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I have a stock early 2007 Mac Pro (8GB RAM, 2 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT (256 MB). It has a RAID0 bootdrive and is running Lion. I've had it for >5years and I really love it.

However, recent attempts to do stuff, including running WebGL demos, has led to a realisation that its actually now quite an old machine. This isn't a problem for me day-to-day - its still a monster able to rip CDs, play DVDs, run a Windows VM simultaneously without breaking a sweat - but as a developer I'd like to stay abreast of current tech like WebGL and whatever other else.

I'm not prepared to spend thousands on a newer machine, mine is just fine for day-to-day purposes, but I would like to soup it up. Upgrading GPUs has been mentioned, but I was wondering if other parts of the system could be swapped out with newer ones.

Does anyone have any experience of upgrading older Mac Pros?

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It would be better if you specify where did you come short with this machine except GPU. And please provide detailed description: CPU, what memory sticks(quantity and size in GB) do you have, what HDDs do you have in RAID0 setup. You may use System Profiler to fetch this info. –  iskra Oct 28 '11 at 12:00
    
I have 4 x 0.5GB sticks and 6 x 1GB sticks of stock Crucial-supplied RAM. CPU is stock 2.66 Xeon, not sure I can upgrade the CPU? This would be great if possible. –  5arx Oct 31 '11 at 11:39
    
I believe there is a mistake with RAM slots count. –  iskra Oct 31 '11 at 13:05
    
Are the CPU used more than 75% when you are noticing slow response? What level of IO is needed then (iops and throughput). If you can find your current bottleneck it will guide you to an effective upgrade or let you know to save your $ for a newer overall Mac. Don't spend on RAM / storage if all you need is a GPU. –  bmike Oct 31 '11 at 13:51
    
Sorry yes, I was guessing. will check when I get home. I have a macpro at work too, confused :-/ @bmike - I've noticed high usage (albeit momentarily) when building code in a Win7 VM (under Parallels). This is the only real time its an issue). Think the GPU option is more relevant to my usage. –  5arx Oct 31 '11 at 15:35

2 Answers 2

You have few options:

  1. CPU: Now you have two two-cores XEONs. You may upgrade them to two 4-cores XEONs. Here is a crowd-sourced experience on this. AFAIK the best you can add is X5355 or even X5365. Here is a good discussion on this matter. And these are pictures.

  2. SSD: Just put in the place reserved for second ODD(Can't remember if your model have wires in place already). Or buy 3.5" adapter like IcyDock 2.5" to 3.5" SSD & SATA Hard Drive Converter or OWC's MountPro. Yes, it is much faster for boot drive than conventional HDD, RAIDed or not.

  3. GPU: look at this blog and forums there if you are interested in flashing cheap PC card for your Mac.

  4. Memory: You may add as much as much as 32Gb with 240-pin PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2 ECC fully-buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) (matched pairs) 4GB modules. If you need them.

Right now I would choose SSD. And then I would check if prices for those CPU are stable or keep falling and then decide on time and need for CPU upgrade.

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Great general advice. A Mac pro with fast SATA drives striped is going to need a spendy SSD to make a big difference. Also CPU, RAM, storage are not going to help much for webGL or any open CL Dev efforts, so for the OP a modern GPU is the main thing since none of the other items are described as a bottleneck. –  bmike Oct 31 '11 at 13:49
    
@bmike No SSD does not need to be pricy. I don't have RAID-0 myself to provide a direct comparision but one can look at a comparison with 3xWDRaptors — overclock.net/ssd/674524-intel-ssd-vs-wd-velociraptor-raid.html or this W7 boot video — youtube.com/watch?v=-sA0zmhW7Fg&feature=related –  iskra Oct 31 '11 at 14:21
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And this is boot of the slowest setup I've put cheapest Intel SSD (~100$) in — MBP CD 2GHz/2GBRAM — dl.dropbox.com/u/2543328/junk/… It's 20 seconds. You just can't compare random IO on SSD and HDD. –  iskra Oct 31 '11 at 14:25
    
All points duly noted. Looks like I may have to wait for that SSD though, the floods in Thailand have ruined it for everyone :-( datacenterdynamics.com/focus/archive/2011/10/… –  5arx Oct 31 '11 at 15:37
    
@5arx Do you have relatives or HDD fab facilities in Thailand? How did it affect you? –  iskra Oct 31 '11 at 22:21

You could consider an SSD. While you can buy a 3.5" SSD, most SSDs are 2.5" so you would need some kind of adaptor like an icydock if you chose one of those.

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