Upgrading my Mac Pro 3.1 on a budget

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by KOZmac, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. KOZmac macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    I picked up a nice Mac Pro 3.1 for dirt cheap and am looking to make some of those upgrades I've been reading about here on macrumors. My main use for this computer will be graphic design using Adobe CC software.

    Here are my specs:

    Mac Pro (Early 2008)
    OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 - seems to be working fine
    2 x 3GHZ Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM - looking inside, it appears to be 4x1GB
    500 GB Mac HD - I'm assuming this is OEM
    nVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB

    Here are my thoughts:

    Upgrade RAM to 16GB (4x4GB) of DDR2 FB-DIMM 667MHz PC-5300 = ~$90
    - as I understand it, cheaper and runs reliably
    - getting it here: http://www.komputerbay.com/computer...6-gb-w-heatspreaders-for-apple-computers.html

    Upgrade to SAMSUNG 850 EVO 2.5" 250GB SATA III SSD = ~$80
    - Do I need a PCI card for this?

    Add 1GB 7200rpm HDD for storage = ~$50

    Upgrade videocard to GeForce GTX 570 = $50-100
    - seemed best reading older threads here
    - can still get cheap on ebay & amazon
    - quadro drivers are supposed to work
    - anyone know if it works ok with El Capitan?

    Anything else I should be considering?

    Thanks for any suggestions - I'll post updates as I make the upgrades.

  2. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    You actually will be adding 16GB (4x4GB) in one riser. Keep the 4GB's (4x1GB) in the other and you will have a total of 20GB.
  3. ProjectManager101 Suspended


    Jul 12, 2015
    I have that same computer. 32GB of ram, 2GB video ram Nvidea Quatro.
    The video card made no difference for video editing from the 256GB it came with.

    I would recommend you to use a Flash Drive as a main drive. I am using mine with old HD and when editing in Premiere is flawless, zero lag but because I have an internal raid too. But I would switch to a flash drive and add USB3 PCI cards in the rear. You can get the flash drive as a main drive and get 3 x 4GB drives as an internal raid. Now, I am not experts in raid configurations and people here may give you better advice. But if you can upgrade to 32 GB you will be just fine even 16GB is pretty much enough, depending in what you are doing.
  4. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    Avoid Komputerbay their products are dreadful & their service worse. Take a look at my review & on their Amazon listing & I know of at least two other posters on this forum who have had the same experience http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-rev...ewpoints=0&filterByStar=critical&pageNumber=1

    Buy used 667MHz FB-DIMMs on eBay pulled from Dell or HP Xeon servers. They won't have the funky heavy metal Apple heat sinks but they work just fine & will cost about $50-60 for 32GB (8x4GB)

    Ideally you would but the SSD on a PCIe card like an Apricorn Velocity but if you are on a budget putting it in a drive sled (held in with gaffer tape) will work just fine & will be significantly faster than a rotating HDD.

    The GTX570 is a bargain especially good performance for apps like Premier Pro that support CUDA. Mine is running fine with El Capitain. Just keep the GTX8800 in case you need a boot screen.
  5. KOZmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    Sounds good - I was just happy to know I didn't have to use only the 800MHz stuff. I'll start scouring ebay.

    on the SSD - no problem hooking it up directly via SATA? It won't be bottlenecked?

    On the GTX570 - are you saying to keep the 8800 in its slot and add the 570 in another slot?

    I am also wondering if I should get a USB 3.0 PCIe card.
  6. KOZmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    I saw in your sigline that you have a quadro 4000 in your Mac Pro 3.1
    I can get one for about the same price as the gtx570

    Any reason to get one over the other?
  7. KOZmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    Just found a Apricorn Velocity card on ebay - says it doesn't boot reliably on MacPro 3.1

    Anyone have experience with this?
  8. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    There is a current thread on this forum with someone having problems with booting from a Capricorn Velocity Solo X1. It seems an earlier version of the firmware is the culprit although I don't think that there is any way to upgrade the firmware to fix it. Best avoided.
  9. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    It will be bottlenecked but will still be vastly faster than a regular hard disk.

    No put the GTX570 in slot 1 (the double width slot) then either keep the 8800 on a shelf & only fit it when you need it or put it in slot 3 or 4. Slot 2 is for your PCIe SATA III card like the Capricorn Velocity

    Yes, get one of those with a chip supported by OS X (check out the long thread on this forum). The cheapest are around $30.
  10. KOZmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    Are you saying to avoid the card altogether? or just the first gen?
  11. tripmusic, Nov 25, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015

    tripmusic macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2012
    Not that you really need it, but you could pop in 2 X5482 cpu's @3.2Ghz. That's what I did with mine. I think it's a beefier cpu overall, not just faster clock speed compared to the E series cpu's in the other 3,1 configurations. You can get a pair for $100. The 3,1 is a great Mac, but I'm actually selling it... picked up a 4,1 and flashed to a 5,1 and popped in a hex cpu with 12 threads. That's what the 3,1 lacks... hyper threading.

    For the SSD... I put an OWC Mercury 3G in the 2nd optical bay and ran a SATA cable down to one of the extra ports on the motherboard. Not the fastest option out there, but what a difference it made
  12. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    You will get more CUDA cores with the GTX570. If I remember correctly you really only need the Quadro series when doing scientific computations or in the CAD world it is suppose to have a benefit. Something about them are suppose to be more accurate at a point when it is needed. I use Avid and they are big on Quadros. Funny thing is Avid does not even use CUDA!
  13. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2007
    I think it would be a good idea to get a 570 with radial blower fan then. Those Fermi cards run ridiculously hot, and the PCIe SATA card nearby is very likely to cause a bad heat accumulation when using a card with open axial fan.
  14. waimtrp macrumors member


    Sep 20, 2008
    i got this one base on the FL-1100 chipset which is native supported by OS X , work like a charm with my 3,1 under El Capitan :D
  15. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    A good alternative that works 100% and is cost-effective is the OWC Accelsior S. I have that card in my 5,1 and it works like a charm.

    Check out this link for more geek info:

  16. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
  17. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    The 3,1's biggest deficiencies now are the CPUs and the memory bandwidth. I'd stick with the 800mhz FB-DIMMs. Prices on them aren't bad.
  18. KOZmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2015
    So....looks like I have some leftover RAM from a Dell Workstation: 16GB (8x2GB) of PC2-5300 DDR2-667MHz ECC Fully Buffered

    Will it work?
  19. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    I have recently purchased a second-hand 3,1 that I am in the process of upgrading, so happy to share my experience.

    On the RAM, the above should work, but of course it will only run at 667 Mhz. This shouldn't be a problem and only a 4% decrease in performance compared to 800Mhz modules (not really noticeable). I have 22GB at the moment in mine (4x4GB, 2x2GB, 2x1GB), all 800Mhz, and am seeking to go up to 32GB but keep it at 800Mhz so as not to downclock existing RAM.

    On the SSD, like you I have also purchased a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO, but it seems a waste to connect it directly to the SATA, which will be bottlenecked. I have an OWC Accelsior S on the way (cost me £49.99, compared to £79.99 for the apricorn solo 2x).
  20. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    I have been very happy with the Accelsior S. You will experience a nice increase in SSD Speed. How does your new 2008 work for you? It for sure was one of the finest machines Apple ever produced.

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