Upgrading the video card in 2009 Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by sofandi, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. sofandi macrumors newbie

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    Aug 29, 2010
    #1
    Hey guys,

    I have already sort of asked this question in the Nvidia Graphics card thread that is stickier on top of the forums, however, I think my question got somehow lost up in there - so I give it another short try here:

    I am looking to buy a used Mac Pro 4.1 2,66 Quad Core Mac Pro.

    I would like to take advantage of the new opportunity of putting an unflashed Nvidia in there, namely the Asus GTX 670 with the custom cooler and 2x6 pin power auxiliaries...

    I've got a couple questions regarding the upgrade:

    1.) The unflashed GTX 670 will operate in Windows at PCIe 1.1 x16 speeds only, correct? Does this constitute a big performance hit that obliterates the performance gain of the 670?

    2.) Will the 2,66 Ghz Quad Core Processor limit the performance of the 670 in bootcamp games, so that the upgrade is no longer advisable? Should I rather go for a GTX 570 due to the processor limits?

    3.) I am contemplating upgrading the Mac Pro Processor down the road, some Xeons W3565 go for about 220€*in Berlin... Would this CPU upgrade significantly enhance speeds in the context of the GTX 670?

    Finally, prices on the asus gtx 670 are about 220€*here now - do you guys think this is a good upgrade in this situation? Don't want to waste any money here...

    Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #2
    Hi Sofandi. Best to consult MacVidCards as he offers flashed videocards for Mac Pros. He is experienced in flashing a variety of cards. He also knows the proper power watts in making sure the Mac Pro can handle.
     
  3. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #3
    From what I have read, I believe the performance hit will be minimal.

    To some degree, yes. I have included an image of how my performance increased in my Mac Pro 5,1. The first set of images were with 2.4GHz and GTX 670. Second pair of images were of 2.93GHz and GTX 670. Final pair of images were of 2.93GHz and GTX 680. Everything else in the system remained the same.

    Notice how performance going from GTX 670 to GTX 680 was very minor. This leads me to believe that my CPUs are becoming a bottleneck and I would see minimal benefits from upgrading to any other video card until the CPUs are upgraded.

    As for whether you should get a GTX 670 or GTX 570, I think it depends... If you are upgrading video cards for the purpose of CUDA and/or GPGPU purposes, I think the GTX 570 would be better. If you are upgrading for gaming, I think the GTX 670 would be better. In my opinion, I think the GTX 670 is a very good all round card that runs pretty cool and quite quiet.

    Personally, yes, I believe you would see huge gains in performance from this upgrade and, yes, I think this would truly help unlock the potential of the GTX 670.

    I don't know the pricing of the video cards in Berlin and can not comment on whether that represents a good value. Here in the US, I've seen the GTX 670 go on sale for approximately $250 recently and I feel that is a very good bargain.
     

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  4. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #4
    I just ran the same tests with my current video card, a GTX 680 4GB, just for comparison's sake.
     

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  5. sofandi thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Hey pastrychef, thanks for the benchmark and the advice. I can see that difference is quite huge when comparing the processors. I already googled around a bit and came to the conclusion that getting the asus gtx 670 seems to to be the best overall deal, however, I will have to upgrade the processor. Unfortunately, I am not very technically skilled, so I asked around some hardware place that repair Mac Pros and they offered to do the processor swap for 59€... Which is okay for me considering I hardly dare to undertake such a task.

    Now the final question being: What's the best deal as a processor upgrade - I found a used Xeon W3570 on ebay, adding the 59€*that totals about 240€...

    Do you think this is a good idea for a 4-Core 2,66 Ghz 2009 4.1 machine?

    The W3570 should be a drop-in only, right? No need to flash the firmware to be the same as the 2010 machine?

    To me, this seems like the best deal, also considering the benchmarks you offered. Any advice on that, especially regarding the need to update the firmware?

    Thanks in advance...
     
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #6
    240€ seems pretty good... Again, I am unfamiliar with pricing outside of the US... But 59€ for the shop to do the upgrade is extremely reasonable, in my opinion.

    Yes, the W3570 should be a drop-in replacement.

    As far as I know, there really are no disadvantages to flashing the firmware to make your Mac Pro appear as a 5,1 model. But if you do not wish to do it, you should not have to for this upgrade.

    I think that the combination of the W3570 and GTX 670 will yield you excellent results.
     
  7. sofandi thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Alright thanks, great advice here. I also read somewhere on the forum that it is not necessary to update the firmware beforehand, since the W3570 is a D0 Stepping chip, which the Mac Pro 2009 accepts.

    Now, did anybody on the forums here already do this with this specific CPU? I would hate to not apply the firmware only to have to Mac Pro with the new W3570 refuse to startup... I could just apply the firmware to be sure, but why mess with it if I don't need to.

    Thanks again pastrychef, this is a truly great forum.
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #8
    I have never owned a Mac Pro 4,1 or done the CPU upgrade on one. But I don't think you will encounter any problems with this CPU since it is from the same family of processors as your current one.

    I can see your point regarding flashing the firmware to make your computer appear as a Mac Pro 5,1 and I agree.

    My pleasure. I hope all your upgrades work out smoothly. Please report back with results!! ;)
     
  9. PinkyMacGodess, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

    PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    #9
    Here's mine. I did the Radion upgrade through Apple. I don't game much with it, but the benchmarks aren't that good. I had thought of upgrading the processors too. I'm afraid it wouldn't be that much bang for the buck though...

    Is it worth it? Seconding your question: Is it a drop in, or is there more to it. Would adding more memory help much?

    Thanks...
     

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  10. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #10
    Since you do not game much, there may not be any reason to upgrade. Personally, I don't think those scores are too bad for a video card several years old. Not every game requires super hardware to be playable. For me, I started playing Skyrim and it led me to a series of upgrades...

    So, my question would be, when you do game, what types of games do you play. Also, do you do any work and use apps that can take advantage of high end graphics cards, such as DaVinci Resolve or After Effects?

    When I did my CPU upgrade, I managed to find a pair of E5570s on Ebay for about $120 each and it was simply too good of a deal for me to pass up. I also sold the CPUs that were originally in my computer bringing my total cost to almost nothing.

    There are many CPUs with wide ranging speed ranges that are compatible with your computer. They are all drop-in replacements. Again, whether it is worth it for you to upgrade depends a lot on what you need/want...

    The best way to determine if you would benefit from more RAM would be to launch Activity Monitor (located in your Utilities folder) and look at the Page Outs and Swap Memory. If you see a high number of Page Outs and the Swap Memory is high, you will definitely benefit from more RAM.
     
  11. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    #11
    Is there a list somewhere of what processors are compatible? I can Google it, but if you have any links, I'd appreciate it...

    Thanks...

    I guess I'd like to 'future proof' this box as much as I can, as realistically as I can.
     
  12. Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

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    #12
    I installed the W3570 CPU into my 2009 Mac Pro. There is not a need to change the firmware from 4,1 to 5,1. The W3570 works if your machine's firmware is left as 4,1.

    After you install the new CPU, be certain to reset the NVRAM (Commant-option-p-r) at startup. This is always a good practice after a hardware change. It helps ensure that everything is working properly. You don't have to do it at first boot, but you should do it as soon as possible.

    Best of luck.
     
  13. pastrychef, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #13
    Look here and scroll down to the Gainestown and Westmere sections. The CPUs beginning with "E" and "X" work in your machine. Plus, W5580 and W5590 also work.

    In regards, to "future proofing", when it comes to video cards, both AMD and Nvidia release new ones every year... Which is why I think it makes more sense to buy when needed. For example, I purchased an Nvidia 8800 GT with my Mac Pro 3,1 which was the best (next to the insanely expensive Quadro FX 5600 which, I think, cost over $1000), today, can't hold a candle to today's low end cards.

    That being said, as things stand today, the best "consumer" cards are the AMD Radeon 7970 or Nvidia GTX 780. Top official Mac versions from manufacturers are, the Sapphire Radeon 7950 or the EVGA GTX 680.

    P.S.: Almost forgot to mention that if you haven't already done so, installing an SSD will enhanced the experience of using your computer immeasurably.
     
  14. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    #14
    Even though the W5580/90 are 130 watt?

    I got a small SSD a while ago and was thinking of using it for the OS.
     
  15. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #15
    Yes, the W5580 and W5590 have been reported to work fine by a number of forum members here.

    I advise you to get OS X installed on the SSD ASAP. lol It's really like night and day.
     
  16. DPUser macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I did the EFI flash, 4.1 to 5.1, and dropped in a W3680 hex 3.33. P.e.r.f.e.c.t.

    If you are going to upgrade the processor, take your machine to the max, within your budget of course. Don't limit yourself to 4.1 compatible CPUs; the EFI flash is super simple and there is no downside of which I am aware.
     
  17. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #17
    totally agree .. i upgraded to W3690 and love it:D
     
  18. sofandi thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Hey guys,

    great to hear that the W3570 is indeed just a drop-in. I will lurk Ebay for a while still and check whether there are any good prices on the hexes, the W3680 would be the preferable alternative to the W3570 - however, it does come at quite a cost even at used prices - about 320€*more (I think that is about 400$)...

    Anyway, I will post results as soon as I find a suitable processor and got it replaced (still don't dare to do it on my own)... I definitely agree on the SSD - I got a Samsung SSD 830 256 GB already, figured it offers the best value. Any higher SSD speeds should not be visible on the Mac Pro, since it it limited to Sata II speeds.

    I think I will do another Google hunt to check benchmarks on the W3570 vs. the W3680:D
     
  19. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    #19
    You can get PCI-E SATA III cards for the Mac Pro which are bootable now, such as the Highpoint Rocket 640L or the one from Apricorn.
     
  20. sofandi thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    Hey pastrychef and all the other guys,

    got one more question concerning the gpu upgrade.

    I read around a bit on the GTX 680 Flashing thread and I think I would manage to flash a GTX 680... However, I am a bit concerned about the noise levels from the reference cooler on the GTX 680. This is why I originally preferred the Asus GTX 670 Direct CU II - this guy uses it in his Mac Pro relatively fine:

    http://junipermonkeys.com/follow-up-putting-an-nvidia-670-in-a-mac-pro

    The most important question to me is: How big is the noise difference between the custom cooler on the Asus GXT 670 and the reference cooler on the GTX 680. One more advantage would obviously be that the flashed GTX 680 would benefit from a full PCIe 2.0 or even 3.0? How big would the performance difference most likely be?

    On a related note: Do you guys think that the custom cooler on the Asus GTX 670 is going to be bad for the Mac Pro, since it blows the hot air up and not out back? I would really like to benefit from the noise levels on the Asus cooler, but wanna be safe...

    King regards for any advice:)
     
  21. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #21
    The GTX 670 I had came with a reference cooler and it was inaudible to my admittedly bad hearing.
     
  22. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    #22
    My AMD 7950 uses a fairly similar dual-fan cooler and I believe the air flow is in from the top, over the heat sink and out the sides back into the case with a proportion guided out the rear exhaust slots.

    The PCI bay fan then detects this heat source and spins up to push more air from the front and out the back.

    You may find you hear the PCI bay fan more than the GPU fans as they are generally engineered to be pretty quiet.
     

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