mrclunk

Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« on: December 12, 2017, 11:16:46 AM »
For anyone still using the old Mac Pro towers [4,1 and 5,1] i was surprised to find some very cheap upgrades are possible, thought i post here incase it had passed people by...

This all relates to the Mac Pro Tower 5,1 (2010 - 2012)
[fyi,  you can do a firmware update to a 4,1 to basically make it a 5,1]

So after you've added a SSD drive for the system disk and increased your RAM...

1) CPU
If you have single processor model it's very easy to replace the CPU with a faster version.
I swapped our quad core chips for a top of the range 6 core versions. There's loads on ebay, cost £65.
All u need is some heatsink compound.

2) Video card
We needed to drive some 4K screens for post work.
Some standard PC vid cards work without any modification.
I installed a £100, Sapphire RX 560 Pulse 4G card.  [there's no boot screen, but i don't care...)
The new generation of AMD RXxxx video cards are far more power efficient so drop right in without putting more strain on the PSU.
[Be aware that not all manufacturers AMD RXxx vid cards work in macs]

Easy!



Mbira

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 01:48:09 AM »
Nice!  I have my 2012 Mac Pro tower souped up as well.  12 core and 64 gig of Ram.  I do a lot of multiple projection output for our live show with it, si it's fitted with two of the standard video cards so I have  three monitors and three 1080p projectors running.  For the primary drive, I used an external OWC SSD card that is plugged in with esata into one of their blade PCI cards that has a second SSD.  It's kind of weird having the primary drive as an external drive, but it works great because then I can have all the fast media coming straight off the PCI bus.  Then I use the internal HD bays just for large multi TB (non-SSD) storage and backup.  The whole thing was less than $2000 after buying the used Mac Pro on ebay.
Joel Laviolette

Rattletree   |  https://www.rattletree.com
The Rattletree School of Marimba | https://www.learnmarimba.com

Whoops

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2017, 09:54:38 PM »
Nice one,
thanks for sharing the info.

I'm all about to upgrading computer hardware,  and stretch as much possible the life of your machine.

most people are lazy to google upgrade info, or even to learn, somehow they prefer to spend a lot of buck each 3 years on a new computer they probably don't need.




Gene Pink

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 12:46:46 AM »
most people are lazy to google upgrade info, or even to learn, somehow they prefer to spend a lot of buck each 3 years on a new computer they probably don't need.

I hear ya bro.

Typing this post on an Athlon 12Ghz desktop from 2002 with winXP, and Firefox 47. And a CRT monitor. Is it speedy and nimble? Not even close, it can't handle youtube. It works, but I don't want to start that debate again around here.

Gene


Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 03:39:09 AM »
Im all for trying to extend the life of my computer hardware too ,so many people are clueless and think just because their computer is slow after a few years its worn out or needs replacing ,when in fact a clean slate opperating system and maybe a new ssd drive  and those things will fly again . My ten year old laptop with Xp and an ssd drive boots and is ready to use in about 15 seconds,theres another newer win 10 machine here takes at least a minute to boot and be ready to hit the net  ,thats if it doesnt decide to 'update' . I know so many people who for years were always chasing this or that latest hardware to make their set up just right,it just ended up costing them a fortune and they now have a shed load of redundant crap their still paying off even though their studio has long since shut its doors . Someone invent a time machine and send me back to a time when stuff was built to last ,the profligacy and waste were engendering into the youth today just serves to keep the war machine going 

Whoops

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades.. New
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 05:57:54 PM »
I use a Macbook Pro 13inch from late 2011.

We are in 2017 and it's still the center of my studio. I do all my mixing and mastering works using it.
Some of my mixing sessions are quite heavy on processor needs.

Still works great for me.
I do maintenance of the OS (using Lion and Protools 10), and I had at some point to upgrade the system drive to an SSD and expand to the maximum RAM (16GB). Also use a laptop cooler in the studio.
Well those are minimum investments money wise for a computer that is still doing the Job pretty well in 2017.

All my friends already changed computers in the meanwhile, some of them even changed computers they bought after me.

Upgrading the OS when you don't need any upgrade for the work that you are currently doing is also a big mistake, that somehow the lazy people normally do.
Upgrading OS on an older computer is rarelly a good thing in terms of performance and normally is your ticket to obsolescence.





« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 05:02:41 AM by Whoops »

ruairioflaherty

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 10:07:17 PM »
My main mastering rig is an upgraded 2009 Mac Pro 4.1 2 x 2.66 Quad Core.  I've done the firmware update to 5.1 to allow me to upgrade to Sierra.  It's got 64GB of RAM and an SSD system drive.   

Since doing the update to Pro Tools 12 I have not had any power issues, the dynamic plug in allocation really benefits the way I work with audio spread across the timeline.

A question for those in the know, I have a feeling that my video card is failing.  I'm getting increasing glitches onscreen, it started months ago but has accelerated in the last few weeks.  It's an ATI Radeon HD 4870 512 MB.  I had fan noise issues maybe 3 years ago and took it apart to clean and redo the thermal grease, it was solid for a long time after that.

So my questions, is there a new hardware option that is plug and play or should I be looking for an NOS ATI Radeon?  I don't really have the time or patience for issues and would like to deal with this before it fails.

 

mrclunk

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2017, 06:25:16 AM »
We only updated our machines from Maverick so we could run Protools HDX 12.
I actually think Sierra's the best Mac OS since Mavericks, Yosemite and El Crapitan were awful.

So my questions, is there a new hardware option that is plug and play or should I be looking for an NOS ATI Radeon?  I don't really have the time or patience for issues and would like to deal with this before it fails.

If you don't need the mac boot screen, so the ability to chose your boot disk on start up, then there's lots of new Radeon RX 460 470, RX 570 etc that work straight out the box with Sierra  10.12.6.
Saying that, compatibility could be broken in High Sierra, but then the next upgrade cycle on our machines will probably have to involve new hardware anyway.
The important thing is that the card is an AMD "reference" design. Some have extra bell and whistles that the built in mac drivers don't support e.g extra video ports. These extra ports won't work on a Mac.
It appears that more cards from Sapphire and Gigibyte  work than other manufacturers.
This is the card i used but there are others. It's massively overpowered for DAW work.
http://www.sapphiretech.com/productdetial.asp?pid=3ECEAD87-2972-477A-A3BE-480194D9FD6E&lang=eng
Manufacturer code: 11267-18-20G


mrclunk

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2017, 06:29:56 AM »
Since doing the update to Pro Tools 12 I have not had any power issues, the dynamic plug in allocation really benefits the way I work with audio spread across the timeline.
I found when updating, PT12 hated Yosemite and El Capitan. Much happier on Sierra. Took me a couple of crashy weeks to work that out...

ruairioflaherty

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2017, 11:03:37 PM »
We only updated our machines from Maverick so we could run Protools HDX 12.
I actually think Sierra's the best Mac OS since Mavericks, Yosemite and El Crapitan were awful.

If you don't need the mac boot screen, so the ability to chose your boot disk on start up, then there's lots of new Radeon RX 460 470, RX 570 etc that work straight out the box with Sierra  10.12.6.
Saying that, compatibility could be broken in High Sierra, but then the next upgrade cycle on our machines will probably have to involve new hardware anyway.
The important thing is that the card is an AMD "reference" design. Some have extra bell and whistles that the built in mac drivers don't support e.g extra video ports. These extra ports won't work on a Mac.
It appears that more cards from Sapphire and Gigibyte  work than other manufacturers.
This is the card i used but there are others. It's massively overpowered for DAW work.
http://www.sapphiretech.com/productdetial.asp?pid=3ECEAD87-2972-477A-A3BE-480194D9FD6E&lang=eng
Manufacturer code: 11267-18-20G

Thanks for the info!  Unfortunately I'm rather risk averse in this case and not interested in exploring options, I don't need any power as we only use one screen in the studio (we'd use none if we could!).

I'm going to drop in another video card to verify that mine is indeed what's failing, a friend has offered an NVIDIA Geforce GT 120 512MB from a similar vintage Mac Pro as a loaner.  Would that be a safe bet to drop in?  And also is there any risk to the card (different firmware or whatever?).

Thanks!
Ruairi


Whoops

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 11:25:23 PM »
Ruairi, check this out:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201805


Mac Pro (Early 2009)

    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120
    ATI Radeon HD 4870
    ATI Radeon HD 5870, offered as an upgrade kit
    Note: The Radeon HD 5870 card requires Mac OS X v10.6.4 or later and the use of both auxiliary power connections.


ruairioflaherty

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2017, 11:52:40 PM »
Ruairi, check this out:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201805


Mac Pro (Early 2009)

    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120
    ATI Radeon HD 4870
    ATI Radeon HD 5870, offered as an upgrade kit
    Note: The Radeon HD 5870 card requires Mac OS X v10.6.4 or later and the use of both auxiliary power connections.

Thanks Whoops, that's exactly what I needed.  For a technical guy I'm completely uninterested in computers anymore, I just seem to lose focus everytime I start researching and get bogged down.

As I type I'm getting all sorts of weird glitches on screen, random lines, video errors and even font weirdness.  With luck maybe a cleaning and reseat will fix mine?

Whoops

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2017, 12:14:51 AM »
As I type I'm getting all sorts of weird glitches on screen, random lines, video errors and even font weirdness.  With luck maybe a cleaning and reseat will fix mine?

Some people bake it in the oven, I think is something like 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius.

The graphics cards I listed are the official Apple ones, but like mrclunk said a lot of different cards cold be used.
if you want to go the official and simple route I would search on ebay, I'm sure you can get one of the cards in the list for cheap





john12ax7

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2017, 12:54:42 PM »
Upgrades can be a mixed bag as newer things often aren't compatible after a certain point. But used parts can be quite good,  you can get better than what you have for rather low cost.

EBay is good to buy older replacement parts.  I bought a video card recently for $10, older nvidia nvs 300, fanless, so quiet,  and plays well with pro tools.


ruairioflaherty

Re: Cheap and effective Mac Pro upgrades..
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2017, 12:02:34 AM »
Upgrades can be a mixed bag as newer things often aren't compatible after a certain point. But used parts can be quite good,  you can get better than what you have for rather low cost.

EBay is good to buy older replacement parts.  I bought a video card recently for $10, older nvidia nvs 300, fanless, so quiet,  and plays well with pro tools.

In this case I'm probably using 10% of the horsepower on that card and luckily we have a machine room so I don't need to worry about noise.  I think I've found a card on eBay that will work well, will give it a shot in the next few days.

Thanks for the info.