Upgrading Mac Pro 2009 4.1

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
Hi all!

I've been following MacRumors for years now and today finally made an account and decided to post my first question.

I recently was given a Mac Pro 2009 4.1 as a gift.
I want to use it to do editing of 4k drone footage with FCPx.

Current Specs:
3.33GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 3500 series processor
16GB 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0, one Mini DisplayPort, and one dual-link DVI port
2x 1TB Serial ATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm, 32MB cache

Here's what I'm planning on adding:
PCI AHCI M.2 128GB SSD (As boot drive)
2x 120GB Samsung 850 EVO in RAID 0 on Sata III card.

And what I hope to add:
Better GPU for FCPx
Updated CPU

My screen is a 34" LG Ultrawide 2560x1080 via HDMI.

I'll use of the original 1TB HDD's for data storage and the other as a Time Machine backup drive.
Also, am planning to flash the firmware from 4.1 to 5.1 so I can upgrade to High Sierra.

Can anybody give me advice on GPU/CPU upgrades that will make this machine run like a beast?
I'm interested in the AMD Radeon RX480 8GB. I've seen some good reviews of people using it on the 2009 Mac Pro.

I know there are other threads on this topic but a lot of them started a few years ago and I'm hoping to get the latest info on this topic.

I'll post updates on how my project goes and how well the MacPro runs after the upgrades.

Are there any other 2009 Mac Pro users out there that have upgraded?
Any advice is appreciated.

--PurpleHillsMac
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
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Hong Kong
This sticky thread only started from Jan 2018. And contain everything you need to know.

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...-5-1-upgrade-guide-sticky-discussion.2099092/

Some info didn't update for few years because there is no further update available in these few years (e.g. for CPU)

X5690 still the best you can install.

Anyway, for FCPX, AMD card is what you need, you may consider a RX580 if you can get one with reasonable price.
 
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PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
This sticky thread only started from Jan 2018. And contain everything you need to know.

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...-5-1-upgrade-guide-sticky-discussion.2099092/

Some info didn't update for few years because there is no further update available in these few years (e.g. for CPU)

X5690 still the best you can install.

Anyway, for FCPX, AMD card is what you need, you may consider a RX580 if you can get one with reasonable price.
Thanks for the tip! I'll head over there and check it out right away.

What would you consider a reasonable price for a RX580?
Also, what's the difference between MSI, Sapphire, etc...?

One more thing, a friend gave me a GeForce GTX 580. How well will this work on the 4.1?
 
Last edited:

barmann

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2010
938
624
Germany
Here's what I'm planning on adding:
PCI AHCI M.2 128GB SSD (As boot drive)
2x 120GB Samsung 850 EVO in RAID 0 on Sata III card.

And what I hope to add:
Better GPU for FCPx
Updated CPU



A CPU upgrade will help, and after that you can also might want to take a look at more ( and slightly faster 1333 ) RAM .

I wouldn't throw a lot of money at the fastest possible storage solutions at this point , but just add a regular SSD as a boot drive and maybe another one for project files .
 

KevinLG

macrumors newbie
Jan 18, 2012
4
0
The GPU will technically work with the right drivers, but the power requirements are higher than what the Mac's onboard video card connectors can supply, so you'll need an external PSU or some other solution for powering it.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,290
6,875
Hong Kong
The GPU will technically work with the right drivers, but the power requirements are higher than what the Mac's onboard video card connectors can supply, so you'll need an external PSU or some other solution for powering it.
Which GPU you are talking about?

I am now running a 1080Ti with only the mini 6pins. And I ran 2x 7950 with that before.

I know my GPU(s) demand may be higher than the Mac Pro's spec. However, even without "over stress" the mini 6pin. Each of them still able to provide 75W officially, including the 75W from the PCIe slot. It can technically drive a 225W GPU. A RX580 is just a 185W card. And this card will give the cMP a significant boost in FCPX. I can't see why OP need a PSU for that.
 

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
Which GPU you are talking about?

I am now running a 1080Ti with only the mini 6pins. And I ran 2x 7950 with that before.

I know my GPU(s) demand may be higher than the Mac Pro's spec. However, even without "over stress" the mini 6pin. Each of them still able to provide 75W officially, including the 75W from the PCIe slot. It can technically drive a 225W GPU. A RX580 is just a 185W card. And this card will give the cMP a significant boost in FCPX. I can't see why OP need a PSU for that.
I think @KevinLG is referring to the GeForce GTX580 which is a 600w card. A friend gave it to me and I tried it out last night and it worked but I'm scared it might burn out something.
It also doesn't look like it works with OpenCL so I don't know how it would boost FCPx. My main reason for using this computer is for FCPx so I want to optimize for that...

If the using the GeForce GTX580 won't hurt anything will work well with FCPx, then I'll use it but...

Any tips?
Also, can somebody explain what the Difference is in like the MSI RX580 and Sapphire RX580, etc... there seem to be a few cards with the same number but is there any difference?
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,290
6,875
Hong Kong
I think @KevinLG is referring to the GeForce GTX580 which is a 600w card. A friend gave it to me and I tried it out last night and it worked but I'm scared it might burn out something.
It also doesn't look like it works with OpenCL so I don't know how it would boost FCPx. My main reason for using this computer is for FCPx so I want to optimize for that...

If the using the GeForce GTX580 won't hurt anything will work well with FCPx, then I'll use it but...

Any tips?
Also, can somebody explain what the Difference is in like the MSI RX580 and Sapphire RX580, etc... there seem to be a few cards with the same number but is there any difference?
According to Nvidia web site, GTX580 is a 244W card. It's tiny bit less demanding than my 250W 1080Ti.

Nvidia card cannot perform in FCPX, AMD works better (at least true for the same cost).

As long as you choose the reference card, which brand doesn't make much difference. However, for RX580, Sapphire PULSE 8GB model is the best one because it's a part of the Apple eGPU kit. It should have best support and least compatibility issue.
 

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,379
703
I don't think I saw it mentioned above, but a USB-3 card is inexpensive and very useful in reading/writing SD cards and external drives.
I am also updating a 4,1, and recently did the processor upgrade (2.93 4-core to 3.33 6-core). I am very unimpressed with the lack of performance improvement in anything related to FCPX -- essentially no difference. I still have the GT120s installed (2!) but from an FCPX perspective, an upgraded GPU would seem a higher priority.
 

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
I don't think I saw it mentioned above, but a USB-3 card is inexpensive and very useful in reading/writing SD cards and external drives.
I am also updating a 4,1, and recently did the processor upgrade (2.93 4-core to 3.33 6-core). I am very unimpressed with the lack of performance improvement in anything related to FCPX -- essentially no difference. I still have the GT120s installed (2!) but from an FCPX perspective, an upgraded GPU would seem a higher priority.
I just got and installed a USB 3.1 card with one USB-A and one USB-C port. As soon as the SSD tray and the M.2 Card comes, I'll get it set up and let you know how it goes.
For now I have the Nvidia GTX580 installed. I'm looking for a good deal on the AMD card... I'll post updates on FCPx performance with my upgrades.
 

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
I ordered two SSD's for data and a 128GB M.2 Card to boot from.

Any advice for keeping the SSD's in good condition? I read somewhere that TRIM needs to be enabled if you want the SSD's to last.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,290
6,875
Hong Kong
I ordered two SSD's for data and a 128GB M.2 Card to boot from.

Any advice for keeping the SSD's in good condition? I read somewhere that TRIM needs to be enabled if you want the SSD's to last.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
Yes, even though I don't think your SSD's life span will be a problem without TRIM, but TRIM should be enabled if possible. It improve the SSD performance, and reduce ware.
 
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Guy Clark

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PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
It all depends on the tasks you intend on performing. The 2009 Mac Pro is a very capable machine with perhaps only the Graphics that need to be brought up to speed
https://everymac.com/systems/apple/...ics-cards-dvi-dual-link-mini-displayport.html

Also I would replace the existing Hard Drives to ensure reliability. I thoroughly recommend the WD Black HDD which is available in capacities of up to 6TB
https://www.wdc.com/products/internal-storage/wd-black-desktop.html
Thanks for dropping in!
I'll 98% of the time be using this for FCPx, therefore I'm looking at optimizing for that.

Thanks for the tip on the HDD's. I was thinking of getting a couple as data disk and backup.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,290
6,875
Hong Kong
How about for the latest version of High Sierra?
[doublepost=1521013990][/doublepost]One more question, should the SSD's run APFS?
In terminal enter
Code:
sudo trimforce enable
I personally don’t suggest APFS, I used it for few months, end up went back to HFS+. Tourble more than benefit at this moment.
 

PurpleHillsMac

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 7, 2018
49
6
In terminal enter
Code:
sudo trimforce enable
I personally don’t suggest APFS, I used it for few months, end up went back to HFS+. Tourble more than benefit at this moment.
Thanks! I'll give it a try. My M.2, Sata III card should arrive tomorrow. Will post updates.
 

XNorth

macrumors 6502
Feb 23, 2018
277
206
United States
Increase your RAM as much as you can.

For media ingest, as the 5,1 lacks Thunderbolt, get a fast USB-C adapter and a UHS-II SD card reader. You will also need fast RAID storage for FCPX and 4K footage. Anything less and your system will struggle editing 4K without lower quality playback and optimizing your footage.
 
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