MP 1,1-5,1 Questions regarding upgrading CPU/RAM/FIRMWARE

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Peanutdust7, Jul 29, 2019.

  1. Peanutdust7 macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2019
    I have an early 2009 8 core Mac Pro 4.1 (details attached) and I'm looking to make it quicker.

    I've just installed 4x 4GB 1066MHZ DDR3 ECC RAM (My mac is ECC enabled) and I've left 4x 2GB ram in from before (they are all made by Kingston). I've also got the OS on an SSD. My geek bench score is single - 2302 and multi - 12956.

    I recently found out I can upgrade my firmware from 4.1 to 5.1. If I upgrade firmware will my ram still work? and my graphics card/everything? I've read this is worth doing so you can upgrade to better hardware.

    Also if I was to upgrade my CPU to Intel Xeon X5680 6 core 12MB Cache 3.33GHZ will it work well with the ram/everything else? Do I need to install firmware 5.1?

    Thanks for your help and hope thats not too many questions! Any tips on how to speed this machine up whilst keeping the cost down would be great.

    Attached Files:

  2. JedNZ macrumors 6502


    Dec 6, 2015
    Deep South
    Check out the stickies at the head of this forum - everything is pretty much covered off in this post.

    Yes - your ram is good for the 5,1 firmware upgrade. But you're best to continue the firmware upgrades through to because it gives you other benefits - NVMe, updated microcodes etc.

    Yes, you MUST upgrade the firmware to 5,1 first before you install/upgrade the CPUs to two X5680's. Just about to do the same when my latest cMP 4,1 arrives. I'll be doing the firmware, CPUs, GPU and other upgrades.

    But check out the sticky above - it's an aggregate of all the wealth of experience, testing and know-how that this community brings together.
  3. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Will still work

    Will work, but you MUST upgrade the firmware to 5,1 BEFORE you install the X5680.
  4. Peanutdust7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2019

    Firstly thanks a lot for your help! I've flashed to 5.1 and am looking to upgrade the processor/gpu still. I have more questions if that's ok! I've had a hunt though the stickies but I'm struggling to piece the info together.

    Am I right in thinking I've wasted some money on ram that is too slow (1066mhz DDR3) if I install a fast processor?
    Will it just run at the ram speed or will it boost my ram a bit?

    Once I've installed a faster CPU than the stock GT120 will I then be able to insert bigger ram modules in the same stock daughter board?

    In terms of graphics card I'd really like to run Mojave efficiently but I'm not sure what that would require as there seem to be so many variables. I have 2 cinema displays at 1680x1050 but maybe in a couple of years I might upgrade to a retina monitor. Do you have any recommendations for something that could cope well for that which isn't too expensive?

    I'm a photographer/musician so I'd like to build a machine that could process hundreds of 75mb images as fast as possible. Also for it to cope with large psb photoshop files or logic projects with lots of plugins. Do you know roughly what spec I should aim for by any chance?

    Also I googled but couldn't find out what that is - Mojave?
  5. skizzo macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2018
    1066Mhz ram will still run at 1066Mhz despite the CPU change. If you purchased 1333Mhz ram (the fastest these systems can run) you likely wouldn't notice much of a real world difference unless you were already at your usage ceiling

    Whether upgrading CPU or GPU you still have same limitations on individual DIMM size. Id stick with 16GB or lower. 32GB ones work but have a few caveats. On the other hand, your TOTAL amount of max ram can change dependent on what CPU is installed. For single CPU it is the difference of I think 56GB compared to 64GB.

    If you don't need GPU horsepower for games or more intensive video and photo work flows then an RX560 is probably the cheapest GPU on the market that supports Mojave with METAL capable GPU. Otherwise RX580 is sort of the standard recommendation

    The 144 number you referenced to is a particular version of the cMP "boot rom". you must be somewhat familiar with this if you already flashed to 5,1 because that process updates/changes the boot rom
  6. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I have an upgraded 4/5,1, with X5680 and RX580. Updated memory, too. Note that the Geekbench score is 3124/14435

    Don't get crazy about the exact score - these things tend to float a bit. Also, I have all 4 memory slots filled, which decreases the score a little bit. I submit it here to show an approximation of how much headroom you have.

    While you could get a shorthand here on how to proceed with upgrading, but there are plenty of "gotchas" along the way. And your workflow requirements may differ. Best to take them one at a time, and read up on it, execute, and then onto the next. I would start with the relevant sticky threads at the beginning of the forum.

    The easiest upgrade is an SSD. Pay attention to the "special" CPU requirements for 2009 model dual-CPU systems. Get a pdf copy of the 2009 Mac Pro Technician Guide (google).
  7. Peanutdust7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2019
    Which radeon RX560 do you mean? Theres lots of models on the site

    As in RAM slots? Are you supposed to leave some empty for speed?

    I currently have the OS on a Crucial MX200 1TB SSD - Should I be upgrading this for speed?

    I've read about RAID 0 - Do you think it's worth doing that?

    I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro with 16GB ram and an i7-4850HQ and I was hoping I could upgrade the Mac Pro 5.1 to faster than that. Currently the MacBook is 4139/14566 - would I have to spend a lot to beat that?

    Sorry if these questions are a bit dumb, I'm barely keeping up but I'm keen to learn. I've been reading articles from all over and many seem conflicting
  8. skizzo macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2018

    the only one Apple specifically calls our for recommendation is MSI Gaming Radeon RX 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5
    However, I am sure there are several more variants that are compatible. There is a very extensive GPU compatibility thread sticky that likely has users feedback on other RX560 models that work just fine.

    You do not need to leave any open, all can be filled if you need the total capacity. But the CPUs are triple channel so if you use 3 DIMMs (leaving the 4th slot open, and 8th slot open if you have dual CPU system) means it activates this triple channel function which basically allows it perform at its most optimal speeds

    The best single core score of a cMP will never beat that 4139 score of your MacBook. That 3100 single core score for cMP with X5690 is pretty standard. Multi core scores are pretty much equal, cMP comes slightly over. Dual CPU cMP will go into 22,000+ with proper configurations for multi core.
  9. Peanutdust7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2019
    When you say proper config do you mean a good hardware set up in general? Or do I need to tune everything individually?
  10. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    This is the main thing. It all depends on what you want to do. If you want video, then a nice 580 or Vega 56 GPU would be helpful. Is your workflow held back by IOPS or other disk performance metrics? The a PCIe/NVMe SSD (and perhaps RAID) may be helpful. You might be able to squeeze another 10% or so of improved throughput with 1333 RAM using only 3 slots, but you may need maximum memory.

    IMHO, the best thing about the cMP is how you can adjust it for different workflows. A friend has a 2012 dual CPU, and we upgraded to RX580, x5680s, and NVME. Using the AMD hardware hack, we got well over 500 fps on ripping a movie in Handbrake.

    All this is well and good, but it depends on what you want to do. If the answer is "top bragging rights" then I suggest reading all the sticky threads - which will get you there in fully-informed style.
  11. Peanutdust7, Aug 3, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019

    Peanutdust7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2019
    All this is well and good, but it depends on what you want to do. If the answer is "top bragging rights" then I suggest reading all the sticky threads - which will get you there in fully-informed style.[/QUOTE]

    No I'm not into bragging, I just need a fast machine I can work with that is going to enable me to get large quantities of images and music retouched/made and delivered as fast as possible for the least amount of cash. I won't be gaming or doing anything like big 3D renders etc. I think 15gb .psb files are the the most demanding thing or processing images through Capture One.

    If I get a DDR5 GPU will I have to buy new ram? My ram is currently DDR3. I've read its not related but I'd like to double check with you guys.

    I think I've found some good deals so if I got an RX 580 and 2x Xeon X5680 which should I get first? GPU or CPU?
    I won't be able to afford all at the same time and want to avoid a bottleneck if possible.

    Also what's the difference between MSI, Sapphire, PowerColour etc? Are they all the same Radeon RX but just released with different brands?
  12. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Here's what I did in order, and rationale. Mine is mainly used for FCPX.
    - SSD because that made a noticeable difference in booting and overall feel of performance
    - 32 GB memory, because I had the original 4x2GB. I knew at this point I was going to Westmere/X5680, and would need faster memory, too.
    - CPU from 4x2.93 original to 6x3.33. Essentially no difference in feel of performance. But despite slower Geekbench scores than my 2013 15-MBP, the cMP now was faster at Handbrake and Compressor and many other areas of FCPX workflow.
    - RX580, because this was the Apple supported way to Mojave, and the 2xGT120s I had were useless for modern computing. Note that this was later in the cycle because 18 months ago the mining craze drove the price to $500-600. I had hoped the RX580 would paint thumbnails faster in the FCPX timeline, but it doesn't seem much faster, if any, than the GT120s. I got the Apple recommended Sapphire Pulse - for awhile that seemed to matter but now it seems that more brands work.
    - PCIe NVMe, because they're fast and 1TB is pretty affordable now. It's fast.

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11 July 29, 2019