Upgrading my 2009 Mac Pro - need advice

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
I purchased my 2009 Mac Pro shortly after the computer came on the market that same year. I needed it to help me finish a feature length documentary that I was producing and co-editing. The film started on a G4 with FC6, than migrated to a early model Mac Pro with FC7 at a university editing room and then finally moving to my newly purchased 2009 Mac Pro to finish the film. When I bough the computer in 2009 it was pretty impressive. I got the 8-core with 16gigs or ram and the upgraded Radeon graphics card. This has been an awesome computer that has given me no problems and allowed me the freedom to finish my documentary and other video projects, and I love my Mac Pro for that!

I pretty much haven't touched the computer since then in terms of upgrades. I have been doing other video projects over the years and have been still using FC7 and OS10.6.

Recently, when Apple released 10.9 for free I decided it was time to get with the times. I upgraded to 10.9 and as much as I hated to, I purchased FCX (which I'm still trying to learn....).

I also decided to upgrade my hardware. As much as I have been lusting over a nMP, I've decided that I'd like to keep my current MP for several more years and then get a nMP a couple generations down the road.

My first upgrade was USB 3.0. I realized that it's difficult to even buy an external HDD that has FW800 these days. Your options are rather limited as the new ones are geared towards USB3 and TB.

After doing some research I settled on the CalDigit PCIe for USB3.0. It seems to work well other than the sleep/awake glitch that seems to be common for these things. I am getting more than double the speed with my external 7200 Laci drives than I do when they are hooked up through FW800.

Today I just installed my new GPU. The Saphire HD 7950. Seems to be working smoothly.

I also have a Crucial SSD that I will install tomorrow when the mounting bracket arrives.... And I will be re-formatting my computer with the OS and Apps on the new SSD.

Additionally, I decided to double the RAM. I haven't installed the RAM yet because if I do upgrade the CPU to 5,1, I might want to return the RAM and run faster RAM. (more on this below)

Which brings me to my next issue. What to do about the CPU. This is where I would like your all's advice.

Honestly, I would probably be ok just keeping with the current 2.26MHz processors. But I would like to prep my computer for future 4K video editing which I hope to get into in the next couple years. And since I'm sort of nerding out on updating my computer, I would enjoy the learning experience of updating the CPU for intrinsic value that one gets from that. :)

I see a couple options and dilemma.

First the dilemma - I have already spent over a grand on the upgrades I have: GPU, SSD, USB3 PCIe, RAM.

Updating the CPUs will be another significant investment. My concern is spending all this money on a computer that has limited I/O options. While I'm happy with the improved USB3.0 functionality I have gained, if I want to be editing 4K video, will USB3 be enough or should I stop investing in my computer and use that $ a couple years from now to get a nMP that has TB2 or TB3 or whatever is available then? It seems like while you can do some pretty impressive upgrades to the 4,1 and 5,1 MPs they have a serious weak link when it comes to I/O. Thoughts?

Now if I do decide to go ahead and upgrade the CPU, I see a couple options.

1. Keep the system 4,1 and just upgrade to 2.93MHz quad-cores. This is probably the cheapest option but will still give me a substantial increase in speed. Does anyone have suggestions on how much this would cost and where to acquire? Will leaving the system at 4,1 put me at risk of not being able to upgrade to future OS version whereas if I moved to 5,1 processor/firmware would keep me relevant for longer?

2. Upgrade to a pair of Xeon W3680 (Westmere) CPUs and update firmware to 5,1. I've started to do a little research on this and I haven't found a good place to purchase them. The prices seem to be all over the board. But it seems like people have gotten them for about $600 each? So over $1200?

This is getting long winded, so I'll wind it down. Basically I'd like to get more information on the cost and availability of the CPU upgrade options. I see that there are services where you can send your computer in and have it done for you but that seems really expensive, plus I'd rather do it my self so long as I couldn't screw up too bad.

Any help or info is greatly appreciated. I don't have a lot of experience upgrading computer hardware. I've installed RAM and hard drives and graphic cards but never messed with a CPU. (First time I installed ram was on our family's Performa 450 when I added 8mb to bring it up to 12 so I could run Netscape Navigator and get on the internet with the new 28,8kbps modem!)

Thanks!

P.S. A few weeks ago I uploaded my documentary I mentioned above in its entirety to youtube in HD. It's about Italian folk music - filmed in Italy. If you're interested: http://youtu.be/O3ASbHhwMDs
 

xcodeSyn

macrumors 6502a
Nov 25, 2012
548
7
2. Upgrade to a pair of Xeon W3680 (Westmere) CPUs and update firmware to 5,1. I've started to do a little research on this and I haven't found a good place to purchase them.
FYI, you can't install two W3680/90 processors for your dual-processor MP since they are designed only for single-processor systems. You need to use the 5500 or 5600 processors instead for your MP upgrade. Also the processor upgrade for a 2009 dual-processor MP is more challenging than other models as explained in the OP's blog referenced in this thread. Read it carefully and decide if the CPU upgrade is for you. You can probably find a pair of used X5570 for less than $300 on eBay if you want to go for it.
 

CrazyNurse

macrumors regular
Oct 23, 2012
149
3
Have you checked out this blog?

http://pindelski.org/Photography/2013/07/10/mac-pro-2009-part-xiii/

Good info there on upgrading, maintenance, and the unique challenges of swapping the 2009 CPUs.
 

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
Thanks for the quick responses guys. I'm going to check out the lined blogs and threads you both mentioned.
 

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Also the processor upgrade for a 2009 dual-processor MP is more challenging than other models as explained in the OP's blog referenced in this thread. Read it carefully and decide if the CPU upgrade is for you. You can probably find a pair of used X5570 for less than $300 on eBay if you want to go for it.
I just did pair of x5650 in my dual couple of days ago. Now I went with the couple of washer method to make up for the height difference in the lidded vs lidless cpus. Once firmware was flashed replacing the cpus is easy only had to tighten the heat sink down till it firmed up and you could feel it was tight put tray back and push the power button, worked first go. Then reset pram to get my 1333 ram properly recognized all told a pretty simple IMHO upgrade to do. BTW the x5650s are going dirt cheap ATM got mine $350/pair delivered to my door. Oh and OP if you are going to do it T15 screwdriver is your tool for removing the heat sink rather that the hex key I always seem to see mentioned it actually fits perfectly like it should, about a 4" shaft is best not too big around.

Edit: Also the Geekbench 64 went from 14K to 25K with the new cpus vs old. That is reflected in the overall time it takes to get my videos encoded with just over half the amount of time needed to complete with new vs old cpus.
 
Last edited:

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
What would be better - A pair of x5650 (6-core 2.66) or a pair of W5590 (4-core 3.33)?

x5660 are also cheap.


My head is going to explode...
 
Last edited:

thefredelement

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2012
1,142
559
New York
I have a 4,1 I'm going to be upgrading the CPUs at some point this year. I'll be going for 12 cores at 3.33Ghz (X5680). My reasoning is the technology is already old and if I'm going to spend $1 on it, I may as well spend as much as I can to recover as much value as I can.

Before I pull the trigger on that I'm going to go to 48GB of 1333Mhz RAM, it won't work at max speed with my current quad 2.93s but I need it desperately and it will work later when I flash to 5,1 and drop in the new CPUs.
 

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
What would be better - A pair of x5650 (6-core 2.66) or a pair of W5590 (4-core 3.33)?

x5660 are also cheap.


My head is going to explode...
Well the 3.33 are a third faster on speed so you would end up with third faster than what you have now ~21K on the Geekbench for them. As well when I did the upgrade my machine went from ~230w power consumed at idle to ~130w because of the smaller 32nm die lower power consuming new arch of the chips full out encoding they use ~30w more, so there is that to consider too.

----------

I have a 4,1 I'm going to be upgrading the CPUs at some point this year. I'll be going for 12 cores at 3.33Ghz (X5680). My reasoning is the technology is already old and if I'm going to spend $1 on it, I may as well spend as much as I can to recover as much value as I can.
Crazy idea if you have money to burn yes but I have never seen them chips go for less than $1000-1500 a piece, may as well sell old machine put that along with the cash your wasting on the processors and get nMP.

Edit: Just checked I see a few sold on Ebay in the last bit at ~$800-1000 still crazy money compared to what ~$400 will get you for an increase of speed.
 
Last edited:

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Before I pull the trigger on this and do something stupid, is this the pair of processors that I should get? I don't think I want to spend much more than this and these seem like a pretty good bang for the buck.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MATCHING-PA...BGE-/400628619987?pt=CPUs&hash=item5d47539ad3

The X5680 is sweet, but that's out of my price range for now and the W5590 seems like the best deal.
Those will work here is great little deal on 6 core processors lowest I have seen in the months I was watching for a pair.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-Intel-Xe...BV3-/161177642790?pt=CPUs&hash=item2586efa726
 

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Thanks. I think if I was going to go for 6-core chips I'd just spend a little more and get the x5660:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/121171254073?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649


So this is my delema. Do I get 12 cores at a lower clock speed or get 8 cores with a higher clock speed?

I mainly will be using processing power with FCPX and possible some Logic in the future.
Twelve cores at lower speeds will do more for you in this case at a lower overall power consumption and temperatures on the cores as well. No need to get caught up in the higher = better idea that is not the way it will work out here. Those 5660s will be 5% faster than the 5650s will be.
 

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
Later today I'm going to pull the trigger on a pair of x5660 (6-core 2.8MHz).

Speak now or forever hold your peace! (I hope this is the right processor for my situations)

Macuser - thanks for your help and advice. I've deided to pay a bit more for the 5660 over the 5650. The jump up to 5670 is too much. I'd be looking at about 800-900 for the pair as opposed to half that for the 5660.

I hope going 12 core is better than the faster 8 core.
 

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Later today I'm going to pull the trigger on a pair of x5660 (6-core 2.8MHz).

Speak now or forever hold your peace! (I hope this is the right processor for my situations)

Macuser - thanks for your help and advice. I've deided to pay a bit more for the 5660 over the 5650. The jump up to 5670 is too much. I'd be looking at about 800-900 for the pair as opposed to half that for the 5660.

I hope going 12 core is better than the faster 8 core.
Your welcome the twelve will be faster than the eight no doubt at all. You end up with the next generation process with that idea as well, it runs cooler faster and less power used. Below is a link to the washers I used you need two on each post of the heat sink where it attaches and the thermal pad if you go with that as well. There is no reason the 5660s should not work even though there were never in a Mac they are in the same processor family. I was going to go with them but I'm a cheap SOB and an extra 5% performance for almost double the money at the time I purchased just could not get by that cheapness..

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/181237121901?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/180824714310?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649
 

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
Thanks for the links. I just ordered the two 5660 processors ($425 shipped) and the washers and thermal pad.

I did notice that my specific processor was never an option for the 2010-2012 MP, but I assumed it would work since it's the same family of processor.

Yes it seems silly that it's twice as much for just a bit more MHz, but in the long run it's worth it to me, and plus now I'll have bragging rights for having a faster computer than you :D

When this stuff arrives, I might be hitting you back up for some installation guidance.

Thanks

Also, MacUser - Did you use thermal paste and thread lock with your install?
 
Last edited:

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Thanks for the links. I just ordered the two 5660 processors ($425) and the washers and thermal pad.

I did notice that my specific processor was never an option for the 2010-2012 MP, but I assumed it would work since it's the same family of processor.

Yes it seems silly that it's twice as much for just a bit more MHz, but in the long run it's worth it to me, and plus now I'll have bragging rights for having a faster computer than you :D

When this stuff arrives, I might be hitting you back up for some installation guidance.

Thanks
That ok you can have the bigger e-penis. Install is simple or was for me.

1. Upgrade firmware
2. Remove tray after confirming firmware update and shutting down machine detaching power cable.
3. Remove heat sink one at a time.
4. Remove processor stuck to bottom of heat sink use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean off old thermal paste.
5. Put in new processor apply some Arctic Silver 5 to new processor.
6. Two washers each post
7. Cut thermal pad to fit making sure to remove plastic from both sides before putting it on.
8. Put heat sink onto posts tighten until you fell it snug up.
9. Do the same procedure for second processor.
10. Check to make sure fan connectors seated properly I used little slot screwdriver to give them push down although don't think it was needed as they looked properly seated as it was.
11. Once complete put tray back in machine re-attach power cord press power button and hopefully like me it just fires up.
12. Enjoy new speed if you upgraded your ram to 1333mhz then reboot do pram reset, hold down the Option + Command + p + r keys at the same time. It will give you a longish start up tone let it continue on until it reboots when you hear tone second time let go of the keys to let it start up as normal and you should see 1333mhz ram speed now.

Think that is all there was to it.
 

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
That ok you can have the bigger e-penis. Install is simple or was for me.

1. Upgrade firmware
2. Remove tray after confirming firmware update and shutting down machine detaching power cable.
3. Remove heat sink one at a time.
4. Remove processor stuck to bottom of heat sink use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean off old thermal paste.
5. Put in new processor apply some Arctic Silver 5 to new processor.
6. Two washers each post
7. Cut thermal pad to fit making sure to remove plastic from both sides before putting it on.
8. Put heat sink onto posts tighten until you fell it snug up.
9. Do the same procedure for second processor.
10. Check to make sure fan connectors seated properly I used little slot screwdriver to give them push down although don't think it was needed as they looked properly seated as it was.
11. Once complete put tray back in machine re-attach power cord press power button and hopefully like me it just fires up.
12. Enjoy new speed if you upgraded your ram to 1333mhz then reboot do pram reset, hold down the Option + Command + p + r keys at the same time. It will give you a longish start up tone let it continue on until it reboots when you hear tone second time let go of the keys to let it start up as normal and you should see 1333mhz ram speed now.

Think that is all there was to it.

Thank you! I'm excited to do this and watch my e-penis grow!

ps with that new processor you need to update your GPU!!
 

pragmatous

macrumors 65816
May 23, 2012
1,378
99
It depends if you're application supports multiple threads or not. Find out what apps you use and check out if it uses multiple threads. You can usually find out by searching for "application name benchmark" such as photoshop benchmarks. You should be able to find some numbers.

What would be better - A pair of x5650 (6-core 2.66) or a pair of W5590 (4-core 3.33)?

x5660 are also cheap.


My head is going to explode...
 

leon771

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2011
207
55
Australia
Upgrading my 2009 Mac Pro - need advice

Check out the barefeats benchmarks of FCPX with dual CPUs. This seems to be the best upgrade for speeding things up in 10.1

http://www.barefeats.com/tube02.html

They used dual ATI 7970s but read the bottom about 5770s, as they only require one power feed each. If you get really serious you could try adding an extra power supply and run a second 7950 in your system as you've already dropped money on one.
 
Last edited:

CrazyNurse

macrumors regular
Oct 23, 2012
149
3
Hey, I just bought a couple x5660s, too!!! :cool:

There are some good geekbench scores out there on 2009 MPs.

For me, the 5650s and 5660s are the bargain CPUs right now.

This should hold me off for a few years until we can pickup used shiny black R2-D2 MPs.
 

Fastsavage

macrumors member
Jun 28, 2011
58
0
Christchurch New Zealand
Later today I'm going to pull the trigger on a pair of x5660 (6-core 2.8MHz).

Speak now or forever hold your peace! (I hope this is the right processor for my situations)

Macuser - thanks for your help and advice. I've deided to pay a bit more for the 5660 over the 5650. The jump up to 5670 is too much. I'd be looking at about 800-900 for the pair as opposed to half that for the 5660.

I hope going 12 core is better than the faster 8 core.
I'm looking at an upgrade as we speak.... I was going to go W5590 but now you have me thinking X5660 might be better (price pretty much the same) - mainly Photoshop and Solidworks (Fusion with Windows 7)
 

comatory

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2012
736
0
Not really an expert on 4K here but...

CPUs are definitely important for rendering time but why hasn't anyone mentioned storage?

4K has usually high bitstream so you need fast storage. Getting SATAIII PCI card should be a no brainer, along with some eSATA enclosure. Putting together few SSD drives should speed up playback and scrubbing which I think is important too.

Good luck. I have 4,1 single CPU and if hex 3.33 falls in price in future I might be getting it.
 

Mac Gus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 31, 2013
137
12
New York City
Not really an expert on 4K here but...

CPUs are definitely important for rendering time but why hasn't anyone mentioned storage?

4K has usually high bitstream so you need fast storage. Getting SATAIII PCI card should be a no brainer, along with some eSATA enclosure. Putting together few SSD drives should speed up playback and scrubbing which I think is important too.

Good luck. I have 4,1 single CPU and if hex 3.33 falls in price in future I might be getting it.
Good points on storage. I have in the past always done my video editing on external drives via FW800. The reason I added the USB3.0 PCIe card was so that I could edit off external drives with the faster USB connection (my Black Magic tests show more than twice as fast as FW). I'm sure this is all fine for 1080, but might not work for 4K.

I haven't gotten into 4K yet but if the external via USB3 proves too slow than I would look into the SATAIII PCI card option, but that's something I would have to do a lot of research on because I know nothing about it.

----------

Check out the barefeats benchmarks of FCPX with dual CPUs. This seems to be the best upgrade for speeding things up in 10.1

http://www.barefeats.com/tube02.html

They used dual ATI 7970s but read the bottom about 5770s, as they only require one power feed each. If you get really serious you could try adding an extra power supply and run a second 7950 in your system as you've already dropped money on one.
Very interesting. I was wondering that too. Glad someone tested. Damn, the upgrading of this thing never ends!!. Also, I wish I would have bought the 7970....
 

leon771

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2011
207
55
Australia
Sorry, my original post should read dual GPUs not CPUs.

I was in a similar position to you in June. I replaced my dual 2.26ghz processors with X5570s as clock speed was more important than cores for what I do.
 

MacUser2525

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2007
1,980
304
Canada
Thank you! I'm excited to do this and watch my e-penis grow!

ps with that new processor you need to update your GPU!!

Oh yeah I already have 6870 in my 5,1 but am holding off until the GTX 680s I have bought arrive so I can flash them to put one in. All told I am going to make money off this upgrade really. The 5650s and 24gb of ram I put in the 4,1 were paid for from the sale of my w3680. The couple of extra 680s I will have left over are going to be sold flashed to mac firmware allowing me to have one at no cost. Oh when you upgrade the firmware you have to hold down the power button when you start it up, has to be done from a cold boot ie. a shutdown after the flashing is applied, until you at least see the progress bar showing it is doing it I held it down pretty much all the way through until it rebooted.

----------

Getting SATAIII PCI card should be a no brainer, along with some eSATA enclosure. Putting together few SSD drives should speed up playback and scrubbing which I think is important too.

Good luck. I have 4,1 single CPU and if hex 3.33 falls in price in future I might be getting it.
I have two port pci-e card with only one ssd in it at the moment most definitely an improvement over the SATAII of the system bus and don't get too hung up on the 3.33 there is a 3.2 model I have seen going most time hundreds of dollars less than the 3.33 your never going to notice that 1 or 2% difference.
 

Similar threads

  • binba
1
Replies
1
Views
118
  • Phaseonephotog
5
Replies
5
Views
501
  • hotpinkpanda
10
Replies
10
Views
913
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.