MacInTouch Reader Reports

Mac Pro: Performance and Memory

Apr. 3, 2012
Apr. 4, 2012
Sep. 18, 2013
Oct. 26, 2013
May. 28, 2015
May. 29, 2015
Apr. 3, 2012

item.155144

MacInTouch Reader

Since upgrading from 2 GB to 8 GB on my business Mac Pro, Tiger 10.4.11, Photoshop CS2 is running much slower. Opening, resizing, saving, etc. I tried adjusting memory and cache settings but made no difference. What's going on?

Apr. 4, 2012

item.155261

Sterett Prevost

Re: Mac Pro slow after upping RAM from 2GB to 8GB:

Whenever this happens on my MacPro/8GB I look at /var/vm/ in the Finder's Go to Folder... menu. I usually find it has many more swap files than the usual single one. So it's time for me to restart & run Applejack to clear caches & virtual memory. This always returns me to the fast Mac Pro I'm used to.

item.155301

Matt Neuburg

Re:

Whenever this happens on my MacPro/8GB I look at /var/vm/ in the Finder's Go to Folder... menu. I usually find it has many more swap files than the usual single one. So it's time for me to restart & run Applejack to clear caches & virtual memory

Restarting is sufficient. Running Applejack is a red herring here; running Applejack after restarting won't "clear virtual memory" in any meaningful sense.

Once again I remind readers of my freeware MemoryStick application [MemoryStick1.5.zip]. It still works fine. It displays your virtual memory usage and how many swap files you have, so you can tell when things have gotten out of hand.

Sep. 18, 2013

item.178456

Daniel O'Brien

I have a Mac Pro 3,1 8-core 2.8 Xeon running 10.8.4, 14 GB RAM. The boot drive is an OWC 3G SSD 240 and the video card is a Radeon 5670. My browser is the latest release of Firefox. The Mac is 5 years old.

Even with all the upgrades, my 2012 MacBook Air still outruns the Mac Pro when surfing the web. Heavy pages (e.g nydailynews.com) will lag a few seconds behind the Air.

Firefox (latest version) is noticeably slower than Camino (which is no longer in development) but I can't bring myself to run Safari nor Chrome as primary browsers, because of all the spying/reporting that these two browsers do.

Is there any way to speed up browsing on the aging Mac Pro?

Oct. 26, 2013

item.180505

MacInTouch Reader

No direct info, but I have the same machine, but stopped "upgrading" at 10.6.8, and the thing still flies and runs all the studio software (Logic 9 and ProTools) that I need it to. Sorry I can't help with more info. Can Mavericks run on our machines?

I'll be upgrading to the new Mac Pro, because I want to use the new software and my graphics card is just barely hanging in.

Personal note: this machine survived a flood... submerged half way in water, RAM soaked... and it's still going - a testament to the build quality of our beloved Mac Pros.

May. 28, 2015

item.211341

Scott Elliott

I'm helping a client with a Quad Core 2.66GHz/Nehalem tower. My research indicates this computer can take advantage of three 16GB RAM modules (according to OWC) to max out at 48GB.

However, OWC's price for the 48GB RAM kit is rather high, and, like everybody, I'd like to save money.

I examined the specs gleaned at everymac.com and macsales.com and determined that Crucial makes 16GB modules which I think should work. The only difference in the specs that I see is that the Crucial RAM is rated at PC3-12800, but I'm pretty sure that will automatically ratchet down to PC3-8500, which is what the Mac Pro functions at.

This is the spec sheet for the Crucial RAM:

http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/memory/ct204872bb160b

Can anyone with experience in this subject please provide a confirmation that this Crucial RAM will work fine in this particular model Mac Pro? Thanks!

item.211354

David Charlap

Scott Elliott wrote:

"... Quad Core 2.66GHz/Nehalem tower. My research indicates this computer can take advantage of three 16GB RAM modules (according to OWC) to max out at 48GB. ... I examined the specs gleaned at everymac.com and macsales.com and determined that Crucial makes 16GB modules which I think should work. The only difference in the specs that I see is that the Crucial RAM is rated at PC3-12800, but I'm pretty sure that will automatically ratchet down to PC3-8500, which is what the Mac Pro functions at."

I assume you're talking about this model Mac: Early-2009 Xeon-3500 series.

According to Crucial's configuration tool, it goes up to 16 GB, via four 4GB modules. This means that even if they work, Crucial's compatibility won't cover any use of 16GB modules in this Mac.

That being said, the specs for the various 4GB modules they do sell and support are "DDR3 PC3-8500, CL=7, Unbuffered, ECC, DDR3-1066, 1.5V, 512Meg x 72"

The modules you linked to are "DDR3 PC3-12800, CL=11, Dual Ranked, Registered, ECC, DDR3-1600, 1.5V, 2048Meg x 72"

The big difference is that keyword "Registered". This is going to be the big issue. Registered memory has a buffer between the RAM chips and the memory controller. This reduces the load on the controller, but with a performance hit. Motherboards may or may not support registered memory. For those that do, you can never mix registered and unbuffered memory. See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registered_memory.

So the big question here is whether your Mac Pro supports registered memory at all. Given the fact that every 16GB module I've been able to find online is registered, and trustworthy sites like OWC say it can take 16GB modules (along with a note that the 16GB modules can't be mixed with smaller-sized ones), I would assume that the answer is "yes".

But you should note that Apple is silent on this. Their KB article (Mac Pro (Mid 2012 and earlier): How to remove or install memory) says that the 2010 and 2012 models will support registered memory (RDIMM), but it does not say this for the 2009 model.

Here's an Apple discussion forum thread that seems to agree that the registered memory will work (but not when mixed with unregistered):

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5027416

Finally, it is important to note that Apple's memory includes a thermal sensor with the DIMM package. If you don't install memory with the sensor, you may discover problems (including fans running at full speed all the time.) OWC's memory includes the sensor. Other vendors selling modules designed for an Early-2009 Mac Pro should also include it. Generic DIMMs probably won't.

Given all this information, I would probably suck it up and pay OWC their price. I would be surprised if the Crucial modules (which aren't Apple-specific) have the thermal sensor. You might want to phone them up and see if there is a version you can buy that has the sensor (I did notice that Crucial sells a PC3-14900/1866MHz DIMM listed as "for Mac" which might be compatible and have the sensor,) but since they still don't list it as compatible with your Mac, I would only consider it if their return policy will let you send it back, and I would want them to explicitly confirm this, since their compatibility guarantee normally applies only for system-specific part numbers.

Another point worth nothing, however, is that if you don't actually need 48GB of memory, it will be significantly less expensive to buy four 8GB DIMMs (32 GB for $360 at OWC) than to buy two 16GB DIMMs (32GB for $417).

May. 29, 2015

item.211371

Gary Devoe

Apple Mac Pro 8-Core (2 x Quad Core) Intel Xeon "Nehalem" 2.66GHz MB535LL/A CTO (Early 2009) Memory Upgrades

I've purchased from these guys for years and never had a problem. Once, I bought the wrong RAM modules, they took them back no questions asked. They know their stuff.

(Note: I don't know these guys from Adam, but have purchased their RAM for years and never had an issue. A New Hampshire company "next door" to me in Maine.)

More info from the Data Memory Systems page, for those who don't use the link:

Apple Mac Pro 4,1 (Early 2009) MB535LL/A CTO Memory Specs
Apple Mac Pro 1,1 Memory
STANDARD MEMORY: 6GB (6 X 1GB)
MAXIMUM MEMORY: 64GB/96GB w/RDIMMs and 64 Bit OS
NUMBER OF SLOTS: 8
MEMORY TYPE: DDR3-1066MHz ECC 240 PIN DIMM

NOTE: The Mac Pro "Nehalem" uses triple channel DDR3 memory, achieving peak performance in multiples of 3 modules at a time. Data Memory Systems' DDR3 ECC Modules are manufactured using an Apple qualified Thermal Sensor. As originally shipped, Apple officially supported a maximum of 16GB of RAM but through testing we discovered that the system could actually support 64GB of RAM using eight 8GB memory modules. The Mac Pro supports 16GB registered DIMMs (RDIMMs) for up to 96GB of memory in 8-Core and 12-Core systems. RDIMMs cannot be mixed with unregistered DIMMs. The DMS 16GB RDIMMs can not be mixed with other chips on this page.

To use more than 32GB of RAM you must boot into 64 bit mode. Standard 32 bit will show you all the memory in the System Profiler but Activity Monitor will only show you the utilized RAM.

Future OS may read the full 128GB.

Apple Mac Pro 4,1 2009 8-Core Nahalem 2.66GHz Memory
Welcome to Data Memory Systems. DMS sells only 100% compatible Apple Mac Pro memory upgrades for your application

Your Apple Mac Pro MB535LL/A CTO needs DMS Certified DDR3 1066 PC3-8500 ECC Unregistered 240 Pin DIMM's . With 8 sockets, you can add up to 8 DM61 759 to go to a total of 64GB

All of our memory is built with major brand components from trusted manufacturers such as Hynix, Micron, Samsung and Elpida. DMS Certified memory comes with a no hassle lifetime guarantee.

item.211376

Louis Martin

On my Mac Pro 2010 (bought new in 2010) I installed three identical 4GB RAM modules for a total of 12 GB. I do not know if they have thermal sensors or not, but my Mac Pro is super quiet, and the ventilators never acted up, even in warm weather, since the beginning. I do not need to open 10 applications at the same time and that can count for its quietness, I think. Since this computer is a 3-channel something, you do not need to put a module in the fourth slot. Like previously mentioned, the modules have to be the same and be installed in a particular order. I remember reading an article specifying that the version of the Mac OS can have a bearing on recognizing the memory modules.

item.211395

Lyman Taylor

However, OWC's price for the 48GB RAM kit is rather high,
...
I examined the specs gleaned at everymac.com and macsales.com and determined that Crucial makes 16GB modules

I think it is pragmatically closer to Crucial-made 16GB modules that fit the specs if on the Crucial "parts for your configuration" page a note on the left side mentions special 8GB and 16GB DIMMs that must be bought and used together. It is an implicit reference to them being registered DIMMs. Crucial doesn't offer them (with the Mac-specific features: thermal sensors and spacing) anymore.

That is probably in part why OWC's prices are higher, because there are not as many sources anymore. I suspect the overwhelming majority of folks who wanted those 16GB DIMMs have them (or had them and have since moved on to more modern 16GB DIMMs). All that Crucial stocks is unbuffered 2,4,8's that folks moving up from the "minimized RAM to sell system used" capacities that most legacy Mac Pro users want to "fix" now.

I'd like to save money.

Looking at Crucial's prices for an HP Z800 for 16GB DIMMs, what looks like the same DIMMs as you link with a different part number shows up - so probably just missing the thermal sensor specifics.

I suspect some will suggest to just manually control the fans speeds (with a 3rd-party tool). I'm not sure really it's going to save over the long term if you have to take on duties the Mac Pro should be doing for itself.

The CPU and the DIMMs are pragmatically on the same set of fans. The CPU thermal load is going to fluctuate over time.

item.211398

Robert Sorrels

Scott Elliott I'm helping a client with a Quad Core 2.66GHz/Nehalem tower. My research indicates this computer can take advantage of three 16GB RAM modules (according to OWC) to max out at 48GB. However, OWC's price for the 48GB RAM kit is rather high, and, like everybody, I'd like to save money. I examined the specs gleaned at everymac.com and macsales.com and determined that Crucial makes 16GB modules which I think should work. The only difference in the specs that I see is that the Crucial RAM is rated at PC3-12800, but I'm pretty sure that will automatically ratchet down to PC3-8500, which is what the Mac Pro functions at. This is the spec sheet for the Crucial RAM:

While not an exact answer to your question, as I'm not sure what changes were made between the 2009 Mac Pro and the 2010 Mac Pro, I can say that I ran my 2.4GHz dual quad with 32 GB of Crucial RAM without a problem.

As for putting the 16MB chips (matched) in the machine, it appears to be unsupported, but I have seen it done successfully. There was no problem with the fans. But (isn't there always?), 48 GB RAM really won't give the machine any performance increase. Even my dual quad became I/O and processor bound when faced with newer (fatter) software and bigger files. In particular, image manipulation programs or CAD (in my case Photoshop and VectorWorks) simply ran out of processor room and, more importantly, were limited by the graphics card. One could install the ~$500 Sapphire card and get a significant boost in video performance. For me as a professional in these fields it finally became time to move on. I couldn't see jumping to the new Mac Pro, as it required an entire new ecology to support, but I can say that a maxed-out 27" i7 iMac outperforms my old Mac Pro.

The most significant improvement that could be made to your client's machine is to put one of OWC's PCI-e SSD cards in it and make it the boot/application disk. I also put a first-generation SSD as the primary storage for images/drawings. I think it gave me at least 2 more years of acceptable use for the 2010 machine.


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