I'm a first-timer on here.

I too have an early 2008 MacPro 8-core 2.8ghz with 16gbRam and stock Radeon 2600 Vcard. It's fairly well configured, but I'm sure that can improve response for a reasonable purchase, which bring me to this inquiry.

The idea of using a 1tb SSD drive as a Boot drive to boost my Mac's overall response is exciting because this thing is a dog, even on Yosemite. What I don't know is if that will speed things up in general (and hopefully Photoshop) better than maxing my RAM.

My deeper Question here is which option would get me the most speed for the $ by: 1. maxing Ram to 32gb for ~$450 2. swap current SATA3 WD Caviar boot drive for an SSD (about same $) 3. add an SSD to my second Optical bay (about same $) 4. add an SSD to my second fast PCIe slot? (possibly more $$ than it's worth?)

I currently work a lot on 400mb+ Photoshop files. I keep the files on an internal 7200rpm SATA2 RAID-0, and use a 10,000rpm SATA3 disc as a scratch space.

Do you think I would see a stronger performance gain not only in finder ops, but also in Photoshop with the SSD vs double the RAM? Hard to know where my response time bottlenecks are in this box. Would an SSD on a fast-lane PCIcard be better than on native internal bus to drive bays?

Any wisdom on options I've not considered would be deeply appreciated as I'm trying to save this box as I don't have the funds to buy a cylinder MPro or fast iMac.

My setup stats:

  • Running Yosemite, + background apps like Sophos, Fonts mgmt app, TimeMachine, DropBox, etc.
  • RAM: All slots used with 2gb Apple sticks.
  • Boot drive: 1tb 7.2k rpm WD Caviar SATA3/64cache containing only OS system, iTunes, etc. Only half space used. Kept optimized with DiskWarrior.
  • Internal 2tb 7.2k rpm Seagate Barracuda SATA2 Raid-0 for the files. Kept less than 70% full and regularly optimized.
  • 150gb 10k rpm WD Velociraptor SATA3 as a dedicated scratch disk for PS.

thank you! ~ dave

  • see my answer on apple.stackexchange.com/a/188253/85275 - TL:DR, big SSD in the optical bay. PCI would be faster, but not enough faster to justify the cost, imho. BTW, that machine can actually take 64GB RAM - Apple didn't allow for 8GB sticks, yet they do work, I've a couple in mine, same machine.
    – Tetsujin
    May 29, 2015 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


Maxing out RAM can only situationally improve your performance. If your computer isn't ever using a ton of swap space (less than a gig), adding more RAM isn't likely to help much. The SSD will almost certainly improve the performance of your computer. Yosemite really is designed for SSDs. It seems to do a ton more arbitrary reads/writes to disk during the course of its operation than earlier versions did, so it will be dog-slow on a HDD.

As for the SSD on PCI, that is definitely the better solution. SATA 2 (which the 2008 Mac Pro comes with) is far too slow for the faster SSDs. There's little point in hooking up a modern SSD to that. PCI should be able to handle it.

  • I'd love to actually see 2 machines set up with each option. for £300 I put a 1TB SSD on SATAII & was stunned by the increase in speed. I'd love to see how much more would be gained by the PCI option… that's of course if it will work in an old 3,1 Pro, which I've never actually investigated.
    – Tetsujin
    May 29, 2015 at 17:38
  • I'd think that OS X's support for SATA Express would allow a SATA Express-based card to be put into any Mac. Not entirely certain. May 29, 2015 at 17:40
  • Me neither - I'd like to get data from someone who's tried it, or something from a rep dealer, OWC, Dabs etc who could say it works. The regular EVO 840 was a huge difference for me, though. Happy as Larry with it; gave me another year out of this machine, at least. I did also up the RAM from 10 to 26GB before that; the combination might be helping.
    – Tetsujin
    May 29, 2015 at 17:42
  • Thanks for your input Froggard. The early 2008 MacPro's fast-lane PCIe slot is going to be faster than regular slots, so I think that's an important consideration. I'll price out (and possibly compare performance between the PCIe card SSD vs the swap into a drive bay and get back to this thread with results. May 30, 2015 at 18:25
  • @ William T Froggard, @ Tetsujin: Thank you gentlemen, you encouraged me to put a few hundred$ into my old 2008 8-core, saving it from being tied to the tracks. I did end up installing an OWC Accelsior PCI card paired with a Samsung 1tb SSD. Loaded a free OS X, migrated apps and data and booted into a brave new Mac. Speed gain was 200-250%, testing at ~230mbps R/W Buoyed by that gain and assuming even greater potential, I added another 16gb RAM (she's maxed at 32), and speed gain pinned my test app to over 450 mbps R/W. This allows me to do video editing and work on 2gb Photoshop files. Jul 24, 2015 at 1:40

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