Odd Software for Odd Jobs

Upgrading my Early 2009 Mac Pro's RAM

After upgrading the CPUs, the RAM was still registered at 1066MHz. After some research, I found that resetting the PRAM (i.e. NVRAM these days) should get them running at the faster 1333MHz speed.

I tried it once … holding down Command () + Option () + P + R … during restart until you hear the startup tone (indicating the HW is okay).

It didn't seem to help. But, re-reading carefully … you need to keep holding it down until you hear the tone a second time (duh!).

Now the RAM is registered and running at 1333MHz!

Running GeekBench 4.0.1 I now get the following scores:

Single-Core Score

Multi-Core Score

Not a massive improvement, but hey … if the memory can do it, you might as well increase their speed!

Upgrading my Early 2009 Mac Pro's CPUs

Now that my old 2009 MacPro4,1 now looks like a slightly-less old 2010 MacPro5,1 I can replace the original 2 x 2.66GHz quad-core Xeons (X5550) with 2 x 3.46GHz hex-core Xeons (X5690):

Original stock CPUs:

Intel Xeon X5550 @ 2.66 GHz
2 Processors, 8 Cores, 16 Threads

Upgraded CPUs:

Intel Xeon X5690 @ 3.46 GHz
2 Processors, 12 Cores, 24 Threads

With the new CPUs it is also possible to use faster memory - I currently have DDR3 1066MHz (PC3-8500) but can now use DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10600). Unfortunately that'll be another upgrade.

Anyway, I lumped for a complete kit on eBay (user ID: friendlycomputersusa) rather than just the bare CPUs. I didn't want to muck around. The kit I got was perfect - everything that was required including instructions.

As I'd already done the firmware upgrade for the macOS Sierra upgrade, all I needed to do was replace the CPUs.

This took me about 15min in total. Pretty easy.

The first thing to do was remove the massive heatsink/fan units.

2016-11-02 12.41.20

The X5550s were stuck on the bottom of the heatsinks but these came off pretty easily - remember which heatsink was for which CPU!!!

2016-11-02 12.52.24

Here's the CPU daughterboard with the heatsinks and CPUs removed, ready to pop the new CPUs in.

MacPro Motherboard with CPUs removed

First I need to blow out seven years of crud …

2016-11-02 12.51.55

Pop the new CPUs in … and importantly, because they have their 'hats' on still … put three brass washers on each screw post so that they are not crushed when the heatsinks are replaced!

2016-11-02 13.09.10

Put everything back together … aaaaaaand, yes, the start-up sound indicating all is well with the Mac!

The result:

MacPro upgraded

(note - the memory is still 1066MHz)

I tried out GeekBench4, running a benchmark before and after.

With the stock 2.66GHz quad-core CPUs:

Single-Core Score
Multi-Core Score

And with the new 3.46GHz hex-core CPUs:

Single-Core Score
Multi-Core Score

A decent improvement! If I replace the memory with the faster modules I should see a further bump in the scores.

My trusty Mac Pro should have a few more years of life in her now (seven so far) … barring Apple deliberately obsoleting her like they tried to with macOS Sierra …