Upgrading My 4,1 Mac Pro - CPU's vs. SSD

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jameslikeness, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. jameslikeness macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #1
    I was hoping to be able to pick up a new Mac Pro soon, but that's off the table for now. That being the case, I'm looking into what I can do to get my early 2009 Mac Pro running better.

    My current setup:
    • 2 x 2.26 quad xeons
    • 32GB RAM
    • 7200rpm 640GB HD
    • ATI Radeon HD 4870 512 MB graphics

    I've been reading about my options, and it looks like replacing the CPU's with W5590's is possible, but difficult for someone who's never done something like that before. Another option is to replace the HD with a 480GB SSD, which looks like it's about the same price as buying a pair of W5590's on eBay, and is way easier for a novice to do.

    So which would give my machine more life? The CPU upgrade or the HD swap?

    Bonus question: Is there another video card that I can replace my 4870 with? I play some games (in OS X, not via bootcamp) in my free time.

    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. Mac Gus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #2
    Depends on what you're using your computer for. If you're doing lots of video editing and can use the extra CPU power for rendering etc than perhaps the CPU. For regular daily use than probably the SSD. I'd do both, which is what I'm doing. I've never changed a CPU before either but there are a lot of online resource on how.

    Also, check out the x5600 series CPUs. You can go 12 core.
     
  3. jameslikeness thread starter macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #3
    I read about the x5600 series, but they look like they're more difficult to do than the 3.33 5590's.

    I use this computer as my work machine as a full-time graphic designer. No video rendering, but I'm often working with large Photoshop files.
     
  4. Mac Gus macrumors regular

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    #4
    As far as I know the installation process is the same.
     
  5. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

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    Location:
    Canada
    #5
    Install process is identical no matter the processor used unless you happen to get lidless processors. If you go the ssd install route look into a SATAIII pci-e card that the ssd mounts on to get the full performance out of it. Graphics card the GTX 680 seems to be popular upgrade option if wanting ATI then the HD 7950 is the best you can do. Or you can always do a 5770, 5870 or GT 120 older Mac card used item.
     
  6. Coyote2006 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    #6
    Get a PCI-SSD card like the VelocityX1 or X2 and a fast SSD Drive first.

    The speed gain in opening and saving files, especially for larger files, will be dramatic.

    For grafic cards, I'd recommend a GTX 680, get one with 6-pin connectors. You can buy the Mac version with 2 GB or a PC version with 4GB. Should work out of the box with installed CUDA drivers.
     
  7. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #7
    Yeah, especially if you're opening several photos per hour, vs working on one image half of each day.
     
  8. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
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    #8
    SSD, for sure, as your first upgrade. Your 640GB HD is going to be very slow by current standards. This will go a very long way towards making your computer feel very snappy and responsive.

    Then, if games remain a priority, consider a faster graphics card.
     
  9. jameslikeness thread starter macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #9
    Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

    You guys are thinking that PCIe is worth the price difference over 2.5" SSD's then?
     
  10. jameslikeness thread starter macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #10
    Actually I have another question: All of the large files that I work on are located on a second internal drive that's another 2700rpm 640GB HD. Will I be losing the benefit of the faster SSD if I'm working on files that are on a slow drive? Do I need to upgrade to 2 PCIe SSD's in order to get the potential boost? Or will I still get speed improvements, just not on opening or saving those files?
     
  11. flyingmanatee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #11
    PCIe SSD you'll pay a premium for, but since your Mac Pro is SATA2, you won't realize the full speed of any SATA SSD. I went the SATA route because of cost and you still get the benefit of the seek time, and while you'll be capped to 300 MB/s, its still oodles faster than spinning drives.

    Also food for thought, your 640 GB HDD (be it 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM) won't have nearly the transfer speeds of the newer 2/4 TB HDDs due the the data density of the platters.


    Worth the price is a relative term, dependent on your needs/wants. For me, it was not 'worth the price'. Plus, if I want to migrate my SSD to another computer, its much more widely supported. I paid $400 for a 750 GB Samsung 840 Evo, which would only fetch me 250 GBish in the PCIe sector.

    You won't "lose" the benefit of your SSD when accessing files on your HDD but the read/write of your files on the HDD will be limited to the HDD speeds. Keep in mind, your OS/Caches/Save States/Preferences etc will reside on your SSD (assuming its your boot drive), not to mention the application itself.

    Most of the graphics card options have been listed, I personally two years ago flashed an AMD Radeon 6870. You have plenty of options on the card front, an just about everyone option will be a massive speed gain.
     
  12. jameslikeness thread starter macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #12
    Oh wow, I didn't realize that was an issue. Good to know, that makes PCIe look more attractive!

    This is good to know too, that's what I was hoping - I get the speed boost in booting, launching apps, running apps, etc. I'll still have slower opening and saving of files, but the overall speed boost will remain.

    Thanks for the info!!
     
  13. flyingmanatee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #13
    With 10.9 on my 2008 Mac Pro (dual-quad 2.8 GHz/14GB Ram/Samsung Evo 840/AMD Radeon 6870), even at SATA2 speed bottle necks, my Mac Pro doesn't feel much slower than my 2012 MacBook Pro 15 in Retina's SSD.

    PCIe (mSATA) certainly is the superior option, but you can get bootable SATA 3.0 controllers for your Mac Pro, ranging from $30 - $45 on Amazon which is still oodles cheaper than buying a PCIe SSD.
    See: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1600453
    Mind you it will take a little jimmying to find a spot for your SSD although it can sit unmounted in the floor of the 5.25 tray without causing any harm to the drive.

    You're generally looking at with Samsung 840s around 550 MB/s a second (depending on benchmarks) read and 500 MB/s write. PCIe will bring you generally to about 650-700s MB/s Read/Write. Google will get you the exacts.

    Notably with some of the PCIe SSDs, like the OWC Mercury Accelsior E2, its running two SSD chips in a RAID0 configuration which may have a slightly higher failure rate due to two SSDs vs one to fail.
     
  14. jameslikeness thread starter macrumors member

    jameslikeness

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    #14
    A follow-up on what I ended up doing: I bought and installed a PCIe SSD and copied my main HD over to it, and am booting to the SSD now. It's made a WORLD of difference on this machine! It's running like a new computer now. Quicker, quieter, cooler. Love it.

    And for people who are interested, I went with the Mercury Accelsior_E2, and it was really simple to install. That's literally the only thing I changed in my 5-year-old Mac Pro, and it's acting like a machine less than half its age. :)

    For the sake of comparison, I ran a Black Magic speed test on my main HD before the upgrade, and it was getting around 75 MB/s for both read and write. After upgrading and booting to the new drive, it's getting around 525 MB/s write and nearly 650 MB/s read!!
     
  15. camner macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #15
    A followup question about the various PCIe SSD cards out there. I have a 2010 MP 5,1 and have a Sonnet Tempo PCIe SSD card that supports two SSDs, one of which is my boot drive. The problem I've discovered is that at least in the 5,1 (and this is confirmed by Sonnet tech support) there is a problem with using the Sonnet card for the boot drive in that if the boot drive is on the PCIe card, holding down Option at startup to get a list of bootable drives (including the Recover partition) DOES NOT WORK! Removing the PCIe card just to be able to boot of another volume isn't a great thing...

    The other cards listed here, such as the Apricot Velocity X2...do they suffer the same issue on the Mac Pro 5,1?

    And, are there cards other than the Sonnet that support 2 SSDs (I happen to have 2 because I bought a 128GB a while back and then when that became not large enough for my intended uses I purchased a 256GB, and I figured I might as well get some good use out of the 128GB).
     
  16. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #16
    ^^^^I have the Velocity x2 and one Samsung 500GB SSD that is my StartUp disk. The option key at startup does work in my 5,1 Mac Pro.

    Lou
     
  17. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    Sep 5, 2013
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    Oregon, USA
    #17
    Can you still use Startup Disk in system prefs?
     
  18. camner macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #18
    Yes. That (using Startup Disk) works fine. However, if for any reason my main hard drive (SSD) would fail, I would have to remove the PCIe card in order to be able to boot my machine.

    How much of a real-world difference is there between an SSD on SATA III vs an SSD on SATA II? (Right now the boot SSD is the 2nd optical tray).
     
  19. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #19
    Doubled the speed of mine when I took it from the optical bay and put it on pci-e card. Even with the junk Sanforce controller on the ssd had to go raid 0 on my two port card to get anywhere near the performance others report with the Samsungs, Crucial single drive...
     
  20. saifulmazloum macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2013
    #20
    I have a 2009 4, 1 upgraded to 5,1 firmware with two ssds mounted on a Tempo SSD pro. I upgraded the processors to 2 3.33ghz quad core. I also have a separate ssd as a boot drive on the back plane. You can get the upgrade info on pindelski.org. My computer is really good for photoshop but still lags a little when rendering video.

    I use my computer for graphic design. I would go for dual 6 cores, ssd boot drive, and some extra ram, just so it has some longevity.
     

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