Upgrading a mac pro (early 2008)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Udyret, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. Udyret
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    macrumors newbie

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    Jun 5, 2017
    #1
    Hi there,

    I was wondering if anyone knows if my old mac pro (early 2008) has any possibilities of being upgraded, and if so what should i upgrade? If someone has the time i would love getting some links for what i could buy that works with this model.

    I am using my mac mostly for music production in Ableton, but it has started to get a bit slow for the use.

    This is what it currently has:
    2 x 2,8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM
    Macintosh HD
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256 MB

    Cheers! :)
     
  2. kschendel
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    macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 9, 2014
    #2
    You can upgrade the CPUs but the difference will likely be relatively small, since the options for the (3,1) are fairly limited. The main things I'd do would be to add memory (4 Gb is hardly even a good start) and trade out the HDDs for SSD. You don't have to get fancy with the SSD, pretty much any SATA compatible unit of suitable size will do.
     
  3. Udyret
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    thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 5, 2017
    #3
    Thank you for the quick reply kschendel!

    Do you have any recommendations regarding what SSD and RAM i should be getting? Im a bit scared of purchasing something totally wrong.
     
  4. kschendel
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    macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    For RAM, I and others have had very good luck with Data Memory Systems, but there's nothing wrong with other vendors such as Crucial or OWC. I'd put at least 16 Gb in there. I don't know if it's worth the money to go a lot higher. Any vendor that has a configurator listing your specific machine will probably have the right stuff.

    SSD, almost anything. Mushkin, Toshiba, Crucial, Sandisk, ADATA. Samsung usually comes at a price premium and you won't be able to take much advantage of the extra speed. You can't go wrong as long as you buy something in a 2.5 inch form factor SATA 2/3 compatible drive. You'll need an inexpensive 3.5-to-2.5 mounting adapter if you put the SSD into a drive bay, which is certainly how I'd do it; I used Icy Dock but it's just a mounting plate and almost anything should work. (You can even velcro-tape it in place!) Buy an SSD that's large enough to be no more than about 60-70% full when you transfer everything you have onto it; don't try to max out an SSD space-wise.
     
  5. nigelbb
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    macrumors 65816

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #5
    There is very little point in upgrading the CPUs unless your workload is CPU limited. The fastest Xeon you can fit is 3.3GHz. You can buy used 4GB 667MHz FB-DIMMs on eBay very cheap that have been pulled from Dell & HP servers. The difference in performance versus the Apple only 800MHz parts is negligible. You can flash a PC GTX680 yourself for an Apple boot screen & these can be found used on eBay. Finally put the SSD on a PCIe card liken Apricorn Velocity Duo for maximum performance.
     
  6. orph
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    macrumors 65816

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    UK
    #6
    id gess geting your ram up to 8GB+ and a SSD will be the two biggest speed boosts you can get.

    + cheep x server ram on ebay, not worth high cost ram on a cheep computer.
    for audio 680 might be overkill but there cheep so.

    a SSD might be nice

    and if your thinking of ruining a newer os (osx10.12+) a rx460 might be fun.

    CPU upgrade can be done, speed gain will be small but the CPU's may be so cheep on ebay now that if you want to it's not a big problem.
    cpu options
    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-pro-cpu-compatibility-list.1954766/

    as ever if you are doing the upgrade for speed gains and not just fun then it's worth geting out activity monitor to see what your limited by (and a lot of audio apps will also show if your limited by cpu/HD speed).
     
  7. mryingster
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    macrumors regular

    mryingster

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    #7
    Hello, fellow Mac Pro 2008 owner! I've done the following upgrades to my machine, and am still quite pleased with the results:
    I didn't buy all these things at these prices. I looked around for better deals, but that gives you the gist. Good luck!
     
  8. nigelbb
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    macrumors 65816

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    #8
    A full 8x8GB will for some bizarre reason reduce the performance of an SSD on a PCIe card. However you can put in 6x8GB+2x4GB for 56GB & this works great (I have 56GB in my main Mac Pro 3,1).
     
  9. ActionableMango
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    macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #9
    Just another option to consider...

    Depending on your upgrade budget, you might be better off selling the 2008 and buying a 2009. Use the upgrade budget for the price difference. Even if you get the lowest base model 2009, you'll end up with faster CPU, RAM, and GPU. And you'll have a lot of headroom for future upgrades.
     
  10. captaindocsis
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    macrumors newbie

    captaindocsis

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    #10
    Just finished upgrading my 2008 Macbeasty. I added a 512gb SSD and a Gtx 1060 and upgraded the ram to 32gbs. It is like a new computer lol.
     
  11. orph
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    macrumors 65816

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    #11
    @ActionableMango good point price up the upgrades vs a 4.1/5.1 etc

    thats why i mentioned it's not worth spending too much.
     
  12. dblester
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    macrumors member

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    Atlanta, GA
    #12
    Popping in on this thread because I am trying to hold out buying a new computer for as long as possible and I am looking to get the most bang for my buck with my 3,1 Mac Pro.
    I am ordering that OWC PCI card and am looking for a good SSD deal.
    I saw from one of those ebay links there is 32GB of RAM but it is the 667 speed, thoughts on if I would see any significant speed increase going from 16gb of DDR2 800 RAM to to 32gb DDR2 667?
    I have a Radeon HD 5870 in this thing currently so I wasn't looking to upgrade the card figured it would be too costly.
    Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated
     
  13. captaindocsis
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    captaindocsis

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    #13

    There is neglible benifits to having 800mhz ram from what I have read. I installed 32gb of 667mhz also from ebay. Works like a champ. Also my SSD is installed directly into a drive bay.
     
  14. mryingster
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    macrumors regular

    mryingster

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    #14
    Agreed about the 667mhz RAM from my experience. As far as the SSD, (I think) the builtin SATA bus is only SATA2, so it is advantageous to use a PCIe adapter for high throughput.
     
  15. kschendel
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    macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I won't discourage anyone who wants to put a SATA 3 card in as part of an SSD upgrade, but don't imagine that it's essential (unless you're pushing 100s of Mb around on a regular basis). In ordinary interactive usage I find it hard to tell the difference between an M.2 direct-PCIe SSD and a SATA 2 SSD, and SATA 2 to 3 will be even less of a difference.

    It all depends on your workload of course.
     
  16. CapnDavey
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    macrumors 6502

    CapnDavey

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    #16
    A better video card is a good option GTX 680 can be had cheap and most are easy to flash for EFI boot rom
     
  17. lie2me
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    macrumors member

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    #17
    The 2008 Mac Pro uses FBDIMMs for its RAM - these use a high speed serial bus that generate a lot of heat. The FBDIMMs need a large heat sink to dissipate all that heat that in the past, when new, made it a very costly upgrade. Maybe the FBDIMMs are available used at reasonable prices now on eBay. You may want to weight the upgrade costs of the 2008 against buying into a latter upgradeable Mac Pro - 2010+ variety. Even the 2009 Mac Pro may be a better investment even though not officially supported by MAC OS X High Sierra. The RAM in the later machines (2009+) are DDR3 and don't need the massive heat sinks of the FBDIMMs.
     
  18. z970mp, Dec 12, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

    z970mp
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    z970mp

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    #18
    Personally, the massive heat sinks, riser cards, intense heat output, weight, and likeness to the G5 make me really appreciate the '06 and '08 Mac Pros, since they function so much like a workstation from back in the day, which I think is really charming.

    Almost brings to mind Silicon Graphics' hulking visualization machines, like the Onyx... But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

    Then again... Perhaps not.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. nigelbb
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    macrumors 65816

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    #19
    The 667MHz FB-DIMMs run cooler than the 800MHz parts. Only Apple ever used the faster parts so that's why the Apple parts have the massive heat sinks. The 667MHz parts available used on eBay have been pulled from Dell & HP servers & just have regular (but adequate heat sinks.
     
  20. aburst
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    #20

    can you boot off an SSD in the PCI card on the MP2008?
     
  21. mryingster
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    mryingster

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    #21
    Yep. I haven't had a problem doing just that.
     
  22. Project Alice
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    macrumors regular

    Project Alice

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    Post Falls, ID
    #22
    My MacPro 3,1 is a 2.8ghz 8 Core. I upgraded it to 20gb of ram, threw in an SSD in one of the extra sata ports, and put a GTX 1060 in it. The thing honestly flies. Its even good for modern games on all high settings as all modern games support multiple cores. Most i7s aren't even true 8 cores. I haven't gotten this thing to use close to the full 20gb of ram other than running a bunch of VMs. For everyday use the sata II SSD is just fine. I've read that the 3,1 doesn't have a good track record on booting anything from a PCIe slot. If you had a 4,1 it'd be a different story. I have't actually tried to do it as I don't have a PCIe SSD, but after reading so many mixed reports on it I decided to play it safe and stay with sata.

    This thing outperforms my Vaio with an i7, despite being about 5 years older than it. granted the Vaio is dated too. Thats still a big gap in the tech world.
     
  23. jbarley, Jan 6, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018

    jbarley
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    macrumors 68040

    jbarley

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    #23
    I boot my MP3,1 from a PCIe slot using a Kingston Predator AHCI SSD, without any problems whatsoever.

    Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 10.01.14 PM.png

    DiskSpeedTest-3,1.png
     
  24. Project Alice
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    macrumors regular

    Project Alice

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    #24
    Good to know! Those are some great speeds too. I almost bought a pcie SSD but I was afraid it wouldn't be bootable.
     
  25. jbarley
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    macrumors 68040

    jbarley

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    #25
    Just make sure it is "AHCI", the more common one NVME is the problem culprit.
    AHCI PCIe SSDs are getting hard to find.
     

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