Monthly Archives: August 2013

2008 Mac Pro (3,1) Upgrades on Deck

Since I’m going to have to repair the Mac Pro, I’ve decided to throw in a few upgrades.  In addition to the ATI Radeon 5770 upgrade, I’ve decided to add 16GB of RAM and two Solid State Disk drives (SSDs).

While most of the hardware arrived today, I’m still waiting for the replacement video card, which should arrive Wednesday.  Once the video card arrives, I’ll crack open the dormant Mac Pro and start stuffing in the upgrades.

I had originally planned on spending all my money on a brand new Mac Pro, and turning the 2008 Mac Pro into a virtualization server, but I’ve decided to refurbish my existing 8-core mac instead.

I’ve been holding off from putting any money into my aging Mac Pro primarily because of two issues.   If you compare the 2008 Mac Pro to the newer versions, two things are immediately problematic when upgrading – the crippled SATA I/O speeds and expensive memory.

The 2008 Mac Pro is hampered with relatively expensive memory, when compared to newer versions.  You must get the 800Mhz ECC FB-DIMMS in matched pairs.  On a side note, contrary to what many people will say, you can run non-ECC memory, but you must run all of the memory non-ECC.

Since Apple no longer stocks or sells the memory, so you have to find out where you can purchase it.  OWC sells 16GB in 2GB modules for a draw dropping $429.99.   Conversely, if you have a 2011 Mac Pro, 16GB will run a $154.99.   After a lot of searching, I was able to order 16GB from Nemix, for $264.88.

The next decision was what SSD to purchase.  As I’ve noted, the 2008 SATA controller is stated to theoretically handle 3Gb/second.  However, given some design decisions by Apple, the actual throughput is less than that.  Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to put in the fastest, most expensive SSD.

Apple is selling a 512GB drive for a jaw dropping $749, plus local taxes.  I decided to go cheap — opting for two cheaper Samsung 840 SSDs –  a small dedicated SSD for the operating system and a dedicated SSD for data, for approximately $97 each.