Worth it upgrading 2009 MP?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by capitanbuzo, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. capitanbuzo macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2007
    all my computers are showing their age. I've been debating what upgrade route to do (riMac, Hackintosh) but I figured a new MBP once updated to Skylake might be the best bet as I like to not always be at my desk. In the mean time, however, I do like to play games and they don't run well on my MBP (2010).

    My question, will it be worth it to upgrade my 2009 MP with the base Nehalem 2.66 quad and 6GB of RAM and a flashed 5770 to one with maybe another stick of RAM, a SSD, and a GTX970? I would like to try to play some games in 4K which is tempting me with the card. Would I see substantial FPS increases while also increasing the settings? I am somewhat concerned about the PCI 2.0 bottleneck.

    I bring up the MBP as if this does not work, I'd be tempted to create an eGPU or a hackintosh. So what are the thoughts with the upgrade ideas? Any specific brands I should look for?
  2. Surrat macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2014
    United States
    The GTX 970 is an enormous upgrade over the 5770 for gaming. More ram will help your system a lot, 6gig is pretty thin. SSD of course is also very nice upgrade. Your 2009 still has a LOT left in it, you just need to 'fatten it up'. :)
  3. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Play games in 4k with a single card? I think you need the Titan X to have just 30FPS for modern games.
  4. Pieterr macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2015
    The Netherlands
  5. Synchro3 macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2014
    I recommend upgrading the CPU to Xeon W3690 or X5690 (both 3.46 GHz) for best possible single thread performance, if you want to play games. The 2.66 quad CPU would be the bottleneck in combination with a GTX 970.

    4K resolution is not recommendable for playing games at the moment. Better 1440p or 1080p.
  6. capitanbuzo thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2007
    I think it will be fine 4K wise for my plans (and if I get more serious about 4K I'll adjust my strategy) but if I need to do a processor swap, is it really worth it over just making a Hackintosh? One of the reasons that I've been waiting on upgrading components is the RAM seems to be a lot more expensive per GB compared to newer, faster RAM.
  7. thefredelement macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2012
    New York
    I went up to 48GB and I think my total cost was just around $500, it wasn't the end of the world the for benefit.

    I noticed a HUGE improvement switching to a Sonnet Tempo Pro with 2 SSDs in a RAID 0.

    There are people here doing crazy awesome things with 4k and the cMP.

    IMO, it's worth doing a CPU swap, you have the single core so it's a straight forward procedure and will give you an immediate benefit. The reason I like this over a hack is simple, it's still a Mac.
  8. capitanbuzo thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2007
    I wouldn't do 48GB but my investment for 32GB is $220-250 If I went the hack route. How much is the CPU swap? I just quickly looked and they seem pretty pricey ($1000 new+?). I'd be all for doing the update but if the CPU is pricey, the 4890K Hackintosh may seem like a better route (I do like to tinker and it seems that Hacks these days seem more stable). I honestly don't need much power, I'd just like to have it. I know I could get away with just having a high end rMBP and save the money from investing in my MP, hack, or riMac but who doesn't like to have their toys, right?

    I was just thinking that if I drop circa $500 on a new card, some more RAM, and an SSD, I might get a lot better performance. Replacing the CPU given that Xenons are more expensive makes me lean back towards the Hack route (I think I priced a build at $1200 or so plus a new monitor).

    I do agree with you in upgrading my MP because it would still be a Mac but if the processor is that pricey, the cost benefit comes into play.
  9. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Please do a quick search on ebay, then you will realise how cheap the W3690 or X5690 now. IMO, that's much much cheaper than build a new hackintosh.
  10. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    Replacing the processor in your MP will be a couple hundred dollars and 20 minutes of your time. Building a hackintosh will 4 figures and much more time.
  11. thefredelement macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2012
    New York
    If you go the eBay route as mentioned above you'll save a ton of money.

    If you don't need the power I would maybe do 16GB of RAM, then allocate some of that cash to a Sonnet Tempo Pro and 2 SSDs to put in a RAID 0, there's the Velocity also that people like. Or you can get a new Apple SSD blade and a PCI adapter for it. (Which would support TRIM natively as well). You can't overlook the overall speed benefit that any of these options will provide. I would highly suggest using the SSD with some type of PCI slot adapter so you're not limited to the Mac's SATA2 speed.

    You can get a 3.46Ghz Xeon for your Mac for around $200 on eBay. I've been eyeing them myself now that the prices are so low.

  12. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    The Xeon CPUs are now cheaper in prices and the best time to buy. Like the Xeon x5680 3.33ghz matched pair goes for around $380 a pair or maybe lower.


    There are some bargain fully upgraded classic Mac Pros like this native 5,1 Mac Pro with already upgraded CPUs 3.33ghz that was sold at only $1950

    There was also an ad listing for a single processor Mac Pro upgraded to 3.46Ghz that was sold for something like $1450 I don't recall the URL of that sold cMac Pro
  13. capitanbuzo thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2007
    If I went that route, I'll probably be in the $1K range for the upgrades. What kind of loss will I experience not having PCI 3.0? I'll post a price out later but it seems like a hack and upgrading my MP seem to be in the same price range and I'm not sure if it's more worthwhile upgrading something that's 6 years old with components that will need to last a lot longer given the costs of the upgrades, or if going the hack route would be safer given that everything is new.
  14. handheldgames macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    Pacific NW, USA
    PCIe 2.0 maximum bandwidth for some of the fastest 4 lane PCIe SSD @ 5.0 gt/s is 1600 MB/s r/w. 3.0 connections can scale to 2100 easily.

    Fwiw, you should have no problem getting $500 for your cMP to start building your Hack. Although the cMP is "old". It supports booting from more PCIe SSD's than most Hacks from a year ago with 0 support. Nvme will only be supported on some x99 boards and we already have drivers on our x58 variant in the cMP
  15. neomorpheus, Apr 8, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015

    neomorpheus macrumors regular

    Dec 17, 2014

    I would go for a hackintosh.

    The cMP is outdated and it takes a lot of compromises to bring up to date.

    For example,

    Sata 2. If you need something faster, need a PCI adapter.
    USB 3, need a PCI adapter.
    Talking about PCI adapters, you just can't update the motherboard to take advantage of PCI 3.0 and whatever is coming.
    Better Wifi/BT, needs work and hunting down approved cards or get ripped off by MVC.
    Need a better vid card? Need EFI flash, to have the full experience, either take your chance flashing a 280x or find a reasonable priced 680.
    Or get a card with no EFI and keep an original card handy, just in case.
    Or again, get ripped off by MCV, example, PC GTX970 cost 300 (with rebates) to 340, MCV edition is 600.

    Sell your cMP, use that money to get a nice I7 CPU, Z97 mobo and enjoy updated hardware and the freedom to update as you wish.

    Sadly, in places like this, apple lovers get deeply offended if anyone runs their beloved OSX on non apple hardware, so dont expect much encouragement towards a Hack.

    PS I dont have a problem with MVC making honest money, is just that i dont agree that it need to be that much.
  16. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)

    I think you’ll find there are more than a few of us that have hackintoshes but they’re not always click and drool easy, and they’re not always easy to update. If the poster wants to build a hack some people here will help but there are better places for that conversation.
  17. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Sure, USB 3 would be nice to have without a PCIe card, but I get by just fine on fast RAID storage and eSATA.

    Because clearly, Wireless-N isn't fast enough for most people. And outside of input devices, when's the last time a workstation user actually cared about Bluetooth? :rolleyes:

    Well, when he's the only game in town that spends countless hours reverse-engineering ROMs and drivers to make 3rd party cards that actually work without a fuss, he's gotta be compensated somehow. Neither Apple nor 3rd party card manufacturers are any favors there.

    Z97 is a mainstream platform with only 16 total PCIe lanes. You can run a single graphics card and maybe one useful expansion card without bottlenecking your entire bus. 32GB ceiling on memory, too. X99 is the more appropriate comparison here. You can easily spend $2,000+ building an X99 Hackintosh. A 6-core Haswell-E CPU and a decent workstation board adds up to around $650 or more alone, not to mention expensive DDR4 memory.

    It's not that we're offended that people are running Hackintoshes. It's more like we'd prefer to have a systems that don't break every time Apple updates OS X. I for one, rather be spending my valuable time getting work done than tinkering with hardware.
  18. Inutopia, Apr 11, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015

    Inutopia macrumors 6502


    Apr 8, 2009
    South of Heaven

    Upgrade the CPU to the top one you can, add memory (8gb fine for games, more for other stuff) GTX 970 is an awesome card, SSD will make it feel like a new computer.

    If it helps, I'm in the same boat right now, considering a hack, but with a 2008 MP. I've done all the upgrades I mentioned though. Fair enough it's the Octo, so it maybe has aged a bit better but believe me, with all that stuff added to it it will be a VERY fast computer again.

    Regarding PCI-e 2.0 vs 3.0 have a look at this benchmark from toms hardware.

    Attached Files:

  19. neomorpheus macrumors regular

    Dec 17, 2014
    And my points stand.
    See how much effort was placed on your replies just to discredit mine.
  20. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    1. Is placing a PCIe card in an empty slot really a compromise?
    2. How does one take advantage of PCIe 3.0? List items that take advantage of a PCIe 3.0 slotted card.
    3. If the items you list pertain to music and or video, I will list the alternative route.

    Sounds like dude's work flow is game based. He does not mention any apps used or if there will be an adverse reaction to them or any connected hardware. Yes the Hackintosh is the way to go!
  21. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2010
    I think you'd be crazy not to just update what you have. The following upgrades will give you a screaming fast computer for quite a while. I had a base 5,1 dual processor, and was shocked at how much these upgrades made a difference.

    1) X5690 processor
    2) XP941 or SSUBX hard drive upgrade
    3) memory upgrade - amount depends a bit on what you use it for. I went for 48 GB, but I honestly think that's probably overkill for the video editing that I do
    4) graphics card upgrade. GTX 970 sounds like a good option. I went with 7970 from MVC because I am more interested in video editing than gaming (and the 970 wasn't out yet)

    The small amount of gaming I do is on the 30" ACD, which is 2440 by 1600. I run at the highest resolution without much of a problem.

    Forget about USB3. You can get it far easier with a 3rd party PCIe card than you can trying to stick it in a hackintosh.
  22. capitanbuzo thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2007
    I've certainly been disconnected from this thread lately. First, thanks for the tips. I do not do much processor intensive tasks anymore and this system is for enjoyment, not for generating income. One of the reasons why I bought it was because I always like to have the greatest and fastest, even if it's overkill. That said, I'm still quite torn as to which way to go. 32GB of RAM is all I need and probably overkill.

    I can see everyone's arguments but this is what's holding me up. I'd still be dumping $1K+ into a computer that's turning 6 this year. I just feel hesitant dumping money into something that's aging, thinking about a logic board that could go bad or any other issues with aging technology. What made everyone trust the aging components to invest a decent amount of cash into?
  23. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    Because if something doesn't break in the first year or so it probably not going to. Second back plane boards for Mac Pros aren't all that expensive even if it does go. Computers are not cars they don't wear out they just get old.
  24. IowaLynn macrumors 65816


    Feb 22, 2015
    Some things are over-due upgrades for a 2009. The nice part is you can do it gradually.

    6GB RAM (3x2GB) definitely due for improvement. 3x8GB at most.
    Even a $65 EVO 850 128GB is best bang-for-buck in reward, but I would go with 256GB for $119 (500GB $189 isn't that much more so splurge!) + drive bay adapter.
    PCIe SATA III can be added later but I would think you will be more than happy and pleased.

    After that, then 4-core at highest clock might be perfect and let you spluge though it sounds like 3.33GHz 6-core "might" not cost much more - depends on your real needs vs wants.

    The best 4k card? I leave to others and OS support along with ask which monitor and then choose the card with best support, rather than card first.

    PS: my 1,1 turns 9 in 4 months, doing better than ever and no front end alignment issue. I do think having it on 1500VA all these years helps or just good insurance. And clone/backup religiously.

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