphire Radeon HD7950 or EVGA GTX680 Video cards would be a solid upgrade for you. With the Nvidia card being the better choice if CUDA is important or the Radeon if Open CL is important to you. You may also want to check out MacVidCards store on eBay. He has a great selection of Mac flashed video cards.

    Buy a Six Core processor (W3690) in a couple years, when the price is reasonable is also a great idea.

    The SSD improves the feel of the machine and really speeds up certain operations. To enjoy the full performance the SATAIII capabilities provide a PCIe SSD upgrade is a must, IMHO. You get the advantages of SATAIII and in addition you get to keep all four internal hard drive bays open for additional storage.

  3. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    My question would be what do you use it for because it sounds like you are upgrading it just to spend money and not because you need to.
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Are you just upgrading for the purpose of upgrading? You don't mention anything about your requirements. For many things, the 5870 won't be any different than the 5770. It doesn't make sense to talk about them without stating how you plan to use the machine.
  5. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    ^^^^Boy, you guys. He bought a Mac Pro for a Reason, the same as the rest of us. No matter, how we use it, it's upgradeable, and if we can afford to, why not not upgrade the stinkin' thing. If we weren't interested in performance we'd own a Mac Mini or iMac or even wait for the MiniPro. They'd get the job done, but be a lot less fun.

    My wife and I live in a 3200 square foot home, do I really need all that room. Nope, I certainly don't, but I certainly enjoy it. I drive a 450 horsepower car. Do I really need all that power, again Nope, but, again, I enjoy it and top performance, within reason, is important to me. Both the car and my Mac are modded and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    What I do with my car and my Mac is really my business. And modifying them with information gleaned from sources like this very forum is important to me. Getting Top Performance out of my equipment is what it's all about.

    I probably spend 5 to 6 hours a day on my Mac, I do a lot in Photoshop (I'm an amateur Photographer). I'm on the internet a lot and do a little gaming. I'm also 74 years old and retired.

    So, when someone asks for advice on how to upgrade his personal machine, offer advice or remain silent for gosh sakes. It's his machine, his money and his choice on how he spends it. Why be so negative:confused:

  6. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2010
    Ha ha. Amen
  7. snarfquest macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2013

    I just bought a 3.33 hex and put my ati 7970 in it. A 500gb SSD as well as a pair of 10k rpm 1.5tb sas drives. Thiis beast should last me the next 5 years. I too drive a 510hp car because it is fun. :). I do astro-photography and gaming and the Macpro suits me well.
  8. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    Lol.. I don't know the reason I don't just come here for entertainment value, some of the answers we get here are quite amusing. :p

    Thanks to the gents that offered advice on the Pro upgrade, it is certainly appreciated :)

    In a nutshell I bought the machine because I didn't want the black cylinder Mac Pro. What I use it for justifies it and I just want to get as many years out of it as possible. I like the big expandable Mac tower and the freedom to upgrade and add to it is quite unique amongst the Apple computers I have owned.

    Is the 3.46 6-core Xeon processor faster than the 3.33 by a noticeable amount? I will also look into the suggested graphics card options.
  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    If you are using HDDs, I would definitely say move to an SSD now. There will be an immediate and noticeable improvement.

    You only need to add RAM if you are running out of it. If you add RAM to a system that isn't exceeding its current RAM, there will be no benefit whatsoever. Prices on RAM almost always fall, so wait till you need it. On the other hand, if you ARE running out of RAM, then this is actually probably the single most important upgrade for improving system performance.

    For the rest of the items you mention, it is extremely premature to ask about upgrade options for 2-3 years down the road.

    The 3.46GHz CPU is so much more expensive than the 3.33 that the price isn't worth the upgrade for most. But 2-3 years from now the prices might be closer. Hard to say. My recommendation is to look at prices at that time and determine what is the best for you. End of life date for Intel processors is not relevant unless you absolutely have to have a brand new processor, in which case you better upgrade sooner than 2-3 years because stock will dry up. As for me, I'm fine with used processors as long as they are not engineering samples. Also, except for some specific software, the hex won't be any faster than the quad because the vast majority of software simply cannot take advantage of the extra cores. OTOH, if you main purpose includes software that takes good advantage of every CPU and every core, then the hex will be well worth it, giving you a whopping 50% more cores.

    As for graphics card, the 5870 is already two generations out of date. Planning that as an upgrade 2-3 years from now is a bit looney; we don't even know what cards will be out at that time, what drivers will be available in OS X, and what they will cost. So I'll assume you mean to upgrade that now (the way you worded it, it's not too clear). If upgrading now, I'd get a reference GTX 680 from eVGA and flash it. It believe it is the fastest card with 2x 6-pin power connectors that you can flash for full compatibility and speed in OS X and Windows.
  10. tamvly, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013

    tamvly macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2007
    I bought a 5,1 hex core to replace an aging 3,1 2x2.8 (which I sold for an excellent price even after 4 + years of use).

    I upgraded to 24GB RAM, moved my two non-system HDDs to the new machine along with the 240GB SSD (SanDisk II) and, voila, a speedy new machine (maybe 30% faster), with three years of AppleCare (A/C from B&H). I'll add another SSD for Windows/Linux VMs.

    You might consider adding a USB3 card and a BlueRay burner. There are a number of good threads on these topics.

    I'm not sure I would upgrade the video card as the 5770 is fine for me at this point with two monitors.

    These are some ideas I'm considering for the near term which add function and long term value.
  11. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. :) Nice to know what others have done it gives good background to make informed decisions.
  12. d-m-a-x macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    I just use mine for heavy lifting type work. Laptop for web and email keeps the hours down, Learned that after i burnt the ram and hd's on the old g4 from keeping it on all the time
  13. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    Yeah I have a MacBook Pro (2008) 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo with 6GB RAM (Maxed) and a Seagate Momentus XT 750GB hybrid drive, that I put to similar use. It performs well. I plan to go full SSD on that in the next year or 2.
  14. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
  15. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Both the 5500 and 5600 are going to be retired from retail market in December 2013. In a couple of years all going to find are used ones.

    Used top-end processors will only come onto the market when machines are being retired, as CPU "trade ups". There is largely no "up" from the 5690s.
  16. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    One aspect would be not putting parts that are outside of the designed specs into the box. So loading the power supply to max output. Putting in cards that draw more power than Apple spec'ed. Putting devices were they weren't designed to go. Etc. Those things probably won't maximize lifetime.

    If trying to blow past Apple's guidelines on Vintage/Obsolete.

    then you actually do NOT want extremely high end, esoteric parts. Since eventually you'll be searching old Mac Pro boneyard sales for spare parts you'll want parts that are in the mainstream because there will be a larger supply of those.

    Periodically take the machine offline and clean it. Similarly, feed it clean power.

    If "last" is primarily an allusion to performance over time.... that's just purely an illusion. 6-7 years down the road a new machine of this class will smoke this box. If your workload is stagnant, then fine. If it is growing at rate similar to technology growth then this is a dubious plan.
  17. Hirakata macrumors 6502


    Mar 17, 2011
    Burbank, CA
    I agree with this, for me anyway. I've been planning to get a Mac Pro and since Apple showed the upcoming Mac Pro, I decided to wait for it. I figure regardless of what I think of it, this is the direction Apple is going, and if I buy the present Mac Pro, and upgrade it for the next few years, it will eventually become obsolete and I'll be forced to buy the latest cylindrical model anyway. (That is if I choose to stick with Apple, which I will.) So I figure I might as well get on board sooner rather than later.
  18. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    Yep, I'm aware of that. The LGA1366 socket is going away. The W5590s I bought were not new, they were seller refurbs. New pairs are still over $2k, too rich for my blood. I'm still enjoying my 5590s, and if in time the price for used 5690s doesn't come down, then so be it. But, technology being what it is, I'm betting those servers will be replaced with the latest and greatest and those servers will be scrapped and components will be pulled from them and resold to folks like me.

  19. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    These points are well taken, but really for the work I do, a six-core 3.33 Xeon tower that can boot Snow Leopard on 1 hard drive, Lion on another, Mountain Lion on another, and Windows on the remaining one; with a Radeon 5780, fully loaded with RAM, and not even counting replacing the Hard Drives with SSD later on when the costs of those drop more; the pure performance and upgradeability of the tower is going to ensure this Mac lasts as a performance demon for at least 6-7 years, For my purposes. And even if/when I upgrade after that, it will still serve a very worthwhile purpose in some other function amongst my other Macs, which include an IMac G4 1GHz, an iBook G4 1.2, a MacBook Pro 2.5 Core2 duo, and a Mac Mini i7 server.:)
  20. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I'm in the process of removing bottlenecks from my system as well... here is what I would do to improve performance.

    1. CPUs ... Westmere 3.33 or 3.46 is a solid choice and will serve your system well but make sure you have enough power and cooling.

    2. RAM ... I'm using 24GB and it's enough for the majority of what I do. I bought it 2 years ago when prices were higher now you can get like 3x8GB or 3x16 which would give you the best memory bandwidth.

    3. GPU ... I'm using the HD5870 and it's pretty good. Enough for what I'm doing at least, I would definitely get one of those.

    4. Storage ... I run 13TB internal (2TB Macintosh HD + 3TB + 4TB + 4TB Time Machine drive) and have a little over 10TB in externals and last night I ordered the next piece of my storage solution which I would recommend:
    - External RAID enclosure with multiple SSDs and a USB 3.0 card for my Mac Pro. I'm going to start with 2x 1TB brand new (releasing tomorrow) Samsung Evo 840 SSDs in RAID 0 for my Final Cut Project and Event drives for important projects in progress. That'll speed things up I'm sure.

    So for OP I would either put in some new fast Samsung Evo 840 (August 14, 2013 edition) SSDs into your Mac or get some type of external RAID enclosure and boy will that speed things up depending on how you arrange your file workflows.
  21. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    I agree with everything you've said, and I think everything I have done to my machine and have recommended follow your guidelines.

    I would never put in a video card with more than two six pin power cables, unless I had an external PS. Not because of the Apple Power Supply, but because of the MOBO traces that can be damaged by a card that draws too much power.

    None of the components I have recommended or cueboyzn has contemplated using are "esoteric". High End yes, esoteric, no. My only out of spec parts are my CPUs. Apple uses CPUs with a TDP of 130 in single CPU systems and 95 in Dual CPU systems. My 5590s have a TDP of 130 each. I have turned up my fans to account for this increase. My UPS says I have a total load of anywhere from 310 to 370 watts, certainly within Apple's Power Supply requirements. My UPS also powers my Display, a couple of external hard drives and a few other bits of low draw equipment. IMHO, nothing to worry about.

  22. MacMadness macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2013
    Dallas TX
    I second the Amen and raise $100.00.

    I've been on this forum for a couple months and
    am already sick of the "how you use your Mac" squad.

    Or "you're stupid for needing all that ram" goons.

    Or "the nobody needs more than" nannies....

    Reasonable posts like yours...Lou...
    ...give me hope that there's still hope for the world...
  23. crjackson2134 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2013
    Charlotte, NC
    Ha Ha Ha.... :)

    So that's the name of the gang that has attacked me a couple of times too... My MP is less than 6 months old and half the fun is upgrading. I don't plan to stop until I run out of things to upgrade, or I have to take out a second mortgage on the main house :eek:

    Buy whatever makes you happy man... I sure am... "how you use your Mac" squad be damned... :p
  24. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    Ya know, I haven't been a member very long, but I've come to some conclusions about some of the members of this forum. A couple of guys are just know it alls who post negative comments about everything and try to intimidate and espouse their superior knowledge about everything Mac, others are here just to argue and create havoc and there are it seems many who just come here to up their post count with inane drivel or nods of agreement. The first group seems to seems to try and scare folks away. I received a PM from one of our members that read:

    I've kept his identity hidden, but it appears that he truly was intimidated by these guys.

    One of the regulars here actually reported me for posting twice about a problem I was having. The first post asking for help was buried deep in a thread and got little visibility. I started a second asking the same question (referencing the first thread), and one of the negative guys (a poster to this thread), posted to the thread with this comment:

    Two hours later the thread was locked. This clown had reported me to a moderator. I never did get the help I needed, but thankfully I was able to solve the problem on my own.

  25. cueboyzn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2008
    Appears there are a few here with axes to grind. Shame really, it just spoils what I have found to be a great information resource, often in fact from reading the threads on this forum I have found the solution to problems I would never have found the solution to otherwise. Here's to Lou and to level-headed reasonable discussion :)

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