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Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: CW2V
Date: July 16, 2017 04:14PM
Picked up a 2009 Mac Pro 2.93ghz quad core for a neat price along with a firewire 800 drive, Wacom tablet and monitor. The tablet is the smaller one (6"x 8") so it's going to my work and my 9" x 12" is coming back home. The monitor is nothing special, but the firewire drive is cool as all my current macs have a firewire 800 port. All the extras that came with the computer are a bonus as the price for the whole lot was about the going price for just the computer.

But on to the 4,1 Mac Pro.

Will do the firmware update to 5,1.

From there, I expect to get a Westmere 3.46ghz 6-core.

48 gigs RAM at 1333mhz.

SSD PCI card and drive.

2gb video card or better.

Maybe Wifi and Bluetooth upgrade. Right now there is no wifi but I would use ethernet anyway, it's not like this would be moving around much.

27" IPS monitor or larger.


This will replace a 2010 iMac i7 with a 1gb video card and 16gb RAM. It is my main workstation - for years since new, but I am always disappointed when I bring home work and see how much slower it is than the one at work with the 2gb video RAM. So with better video card, add on the processor upgrade, SSD, and RAM, I expect this thing to fly.

I've searched the forum and found numerous threads, and plenty of upgrade suggestion. I'm just looking to aggregate them all in one thread. Maybe some I've missed.

So what have you all done with your 4,1 Mac Pros, fellow upgraders? What's the best OS to run? What other than airdrop, hand-off and continuity can I gain with a upgraded wifi/bluetooth card? In your humble opinions, what's the best buy for the buck?

TIA

CW2V
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: jdc
Date: July 16, 2017 08:20PM
Sounds expensive ;)



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[www.fakesteve.net]
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: Spiff
Date: July 16, 2017 08:53PM
Agreed with he firmware update to 5,1. Don't waste your money on the 3.46 Ghz upgrade. For hundreds of dollars more, you only get a fractional upgrade. That, and heat is an issue as that chip tends to heat up quickly and you will need to manually increase fan speeds a lot to prevent overheating.

Go with the 3.33Ghz max. chipset. Install MacFancontrol or iStat menus, in order to manually control fan speed on those occasions that it is needed. For me, so far, that's when Lightroom is crunching hundreds of photos and the CPUs are ALL working. That's when I crank up the CPU A and B fan as well as the exhaust fan. It's fun to see the temps rise, and then fall when the fan speeds are increased (from what I've read, 70 C is about the max you want the chip temp. I've gotten mine up to 78 before I got the fans kicked in. Made me sweat a bit). I am using a 3.33 6 core x2 in my setup. I can't imagine the headache I would have with the 3.46 setup.

video cards - that's a toughie. might want to look into MacVidCards.com. Why? Because they will sell you flashed cards that are able to show a startup screen, so you can use the option key on startup, if you want, in order to select a specific startup disk. Without the flashed card, you cannot use the option key to select what disk you want on startup. It's minor, but sometimes makes a difference.

RAM is always good. I bought from Our Fair Sponsor's garage sale and am VERY happy with the upgraded RAM.

Good luck!
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: July 16, 2017 09:20PM
USB 3.0 card. Faster than FW800. Maybe a wifi card, or BT CARD, if helpful.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: sekker
Date: July 16, 2017 09:55PM
I'd start with SSD, then RAM, then add the video card.

See how close you are to your work system.

Then worry about the CPUs. You might find the quad core CPU/SSD/RAM/Video card is 90% there.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: July 17, 2017 08:20AM
Quote
anonymouse1
USB 3.0 card. Faster than FW800. Maybe a wifi card, or BT CARD, if helpful.

For backup drives. You can't boot from a USB3 card.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: rz
Date: July 17, 2017 08:58AM
Quote
ka jowct
Quote
anonymouse1
USB 3.0 card. Faster than FW800. Maybe a wifi card, or BT CARD, if helpful.

For backup drives. You can't boot from a USB3 card.

Yeah, he mentioned a PCI SSD card. That's what you'll want to boot from.

I had dreams of buying a 4,1 last year and doing the upgrade, but found a great deal on a 12-core 5,1 instead. RAM was already at 32GB, which seems to be plenty. I've never seem iStat show it's using more than about 12GB. Got a PCI card to put my SSD boot drive (already had it on my old 3,1). Ditto for my USB 3 card. I also had a 2GB video card... a 7780 I believe. But it was flaky with dual monitors. Went back to the stock 1GB card it came with, and it works fine. Only other mods I've done with it is to change out the DVD drive with a Blu-Ray writer (only burned 1 Blu-Ray so far). And I put a hard drive in the second optical bay. I got 7 years out of my 3,1 and it was still a great computer when I sold it. I hope to get at least 7 out of this one.

For OS, it's still running Mavericks, although I am thinking of upgrading to El Cap. I have a SL VM that I run, and want to make sure it will transition smoothly to the newer version of Parallels under El Cap.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: Spiff
Date: July 17, 2017 01:59PM
I am running Sierra on my 2009 Mac and it is doing just fine without issue.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: Silencio
Date: July 17, 2017 02:32PM
The video card is a tricky one. Really depends on the applications you're running. I upgraded all of our 4,1 / 5,1 Mac Pros to mid-range Nvidia cards last year because we don't use Final Cut X and most of our other applications do take advantage of CUDA.
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: AllGold
Date: July 17, 2017 06:41PM
I agree with Spiff on the CPU upgrade. Do the math on 3.46/3.33 and you will see it's not worth it for the extra cost and potential heat problems. A hex core 3.33 runs about $90 on ebay. Another $10 for the long hex wrench and some thermal paste and you're all set. If you want to go to 12 cores (dual CPUs) then it's a whole other can of worms and you will also need a new processor tray and have to either de-lid the CPUs yourself or buy them that way.

SSD on a PCI card for sure. What are you going to do with the four empty internal 3.5" SATA hard drive bays? grinning smiley

I'm not going to be much help on the video card. I don't use software that takes advantage of GPU power (just Photoshop and Photo Mechanic) so the stock Radeon 5770 that came with my 5,1 machine is plenty. But it's still a lot faster than the stock Nvidia GT120 that comes with the 4,1s.



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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: Buzz
Date: July 17, 2017 07:50PM
I'd love to find a less hot/less power hungry GPU than the 1GB Radeon 5870... something w/ more oomph, maybe play w/ 4K/5K video. The Radeon is a real bear on these hot days. It seems like it runs pretty hot all the time; was kinda hoping newer cards only ramped up the power when it's needed so they would play nicer on hot days. Agree w/ the 3.33GHz CPU, SSD via PCIe, fan control SW. Not sure about the BT/WiFi, as both of ours (now 6 & 12 cores) came w/ it so don't know what I'd choose if they didn't... OTOH, as long as both mobo enet ports work, you can hook the MP towers up to two wired networks as long as the wires are accessible. Our 6 boots into Mavs from the PCIe card, and the 12 into El Cap, and each has a variety of other OS's available in the drive bays. I like Mavs better, but if you need something newer, then you need something newer. VM's are pretty peppy as needed, too. I like having multiple OS's available, and the FW800 ports do get lots of use because of their bootability. Yes, USB3 is faster for transfers and OK for TM, but it's nice being able to swap bootable FW drives around.
Good luck.
==
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Re: Just joined the Mac Pro 2009, 4,1 group - Let's go shopping!
Posted by: Silencio
Date: July 19, 2017 05:27PM
Something like a Nvidia GTX 970 is a good upgrade over the Radeon 5870, especially if you want to work in 4K. I haven't tried any of the new Pascal cards in a Mac Pro yet, but they pack a lot of performance in a more efficient package. The GTX 1070 should be a pretty solid performer.

You would just have to live without the Apple boot screen and have to deal with Nvidia web drivers that every Apple Security Update breaks, or pay extra for a card flashed by MacVidCards.
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