Mid-2010 Mac Pro upgrade

SlobberyJ

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 26, 2017
1
0
Hey,

I have a mid-2010 mac pro and there are a few things I want to do with it so I'm looking for advice on what is possible (as I have a very limited knowledge of hardware limitations), thoughts are:

1) Install a second graphics card - current have an ATI Radeon HD 5770 but there was an option to have two of these when I bought the computer. Are there any recent graphics cards that would definitely be compatible with this 2010 mac pro?

2) Could anyone recommend some reasonably priced monitors - ideally 4k if it would be compatible?

3) Bootcamp to run windows on my second hard drive - I talked to someone who seemed to suggest you have to partition a hard drive for this to work, is it not possible to have a completed separate hard drive for windows?

4) If you have any other suggestions to improve the computer I'd be interested to hear them.

Thanks
 

SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2015
4,484
2,497
Paris
Install dual RX 480/580 when High Sierra comes out.

Install two SSDs. One for macOS and one for Windows. Don't partition, it's a pain for stability and future transfers.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,776
5,584
Hong Kong
Assuming you are running Sierra now. You can install a RX460, which is plug and play. No need to get an old 5770 to match your current GPU.

And you CAN have a independent drive for Windows. This is what I am having now. A SSD for MacOS, another one for Window 10.
8TB storage.jpg
 

DPUser

macrumors 6502a
Jan 17, 2012
864
198
Rancho Bohemia, California
I have a Gigabyte RX 460 working perfectly in my 4,1>5,1 hex Mac Pro. No initial bootscreen, but I get the progress bar about halfway along and all is perfect from there on out. Driving 4k TV (via active DP to HDMI converter with SwitchResX-enabled 60hz) and 1080 (DVI) monitors simultaneously. This is the card I have:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125897&cm_re=rx_460-_-14-125-897-_-Product

You might want to consider the 2Gb version ($109 at NewEgg), as the 4Gb version linked (which I got for $89 after rebate late last year) is currently priced sky-high. The newer 560 version is priced more reasonably; check to see if it is supported under Sierra. It looks like it will be supported under High Sierra.

My monitor is a 40" Samsung 6290 TV from Costco... under $300. Amazing amount of screen real estate.

If you want 60Hz HDMI under Sierra:

Adaptor:
https://www.amazon.com/Club3D-Displ...1-1&keywords=club+3d+display+port+to+hdmi+2.0

Cable:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015OW3QVS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

SwitchResX Software:
http://www.madrau.com
 
Last edited:

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,263
6,251
3) Bootcamp to run windows on my second hard drive - I talked to someone who seemed to suggest you have to partition a hard drive for this to work, is it not possible to have a completed separate hard drive for windows?
I agree with SoyCapitanSoyCapitan and h9826790, go ahead and install Windows on a second drive. This is what most of us do, and it is greatly preferred. The main reason why you hear about partitioning for BootCamp so often is that most Macs have no room for two separate internal drives, so they have little or no choice in the matter.
 

SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2015
4,484
2,497
Paris
Sadly I just noticed SSD prices have risen 30% in the last year. Demand is high but there have been almost no new announcements or products from the market leader.

Couple that with the rising GPU prices and its sad to see that people have to pay more today than they did in 2016 for the same hardware upgrades.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,776
5,584
Hong Kong
Sadly I just noticed SSD prices have risen 30% in the last year. Demand is high but there have been almost no new announcements or products from the market leader.

Couple that with the rising GPU prices and its sad to see that people have to pay more today than they did in 2016 for the same hardware upgrades.
I am a bit surprised as well. I got my DGM 120GB SSD for less than $30 about year ago. And now no more SSD at that price range. And the same model cost at least $40 in the local computer store.
 

bowmasters

macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2009
12
8
Hey,

I have a mid-2010 mac pro and there are a few things I want to do with it so I'm looking for advice on what is possible (as I have a very limited knowledge of hardware limitations), thoughts are:

1) Install a second graphics card - current have an ATI Radeon HD 5770 but there was an option to have two of these when I bought the computer. Are there any recent graphics cards that would definitely be compatible with this 2010 mac pro?

2) Could anyone recommend some reasonably priced monitors - ideally 4k if it would be compatible?

3) Bootcamp to run windows on my second hard drive - I talked to someone who seemed to suggest you have to partition a hard drive for this to work, is it not possible to have a completed separate hard drive for windows?

4) If you have any other suggestions to improve the computer I'd be interested to hear them.

Thanks

Without knowing specifically what you use your computer for, here are a few general suggestions:

Upgrade the CPU. Get the Xeon X5690 [3.46 GHz 6 core]. If you have a dual processor board, get two of them. Even if you have a single processor board, get the X5690. Don't bother with the W3690 single processor version unless you can find it for significantly cheaper. The X chip will allow you more maximum RAM than the W chip, even in a single processor configuration.

You can find "new" ones (allegedly pulled from old servers that were never used) or good used ones on ebay for anywhere from $120-$250 a piece on ebay and amazon. For slightly cheaper, you can instead get the slightly slower X5680 (3.33GHz 6 core) for about $75-$150 a piece.


For GPU, as others have mentioned, Radeon RX480 or 580 are potentially good choices if you can get a good deal on them (<$300). Important caveat: you won't be able to see the boot screen which means no Startup Manager (when you hold the Option key during boot), no single user mode and no filevault... and you have to modify some .kext files in order for them to work properly with macOS. They also won't work properly with any pre-sierra version of OS X if that's important to you.

If you are looking for a cheaper GPU with better "native" support, I recommend the EVGA GTX 680. It is a bit older model card that has been surpassed by the newest offerings in both speed and power consumption, but it will be a SIGNIFICANT upgrade from your 5770 and is a pretty high performing card that still fares well compared to contemporary offerings, even beating out some lower end current options like the RX 460.

You can usually find good used copies of the GTX 680 on ebay for $85-$150. Some sellers on ebay offer "Mac versions" of the GTX680 for significantly more (I've even seen some charging as much as $400!), but these are usually just PC cards that have been flashed with the Mac EFI to allow the boot screen. Flashing the 680 is a pretty simple process you can do yourself if you want to avoid paying the outrageous 200-300% premium these sellers are asking for these otherwise regular PC GPUs. I think you can find some guides here on macrumors on how to do so. And if you don't care so much about the boot screen, the GTX680 is otherwise "plug and play" as it will work natively on OS X versions all the way down to 10.9 (Mavericks) without the need to hack any kernel extensions or living in fear of compatibility loss with each new software update.

For Storage: get a 6GB/s SATA PCIe card for faster SSD speeds than you can get with the built in 3GB/s SATA ports. There are numerous options here with varying advantages, disadvantages, and other caveats depending on your computing needs. I'll be happy to go into more detail on this if it's something you're interested in doing.

And, if you haven't already, max out your RAM. There are now options that can now get your Mac Pro well past the 32GB and 64GB (for dual processor) "official" limits according to Apple. You can go up to 56GB (64GB if you use an X5600 series Xeon) on single processor boards or 128GB on dual processor boards - though that may be overkill depending on your needs... Still, upgrading your RAM, even if not to the max, is an often overlooked way to boost your performance.
 
Last edited:

Squuiid

macrumors 65816
Oct 31, 2006
1,476
742
Without knowing specifically what you use your computer for, here are a few general suggestions:

Upgrade the CPU. Get the Xeon X5690 [3.46 GHz 6 core]. If you have a dual processor board, get two of them. Even if you have a single processor board, get the X5690. Don't bother with the W3690 single processor version unless you can find it for significantly cheaper. The X chip will allow you more maximum RAM than the W chip, even in a single processor configuration.

You can find "new" ones (allegedly pulled from old servers that were never used) or good used ones on ebay for anywhere from $120-$250 a piece on ebay and amazon. For slightly cheaper, you can instead get the slightly slower X5689 (3.33GHz 6 core) for about $75-$150 a piece.


For GPU, as others have mentioned, Radeon RX480 or 580 are potentially good choices if you can get a good deal on them (<$300). Important caveat: you won't be able to see the boot screen which means no Startup Manager (when you hold the Option key during boot), no single user mode and no filevault... and you have to modify some .kext files in order for them to work properly with macOS. They also won't work properly with any pre-sierra version of OS X if that's important to you.

If you are looking for a cheaper GPU with better "native" support, I recommend the EVGA GTX 680. It is a bit older model card that has been surpassed by the newest offerings in both speed and power consumption, but it will be a SIGNIFICANT upgrade from your 5770 and is a pretty high performing card that still fares well compared to contemporary offerings, even beating out some lower end current options like the RX 460.

You can usually find good used copies of the GTX 680 on ebay for $85-$150. Some sellers on ebay offer "Mac versions" of the GTX680 for significantly more (I've even seen some charging as much as $400!), but these are usually just PC cards that have been flashed with the Mac EFI to allow the boot screen. Flashing the 680 is a pretty simple process you can do yourself if you want to avoid paying the outrageous 200-300% premium these sellers are asking for these otherwise regular PC GPUs. I think you can find some guides here on macrumors on how to do so. And if you don't care so much about the boot screen, the GTX680 is otherwise "plug and play" as it will work natively on OS X versions all the way down to 10.9 (Mavericks) without the need to hack any kernel extensions or living in fear of compatibility loss with each new software update.

For Storage: get a 6GB/s SATA PCIe card for faster SSD speeds than you can get with the built in 3GB/s SATA ports. There are numerous options here with varying advantages, disadvantages, and other caveats depending on your computing needs. I'll be happy to go into more detail on this if it's something you're interested in doing.

And, if you haven't already, max out your RAM. There are now options that can now get your Mac Pro well past the 32GB and 64GB (for dual processor) "official" limits according to Apple. You can go up to 56GB (64GB if you use an X5600 series Xeon) on single processor boards or 128GB on dual processor boards - though that may be overkill depending on your needs... Still, upgrading your RAM, even if not to the max, is an often overlooked way to boost your performance.
Very good advice!
My only additions are that the RX580 is probably the card to go for at this stage given that there will be native support for it in the next point release of Sierra, and in High Sierra when released. (No need to modify .kext files)
You probably won't have to wait more than a few weeks for 10.12.6 as it is approaching release. It'll probably take you this long to source an RX580 anyway as they are in short supply! The model linked below is the one Apple includes in it's eGPU dev kit so will be fully supported, including listing of model number in 'About This Mac'. (Most other cards don't have this without some 'hacking'.)
SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 580 8G GDDR5 Dual HDMI/DVI-D/Dual DP Graphics Card - Black

Finally, my SSD recommendation tends to be Kingston's HyperX Predator PCIe AHCI SSD. SATA really is old tech now and we should look forward from it.
HyperX Predator PCIe Gen2 x4 HHHL (Half Height Half Length) Internal SSD Drive - 480 GB
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,776
5,584
Hong Kong
Without knowing specifically what you use your computer for, here are a few general suggestions:

Upgrade the CPU. Get the Xeon X5690 [3.46 GHz 6 core]. If you have a dual processor board, get two of them. Even if you have a single processor board, get the X5690. Don't bother with the W3690 single processor version unless you can find it for significantly cheaper. The X chip will allow you more maximum RAM than the W chip, even in a single processor configuration.

You can find "new" ones (allegedly pulled from old servers that were never used) or good used ones on ebay for anywhere from $120-$250 a piece on ebay and amazon. For slightly cheaper, you can instead get the slightly slower X5689 (3.33GHz 6 core) for about $75-$150 a piece.


For GPU, as others have mentioned, Radeon RX480 or 580 are potentially good choices if you can get a good deal on them (<$300). Important caveat: you won't be able to see the boot screen which means no Startup Manager (when you hold the Option key during boot), no single user mode and no filevault... and you have to modify some .kext files in order for them to work properly with macOS. They also won't work properly with any pre-sierra version of OS X if that's important to you.

If you are looking for a cheaper GPU with better "native" support, I recommend the EVGA GTX 680. It is a bit older model card that has been surpassed by the newest offerings in both speed and power consumption, but it will be a SIGNIFICANT upgrade from your 5770 and is a pretty high performing card that still fares well compared to contemporary offerings, even beating out some lower end current options like the RX 460.

You can usually find good used copies of the GTX 680 on ebay for $85-$150. Some sellers on ebay offer "Mac versions" of the GTX680 for significantly more (I've even seen some charging as much as $400!), but these are usually just PC cards that have been flashed with the Mac EFI to allow the boot screen. Flashing the 680 is a pretty simple process you can do yourself if you want to avoid paying the outrageous 200-300% premium these sellers are asking for these otherwise regular PC GPUs. I think you can find some guides here on macrumors on how to do so. And if you don't care so much about the boot screen, the GTX680 is otherwise "plug and play" as it will work natively on OS X versions all the way down to 10.9 (Mavericks) without the need to hack any kernel extensions or living in fear of compatibility loss with each new software update.

For Storage: get a 6GB/s SATA PCIe card for faster SSD speeds than you can get with the built in 3GB/s SATA ports. There are numerous options here with varying advantages, disadvantages, and other caveats depending on your computing needs. I'll be happy to go into more detail on this if it's something you're interested in doing.

And, if you haven't already, max out your RAM. There are now options that can now get your Mac Pro well past the 32GB and 64GB (for dual processor) "official" limits according to Apple. You can go up to 56GB (64GB if you use an X5600 series Xeon) on single processor boards or 128GB on dual processor boards - though that may be overkill depending on your needs... Still, upgrading your RAM, even if not to the max, is an often overlooked way to boost your performance.
Actually, truly NEW X5690 still available, but still cost $900 :eek:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Xeon-X5690-3-46-GHz-Six-Core-BX80614X5690-Processor/251506095177?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649

And a type correction for you. The 3.33GHz CP should be X5680, not X5689.

Some more info update, dual processor can go up to 160GB RAM now (5x32GB).
 

bowmasters

macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2009
12
8
Actually, truly NEW X5690 still available, but still cost $900 :eek:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Xeon-X5690-3-46-GHz-Six-Core-BX80614X5690-Processor/251506095177?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649

And a type correction for you. The 3.33GHz CP should be X5680, not X5689.

Some more info update, dual processor can go up to 160GB RAM now (5x32GB).
Ah, interesting note about the possibility for 160GB RAM. However, that may incur a performance penalty due to mismatched RAM sets. Dual processor Mac Pros don't like that. Someone would have to do some benchmarks to see if the mismatched performance penalty outweighs the advantage of more RAM. I imagine it would be better to just stick with evenly matched 128GB in most cases unless you are doing some extremely memory intensive task that can't fit into 128 GB but will fit entirely in 160 without needing to swap to disk. Pretty niche use case, haha.

Also, thanks for the typo correction :)
 

SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2015
4,484
2,497
Paris
570/580 at serious rip off prices at the moment. More than a GTX1070 and much weaker! And so now it's pushing up the prices of the 1070, which then pushes up the prices of the 1080.

This is what happened when alternate facts/coins/reality hit the computing world. We have to pay the price for the crazies.

You are better off buying a used RX 400 series from someone who is honest about pricing relative to actual RRP.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,776
5,584
Hong Kong
Ah, interesting note about the possibility for 160GB RAM. However, that may incur a performance penalty due to mismatched RAM sets. Dual processor Mac Pros don't like that. Someone would have to do some benchmarks to see if the mismatched performance penalty outweighs the advantage of more RAM. I imagine it would be better to just stick with evenly matched 128GB in most cases unless you are doing some extremely memory intensive task that can't fit into 128 GB but will fit entirely in 160 without needing to swap to disk. Pretty niche use case, haha.

Also, thanks for the typo correction :)
If you worry about RAM performance, you should not go 8x16GB (128GB), but only 6x16GB (96GB). The CPU is triple channel, install 8 sticks will make them run slower. Anyway, the difference is very significant in benchmark, but I never heard anyone can actually tell the difference in real world.
 

bowmasters

macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2009
12
8
Very good advice!
My only additions are that the RX580 is probably the card to go for at this stage given that there will be native support for it in the next point release of Sierra, and in High Sierra when released. (No need to modify .kext files)
You probably won't have to wait more than a few weeks for 10.12.6 as it is approaching release. It'll probably take you this long to source an RX580 anyway as they are in short supply! The model linked below is the one Apple includes in it's eGPU dev kit so will be fully supported, including listing of model number in 'About This Mac'. (Most other cards don't have this without some 'hacking'.)
SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 580 8G GDDR5 Dual HDMI/DVI-D/Dual DP Graphics Card - Black

Finally, my SSD recommendation tends to be Kingston's HyperX Predator PCIe AHCI SSD. SATA really is old tech now and we should look forward from it.
HyperX Predator PCIe Gen2 x4 HHHL (Half Height Half Length) Internal SSD Drive - 480 GB

Driver support may be there, but boot screen support still will not. And it will not be macEFI flashable. I know a lot of people write off boot screen support as not very important, but I find this baffling (for one, how can one care about being listed properly in the "About this Mac" dialog but not care about a proper boot screen? :p )

I myself use single user mode, verbose boot, and the startup manager very frequently, but I understand this is not common for most people... But don't people use Filevault? C'mon people, we're almost 2 decades into the 21st century already!

Well, if you do care about having a functioning boot screen (as you should) but also want a more modern, more powerful GPU, you may be able to get around the issue by acquiring an old GT120 and sticking it in slot 2 for when you need the boot screen, and install the RX580 in slot 1. A bit cumbersome, but it will help if you have a display that supports multiple inputs so you can connect it to both cards and just switch between the inputs as needed.

And while it's true that SATA - which predates the SSD era - is old and slow compared to newer PCIe and M.2 based flash storage, it's also sadly true that, after being around for nearly a decade, the architecture of these classic Mac Pros is starting to show its age and there will be bottlenecks in throughput due to being limited to PCIe 2.0 and slower FSB speeds which will prevent the fastest PCIe flash storage from reaching maximum theoretical throughput.

As such, these new-fangled dedicated PCIe SSD boards are not going to perform any faster on our classic Mac Pros than SSDs connected to a 6GB/s SATA or SAS PCIe card, especially if they are in a RAID 0 configuration. And you'll get much more versatility with SATA SSDs than PCIe SSDs, allowing you to upgrade and swap drives between computers at will without worrying about proprietary SSD blades or using up additional PCIe slots when you want to add more storage.
[doublepost=1498568870][/doublepost]
570/580 at serious rip off prices at the moment. More than a GTX1070 and much weaker! And so now it's pushing up the prices of the 1070, which then pushes up the prices of the 1080.

This is what happened when alternate facts/coins/reality hit the computing world. We have to pay the price for the crazies.

You are better off buying a used RX 400 series from someone who is honest about pricing relative to actual RRP.
It's happened before with bitcoin. Then dedicated mining machines came around that made using off the shelf ATI/AMD GPUs cost ineffective, allowing those GPUs to come back down to reasonable prices again.

This current spike, if it can verifiably be traced to a rush by amateur coin miners, is just due to Ethereium suddenly hitting peoples' radar in the past couple of months. Dedicated miners will soon be crowding that field too, rendering off the shelf GPUs unattractive for this use case.

Point being, it's not the "crazies" driving up the cost, it's the profiteers and opportunists (sidenote: with this being a Mac enthusiast forum, you really ought not to use the term "crazies" disparagingly. This is supposed to be a place of refuge for the crazies. The misfits...)

Also, Vega GPUs will be arriving soon, further driving down the cost of the 400 and 500 series. And they will be releasing dedicated GPGPUs for the people who need them for HPC / computational purposes (or mining, as it were) which will leave ample supply of regular GPUs for those of us who need them to output to a display.
[doublepost=1498569741][/doublepost]
If you worry about RAM performance, you should not go 8x16GB (128GB), but only 6x16GB (96GB). The CPU is triple channel, install 8 sticks will make them run slower. Anyway, the difference is very significant in benchmark, but I never heard anyone can actually tell the difference in real world.
I was under the impression that the speed penalty for filling the 4th slot was relatively minor since it supposedly only slowed down slot 3 (and was still faster than foregoing the extra ram requiring more swaps to disk), but that the penalty for mismatched RAM - especially across dual processor variants - was significant (hence the warning that OS X gives when mismatched memory is first installed). But maybe it's more significant than I thought? Or maybe neither penalty is that bad compared to the benefits of more ram?

Oh well. Like you said, probably too irrelevant to make a difference in normal real world usage
 

Synchro3

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2014
1,946
809
My only additions are that the RX580 is probably the card to go for at this stage given that there will be native support for it in the next point release of Sierra, and in High Sierra when released. (No need to modify .kext files)
You probably won't have to wait more than a few weeks for 10.12.6 as it is approaching release. It'll probably take you this long to source an RX580 anyway as they are in short supply! The model linked below is the one Apple includes in it's eGPU dev kit so will be fully supported, including listing of model number in 'About This Mac'. (Most other cards don't have this without some 'hacking'.)
SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 580 8G GDDR5 Dual HDMI/DVI-D/Dual DP Graphics Card - Black
Thanks for the tip! Just ordered a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GD5 for eGPU purposes for ~ 270. In about 2-4 weeks ready for shipment. We'll see when i get it...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Squuiid

bowmasters

macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2009
12
8
As such, these new-fangled dedicated PCIe SSD boards are not going to perform any faster on our classic Mac Pros than SSDs connected to a 6GB/s SATA or SAS PCIe card, especially if they are in a RAID 0 configuration. And you'll get much more versatility with SATA SSDs than PCIe SSDs, allowing you to upgrade and swap drives between computers at will without worrying about proprietary SSD blades or using up additional PCIe slots when you want to add more storage.
I was wrong. You can get faster speeds with a pcie ssd than you can with two sata ssds in a raid 0. But the versatility advantage still goes to sata.