Upgrading MacPro 4.1 for Photoshop duties - Advice sought.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kristeva, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. kristeva macrumors newbie


    Apr 22, 2016
    Hi all

    A year or so back I posted on here requesting advice about upgrading from my old PowerPC and following on from that I got myself a MacPro 4.1 (2.66 GHz Quad Core, 6GB, 1066MHz, NVIDIA GeForce).

    Now I'm about to upgrade my camera to 50 megapixels I'm looking to upgrade my 4.1 too to help with photoshop duties, etc. Having received such a warm response from you guys first time round I was wondering if I could request your counsel again! :)

    Initially I was looking to increase my RAM to max (3 slots only, or all 4?) and maybe install a SSD, but I've been reading about the possibility of upgrading the CPU to a 5.1. Is this a relatively easy job? I've changed drives, installed RAM, etc before. I'm guessing I can increase my RAM quota if I upgrade to 5.1 first. There seems to be a lot of advice/options regarding CPU upgrades out there, can someone provide some decent, well worn links?

    Any thoughts/advice much appreciated

  2. BenClement1978 macrumors member


    Sep 10, 2011
    Antwerp Belgium
    Hello Paul,

    I myself have that exact same machine.

    Im running the Mac with multiple SSD's and I'm ecstatically happy.

    I upgraded the memory to 32 gigs and bought a GTX 980 a few years back.

    About a year ago i bought another processor tray from these guys (as i am now living in Europe) http://www.ebay.com/usr/macbankupgrades

    so quite happy with the machine.
  3. joebclash macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2016
    Flashing to 5,1 is relatively easy. Depends on current os. See thread for info.


    If you have single core tray then upgrading cpu is easy because the cpu still has the heat spreader on it. No need to delid the cpu or worry about crushing cpu when doing the upgrade.
  4. kristeva thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 22, 2016
    Thanks Ben

    May I ask how are you incorporating the SSD's within your machine - are they running alongside the original HD? Do you use them specifically for graphics applications, etc?

    --- Post Merged, Mar 21, 2017 ---
    Thanks Joe

    I'm running Yosemite, I'll scan that link today.
  5. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    SSD is a must. However, it's hard to tell which one is the best choice. For best performance, SM951 AHCI is the way to go, but Almost impossible to get a new one for reasonable price. Kingston Hyper PredatorX is also a fast SSD, however, few users report about drive failure, so hard to tell if it's a reliable choice. Normal SATA SSD e.g. 850Evo is a relatively cheap and reliable choice, but sequential speed is much lower than PCIe SSD. Also, if you want full SATA III speed, you need to buy a relatively expensive PCIe SATA III card. Which make your total cost going up quite a bit, but still only have 1/3 the PCIe SSD suquemtial speed.

    About firmware update. Yes, that's very easy. And recommended for Photoshop. Because after upgrade, you can install the cheap but fastest CPU (X5677) to replace your W3520.

    For RAM, I don't think you really need to max out. 24GB or above usually good enough for Photoshop. Of course you can go all the way to 64GB, but you have to pay a lot more for little performance improvement. If you can get some cheap 16GB sticks, then 3x16GB is a good choice. Otherwise, 4x8GB usually has better performance to cost ratio.
  6. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    I generally agree with the others. If it were me, I'd:
    1) do the firmware upgrade, it's easy.
    2) I agree with 24 Gb RAM, or maybe 32 (4x8). I like datamemorysystems.com myself but there are plenty of good memory choices. If you can get 1333Mhz with little or no price premium over 1066 I'd do that (it won't run at 1333 until/unless you upgrade the processor though).
    3) drop an inexpensive 512 Gb or 1 Tb SATA SSD into one of your drive bays. You can get a good 512 Gb unit for $150 (Sandisk, Mushkin, Kingston, etc etc). Since it will run at SATA II speeds you don't need to fret over which SSD has the maximum performance.

    Stop and see how the machine runs. If it's good enough you're done. The next thing to try would likely be a CPU upgrade, which isn't hard on a single processor 4,1 but if you're leery you can pay to have it done, or do a board swap.

    Others will have to advise on GPU if you feel the need to upgrade that.

    If the SATA SSD isn't good enough or if you really want to max things out, I'd skip the SATA III card and go to PCIe, either the Kingston HyperX or shell out for a Samsung AHCI part. I suspect that you'll be happy enough with the SSD in a drive bay that you won't feel compelled to spend the money, though; not after you've done the other upgrades. I put in a PCIe drive (Toshiba OCZ RD400) and it's nice, but the difference was nothing like the move from a 7 year old HDD to the SATA SSD! (I run linux so an NVMe SSD was OK for me, and I boot off of one of the SATA drives.)

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5 March 20, 2017