My $200 32GB Memory Upgrade (3,1)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by FiveD, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. FiveD, Jun 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013

    FiveD macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #1
    I work with servers some gnarly systems at work. Some with 768GB memory. I'm sitting here at home with 14GB, watching minor Photoshop work cause page outs, getting frustrated. So, I did something about it.

    My Early 2008 (3,1) takes [up to] 800MHz memory. As we all know, this memory isn't exactly in large supply thus prices have never really come down to reasonable levels. I decided to look for -any- compatible memory (with the goal of 32GB) to compare prices. This post is only relavent to my own system. Research your own memory requirements before plunking down money.

    (1) Log onto eBay
    (2) Find some reasonable looking FB-DIMMs from a reasonable grade server
    (3) Bid
    (4) Win.

    I won a set of 8x4GB modules advertised for as HP/Dell server memory, model# HYS72T512920EFA-3S-C, 2Rx4 PC2-5300F, 667MHz - more on that later. It was $200 shipped. It arrived today. Now, I had 6x2GB and 2x1GB installed. That is, I had a fully populated Mac Pro, with "real" Mac memory. It all had the approved heat spreaders on the install FB-DIMMs. My thinking was simple: if the system boots up with this memory (and it should - the only thing that might happen is full fan speed due to missing temp sensor), I'll just swap all the heat spreaders over.

    And away we go.

    New memory on left (standard heat spreader), with "Mac approved" memory on the right.
    [​IMG]



    Remove heat spreaders from new memory

    This step really isn't too difficult. I just used a small screwdriver to pop off the retaining clips. The spreaders won't budge since they are likely stuck to the chips with a bit of thermal paste. The screwdriver can easily pop them off. Just be very careful. When using the DIMM as leverage, apply very light pressure only to an area of the circuit board WITHOUT any components. This should be obvious, but just saying...

    [​IMG]


    Prepare the new memory

    Clean the thermal compound off of the buffer chip, then apply a liberal coating of new paste. I noticed that the "mac approved" heat spreaders don't actually make much contact with this chip surface at all. Before you get all over me for using too much compound, I'm allowing for the natural spreading of the goop to occur when the new spreaders are installed. Use your own approved methods here.

    [​IMG]


    Install the larger spreader onto the new memory

    I had 3 different brands of memory and there were 2 different designs of spreaders. The Apple and Patriot memory both had 4 clips that attach across the two spreaders. In addition to that, there are two retainers on either end of the spreaders. All of these just pop off easily with a little pressure. Installation is even easier. It all just snaps back together. (The second spreader design was the same but rather than the two retainers, it had a simple locator pin).

    [​IMG]


    The leftovers

    After swapping 8 sets of spreaders this is what I'm was left with. All garbage, as far as I'm concerned.

    [​IMG]


    Success
    [​IMG]


    Why 667Mhz?

    Why not? There is a much larger supply of 667 than 800 on the used market. In an effort to squeeze the last bit of life out of this 3,1 before upgrading, I figured I'd max out the memory. I do mostly Aperture/Photoshop work. I'm not worried about a small performance hit in certain circumstances from the slower memory. The increased capacity more than makes up for it for my use cases.

    After running memtest for the better part of the day, I've had no issues with the new memory. No ECC errors, and temperatures are only a bit above the old 2GB DIMMs. The fans are running normally (510rpm according to iStat).

    Anyway - hope this helps anyone out there with a 3,1 that still wants to milk it a bit more before upgrading to whatever is going to be announced in the next few days.

    -Mark
     
  2. Lil Chillbil macrumors 65816

    Lil Chillbil

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2012
    Location:
    California
    #2
    very nice upgrade, but I just can't imagine having 667mhz memory in a workstation. my current computer has 2400mhz of 16 gb DDR3 vengence memory. but this is a pc and from what I have seen is that macs use hardware better than pcs
     
  3. FiveD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #3
    This is a 5 year old computer spec'd to run server class memory from its day. Of course it's slow compared to anything remotely modern.
     
  4. Lil Chillbil, Jun 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013

    Lil Chillbil macrumors 65816

    Lil Chillbil

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2012
    Location:
    California
    #4
    Whats the specs of the machine how many cores etc.


    Edit: I am a dumbass did not look at the specs picture
     
  5. FiveD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #5
    It's all in the post. :)
     
  6. Tesselator, Jun 2, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #6
    Nice, but a couple of things... Of course you should include "Find out what kind of RAM your machine can use" up high in your numbered list there. :p And also there is absolutely no need to change the heat-sinks over to the new RAM. It might make you feel better but that's where the benefits stop. :)

    Here's mine:


    [​IMG]




    If nothing else it makes a nice little RAM disk - I often use between 8 and 16GB of it for that. Here's a speed-test: :)

    [​IMG]

    With the RAM Drive I use is automatically backs up on a shut-down and restores on startup too - which makes it nice. Too bad such a function isn't built in to Time Machine. :p



    .
     
  7. FiveD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #7
    It does make me feel better. ;) I read enough people running into memory correction scenarios (although, that's the entire point of this memory) that I decided the effort to swap spreaders was worth it. It took about 30 minutes.

    I will say that the system did run fine with 2 of the memory modules installed with the standard spreaders. I had no issues with it.

    ----------

    After using this setup for half a day, I will say that it seems that the fan does ramp up faster than it would have in the past - but the modules are all running in the same basic temperature range as the old.
     
  8. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #8
    Ya, I did some serious stress testing on several DIMM sets with and without and there was no difference. Some research turned up the fact that newer DIMMs (as 1GB modules were released) doesn't have the she heat problems that the earlier 512MB modules had.
     
  9. seveej, Jun 2, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013

    seveej macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #9
    From another 3,1 owner (who maybe could use more ram), thanks for this post. If the slower ram works out for you, I'm happy for you...

    I know it may be a lot to expect, but as you do have a set of 800 MHz and 667 Mhz memory, you (and others like you) could maybe shed some light on whether the 3,1 takes a significant performance hit...

    If someone could test with 800 vs. 667 MHz and run a set of benchmarks, I'd be one of the interested parties...

    EDIT: Dang it, found some tests: http://www.barefeats.com/harper5.html
    Doesn't look too shabby...


    RGDS,
     
  10. FiveD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #10
    Ah, cool. Makes sense. Maybe I'll go shopping for some 8GB modules now... :)
     
  11. sailmac macrumors 6502

    sailmac

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #11
    Thanks for the write-up. I'm bookmarking this info.
     
  12. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #12
    When I ordered ram from OWC for my 3,1 2008 Mac Pro they gave me the 667mhz. Clarified with their customer service about the speed difference between 667mhz and 800mhz and the customer rep said the difference is not that great.
     
  13. FiveD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    #13
    They did that without telling you ahead of time? That's kinda shady.
     
  14. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #14
    Hi FiveD. Yeah. When the rams arrived it's 667mhz. I had an extra Kingston 667mhz and thinking combining 667mhz with 800mhz might cause problems. So I did not request OWC to replace my ram to 800mhz
     

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