My experiences upgrading to a 3.33 6-core Westmere

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by allbald, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. allbald macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    I bought the the 2010 Mac Pro after much debating on whether to build a hackintosh or not.

    I bought the low end model from B&H Photo given it was the best price for the low end model and secondly knowing that I would be upgrading it.

    I bought the W3680 3.33 GHz westmere from an eBay seller for $899 plus shipping. This was cheaper than either the 980x non xeon version or the Newegg w3680 (or most other site prices for the w3680) which seems hard to find. Overall, even if I could not sell the 2.8GHz w3530 xeon which came with the machine I would be out $899 vs $1200 plus tax from Apple (about a $400 outright saving).

    In order to upgrade, I followed the pictures from Anandtech's guide to get an idea of what I was looking at and then started:


    This is for the dual processor board but the single processor is similar. Secondly, the current Mac Pros come with the heat spreader.

    2) Open the Mac Pro up and remove the processor board.

    3) Pull the heat sink off. I bought a 3mm --- 9in hex tool from Grainger (you will need this or something similar. There are 5 screws to loosen that spring loaded.

    4) Ground yourself touching the mac pro case. Pull the lever around the processor and pull off carefully -- do not touch the underside of either the processor or the processor socket.

    5) Place the new processor and pull down the lever.

    6) Apply a few drops of thermal grease like arctic silver on top of the processor.

    7) Refasten the heat sink -- but dont overtighten as the screws that you apply the hex wrench to are spring loaded. As soon as feel hard resistance -- stop.

    After that restart the Mac Pro and you should see the new processor speed listed under Finder under 'About a Mac'. Depending on the memory that came with your mac -- it should automatically uptick to 1333mhz speed.

    Similarly, I bought memory at Superbiiz for the Mac for 291 delivered for 12 gb.

    Overall, this saved money but as always changing processors (especially expensive ones) are always a little scary if that is not what you do frequently.

    For me, I wanted to take the risk. If the process sells on ebay, I saved myself at least $650 on the processor and at least $40 (vs OWC memory prices.

    Feel free to ask questions if you are considering this process -- the threads on this board and Anandtech have been very helpful to me so I thought I would share a little of my experience.
  2. oilfighter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2008
    Great stuff! I'll be doing this one day, when the hex processor prices drop a bit, but none the less, great stuff!
  3. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Always like to see the success stories, thanks!

    Hopefully if you need any warranty work, they won't notice the extra cores on your particular computer. Might be one reason to keep your original proc handy for a year.
  4. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    One of the reasons I posted was so anyone considering it would keep a look out for lower price processors. Though processor prices drop in general -- that is not 100% true with Intel's top end models. What I mean by this is that frequently, you will see the model discontinued and be scarce rather than be readily available at a lower price later.

    It would be good for others to contribute anything anecdotal on the top end xeon price trends prior to them being EOL'd.
  5. oilfighter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2008
    Yeah, I didn't even think about the CPU's getting EOL, and supplies drop off. My target date is another half to 1 year, hopefully supplies are still plenty around that time. I will keep an eye out on the price for sure.
  6. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Great info! Had I not been able to use my friends 25% discount I would consider doing this, seems basic enough (aside from AppleCare issues).

    My only regret is not going for the 12-Core with that discount, sucks that I'm stuck with one processor, but hey, my new 3.33 6-Core with 10GB RAM is almost 40% faster than my 08 2.8 8-Core. :)
  7. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    I thought about going the dual route but the faster xeons are about $1700 a piece. So no point.
  8. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    On second thought with the discount it would be very tempting. Would you get it in the refurb store?
  9. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Refurbs aren't discounted that well, in some cases you're better off using an Education discount online ($200 off). I could sell this new unit and make a profit, and get the 12-Core for a discount... but that's crazy, I don't need 12-Cores... do I? lol
  10. dissolve macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    I've wondered this myself. As long as everything looks right (didn't break or bend anything) could they really tell you've dropped a new processor in there? I definitely want to do this as well, but have worried about voiding AppleCare as I'm planning on buying the two more years of coverage.

    Great work OP. Always nice to hear successful upgrades like this.
  11. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010

    Yes ... yes you do!!! I didnt need to upgrade to a 3.33 -- I plan to use the mac for non-artsy work and for gaming. The processor upgrade and increase to 12gb buys very little (although if I have multiple running it will make switching between them soother. Stronger video cards are a much better buy.

    Partly, I wanted to buy the fastet Mac I could and partly I didn't want to pay any more of a premium than I already. Apples prices for the processor upgrades are highway robbery given that your getting 0 credit for the processor that was there int he first place.

    However, I will say this -- the internal design (processor trays, hard drive trays, almost zero wires) plus the quality of the case are partly what sold me on getting it in addition to OSX.

    I don't know how to use OSX super well but geez its just better designed than windows.

    Small example -- Mac Office 2011 (iphone OS 4+-- let's me see multiple exchange inboxes under one inbox wrapper) -- at least up till Office 2007 on the PC -- this was not possible without using 3rd party apps. But I digress.
  12. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Oh yeah, we checked! The first step in working on a system behind the bar is checking the serial number, name, address, APP, and making certain the specs on the system match the BTO specs, otherwise the owner violated APP policy. Additions such as HDD/ODD/RAM/Graphics cards are exceptions.

    I have built my fair share of Hackintoshes and I agree, Jonny Ives' industrial design with Apple systems isn't just form, the function with regards to internal component placement is genius! Compared to building a tower filled with hanging wires, cables, countless screws to mount/unmount drives, fans that sound like nails on a chalk board in some instances, I'd gladly shill out the extra $$$ for the Pro (and the iMac is an EXCELLENT buy considering it's an IPS LED LCD with a full system for the price(s) ).
  13. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    Well -- I took the risk on voiding applecare figuring this way -- if I screwed up inserting it then I would put the original back in. If the motherboard was hosed then obviously I would try to have Apple take care of it-- if the processor got hosed -- then obviously my $900 problem.

    HOwever to answer your question - they could very easily tell if the customer service decided to investigate. You are probably aware -- but as soon as you boot up your Mac you register the product with apple -- basically you are sending your info to them. So via ssserial number or model number on your package -- you are telling them what you bought.

    Apple's BTO options are so few that they could tell by model number -- so I definitely took a risk.
  14. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey

    Not true in all case just some. If you buy from any apple online store, refurb, epp, education etc your machine is registered as yours with apple as soon as they ship it to you..
    They will have a record of the machine and all of its serial numbers. You can even look the numbers up on your online account.
    They keep 18 months of orders available to you.

    If you walk into a store like J and R or B and H photo in NYC and pay for it. or if you order from them online. you are not auto registered. Apple does not have you on record as the owner. Apple does not have you matched to the serial number of the machine. SO KEEP HOLD OF RECEIPTS IF YOU BUY FROM ANY NON APPLE SELLER!
  15. C. Alan macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2009
    Processor upgrades are the kind of thing I only do long after my warranty has expired, and I just want to get another year or two out of a machine before buying a new one. I usually will max out the ram first.
  16. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    That's useful to know. I ordered mine online from BH Photo.

    After you mentioned it -- I went to double-check on Apple's site and you were abosolutely right -- they did not have it registered.

    I had to manually put in my serial number and my purchase date. At that point it told me I had one year of coverage. Thanks for the info -- though what's interesting is that they just list it as a Mid 2010 Mac Pro with no specifics. They must know what's inside orignally don't they?
  17. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    It should have a part number like this : MC560LL

    this is the part number for a base 2.8 model with no upgrades. That tells them the oem setup for the item.

    My mp was from apple on line it had 1 upgrade at the factory the 5870 card so my machine is not a MC560LL it is a Z0LF instead. That means a base 2.8 with the 5870 card as a custom configuration. Look at your mac pro packing box and see if it has a model number on it.
  18. dissolve macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    Both very good points and make perfect sense. OP will you be keeping your original CPU in case you need service on your machine while under warranty?
  19. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    No I am not keeping it. I made sure the install worked. I have done non-Mac installs foe years. The most nerve-racking part is the initial install.

    Assuming you did not fry your chip with static discharge or bend some pins, the risk is pretty low after the install.

    So I will take the risk and sell it.
  20. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I am reviewing all the related threads, but this one seems the best bet.

    I'm looking to order a base 2.8 quad 2010 MP. I already have in hand, an i7 980x CPU and 6GB of proper non-ECC RAM (3x2GB), as well as some hard drives that I wish to swap into the MP.

    If I understand correctly, this base 2.8 model will work fine with I drop in the i7 hex CPU and matching RAM, correct?

    Also, one would think that Apple mounts the CPU heatsinks with some standard torque. Certainly they don't rely on the feel of their assembly folks to always get that just right. It would be nice to measure this, and take some of the guesswork out of the CPU swap.

    Thanks for any insights.
  21. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    Yes i7 hex will work along with non-ECC ram. I went the other route since the Xeon processor was actually cheaper than the 980x at the time.

    To allay your concerns, I described the process as I did so that others could try it without worrying too much.

    Key thing is: (1) have the right tools -- in this case long handle 3mm hex wrench that I pointed out (or the equivalent allen wrench) (2) proper technique -- which is what you are worried about:

    As far as technique goes (1) make sure you are grounded when you are touching the processor -- touching the side the of the Mac is a way to do this (2) what I was trying to say as far as tightening goes is the following -- keep tightening till you feel the first significant change in resistance -- then stop -- you are done. Remember that as soon as you drop the processor in the socket and put the flip lid back on -- the processor is on their tight enough. The heat sink only needs to have light contact with the top of the processor (in case the thermal grease is sort of the 'grout' in betweeot n the processor tile and the heat sink tile if you want an analogy -- it does not and should not be applying additional pressure to the top of the processor.

    The reason for this caution is Anandtech's experience in doing their processor upgrade on their mac pro -- they suspect they may have bent pins overtightening -- that was $1700 processor plus a daughterboard replacement. And I don't have an tech site ad budget funding my foibles!!!

    So since I was doing this I wanted to point out what I was reading before I undertook my experiment.
  22. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Thanks very much for the additional detail.

    I've been building my own PCs and handling $1K CPUs for years so I'm not too concerned really. The two parts that I didn't like were 1) the previous socket that had no CPU retention mechanism and 2) the "feel" required for the heatsink mounting.

    The current heatsink I use with my i7 is great. It's actually very similar but fortunately they were able to design it so you fully screw everything down tight. You screw it in until it literally stops, so there's no guesswork.

    And since you said the quad board now has a retention mechanism for the CPU it shouldn't be difficult.

    Anyways, I'll likely go for this. All I need to do now is see if I can flash my EVGA GF285 into a Mac version.. and either order a new MP or hold out for a refurb.
  23. allbald thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2010
    Interesting thing for me is that I really want to game on it -- as I suspect you seem to want to do using the 285. I tried using virtualization -- but the game I wanted to play (LoTRO) has some weird mouse problems in that game and Parallels 6.0 supports only up to directx 9.0c (speed is great but the latest graphical goodies are disabled).

    So why talk about this -- well because I bit the bullet and did bootcamp again. So it depends on what you want out of the graphics card -- if you want the latest graphical goodies -- what you can do is intall the 285 separately while keeping the 5770 in. When you feel like playing just reboot and switch cables -- its an option and keeps your from having to reflash till you are ready for whichever eon apple decides to release an updated gfx card.

    So this way you can use your mac for everything you need except games, have a secondary card that is the latest from the PC world and reboot within 1 minute to game whenever you feel like and not have to worry about the myriad of compatbility issues on the mac side.
  24. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    More interesting info, thanks.

    Truthfully I've almost stopped PC gaming but I happen to have a GF 285 that has been retired for some time. I figure I ought to use it for something if I can.

    More likely though, I'll be satisfied with the 5770 and that will be that.
  25. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    If the motherboard was "hosed" during the processor swap what do you mean by "I would try to have Apple take care of it"?

    I'm sure you're not suggesting Apple fix customer damaged HW free. :p

    congrats on the new HW

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