Upgrading my Mac Pro 3,1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TMacGuy, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. TMacGuy macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2015
    I currently have an 8 core 3.0 MP3,1

    Looking to do a few upgrades for it.

    I bought an OWC Adaptadrive but have not bought an SSD yet. Preferably want to get a 500~ gb one minimally.

    I currently have 14gb ram (2 4gb, 6 1gb) I also happen to have an extra 2 1GB sticks sitting around, lol.

    What's a good place to get ram from? 16gb would be nice, 20gb even better. I constantly have a Windows VM running.

    Video card upgrades... I could probably use something better than the GT120. I don't really game, but would be good for video conversion I do.... Mac edition 5770/5870's seem to be pretty expensive still (Or am I looking in the wrong place?). Are there any cards that are fairly cheap and easy to flash for Mac boot screen?

    USB 3.0 PCIe cards worth it?

    Eventually I'd love to get a Westmere Mac Pro but my current budget just doesn't allow it, plus this is still plenty fast. Not slow by any means. Just trying to figure out what my best direction to take is here, I'd love to eek out more performance.

    I currently have a 5TB HDD, 3TB HDD, and 2 500GB HDD's.

  2. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    The 8-core 3,1 systems are still very usable especially with a few low cost updates.

    First an SSD will transform performance. The system will boot quicker. Launch applications faster & generally be snappier in every way. Ideally don't just plug it into a drive sled where it will be throttled at SATA-II speeds but use a SATA-II PCIe card like the Apricom Velocity so the full speed of the SSD is utilised.

    The GT120 is a very basic graphics card. The best bang for buck is a used GTX570 particularly with Premiere Pro & other applications that use CUDA.

    More RAM is always good. You can buy cheap used 667MHz FB-DIMMs pulled from Xeon servers. Performance is indistinguishable from the expensive Apple exclusive 800MHz parts & they run cooler. 32GB is cheap enough especially if you can sell your 800MHz parts.

    Finally a USB 3.0 card will allow you to hook up fast external discs for backup etc & at $30 or so are the cheapest part of upgrading a 3,1.
  3. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I think you're on the right track TMacGuy.

    If you don't need a Westmere or New Mac Pro, then just simple upgrades to a 3,1 will do a suitable job.

    I've been slowly upgrading my 3,1 since I got it - most recently with a PCI SSD and a SATA SSD.

    I also got this to add extra drives (I now have 7 internal storage drives).

    As for graphics cards this thread should tell you all you need to know (also stickied in this sub-forum):

    While we can upgrade to 32GB RAM (or even 64GB i think?), RAM speed @ 887MHz is the un-upgradable system bottleneck as far as I can see.

    - Michael
  4. TMacGuy thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2015
    Hmm. I wonder if we'll see USB C cards in a few months..

    I'll probably go SSD on a sled, then pick up PCIe adapter later. their about 109$ in Canada.

    Part of me feels dirty using the wrong speed RAM. So I may just stick that out. I think my major upgrades that ill do first are SSD and video card.

    My Mac sometimes wakes up from sleep with what looks like the old TV noise for a few moments of when you couldn't tune a channel.

    Thanks everyone for your input

  5. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    You can probably sell your 16GB of 800MHz FB-DIMMs for more than 32GB of 667MHz FB-DIMMs will cost you. Believe me the difference in RAM speed is not noticeable on the contrary the extra memory will speed up plenty of operations.
  6. TMacGuy thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2015
    Quick question re: RAM.

    Can I mix 800 and 667 FBDIMM's?

    ie: keep my 2 4GB PC6400 and slap in some 4GB PC5300?

  7. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    What software do you use for video conversion? Most of it won't benefit from faster GPU processing power because they typical only use the CPU.
  8. nigelbb, Apr 17, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015

    nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    If you mix 800MHz & 667MHz RAM then it will all run at 667MHz. You would be better off selling the 2x4GB 800MHz parts as you will be able to buy a lot more 667MHz parts for the money that you get.
  9. mugwump macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2004
    Well, I just updated my Mac Pro 2009 4,1.

    To summarize:

    SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 1TB. Avoid the 840 EVO due to its unsolvable degradation flaws.

    I'm putting the SSD into this $50 dollar PCI card. This will give it SATA 3 speeds of 500MB per sec.

    Going with the Dell 27" 4k IPS screen. Tremendous bang for the buck there.

    Found a cheap somewhat powerful quiet graphics card for the 4K monitor: EVGA GTX 750ti.

    Then when the Mac Pro is updated with NVMe storage and SkyLake chips, I can swap out the 4,1.
  10. David zrout macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2015
    TMacGuy... How did you get your 5tb drive to work? I cannot get mine to work.
  11. mac65 macrumors member


    Mar 31, 2009
    Munich, Germany

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