Upgrading Mac Pro 2008: 8GB RAM or 2x Vertex 3 60GB SSD's?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by sparkie7, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. sparkie7 macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Ok, looking at speeding up my Mac Pro, either:

    1. more RAM (2x 4GB RAM modules)


    2. 2x Vertex 3 60GB SSD's (as striped RAID 0)

    Both are the same price roughly: $270 and $280 respectively.

    In terms of enhancement in performance, future-proofing and flexibility which would you choose?

    Understand it 'depends' on size of file and memory use, but also looking at transportability down the track

    I'm leaning towards option 2 b/c I can take these out and stick into a newer machine later on but not doable with 1st option.

    Regarding 2. above, with regard to striping the to Vertex 3's - what is the saturation/max bandwidth that the Mac Pro can handle?

    Its SATA II, 3GBps. With the Vertex's striped (each are Max 535/480MB/s read and write) - so would RAIDing then give Max 1070 read and 960 write performance, and can the Mac Pro take full advantage of this increase in potential performance?

    Your knowledge/experience appreciated
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    8 GB of RAM is not that expensive.
    what makes you want a SSD RAID0? what does that do for you?
    SATA II has a max theoretical speed of 3 Gb/s, which is 384 MB/s, and a real-world max speed of about 300 MB/s.

    no one can answer your question without knowing what you do.
  3. sparkie7, Aug 31, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011

    sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008

    Speed mostly. But if 384MB/s is the max the SATA II can handle then there's not much point in RAID 0 them. But they would be useable/transferable onto newer machines

    8 GB RAM in 4GB modules is about $270, can't find it much cheaper thats good quality

    Do a lot of photography (CS5, LR) and design (Indesign, Illustrator), and intend on doing 3D and some video

    BTW what is the transfer rate of internal RAM in comparison?
  4. ekwipt macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2008
    I'd save for a bit and get 16Gb Ram and a 120Gb SSD (6G if you want but i don't think you'll see much difference), there's vertex 2 120Gb 3.5 that slot straight into the MacPro Sleds and they're going cheap as they're old technology
  5. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    16GB ain't that cheap, around $500. IS it really worth putting that much coin into a 2008 Mac Pro?
  6. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    The Vertex 3 is not the right drive for your computer. You will not reach the speeds you expect over SATA II. RAM seems like the most reliable upgrade, but if you don't have at least one SSD in the system for your OS then you should get an SSD.

    Maybe you can afford 8 GB of RAM, which should be cheap, plus 2 small, cheap SATA II SSDs in RAID 0 for your OS and initial file storage when write speeds are important.
  7. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    The reason I'm thinking of the Vertex 3 is so I can future-proof it and reuse them on newer equipment with SATAIII down the road.

    Yes already have a SSD as boot/app drive
  8. Jettbot macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2008
    SATA II correction

    Yes SATA II is 300 MB/s as stated earlier, but that's PER PORT. So striping several ports together will aggregate more than 300 MB/s. Your Mac has 6 internal ports on the motherboard (in theory) so the combined line speeds of all 6 striped together would approach 1800 MB/s as I'm sure the PCI-e bandwidth alotted the internal SATA contoller will hndle that. But with overhead, you will never actually get that full speed, but you could come close enough to make you quite happy.

    But if the Vertex 3 is one of the newer SSD's that hits 500 MB/s you are definitely throwing bandwidth away on your 2008 MP.

    I would suggest get one 160 GB slower SSD for boot (though you mention you already have an SSD boot?) AND get 8GB RAM
  9. Goldfinger macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2006
    8GB RAM for my MacPro is around $99.. ? What MacPro do you have and how much RAM do you have?

    8GB RAM is the bare minimum IMHO, 16GB is plenty for most tasks.

    RAIDing 2x Vertex drives is useless with SATA II, AFAIK the controller is limited to SATA II speeds, so spreading it over the ports won't help. It's not 3Gb per port, it's 3Gb for all the ports.. You could go with a PCI RAID-card, but that's not cheap.

    I would buy a single 120GB version though, 60GB is waaay to cramped IMHO even with just the apps and OS.
  10. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    emm, i think the MP 2008 is 3GB/s max total.

    yes have an old'ish Vertex 250GB SSD

    Where did you see 8GB RAM for $99? -- I'm looking at upgrading with 4GB modules only. I have a Mac Pro 2008, 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad Core (Model 3,1), with 16GB RAM (4X 4GB RAM)

    DDR2 RAM is SO much more expensive than DDR3, what gives?

    The 60GD SSD was for scratch only. Agree that 120GB would be minimum if wanting to use as SYS and APPs
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    You'd never see those figures, as the ICH throttles at ~660MB/s in order to retain bandwidth for other controllers (USB, Ethernet, Audio, FW). So the limit isn't just the SATA II spec of the ports located in the ICH (3.0Gb/s).

    What I haven't seen, is how much memory capacity do you currently have?

    As per the memory types, you're stuck with DDR2 FB-DIMM, which is much rarer than DDR3 = more expensive than DDR3 (ECC or otherwise). Ye olde supply and demand economics at work. :rolleyes: :p
  12. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Sorry for the numnut question, but what does ICH stand for?

    I have since learnt that (and hopefully understood correctly?) that due to the SATAII limitation of 3.0GB/s, that the max transfer rate is about 300MB/s?

    I currently have 16GB RAM installed, 4x 4GB config

    Yeah, right on, the DDR2 prices are almost double that of DDR3. *ack* :eek:
  13. nanofrog, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I/O Controller Hub (wiki page). ark.intel.com page on the ICH9 (note the multiple controllers in it, such as SATA, USB, Ethernet, PCI, and IDE).


    3.0Gb/s = (3000 bits/8) = 375MB/s (theoretical max throughput limit/bandwidth limit). You can see close to this for burst speeds, but for sustained throughputs, it drops off quite a bit (~275MB/s sustainable).

    Double these figures for SATA III, so the sustained throughput for 6.0Gb/s is ~ 550MB/s.

    Also note that a lower case b = bits, while an upper case B signifies Bytes (= 8 bits). It makes an important difference, so do be careful.
  14. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
  15. Jettbot macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2008
    It is per port, aggregate bandwidth is limited by what the motherboard can do and on this older gen motherboard the SATA II controller is connected to the ICH. So Nanofrogs 660 MB/s assertion seems about right.

    There are several products on the market advertising simple cheap RAID 0 on 6 internal drives running between 550-600MB/s on the 2008 MP. That would not be possible if if was 3Gb/s for all ports. Please remember to check GB/s vs Gb/s, it is an important distinction.

    However, the 2008 has several PCI-e ports and you can put SATA II or III controllers on those and get past the ICH bandwidth limitation.
  16. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030


    Mar 22, 2011
    Tokyo, Japan
    I would stick with the 8GB.

    Much cheaper (newegg sold it for less than 50) and much more effective than a 60GB RAID0 SSD.
  17. sparkie7, Sep 5, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011

    sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    thanks. assuming those are pretty expen$ive?

    Less than 50 buck?!? -- Is that price for 4GB modules? b/c everywhere I look for 8GB DDR2 RAM (2x 4GB) is at least $250!

    eg. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memory/Mac-Pro-Memory#800-memory
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
  19. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    thanks, - seems cheap.

    is that quality RAM, ie. fully buffered and with proper heat sinks, that will work with the Mac Pro?
  20. speacock macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011
    I'll chip in a few things if I may.

    SATA-II has a nominal 300MB/s throughput per channel. SATA use 10/8 encoding so it's 300MB/s not 375MB/s. As with all other busses, there will be overhead and losses from this nominal figure that bring real-world throughput down.

    SATA throughputs are per channel, but a 4 channel SATA-II controller will never deliver anything like it's nominal throughput of 12Gb/s. Others have mentioned real-world figures of 500-600MB/s and that seems realistic on a system like the MacPro. Some of this comes down to the controller used by Apple, some down to architectural limitations of SATA but even really high-end controllers don't get close to delivering their theoretical capabilities.

    That said, you should be able to get to 500MB/s total (maybe more) across all channels.

    I'd agree with your decision to go for the vertex 3 instead of the vertex 2 as long as there isn't a huge price premium. Generally, buying something future proof is only worthwhile if the future is fairly near. Otherwise you'll probably find that when you come to redeploy the vertex 3s in a couple of years time, there's something better available for less money.

    I don't know, but the $50 that people are stating for 4GB RAM sounds like prices for DDR3 non-ECC. ECC DDR2 is much more expensive. You can of course use non-ECC, but you can't mix the two, and non-ECC DDR2 isn't much cheaper than ECC. Here in the UK, a 4GB 800MHz ECC DDR2 DIMM is £115, so 16GB would set you back £460 (about $750). I recently bought 16GB DDR3 for an i7 system for £69(about $100), so over here there's roughly a 7x price premium for ECC DDR2.

    Having said this about RAM prices, you mention you're using mostly Photoshop and Illustrator; unless you're working with really big images in PS, or working simultaneously on several quite large images, then I'd doubt that increasing RAM beyond 16GB would make much if any difference. It may come in more useful for the 3D and video stuff you mention though, if you know you're running out of RAM when doing that kind of thing, then I'd definitely go down the RAM upgrade route as no amount of SSDs would ever compensate for the performance hit of paging because of low RAM.
  21. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    yep agree. those fifty buck RAM prices don't instill any confidence. i'm sticking to OWC or RAMCITY. £460 for 16GB, make the prices here in australia sound cheap. i already have 4x 4GB ECC RAM installed so i have no choice but to get more ECC memory

    i have several applications open along with PS and Illustrator and these together suck up the 16GB pretty quickly with large documents.

    its not just trying to avoid paging, but also setting up a fast scratch disk
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    did you even look at it? the image shows heat spreaders.
    FB-DIMMs are by definition fully buffered, what do you think the FB stands for....
  23. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008

    yep i looked at them and they aren't the proper (larger) heat sinks that's required. see here: http://www.memoryamerica.com/fk251272800a.html

    And scroll down the Description panel box:

    "With the Heat Sink for Apple Mac Pro System: Max 23.10 +/- 0.10

    Because of heat problems, Apple requires that Modules use larger-than-normal heatsinks . Normal sized FB-Dimm heatsinks will not work in Mac Pro Towers. "

    Also see this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1142795

    And post #9:

    "that won't work in a mac pro unless you replace the heat spreaders, anyway. they have the standard jedec spreaders on them."
  24. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    ok, I didn't know anything about that.

    TransIntl has 8 GB for $238.
    MaxUpgrades sells Apple heat spreaders, $19.75 for two, or 8GB for $239.
  25. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    No worries.

    Yep seen those already. TransIntl are the cheapest, cheaper than OWC ($275.99).


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