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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > MacPro CPU upgrade

MacPro CPU upgrade
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I'mDaMac
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Sep 14, 2010, 02:00 PM
 
After buying Mac laptops the passed couple cycles I want a desktop now. I'm considering a MacPro and am looking at either the 8 or 12 core version. Do these machines use the same mobo? How easy is it to upgrade the CPU's at a later date. I've built/upgraded PC's for friends and I have no problems opening up boxes and getting my hands in there. Anyone here have success upgrading the CPU in their MacPro?
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cgc
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Sep 14, 2010, 02:57 PM
 
I know I can upgrade my original 2006 MacPro's Xeon processors but they cost $700+ each. Not sure how much the new MacPro CPUs cost, but it may not make sense from a cost perspective.
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P
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Sep 14, 2010, 05:44 PM
 
All the two-socket models use the same motherboard, so it should be possible to upgrade after the fact. Note that the CPUs are VERY expensive Xeon 5600 series chips. Double and triple check that you get the right ones if you want to try this.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
olePigeon
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Sep 14, 2010, 06:06 PM
 
Will non-xeons work on the motherboard, or are they different sockets?
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mduell
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Sep 14, 2010, 08:36 PM
 
Same socket, LGA 1366 AKA Socket B. I don't know if any i7 will work. More than one will not.
     
macaddict0001
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Sep 14, 2010, 11:11 PM
 
1 might work as a replacement for a 35xx series xeon, but I don't know for sure.
     
I'mDaMac  (op)
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Sep 15, 2010, 03:55 PM
 
Well since I'm very seriously considering the 12-core @ $5k, I would rather upgrade the box 2-3 years down the road rather than shell out another $5K. I remember when the top-of-the-line Macs topped out at $3499.

Do you guys think a firmware updated will be needed for the mobo to accept the new CPU's? That alone may discourage me.
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Waragainstsleep
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Sep 15, 2010, 07:42 PM
 
The original Mac Pros didn't require a firmware update to upgrade. I guess you can't rule out that Apple might try to lock the option out somehow in future though.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
P
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Sep 16, 2010, 04:26 AM
 
Depends on what you want to upgrade it with. Of course you can upgrade it to a different edition of the current processor (Westmere-EP) but that's just the same thing with higher clockspeeds. The successor processor (Sandy Bridge-EP, probably Xeon 5700 series) will use a new, incompatible socket, LGA2011. AFAIK, there are no new processors planned for the LGA1366 socket that the current MP uses.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
mduell
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Sep 16, 2010, 04:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by I'mDaMac View Post
Well since I'm very seriously considering the 12-core @ $5k, I would rather upgrade the box 2-3 years down the road rather than shell out another $5K. I remember when the top-of-the-line Macs topped out at $3499.
The current (and even year old) CPUs in 2-3 years won't be physically compatible with the current Mac Pro. The prices of today's Xeon CPUs will probably be about what they are now in a couple years (if you can even find them).
     
Veltliner
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Sep 16, 2010, 11:22 PM
 
Does is actually pay to upgrade the CPUs?

Isn't one better off to sell the unit, and upgrade?

How much speed increase can you actually get, noting that bus speed, RAM, logic board, etc. stay the same?

Is it worth it?
     
P
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Sep 17, 2010, 04:02 AM
 
It can make sense to buy a computer just after an Intel "tock" (new arch, like Conroe or Nehalem) and upgrade to a high clockspeed version of the "tick" (threadshrink, like Penryn or Westmere) 2 years later or so. That is rare though, and assumes that you get a very good price on the initial computer. Some OEMs sell low-priced versions with Xeons in them that you might upgrade down the line - Apple does not. Right now we're just after the "tick", so buying for a future upgrade makes zero sense in any case. Upgrading to a new CPU made more sense back in the early days of the millennium, when you could count on clockspeeds to keep increasing to give you a "free" boost.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
I'mDaMac  (op)
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Sep 17, 2010, 03:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Depends on what you want to upgrade it with. Of course you can upgrade it to a different edition of the current processor (Westmere-EP) but that's just the same thing with higher clockspeeds. The successor processor (Sandy Bridge-EP, probably Xeon 5700 series) will use a new, incompatible socket, LGA2011. AFAIK, there are no new processors planned for the LGA1366 socket that the current MP uses.
Originally Posted by P View Post
It can make sense to buy a computer just after an Intel "tock" (new arch, like Conroe or Nehalem) and upgrade to a high clockspeed version of the "tick" (threadshrink, like Penryn or Westmere) 2 years later or so. That is rare though, and assumes that you get a very good price on the initial computer. Some OEMs sell low-priced versions with Xeons in them that you might upgrade down the line - Apple does not. Right now we're just after the "tick", so buying for a future upgrade makes zero sense in any case. Upgrading to a new CPU made more sense back in the early days of the millennium, when you could count on clockspeeds to keep increasing to give you a "free" boost.
So what I'm hearing you say is that if I really insist that I want to upgrade CPU's in a MacPro, it would be better to wait for the next revisions. But, in the end, it would be even better to not bother at all. I was hoping that the move to intel would make it easier and less costly to upgrade a Mac. Guess I have to re-think my MacPro purchase.
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P
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Sep 18, 2010, 10:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by I'mDaMac View Post
So what I'm hearing you say is that if I really insist that I want to upgrade CPU's in a MacPro, it would be better to wait for the next revisions. But, in the end, it would be even better to not bother at all.
Pretty much, yes. Note that the next gen MP is at least a year away, and probably more.

Originally Posted by I'mDaMac View Post
I was hoping that the move to intel would make it easier and less costly to upgrade a Mac. Guess I have to re-think my MacPro purchase.
Outside homebuilt computers for people who upgrade often, it never really made sense to upgrade the CPU - and it wasn't easy even then, let me tell you. I built a computer at the Conroe launch, and thinking to do exactly what I decribed above, I made sure I used a motherboard based on the latest Intel chipset at the time. It didn't work anyway - my P965 chipset lacked official support for the Penryn "tick" (because the FSB speed went up, and because the VRM spec changed minutely) so the CPU I put in orginally is still there. A Penryn-generation Wolfdale would probably work anyway, according to people online, but it's unofficial support, and I don't think I need that potential headache.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
   
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