Upgrade Mac Pro 3.1 (2008)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by r6mile, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hi all,

    I am about to purchase a second-hand 2008 Mac Pro, and was looking for some advice on how to upgrade. Here are the specs:
    1x Quad Core 2.8Ghz CPU
    22GB RAM
    No hard drive
    ATI Radeon HD 5770

    As you can see, the machine has already had the RAM and the graphics card upgraded. So I would be looking to upgrade a few things:
    • The CPU: it is my understanding that the single-CPU Mac 3,1 has an empty CPU socket - is that correct? In that case I can simply purchase another 2.8 CPU that has been pulled from a Mac 3,1 and go dual-CPU right? (If so, this is great because they are available ridiculously cheap on eBay). I would also need to purchase a heatsink which is also easily available.
    • The hard drive: this machine does not have a hard drive so will need one. I am looking to get an SSD, and have read that on these machines it is best to use the PCIe slot. Firstly, does anyone know how much faster this is than simply using the SATA slot? Secondly, I know that I have two options: either purchase a ready-made PCIe SSD drive (which I understand is more expensive), or purchase an PCIe SSD adapter card, and then put in a standard 2.5 SSD. Is this correct? And if so, does anyone have any recommendations as to particular adapters or types of adapters?
    • I also have a standard 500 stata HDD pulled from a 2010 iMac upgrade - i imagine this will work?
    • And then a simple USB 3.0 PCIe card
    Could anyone let me know if I've missed anything else? Anything else worth upgrading? And general upgrade advice for this machine would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. raymanster macrumors 6502

    raymanster

    Joined:
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    #2
    I bought a 3,1 (2008) a couple months ago. You're right about the CPU, I did exactly what you describe, CPU and heatsink from eBay. Don't forget to buy a very long handled hex driver (about £5-6 from Amazon) and some Arctic silver paste.

    I followed this guide:
    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Replacing-Upgrading+Mac+Pro+Processors+(Early+2008)/17562

    Long handled hex driver:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0080R1UC2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00

    Mine came with an SSD drive that is in drive bay 1. From what I've read SATA II is limited to 250 MB/sec. I'm guessing if you use a SATA III PCIe card you will reach closer to what the SSD drive specs are. I'm also toying with adding a PCIe SATA III card, found this article, really useful although applies to a 2009:

    http://pindelski.org/Photography/2013/09/07/mac-pro-2009-part-xvi-3/

    Yes your 500 GB drive should work fine. Just mount it on the existing drive sled and slot it in.

    I bought an Inatech USB 3.0 PCI card, not really had a chance to test it much.

    I added a Geforce 750 ti with 2 GB RAM, seems to work great, no boot screen, but not a problem as I have the older Mac specific card (forget the model) still installed should I need the boot screen.

    So far really liking this Mac Pro, so much expandability, makes me wonder why I didn't get one sooner.

     
  3. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Thanks a lot, that was incredibly useful! And I won the auction on eBay!

    I will do as you describe on the CPU. And on the hard drive, turns out the Mac Pro comes with a SSD PCIe controller card already (worth £125 new), so all I need to do is add an SSD and I'm sorted.

     
  4. zoomfinder macrumors member

    zoomfinder

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    #4
    I'm sure this has been discussed elsewhere on this forum but I can't find the topic and I would appreciate it if anyone can shed some light on this. There are two internal SATA ports available on Mac Pro 3,1's mother board and I wonder if these ports are 6G compliant and bootable. If they are I would hook up new SSDs there but I have heard Mac Pro 3,1's SATA speed would be limited at a slower rate if connected to ports in the back of HDD bays. I wonder if this applies to the ports on the mother board as well. I also have two internal SATA ports available on the Caldigit FASTA-6GUS Pro card, which clock 6G and are bootable according to the manufacturer, but I want to know my choice before installing new SSDs.
     
  5. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    As far as I understand, the internal SATA ports on the Mac Pro are bootable but are only 3G, so the speed of your 6G SSD will be limited to that. This limitation would not apply to devices plugged into the PCIe port (which is faster), through an adapter card. Obviously wait for confirmation from someone else, but this is my understanding.

     
  6. JoSch macrumors regular

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    Feb 22, 2013
    #6
    I have installed my 750Ti additional to the HD5770. Then you will have both boot screen AND a modern graphics card.
     
  7. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    How does the CPU performance of a dual-CPU 2.8 compare to, say, the latest 27inch iMac? The Geekbench scores are very similar (11214 for the 2008 eight-core 2.8, 11696 for the 2015 27 iMac), but I'm not sure if this is missing something?
     
  8. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Single threaded tasks will be roughly twice as fast on the iMac. Applications that play nicely multithreaded will take about the same time e.g. ripping a DVD with Handbrake.

    People lose sight of the fact that the dual CPU 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 is still a very capable system because it was very powerful top of the range system when released & processor performance hasn't improved that much in the last seven years. Moore's Law has run out of steam in terms of single threaded performance.
     
  9. zoomfinder macrumors member

    zoomfinder

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    Dec 31, 2015
    #9
    Thanks for your info.

    That's what I heard somewhere but I would assume that the 6Gbps speed can only be attained if the PCIe board is inserted in a lower slot #2 which is the only high speed slot left after a graphic card that's sitting in the other fast slot #1. Slots #3 and 4 are 3G as I understand it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    You know I've had my Mac Pro 3,1 since the time I bought it in 2008 and I'm now finding all these facts out. Fascinating!
     
  10. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Yes I think you're right. According to the Everymac profile here (http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_pro/specs/mac-pro-eight-core-2.8-2008-specs.html), the MacPro has 2x PCIe 2.0 slots (one of which is used by the graphics card), and 2x PCIe 1.0 slots. PCIe 2.0 can reach speeds of up to 500 MB/s, whereas PCIe 1.0 (I imagine the lower slots) only reach 250 MB/s (which is basically the same speed as plugging it into the SATA II port). So you should plug it into the upper slot for maximum speed.

    I'm very excited about this Mac Pro, picking it up this evening!
     
  11. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    PS: I've picked up the Mac Pro! Just need to install El Capitan, and we're good to go! And turns out the machine is an eight-core, not a four-core, so I do not need to upgrade the CPU!
     
  12. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    One more question:

    This machine has 22GB of RAM - installed as 4x4, 2x2, 2x1. They are all PC-6400F 800Mhz modules. However, those are very expensive on eBay. I have seen that I can buy a 4x4GB set of 5300-F FBDIMM modules for quite cheap on eBay, and go up to 32GB.

    My question is - will it work if half of my RAM modules are 667Mhz modules? (I imagine the 800 Mhz ones will just run at 667Mhz but I just want to check). And if they do work, will there be a performance decrease between 800Mhz RAM and 667Mhz RAM?

    Thanks.
     
  13. raymanster macrumors 6502

    raymanster

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    #13
    Yes your 800 mhz RAM will run at 667 mhz, I've heard the performance hit is barely noticeable, although temps will go up slightly.

    I was also look at upgrading my RAM, i have 18 GB (4 x 4 GB and 2 x 1 GB) of 800 mhz and want to max it out to 32 GB. A few overseas eBay sellers seem to have reasonable prices compared to UK sellers even when you take into account import tax etc.



     
  14. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Thanks. Indeed, there seem to be HK-based sellers selling 4x4GB PC-5300F for about £20 (compared to around double for the UK-based ones). Only annoying thing is delivery times. On the other hand, PC-6400F is prohibitively expensive.

     
  15. zoomfinder macrumors member

    zoomfinder

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    Dec 31, 2015
    #15
    The true maximum RAM capacity of MP3,1 is 64GB according to OWC but you may have to pay the price.

    I would stick with the same type of 800 MHz memory modules all around for better and stable performance and buying a set of matched RAM would be the safest way to go, IMHO.

    I have upgraded to 32GB in my MP3,1 recently and that seems to be adequate for normal 2D graphic work like Lightroom and Photoshop and an ample free space is left for other apps.
     
  16. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #16
    You can fit 64GB (8x8GB) into a 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 but you probably don't want to as there is a quirk that any more than 56GB slows down performance of any PCIe SSD by over 50%.

    You can buy cheap 4GB & 8GB 667MHz FB-DIMMs used as pulls from Dell & HP servers. The marginal performance improvement of 800MHz versus 667MHz (4% according to barefeats.com) is not noticeable in real life.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 20, 2016 ---
    Temperatures will go down with 667MHz parts.
     
  17. Twimfy macrumors 6502a

    Twimfy

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    #17
    As a fellow 3,1 owner I thought I'd chime in with what I've done, you might find some of this reassuring.

    SSD was moved to an Apricorn Velocity Solo X1 in the PCI-E slot above the GPU, achieved a 6G link doing this with confirmed speeds using a variety of testing tools, well worth doing, no issues with booting apart from when I have Windows installed on a drive connected to the standard sata ports...Windows always takes priority on boot and getting into OS X requires a restart from Bootcamp control panel in Windows. I believe the Apricorn X2 fixes this but they're pricier (and a little more useful).

    Upgraded to 32GB Ram using 667mhz modules intentionally. The 4% speed decrease is not noticable at all but the temp drop is considerable. I'd be constantly worrying if I were running that much 800mhz due to the amount of heat generated, riser cards are known to fail faster with a full set of 800's sitting in them.

    Full strip down and clean with some plastic grease added to the fans and the machines performs beautifully and quietly (apart from my Plex HDD which whirrs away now and again).

    Absolutely fantastic machines and cheap to pick up (I paid £199 for my 8 Core). I'm just hoping they make it to 10.12.
     
  18. MacDann, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016

    MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

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    #18
    I have done much the same, acquiring a 3,1 dual CPU model and installing an ATI 5780 as well as an SSD to boot from using the logic board SATA port (I also have an Apple RAID card with four 15k 300GB hard drives, so all of my drive bays are populated.)

    I am interested in the use of the Apricorn Velocity Solo X1, as I spoke to Apricorn about this card and they specifically said it would not boot reliably in the 3,1. I even noticed they mention this in the description for the card on Amazon. I had a VS X2, which would definitely not boot in my 3,1, regardless of the slot it was installed in.

    I need to upgrade some memory, but otherwise my 3,1 is a fabulous machine and I expect it to continue to serve me well for some time.

    MacDann
     
  19. Twimfy macrumors 6502a

    Twimfy

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    #19
    Interesting, I was under the assumption the X2 was meant to be even better, guess I got that wrong. There have been a few people on this board who have had issues with X1 on 3,1's but mine has been flawless.
     
  20. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Thanks a lot, I did not realise there was actually an advantage to running 667Mhz ram! I am amazed as to how cheap the modules are on eBay.

     
  21. MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

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    #21
    I tried, but was never successful. I called Apricorn and spoke with one of their support people, who told me the Mac Pro 3,1 had always been "wonky" when it came to booting in the Mac Pro 3,1.

    That was when I discovered that there were two logic board mounted SATA ports. And this is my second Mac Pro! I never knew they were there.... thank goodness, as I was going to go with a legacy ATA/IDE SSD in place of one of my optical drives.

    MacDann
     
  22. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    One other question:

    The Mac Pro came with all the RAM slots occupied, and each of the RAM modules has one of those big heatsinks. I am looking to replace a few of the 1GB and 2GB modules with 4GB modules - is it at all possible to remove the heatsinks from the old RAM and putting them on the new RAM?

    Thx
     
  23. MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

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    #23
    The short answer is "No".

    There are two types of DIMMs that can be used in the Mac Pro. One is the Apple approved type which has the large heat sinks, the other standard server RAM used in Dell and HP servers of the same vintage. The Dell and HP RAM has metal plates on the outside to aid in cooling, which would prevent clipping on the large heat sinks used on the Apple approved RAM. I'm not sure if you could remove the metal plates, as I've never looked that closely at them.

    I have used both types and found no appreciable difference in operating temperature or performance.

    The Dell/HP RAM is considerably less expensive, as you may have noticed. I just bid on some new working pulls of 32GB worth of this type of DIMM and the price is around $65. Not bad considering the cost of the Apple approved type.

    I would add that Crucial no longer manufactures this type of RAM. I mention this as I just had a pair of their 2GB DIMMs fail, and when I went to get them replaced under warranty they couldn't do it. They gave me $122 credit in their Web store for the failed DIMMs.

    MacDann
     
  24. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Thanks - it's weird because the RAM in this Mac is from a range of manufacturers - KomputerBay (4x4GB), Crucial (2x2GB), and Nanya (2x1GB) - but they all seem to have the same large heatsinks.
    I assume it's ok to have some RAM modules with the heatsinks, and others without, right?
     
  25. MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

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    #25
    Certainly.

    What is more important is that they are all the same bus speed. Mixing them will force the group on the memory card to run at the lowest speed. So if you mix 800MHz and 667MHz DIMMs, everything runs at 667MHz.

    MacDann
     

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