Cosmic's MacPro5,1


What OS would you run on a MacPro5,1 2.8Ghz with 8GB of RAM?

I’m very out of the loop, not currently operating anything beyond Mavericks, but have just snavelled the abovementioned (!), hopefully to arrive within the next week or so, but it’s coming with no OS - as such I’m working with a clean slate, so figured I should look at what would be the best option.

I’m guessing the answer is going to be High Sierra - IE go with the latest possible, given that the machine is still compatible. But are there any benefits to aiming lower… Indeed - what does High Sierra offer that makes it worthwhile?


Hold the horses… In addition to being one of the categories of Mac listed above, it also needs to be running OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) or higher prior to installation and have 2 GB of memory installed.

Ahh - All good - I have a drive with Mavericks on it. Will just have to clone it onto the drive I decide to use as the system drive.


Go with High Sierra, no reason not to. It will update the firmware to support APFS in SSDs if you have one.
I would drop an x5680 (3.33ghz hex core) into it as soon else though.

Is it a genuine 5,1 or a 4,1 that has been flashed to 5,1?


My daily is a 12 core 5,1 with 64GB RAM. All going well will see another 5 years from it.
I’m still on Sierra

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G’day leon :slight_smile:

As the iMac’s crashes were getting annoying, I was looking at a MacPro3,1… decided the 4,1 would be better for future-proofing… was just waiting for something to come along at a good price… (cos most eBay MacPros are “Buy It Now” for crazy prices) - then saw this one for around $665 plus $35 postage…! Umm’d about it for about an hour just because my car needs a major service soon… but hell - 5,1 for $665 - even being the lowest spec, it’s gonna dance rings around my iMac9,1.

Yeah - I guess High Sierra will be the go… I hate the flat interface… Guess I’ll just have to get used to it!

It was described as being the mid-2010 model - so 5,1… I’m assuming it’s a 4-core. Not sure from everymac if they even had an 8-core 2.8Ghz?

Should look good with my 23" Cinema Display picked up a few weeks ago.

These are the drives I have access to:

1 x 320GB Barracuda (2006) (spare, no case)
1 x 1TB Barracuda (2008) (Old backup of iMac, no case)
2 x 1TB WD Green (2011) (current Scratch, firewire 800)
2 x 4TB MyCloud (2014/15) (NAS)
1 x 2TB WD Elements (2015) (Time Machine)
1 x 1 or 2TB WD Elements (2016) (spare)

So gonna be fun figuring out where to put what.

Sierra or El Capitan.

If you want to run any modern macOS newer than Mavericks, you’ll want to get an SSD, otherwise, it will be slow going.

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Ahhhh - Well, yes, a SSD can certainly be called a “planned upgrade”, but note likely any time soon.

That’s certainly an interesting comment as such, as you’ll note none of my listed drives above are SSD… 7200 is the best I’ve got.

Honestly, get a small SSD and make it the OS/Applications drive. The last version of MacOS/OSX to run great on a HDD was honestly 10.6. They’re very inexpensive these days.

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Looking at my System, Library and Apps folders, I’d need at least 160GB… so basically a 256GB sized drive. A lot of SSDs tend to be around $200… though I see some are cheaper. Are there any real dog-brands to avoid?

I will also then need a 2.5" to 3.5" bracket, yes?

No need for the bracket. I’d say just stick it in the second optical bay. :slight_smile:

I only use Samsung SSD drives. 850 Evo units are great.

Edit: $129. Boom.

+1 for the evo.

Hi Cosmic,
I know money is tight but as a wish list for next year I thought I’d list a few potential upgrades.

1/ Swap to a hex core CPU. X5680 is best bang for buck. It is 3.33GHz. There is an X5690 (3.46GHz) but it costs 2-3x the X5680 for minimal speed improvements.

2/ SSD. I have Samsung Evo Pro, Transcend, Sandisk SATAIII drives. On the SATAIIbus of the Mac Pro there really isn’t any difference between them. My OWC SSD recently died after 7 years of daily use, so I’d go with whatever you can afford at the time. They’re all good.

3/ Graphics Card wise I would aim towards an Nvidia GTX 680. One with dual 6 pin connectors. These can be flashed with a Mac ROM (there was an official Mac card released). There are faster cards out there now, but being able to flash with a Mac ROM is a big bonus to me. It means you have boot screens etc, have no problems when an OS update comes out which generally breaks aftermarket Graphics drivers.

4/ USB3 Card. I have an Inateck KT4004. Purchase via Amazon USA. Irebebh bought a second one and it was DOA. Original card I’ve had for 3-4 years and it has been flawless.

5/ RAM. I recently purchased 64GB of 1333MHz from eBay. When you need it, just get whatever you want from eBay as ex service pulls.

Good luck and enjoy your machine.

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I’ve been running Mavericks for donkeys years now, I don’t like the changes in Sierra with Siri and all that nonsense. I may install High Sierra to see what its about but I don’t expect to run it on a daily basis.

Well, to my original question… When I picked up the iMac, I cloned its hard drive, which was set up with Mavericks and a load of software, so I think I’ll pop that in first and see how it feels. Then I’ll download High Sierra and pop it on another drive and see how they compare, given it will “only” be using platter based drives. If HS seems slow being on a non-SSD, I’ll keep on with Mavericks for now.

As for leon’s upgrade pathways…

1/ X5680 - About $100 per processor on eBay (actual sales) - Not too bad…

2/ SSD - This I think will be my first port of call. The Evo 256GB seems to go for at least $130… with non-brands being as low as $75. Will see when the time comes what I can afford.

3/ Graphics - $100 - $200 for the Nvidia GTX 680… This wont be high on my list, because I’m sure the stock card that it’s coming with will still amaze me compared to the iMac’s card, but is good to note for future upgrades.

4/ USB3 - I think a few of my external drives are USB3 - but at this point I think I’ll only really be using my firewire box… so this will be on an as-need basis - ie if I get some new tech that needs it.

5/ RAM - Ahh well, I’m hoping the 8GB will happily cover the system and Final Cut Pro without using too much virtual stuff. I’ve seen a lot of RAM bundles on eBay, at all kinds of prices. Again, time will dictate, but hopefully I’ll be able to avoid this purchase for a bit. Final Cut X is kind of calling me, so that may change things if it’s a memory hog…

Is your machine a single or dual CPU model? I have a spare W3670 if you’re interested, which is a 3.2Ghz 6-core single CPU spec Xeon that suits the 5,1. I recently upgraded my 4-core Mac Pro 4,1 at home with one (after the 5,1 firmware upgrade of course), but ordered two as I thought I would upgrade a client’s machine but turns out his is a dual CPU model. Paid about $60 for it, so you’re welcome to it if you want it. It’s a fairly easy install, you just need a long 3mm hex driver (I got a set at Bunnings for $15 or so I think).

See here: Mac Pro CPU Compatibility List | MacRumors Forums

Certainly interested, @jaysee - It is a single processor 2.8Ghz to my knowledge, but should arrive tomorrow hopefully so I’ll confirm then.

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If FCPX is what you want, then check out for benchmarks. It loves AMD/ATI cards. I recall that running dual 5770 cards that originally shipped with the machine was pretty good bang for buck.
I’ve seen 7950 and the new RX580 as performing pretty well with FCPX as well.

Still waiting on the computer…

@leon - I have to admit that I’d never even considered the idea of adding extra graphics card/s to improve rendering performance (only if you needed to add extra monitors)… Seems I have a lot to learn. :slight_smile: And I see the ATI 5770 (which my machine reportedly has 1 of) goes for $26 - $290 on eBay… What’s the bet Mac flashed ones are at the high end of the spectrum…

(As for flashing myself - for that I’d need a PC…)

I figure I should try FCP X… That or Avid… But in reality, getting a job as an editor with my now 10 year old qualifications and 0 experience is very unlikely… so maybe I’ll stick with what I’m comfortable with… It’s really just my YouTube fanvids and occasional family vid that I play with now.

I have a spare 5770 here I’m not using that you’re welcome to. :slight_smile: You can have it for free if you cover postage - you’ll just need to source a Mac Pro GPU power cable from ebay.

My new toy finally made it to me on Monday. :slight_smile:

Came with a 1TB Black Caviar WD drive - I’m guessing the stock drive as it has a 2010 model number on it. Case is in fairly good condition apart from a few mm shaved off the rear top “handle”… Certainly better than the wonky G5 I picked up from Cashies years ago!

To date all I’ve managed to do is take a peep inside (dusty!) and finally now get a drive ready to boot it. I’d planned to use the 360GB Barracuda which has a clean copy of 10.8 on it, but then realised - it’s a PATA drive, not SATA… D’oh. Then found SuperDuper wouldn’t clone my iMac’s drive due to permission issues… before settling on CarbonCopy to get the job done. Going to boot it shortly… then tidy my desk to make room :slight_smile:

@jaysee - I’ll PM you soon! :slight_smile:

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Please please please tell me you’ll get an SSD as soon as you can :stuck_out_tongue:

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