Upgrading Mac Pro processors - Quad to 8 or higher?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by InuNacho, May 23, 2011.

  1. InuNacho macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2008
    In that one place
    Hey everyone, I plan on buying a used 09/10 Mac Pro whenever the refresh comes out later this year and I was wondering if I buy a base would I be able to upgrade it to an 8 or 12 processor later on down the road.
    I've upgraded the processor on my old G4, is upgrading a Pro anything like that?
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    No, and no. If you want a dual CPU system, you would have to replace the CPU daughtercard, and potentially the backplane, if you started from a single CPU system (base quad up to hex). That's much more expensive than simply buying it from apple. The CPUs are actually far more delicate than in a G4, where they came on their own card that you could easily replace.
  3. InuNacho thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2008
    In that one place
    Ahh ok, I'll definitely keep that in mind when I'm browsing around in a few months. Thanks!
  4. ndraves macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2011
    That said if you buy a second hand 2010 base DP model (8 core 2.4GHz) then you'll be able to upgrade to 12 core no problems.

    There is no slot for the 2nd processor on the single CPU models.
  5. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    A used 2010 quad becomes a hex 3.2 for under 400. see thread


    with careful shopping this can be done for 1900 plus 600 or 2300 total after you sell the oem cpu for about 200,

    but it is a sp hex 3.2 not a dp.

    the 2300 total would be compared against 3200 for a hex sp refurb. In this case you save about 900 and the machine is a little less then the refurb 3.33 hex


    for dp this 8 core is 2969


    you can put a pair of these in :


    you may get a pair for 2800 on ebay so your cost is 5700 minus 600 for selling the pair of 2.4 e5620 cpus inside or 5100 for a machine that is a lot faster then this one ;


    a refurb at 5300 . in this case you save 200 and the machine is better then the refurb dual hex. a chart.


    apple refurb________$3300 a 3.33GHz hex

    diy upgrade________$2300 a 3.20GHz hex

    Big savings for a siightly slower machine

    apple refurb________$5300 a dual 2.93GHz hex

    diy upgrade__________$5100 a dual 3.46GHz hex

    Small savings but a much faster machine.

    these are all 2010 getting the upgrades.

    2009 will give more savings but need an EFI firmware hack that is quasi-legal.

    Meaning as long as you don't keep building and selling them you may not be hassled.

    ( I am not a lawyer and different places have different laws)
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Both the SP and DP systems use the same backplane board, so only the CPU daughter board would need to be replaced in orderr to convert an SP system to a DP system.

    But where it gets expensive, is the DP CPU's are more money than their SP counterparts (second QPI channel = price premium from Intel), and Apple P/N coolers would be required (3rd party coolers won't fit, save perhaps a waterblock if liquid cooling were chosen).
  7. pankaujn macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2011
    Quad to Hex processor upgrades

    This brings up an interesting question. It is my understanding the 2010 hex core CPU uses different stepping (B1) which the 2009 Mac Pro quad core does not support. If one was to do the EFI upgrade on a 2009 quad core, would that allow one to install a single hex core processor like a W3670?
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    The 2009 firmware only supports D0 stepped parts, while the 2010 models support both D0 and B1 steppings (which allows the Hex cores to be used).
  9. lemonade-maker macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2009
    If I were looking to buy right now, I'd get a 2009 2.26 dual proc and update the firmware. http://netkas.orgThen upgrade the processors to hex westmere. I recently did this to E5645 processors for about 3000usd total - about 500 more for x5650s.
  10. Psychomacuser macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    Please note: Using the netkas util does not update the SMC firmware which can be crucial if you use AHT or ASD.
  11. pankaujn macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2011
    Upgrading Mac Pro processors - Quad to 8 or higher?

    So if I understand this correctly, once the firmware update is applied, you will have a Mac Pro 5,1. If something should happen where you would need to reinstall the software, that would require the 2010 version correct?
  12. CrAkD macrumors 68040


    Feb 15, 2010
    Boston, MA
    very interesting I was unaware you could upgrade the 2009 mac pros to 2010 cpus.
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes, if you mean for the OEM OS Installation disks.

    There is a caveat though, and that's the Apple Hardware Diagnostics or Apple Service Diagnostics don't work from what I've been told by a couple of members that experimented with this. The reason it seems, is that the system firmware becomes a 5,1, but the SMC code is still that of a 4,1, and the diagnostic applications need this to match in order to run properly (2009 firmware + 1.39f5 SMC code for a 2009 system, and 2010 firmware + 1.39f11 SMC code for a 2010 model). The SMC code is stored on a separate ROM located on the backplane board, and is not updated by the EFI Firmware Update Utility when you perform the flash.

    But if you need to run either of these, all you'd need to do is re-flash the system's firmware back to the original system version, and it would then run correctly (assuming the system is running well enough to do this, it's not that big a deal; and if it's not, you've got a major problem that's bigger than flashing the firmware anyway).

    It's recent, and only because an individual put in the time to develop it (didn't come from Apple, who should have provided this IMO).
  14. pankaujn macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2011
    Hmmm. If one was to do a Time Machine backup after doing the firmware update, would that be another alternative instead of buying SL?

    I have not seen a retail version of SL (10.6.4) for sale, only 10.6.3. The MP 2010 shipped with 10.6.4.
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The OEM disks are customized for the specific system they're included with (contains only the relevant drivers to the system). Retail copies OTOH, will include drivers for all the hardware of the various systems it's stated to be compatible with.

    In the case of 10.6.3 and a 2010, I seem to recall that the GPU drivers needed for the graphics cards weren't included until 10.6.4 (for cards that shipped with 2010 systems = 5770 and 5780). For 2009 models that have been flashed with 2010 firmware, 10.6.3 may work, depending on the GPU installed (may require placing the OEM graphics card back in if it was replaced with a newer one).

    But as it's so close to the release of Lion, I'd go for that if you want to have an Installation disk that will work with a flashed system (Retail version of this would definitely work, as it will include all the drivers your system needs).

    Just a thought anyway. ;)
  16. AMDGAMER macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2011
    I wish I needed 12 cores...its just so cool sounding!
  17. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Well, assuming you flashed in order to upgrade CPUs, you'd also have to put the old CPU back in, which you may have sold on Ebay. :)
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    True, but I'd at least hope that the owners would keep the OEM processors while the system is still under Apple Care rather than sell it off prematurely. :eek: ;)

    Once the Apple Care expires, selling the OEM CPU/s is fair game if the owner decides to do so. :D

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