TembaVJ's MacPro upgrade project.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 4, 2015
Melbourne Australia
TembaVJ Mac Pro upgrade project

Hi all, i know this has been done before but I thought another one will only help make keep it fresh. If you are over “upgrade project” please top reading now! :)

I am a convert, having spent most of my life as a lost soul in windows. When I bought my first iPhone 7 years ago I decided to try Mac as well and never looked back.

Today I received my Mac Pro mid 2010 5,1 dual quad core 2.4ghz. I bought this on eBay for $1800AUS including shipping about $1260US. The reason I selected this is its perfect for an upgrade project most notably the dual CPU tray and it came with 32GB of RAM that is ready for 1333mhz.

Before I get to the plan I intend to use this as my home base beast which will include but is not limited to:

  1. General computer use like browsing, docs, downloads and so on.
  2. It will also run my Plex server which streams to my Apple TV4 (best ATV news ever)
  3. For my job I will run VMfusion with a mix of Windows 7, 8 and 10. Also Ubuntu and Kali 2-4 at anytime and some test option still undecided.
  4. Making basic film and music tracks.
  5. Photo editing.
  6. Windows bootcamp to play very occasional games, I don’t do online only story based games… call me old school!

The Plan:
I am doing this in three phases in this order as it suits me.

  1. SSD HDD install and copy from the old spinning disk. Samsung Evo 850 256GB
  2. Dual Xeon X5680 2 x 6 core (12 actual 24 virtual)
  3. GPU upgrade still thinking but leaning towards GTX970

I know there are other faster methods using PCIe that I might consider that is currently out of scope. This was selected for ease/cost. The x5680’s seem to be best bang for buck.

Phase one:

I went out and bought the samsung SSD, man these have dropped in price! it cost me $130AUD. I plugged the SSD in and was picked up instantly. I migrated my OS over using disk utility and restarted. Here is where I run into my fist problem...

  1. The old spinner 1TB WD kept taking over as master and had no link to change it to slave. A quick search showed that SATA does not require the old school master slave settings that I only had to move the SSD into slot one and the spinner into slot two. Oh by the way I did format the old spinner.
  2. The bracket I bought did not fit the MAC bays, it looks and feel solid on its own so I left it just sitting their unsupported.

I do plan to build on this phase later by adding more space and perhaps PCIe and raid. I need to understand it all more and my wife grants access to more funds.

NOTE: Just out of interest I went on eBay to check how much the departing GPU would fetch and to my surprise the are still doing ok, between $200 and 250AUD

Phase two:

I searched amazon and ebay as these prices seem more reasonable then Australian suppliers. Amazon lost out as the shipping to Aus was nearly the same price as the units. Totalled $790AUD. I found a refurb guy on eBay serverworlds who’s price was the best by far. Total in US was $330 including shipping $480AUD. They are in the post and should arrive sometime next week. A tube of Thermal paste should arrive prior in the 3 hex long allenkey I can pick up from the hardware store.

Now we play the waiting game!

Ill take photos of each step in this process and post them. I come from a support background and confident I can do this part myself.

If anyone has ideas or advice I am happy to hear it and make changes accordingly.

Outstanding question that I have not found the perfect alive for are

  1. How hard is it to flash GPU’s myself?
  2. Should I have done a fresh install directly to the new SSD?
  3. Will the new SSD HDD be ok hanging like tarzan from the doc?
  4. I have been reading things about the RAM being triple channel or something I have 8 x 4gb for 32 someone suggested removing the 4th on each side.

Oh did I mention ill be doing benchmarking? I don’t know which ones are the best to use so only geek bench for now, let me know if you want me to test with others.

Total cost to date:
$2430AUS or $1700USD pending CPU’s arrival.

More to come.


macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
Hong Kong
Plug the SSD in the lower optical bay may be a better choice than hang at there (even though it won't cause any trouble).

For 970, there is no way you can flash it by yourself at this moment. The easiest self flashable card would be 7950 / 7970. 680 also self flashable, but considering the 79xx's dual ROM design. It's more safe for self flashing.

In general, There is no real world performance plenalty by using all 8 RAM slot.


macrumors 65816
Dec 22, 2012
Using that SSD on an Apricorn Velocity PCIe card you will get double the performance that you are currently getting with the SSD in the drive sled.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 4, 2015
Melbourne Australia
seveej we are on a different time zone so this can be new day reading!

I won't be going that fast everything takes time to ship but ill make sure to note every little issue I run into.


macrumors member
Jun 3, 2015
Thanks Chef, I think I have made up my mind on dual 970's now to figure out a cunning plan to get my wife to release another $600 in funds.
Then you don't need the second power supply with dual 970's they can run off a single cable as they only draw 145w if there reference cards.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 4, 2015
Melbourne Australia
So guess what arrived today? :)

Server worlds on eBay did a great professional packaging and postage was 10 working days from US to AUS.

Perfectly landed on a Friday so I can upgrade tomorrow.

Will be detailing the steps but if anyone wants me to focus on anything specific let me know.

Cheers and happy Friday!