Upgrading a MacPro 5,1 2 x 2.4ghz Quad-Core

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by RobertSix, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. RobertSix macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    I've been reading a few posts here on the subject of CPU upgrades for the MacPro and was hoping to get some advice.

    I thought philipma1957's post upgrading his single processor was really interesting. Very thorough and encouraging.

    I hadn't thought of upgrading until I saw OWC had this upgrade program but it seems to me a bit pricy, and currently living in Europe I think its a no brainer that I'm not going to send the brains of my machine to the US for an upgrade due to cost - so hence I'm thinking at doing the home job like philipma and some others here who have taken the plunge.

    My questions are:

    1. Is there a list of compatible CPU's for my machine somebody has maintained I can't find?

    2. What currently provides the best overall value for the money?

    3. Did anybody ever have problems with that overclocking program from a while back? I used it on my old 2008 model mac pro but have not thought about it on this machine yet. I couldn't find anything about whether it is usable with a 2010 model.

    Thanks for your advice!
  2. stupidassdrumer macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2010
    I have the same 2010 as you, and no, the overclock program does not work on our model Pro
  3. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    1. Not certain, but a good guess is the CPUs listed:

    Under "Server / Desktop Processors" -> "Gainestown".

    Under "Server / Desktop Processors" -> "Gulftown / Westmere-EP" -> "DP Server".

    If you find a certain CPU that looks interesting, do a specific google for that.

    2. Two W5590 will boost your performance to 16000ish. They're quite cheap secondhand (compared to the Westmere options). There's a lengthy thread about it here. It requires some fiddling around. Please note that the OP in that thread updated a 2009 MP. Yours will get 1333MHz to the RAM etc. automatically.

    3. No idea.
  4. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    Thanks stupidassdrumer :)

    Excuse the dumb question, but even though I only have 1066MHZ ram, if I put in a new processor like the W5590 I'm going to have ram running at 1333MHZ? Does this apply to the Westmere 6-core processors as well (or any processor on that wiki page which has the ram running at 1333?)
  5. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    Nope, 1066MHz RAM only run at 1066MHz. The issue with the guy in that thread was that the EFI limits 4,1 to 1066MHz, even if you install 1333MHz RAM. That can be fixed with an EFI update (which makes a 4,1 into a 5,1) but that doesn't apply for you, since your EFI support 1333MHz out-of-the-box.

    But you still need to purchase 1333MHz RAM, which is dirt cheap anyways.
  6. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    Great information, I really appreciate it!

    I've just spent the morning wrapping my head around this. So the x5550 is basically the entry level cpu that would push me into the realm of 1333MHz ram speeds if I bought new ram also.

    Would I need to buy the ram at the same time as the new CPU or will the 1333MHz play ok with the old ram for a little while?
  7. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    You don't have to replace the existing RAM.

    The x5550 would be a diminuitive improvement over your current E5620 CPUs. You'd hardly feel it.

    PassMark scores:

    2*E5620: 9,580
    2*X5550: 10,773

    So the improvement is there, but it's not large. A couple of W5590 would give you 13,068.
  8. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    I see - I want to really feel it and add a year or two onto the life of this machine.

    I am currently looking at the W3680 like what philpma1957 did, which seems to be good value, but can you put in 2 of these? I seem to only be able to find benchmarks with 1.
  9. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    But then, what's the problem in buying a matching pair of W5590s for $499 on eBay?

    No, you can't. Only "DP [Dual Processor] Server" chips will work. The links to Wikipedia above showed you which DP chips that's available in Nehalem and Westmere.

    I don't have any stocks in W5590, but based on my research they seem the only "sensible" upgrade option for DP Quad Mac Pros from 2009 and forward.
  10. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    Aha! Learning a lot here - thanks again.

    So with a pair of w5590's I could be looking at about a 25% speed increase (if I also got the 1333MHz ram)?

    Do you recommend any of the 6-cores at all?
  11. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    Your current setup scores around 12587 in Geekbench and 2 W5590s about 17000. So that's about 36% improvement - or more or less the same as the PassMark numbers indicated above.

    So in raw processing power, you'd get a boost of about 36%.

    The 6-core processors are all very good and fine. Problem is, that they're also quite expensive, so the price/performance ratio doesn't look good. But it depends on the work you do. If most/all of it is heavily threaded applications, upgrading to 2 * 6-cores will give you a significant boost.

    OTOH, if most of your work is actually single-threaded (or just poorly threaded) applications (and games), the W5590 again wins because of the higher clock on the cores actually being used.

    In my experience, people asking whether more cores will be good for them, does not need extra cores.
  12. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    At the moment I'm doing quite a bit of waiting for renders from either After Effects or C4D. Perhaps the GPU is the hold up there - I don't know.

    No games here, but for fun I hobby making music with Ableton.

    In both Ableton and After Effects I find it fairly easy to come up with stuff that will make this machine bottom out. I think CPU is the real limiting factor. I have to freeze tracks quite often just to hear things back. It can't keep up with the realtime processing of effects.

    So while I think I would love an extra 30-40% CPU increase I'm not sure it is the significant boost I'm after.

    The westmere's are quite expensive. But they are a bit old technology now - surely the price will drop soon?
  13. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    That's not my impression. If you go to eBay you'll see it's harder to come by them than old Nehalem. Also, I don't think the prices for new boxed Westmere chips are falling that much. That's also why you see the price/performance ratio on Westmere chips being "ridiculed" in most benchmarks, compared to the newer Sandy Bridge chips.

    How much RAM do you have? I believe Ableton likes to chew up as much as possible. I'm not that familiar with the program, but there's people complaining about poor (or none) multi-threading in Ableton.
  14. RobertSix, Sep 22, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012

    RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    24gb (6 x 4gb)

    I know it doesn't handle all that many VST's at the same time very well.

    But what about rendering of videos - would I see much performance increase using a Hex-core? I'd like to render about twice as much as I do now, or wait half as long.

    The prices for the westmere 6 cores do seem a bit rediculous when buying a pair, but then again, I think I saw the entry level hex in a mac pro getting scores between 19000 and 21000 so it seems like a considerable improvement.

    The question on my mind is whether or not its enough of an improvement with the cost to outweigh the wait of the apparent 2013 mac pro? Are they talking early 2013 or late 2013?

    Did the sandy bridge chips bring down the price of the westmere's at all?
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Not really. These are server chips and as such they make them usually for business who buy when they need replacements for large scale deployments. There is very little pressure to lower price as enterprise pays what it needs to and does not shop at Best Buy or Newegg, etc.
    Dual QPI chips you what you need. X55xx/ X56xx and they are usually over a 1000.00 each (at least for ones that would show any performance gain for you). W5590 was strange as it was dual QPI with a "W" in the name. The rest of the "W's" are all single socket AFAIK.
    You're in a hard spot. I wouldn't pay more than like 600.00 each and would go no lower than 3GHz+ on Quad OR 2.8GHz+ on Hex core for any real performance investment that would actually be worth it to you. My opinion only. And if you are a paid professional you're cost vs time may be worth more money spent.
  16. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    How risky is this? Those W5590 CPUs have an integrated heat spreader (metal plate on top of the die). However the original CPUs Apple used do not have IHSs installed. Nor do those DP machines have clamp-down processor sockets to hold the CPUs in position during installation.

    That means since the stock W5590 is a physically taller chip, if you tighten the heat sinks screws down to their designed height, it *will* permanently ruin your processor board and the CPU. It also means that if the CPU slides around it could permanetly ruin the board an CPU.

    There is no authoritative video showing how to do it. Just a couple forum and blog posts. The guy from Anandtech ruined his CPU and board on the first try, and that's someone with a ton of experience upgrading CPUs in PCs (something most Mac users haven't been able to do since the G4). In another forum post, the guy succeeded but then he listed the machine for sale not too long afterwards...

    So you have to guess, and hope/pray you're not wrong.

    And even if it works, how long will it work for?

    I'd almost rather try removing the IHS, at least there's a video for that, and you could practice on some defective chips from the local computer recycling place first.
  17. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    You can get killed walking your doggie!

    I've previously linked to this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=781908

    That guy several times mis-installed the CPUs (and booted!), placed the heat sink in a wrong position, cut (too much) of some cable "isolation", etc. And still he managed to get it working.

    I believe the IHS issue is present on most/all CPUs you can buy for the Mac Pro. It's seldom to come across a CPU fit for Mac Pro that doesn't include it.

    So yeah, one have to be somewhat careful. OTOH, people that wish to switch CPUs on their own probably have a good understanding of this.
  18. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    Do all the Westmere's have this IHS issue? or are there any that don't?

    I haven't installed a CPU since the good old build-your-own pc days back in the 90's. I have watched an apple technician first hand though swap out a pair out of my old box.

    Is there a CPU you recommend at all?

    Thanks for this info. I was wondering about the W's and X's.

    There doesn't seem to be a lot of options (if any?) in the 600 - 1000 range to get these kinds of speeds you're talking about. Am I right?
  19. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Not new, no. And I really mean me only. If you have the scratch then do it. I just figured if you are going to go through the trouble make it really worth it and try to max out the platform. Everything you buy is end of life. Memory, SATA2, etc. Still totally fast for many things but it wont be transferring to anything new most likely.
  20. RobertSix thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2012
    It seems as far as upgrades are concerned pricewise these are some options:

    A pair of W5590's
    2 x quad-core 3.33GHz
    geekbench score: 15000-16000

    A pair of E5645's
    2 x hex-core 2.4GHz (5.6GT/s)

    A pair of X5660
    2 x hex-core 2.6GHz (6.4GT/s)
    geekbench scores: 19000-23000

    Quite a bit of scratch for the cpus!

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