Upgrading a Mac Pro 5,1 1TB SATA to SSD

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ernie81, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. ernie81 macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2018
    Hi, so I'm looking for some advice on SSD configuration for my mac pro 5,1.

    I've had this machine for many years but it's getting pretty clunky. I work in photoshop cc on large images which can be upwards of 5GB.

    I'm thinking of doing one of the following options to speed things up:

    Option 1: 256gb SSD for the OS plus a 500gb SSD for photoshop scratch


    Option 2: 1Tb for combined OS and Photoshop scratch drive.

    I think #1 will have better performance and if one drive fails then the data on the other is still ok

    Other upgrades I'm considering are:

    - installing more RAM (it's currently 12GB)
    - possibly upgrading the processor (current processor: 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon)

    Any advice on the pros and cons of the above options greatly welcomed along with any alternative options....

    Many thanks in advance
  2. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    You might want to read through some of that .

    Personally, I keep the Os on one SSD , and Photoshop scratch plus current project files on a different SSD .
    A single SSD with partions should work fine as well .

    I'd definitely get more RAM - 4 x 8 or 3 x 16 GB , and then look into a 6 core CPU upgrade ( 3.33 or 3.42 , check the sticky thread for details on CPU and RAM configurations ) .
  3. bsbeamer macrumors 68000

    Sep 19, 2012
    I'd recommend separate system SSD and scratch SSD, if it's possible and within your budget.

    Are you planning on using scratch SSD literally just for Adobe scratch, or are you working on files/content from the drive as well?

    Do you have any PCIe slots free? If so, you could at least run the scratch SSD off a PCIe adapter and get increased read/write speeds. The Velocity Solo X2 (if you can find one) allows bootable macOS system SSD. Some others work as well.
  4. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    This is what I would also suggest. A standard SATA SSD is fine in one of the existing slots for the OS and applications. It will be limited to SATA II speeds, but you won't really notice. A good PCIe blade SSD would offer really fast read/write speeds for a working drive. Since it's a working drive, you don't have to find an AHCI version for boot support or anything.

    Fastest CPU you can get is either the W3690 or the X5690. They are essentially the same (6C/12T, 3.47GHz), though the X5690 supports considerably more RAM and dual socket configurations.
  5. ernie81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2018
    Thanks for the link - very informative and helped answer some other questions I had.

    If I went with just OS, photoshop and a few other small apps what sort of SSD size do you think i should look at?
  6. bsbeamer macrumors 68000

    Sep 19, 2012
  7. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    The correct answer is "a little bigger than I can afford".

    And for two reasons:
    • whatever you think that you need today is half of what you'll need next year.
    • SSDs are faster and last longer if you don't run them close to full (assuming that of course you'll enable TRIM)
  8. ernie81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2018
    Hi Guys, thanks so much for all the advice.

    I've been looking into the CPU options and found a supplier offering a MacPro5,1 CPU Processor Tray with a single X5690 3.46Ghz 6 core and 32GB RAM (made up of 4 x8GB 1333MHz)

    I thought that this was from a server and wondering if I can just plug it straight into my workstation and get the benefits without any additional bits to buy or drivers to install (I don't want to do the processor upgrade on my existing tray as have seen videos and looks scary).

    Does this seem like a good approach?

  9. fatespawn macrumors regular


    Feb 22, 2009

    Do you have the single processor tray? If so, there's no magic to upgrading the processor. I bought a W3690 on EBAY and once I had the tools, it was about a 15 minute job. You pop out your tray, unscrew the heat sink. Clean the bottom of the heat sink. Plop in your new processor. Apply thermal paste. Screw on your heat sink. No "delidding" or anything else required for the single processors. Seriously NOT scary.

    You'll need this stuff:

    Screwdriver: https://www.amazon.com/Klein-Tools-...pID=21DXFHvP9-L&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

    Thermal paste: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OGX5AM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    W3690: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Xeon...623673&hash=item1eda7e5c58:g:SJoAAOSwXfVaj3i-

  10. XNorth macrumors regular


    Feb 23, 2018
    United States
    How fast is a single SSD? You might consider using two SSDs in a Apple RAID 0 set for High Sierra, which should get about 515 MB/s write and 540 MB/s read. I use two Samsung 860 Pro 256 SSDs. Be aware High Sierra can't be upgraded on the RAID. Use a single drive to update HS, then clone it to the RAID.
  11. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    HS not support RAID or APFS not support RAID? Or both?
  12. XNorth, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    XNorth macrumors regular


    Feb 23, 2018
    United States
    High Sierra works fine on a HFS+ RAID boot drive once the HS volume is cloned to the RAID. It just can't be installed directly on a HFS+ RAID. It seems HS can't install on a RAID set because currently it can't convert RAID volumes to APFS.

    Would an APFS RAID work as a boot drive? I haven't read that someone has created a bootable HS RAID by installing directly or cloning to a APFS formatted RAID. High sierra still supports HFS+, so I'm playing safe keeping all my drives formatted Mac OS Extended.
  13. tripmusic, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    tripmusic macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2012
    Don't waste your money buying an upgraded tray. The 4,1/5,1 single processor is probably the easiest Mac Pro CPU upgrade there is. The videos you saw are of the dual 4,1 upgrades. You already have a 5,1, so you don't even need to bother with the firmware upgrade AFAIK. You can get an X5690 for a little over $100. RAM, depending on how much you want will cost $100-200. It runs better using only 3 slots.

    In regards to the SSD... I came to the conclusion that it's safer and faster to use a separate drive for scratch. Better to not stress out your boot drive if you don't have to. I just bought 2, 860 Evo m.2 SATA drives and a StarTech PCIe card. Not the fastest solution, but for a little over $200 it will be faster than my previous SATA2 speeds.
  14. ernie81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2018
    Thanks guys - your advice has been awesome. I'm in the process of cloning my original HD to a new SSD as I write. I've got a new processor and RAM coming next week. :)

    I'm going to start a new thread on a new storage solution
  15. MacProFreak macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2013
    Why does it "run better" with only 3 slots?

    I have a single tray 5,1 with 32Gb (4x 8Gb) and one 3690.
  16. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    A function of the memory channels to the CPU. In most Nehalem and Westmere processors (those used in 4/5,1 models) there are 3 memory I/O channels. Optimal memory performance is obtained when there is memory in these three slots. See the Mac Pro Technician Guide (search the googs) for proper installation. Benchmark score are improved about 5-7% with memory in 3 slots. YMMV.

    But if you need more memory (and not simply want more memory) then this small boost pales in comparison to hitting swap. So if you have applications/workflow that requires more memory than is available in the 3 slots, it's way better to configure memory into the 4th slot. Applications such as PS often demand lots of memory.
  17. ernie81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2018
    Update: I've upgraded the CPU and RAM (all 4 slots) and from initial testing, my machine is flying! Coping very well with the larger images I would normally work on. Thanks everyone for all the advice

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