OWC Mac Pro Turnkey Upgrade Program

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Jethro!, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. Jethro! macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2015
    Has anyone upgraded their 2009-2012 MP with OWC's Turnkey Upgrade Program?


    Given the sorry state of Apple's neglect of the current MP, and losing hope that Apple may actually LISTEN to pro's who don't care about form over function (give me a TOWER with PCI slots, optical bays, etc.), I'm thinking about upgrading my 2009 MP a processor upgrade to give it a bit more life.

    Any experiences with this OWC program?
  2. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    I will not recommend it because it's way overprice. The upgrade process is very simple, I can do that on my own even I am nowhere near computer hardware expert.

    It's my very 1st time to open up the Mac Pro, my very first time to actual see a CPU that has no pin (the last CPU I physically hold on my hand is the 486 DX2), my very first time to apply thermal paste. But I still consider the process is very straight forward, and not worth to pay 3x cost to OWC.
  3. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    I've done other turnkey programs with OWC (such as their Mac mini drive upgrade) and I've always been pleased with their service.

    With that said, it's expensive. I got a W3680 off eBay along with some thermal paste and did the upgrade myself. It's pretty straightforward on a non delidded model, with the only caveat being you need a way to get into the heatsink and get the screws. I'd say for the cost and the fact that you're upgrading a long out-of-warranty piece of equipment, you're best off reading up and going for it yourself.
  4. Jethro! thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2015
    So the consensus is the processor upgrade itself is worth it, but having OWC do it is not?
    Is there a thorough and complete tutorial available showing every step necessary to do it yourself?
  5. i make movies macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2007
    You could also buy a complete processor tray from EBay. There are quite a few sellers. I had a 6 core 3.33...went to dual 3.46 for 1500. It's been a rock solid purchase for over a year now.

    The CPU swap is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be.
  6. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    Whether or not the CPU upgrade is worth it depends on the current specs of your machine, what you're willing to spend to upgrade, and what your actual use case is.
  7. Jethro! thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2015
    Current system is a 2009 MP 2.66 8-core. OWC will take it up to a 3.33 8-core for about $700, everything included. Doesn't sound too bad considering they take care of everything and will warranty their work. (I don't warranty my own work - ha.) I use this machine for heavy, professional music production, so some more horsepower in the CPU wouldn't hurt.
  8. AidenShaw, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016

    AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    That seems to be a lot of money for only about a 25% boost at the max, and probably much less unless you're CPU bound most of the time.

    Sorry to sound negative, but the cMP is past its prime. My spring cleaning in the server lab this year was to send everything older than E5-x6xx v2 to the eWaste bin (including a dozen Sandy Bridge systems). The cMP vintage systems were eWasted a couple of years ago - just not worth the floor space and power consumption.

    It's too bad that Apple has not given you an alternative. It's like cMP fans are from Cuba - nothing new available, so keep on pimping the old stuff.

  9. Jethro! thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2015
    A 25% boost would be helpful. Audio apps only rely on the CPU for processing (vid cards carry none of the load). A new MP (trash can) configured the way I want would cost nearly 10x that, with technology that's already old. I doubt the 10x cost would give me 10x the performance over the CPU upgrade..?
  10. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    The dual-CPU 2009 has some problems due to lidless processors. But in all other 2009-2012 cases, it seems pretty easy to me. In fact, in 20+ years this was the easiest CPU upgrade I've ever done on a computer.

    All you need is a long 3mm t-handle allen wrench and new thermal paste. Everything else is tool-less, and each step is quite easy.
    1. Pull power.
    2. Pull side cover.
    3. Pull CPU tray.
    4. Use 3mm wrench to remove the heat sink. The screws are captured so you have no parts to lose.
    5. Remove CPU(s).
    6. Insert new CPU(s).
    7. Apply Paste.
    8. Use 3mm wrench to attach the heat sink.
    9. Insert CPU tray.
    10. Close side cover.
    11. Apply power.
    Here is the exact wrench I used, a 9" long model:

    I've done it twice now. The second time was super fast, maybe 5-10 minutes.
  11. i make movies macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2007
    My bad. I should have been more specific. The huge hurdle I was running into was going from single CPU to Dual CPU. It was when I was searching for just a tray that I found a bunch of selling on EBay doing tray swap...using your old tray as a "core". They incredibly cheap, but most only do dual to dual or single to single...single to dual took some convincing on my part and cost a little extra. But worth it in my opinion.

    I was also doscourged by someone's super old post detail the CPU swap in great detail and I get lost on the details. If I saw your simple 10 step program (and I had a dual CPU to begin with) I might have tried it.
  12. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    The hardest part to upgrade from single to dual is to get the CPU tray, not the CPU swapping. The lidless CPU is available with some extra cost. If you willing to pay for that, the CPU upgrade on a dual 4,1 is also very straight forward, no huge risk of damaging the socket.
  13. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    Ahhh! I would have taken/purchased one for a VEP5 slave. It could have lived out it's remaining years in my cool basement, running headless via ethernet. Oh well.
  14. Baunkjaer macrumors 6502


    Feb 20, 2009
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Joining the chorus. I swapped the CPU in my former 5,1 (SP), and again in my current. It´s so easy, that I was smiling during the (short) process. Payed around 200 US for the X5675´s.
  15. mtasquared macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    I'm enjoying my upgraded tower while it lasts, and am seriously considering a 1080. The CPU arms race is practically over but we may still benefit from GPU advancement. It is satisfying, more like:



    Attached Files:

  16. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    For music production, go for 12 cores... most DAWs use as many cores as you can throw at them quite efficiently. You can double your cMP's horsepower. Although I greatly respect Aiden Shaw's opinion, this guy with a working studio can assure you there is a lot of life left in our cMPs when it comes to audio.

    Unfortunately, the 2009 dual CPU swap is more complicated than the 2009 single CPU or 201-2012 single or dual swap. Read the guides carefully. My recommendation is to have or buy your 2 CPUs de-lidded. Two X5680s delidded will run you about $430, quite a bit more power and less cost than the OWC update you mention.


  17. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    In this specific space, typically not just the CPU, but an older subset of the x86 instruction set.

    10? as a round number or simply just picking all of the most expensive options to drive up the price? Apple's memory is overpriced. For what Apple charges to get to 64GB , OWC will get to you 128GB. The SSD is almost as bad if hoping to maximize storage contained 100% inside the system.

    Part of the price difference here is new versus used/obsolete. Intel has stopped selling these processors ( http://www.cpu-world.com/news_2012/2012031102_Intel_discontinues_Xeon_5500_series_processors.html. Similar notice went out for 5600 series. OEM sales ended this month; June 2016. ) So anything buying now is at best the dregs of someones inventory or increasingly likely used components. The Xeon E5 v2 may be "old", but they haven't reached the end-of-life/discontinued status of the 2009-2010 processors in those respective Mac Pros.

    "Have to keep core count the same (or higher)" is a nice rule of thumb but it isn't always necessarily true. Especially start skipping 3-5 generations of CPU implementations (and even more so across design families).

    Running 2004-7 era x86 code there is a little traction for the newer processors.

    8 highly vintage cores at 3.33 GHz will be a better match to that instruction set (and optimizer assumptions) and probably will do pretty good against 8 contemporary cores at 3.0 GHz. However, if had a AVX2 optimized codebase versus the vintage SSE3 (maybe SSE4 ) + legacy x86 ops the contemporary cores would have substantive advantage.

    If the software is "stuck in time" then hardware selection tends to get "stuck in time" also.

    An updated Mac pro should make the transition from 6 to 8 cores not be quite so high ( $1,500). Similar AVX2 optimized code would make 6 cores more viable than 8 on more than a few workloads. Again, a potential cost reduction.

    Kind of humorous tagging the 2013's hardware as "already old" when the alternative is 4 years older still. It is just indicative that newer on any dimension anything doesn't matter much for this workload area. The software is old and the workload has largely plateaued.

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