: MacPro + SSD Drive?


eMacMan
Oct 10th, 2018, 02:31 PM
So I have replaced the venerable MacPro 1,1 with an almost as ancient MacPro 4,1. Runs Snow Leopard beautifully off the HD from the 1,1. Any speed increase is at best marginal in Snow Leopard, although this one does have elCap installed on the HD that came with it.

Wondering if there is any benefit to installing El Cap on an SSD. Lots of RAM so zero page outs. About the only beachball I ever see is courtesy of ehMac, I think it dislikes the older version of FireFox I have to run under Snow Leopard. That is not an issue when booted in el Cap.

Don't really do anything that is super disk intensive such as video editing or gaming.

eMacMan
Oct 17th, 2018, 01:18 PM
Been perusing the OWC site for SSDs.
https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ssd/owc/mac-pro/2009-2012
I see there are 2 versions, the Mercury extreme with a 5 year warranty and the Electra with a 3 year warranty.

The latter is certainly more affordable. Any one know if the Mercury is really that much more durable than the Electra?

I also see versions that can be installed in a PCI slot. Would that be bootable?

As near as I can tell the main advantage to an SSD would be boot times in ElCap and launch times with PhotoShop and those rare occasions I would use one of the MS Office apps. With tons of RAM nothing I do requires much disk activity. Other than that I have not seen any huge differences between my newer MBP with an SSD and the MacPro running 7200 RPM HDs.

Rob
Oct 17th, 2018, 03:50 PM
I've got MacPro 1.1's and 3.1's all running Snow Leopard with SSD's.

Adding the SSD produced a massive speed improvement in start up time, and this is a big deal for me since I'm always shutting them down when not in use. As you say, it may not be as big a deal once the computer is up and running, but it's always going to be faster than a regular hard drive.

I was in Best Buy today, and they had 500 Gig Sandisk SSD's going for around $115 on special (maybe it was $120). 500 Gig seems to be the sweet spot now in terms of pricing.

If I was in your shoes, I'd get a 500 Gig SSD on sale and plop it in. The MacPro is great for this since there are lots of drive bays, and you'll likely have a least one free one. Just leave your existing hard drive where it is. I just plug the SSD into the computer connector in a free bay, and then use some duct tape at the other end of the drive to hold it up to the computer at that end. The SSD's are so light that the duct tape is plenty strong enough. No need for special mounting frames. Just do it.

Once the SSD is in place, I'd partition it into at least 3 partitions. One partition for Snow Leopard, another partition for ElCap, and a third for another operating system in the future, or just to play with.

After the SSD is installed and partitioned, you can then use Disk Utility or other cloning software to copy your existing hard drive systems to the appropriate SSD partition. Piece of cake.

wonderings
Oct 17th, 2018, 04:01 PM
SSD will give one of the most noticeable upgrades to any computer not running SSD. Everything is faster, apps load faster, reboots are faster, it is just all around faster. Definitely breaths new life into an older computer.

eMacMan
Oct 17th, 2018, 09:49 PM
Just doing a quick search all the SSD drives I found were SATA 3, whereas the MacPro bus is SATA 2. Pretty sure it will directly connect but are there any backwards compatability issues?

eMacMan
Oct 18th, 2018, 12:48 PM
So looking at the alternative of using one of the PCIe slots. That way I take advantage of the full speed of the SSD.

Looking to keep it within Canada. Small town so online is the only way to go, thoughts on this combo?

https://www.amazon.ca/Crucial-MX500-500GB-NAND-Internal/dp/B0784SLQM6/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1539877256&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=ssd+drive&psc=1

https://www.amazon.ca/Express-Adapter-Circuit-connector-included/dp/B01452SP1O/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1539877044&sr=1-4&keywords=ssd+pcie+adapter

wonderings
Oct 18th, 2018, 04:39 PM
Just doing a quick search all the SSD drives I found were SATA 3, whereas the MacPro bus is SATA 2. Pretty sure it will directly connect but are there any backwards compatability issues?

Not sure but I did help a friend a few years back install an SSD in the original MacBook unibody model, think that was 2010. No issues then and breathed new life into that machine making it snappy like a new computer.

pm-r
Oct 18th, 2018, 07:21 PM
So looking at the alternative of using one of the PCIe slots. That way I take advantage of the full speed of the SSD


Might want to check with OWC/Macsales who have a great reputation for Mac stuff:
https://eshop.macsales.com/upgrades/
or
https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ssd/owc/mac-pro/2009-2012




- Patrick
======

Macfury
Oct 24th, 2018, 01:19 PM
So I have replaced the venerable MacPro 1,1 with an almost as ancient MacPro 4,1.

Have already seen people do the tricky firmware upgrade to 5,1 and then running a metal-capable GPU in these boxes to run Mojave.

eMacMan
Oct 24th, 2018, 02:18 PM
Have already seen people do the tricky firmware upgrade to 5,1 and then running a metal-capable GPU in these boxes to run Mojave.
That's a very good point. Especially as Apple seems to be as far away from producing a real Mac Pro, as they were the day they replaced the cheese grater with the garbage can.

Personally I am more interested in being able to run Snow Leopard and some legacy software-hardware. As I understand it the firmware upgrade and Snow Leopard do not peacefully co-exist.

Besides El Cap already seems a big step backwards from Snow Leopard, and I'm not at all enthused about making it even worse. Dots instead of real labels, all so files can have multiple dots for Stoplight searches? The entire point of labels is to avoid those Stoplight searches altogether.

Obviously if I were into gaming or video editing my attitude would be entirely different.

Macfury
Oct 24th, 2018, 02:47 PM
I happily ran Snow Leopard for many years. Finally got used to El Capitan on my 3,1, which was required to run certain hardware.

That's a very good point. Especially as Apple seems to be as far away from producing a real Mac Pro, as they were the day they replaced the cheese grater with the garbage can.

Personally I am more interested in being able to run Snow Leopard and some legacy software-hardware. As I understand it the firmware upgrade and Snow Leopard do not peacefully co-exist.

Besides El Cap already seems a big step backwards from Snow Leopard, and I'm not at all enthused about making it even worse. Dots instead of real labels, all so files can have multiple dots for Stoplight searches? The entire point of labels is to avoid those Stoplight searches altogether.

Obviously if I were into gaming or video editing my attitude would be entirely different.

eMacMan
Oct 24th, 2018, 03:41 PM
This computer will primarily be used with all the things I do not do on the internet. Unless the internet is involved SL is still far superior to El Cap, especially if you have no other reason to replace various bits of hardware and software.

FWIW SL is still good enough for most websites, but some video and all live streaming goes through El Cap, mainly via our laptop or if needed a reboot on the Pro.

Macfury
Oct 24th, 2018, 04:40 PM
This computer will primarily be used with all the things I do not do on the internet. Unless the internet is involved SL is still far superior to El Cap, especially if you have no other reason to replace various bits of hardware and software.

FWIW SL is still good enough for most websites, but some video and all live streaming goes through El Cap, mainly via our laptop or if needed a reboot on the Pro.

I recently found a dark and dusty corner on my HD that still had a copy of Netscape suitable for OS9. I clicked on the app and it was still surprisingly functional, although it was offering some news from the Chretien era.

pm-r
Oct 24th, 2018, 06:14 PM
I recently found a dark and dusty corner on my HD that still had a copy of Netscape suitable for OS9. I clicked on the app and it was still surprisingly functional, although it was offering some news from the Chretien era.


Are you sure you weren't just connecting to the CBC site and they were just doing some current updating???

That would be about normal eh???




- Patrick
======

Macfury
Oct 24th, 2018, 10:35 PM
Ha!

eMacMan
Oct 25th, 2018, 01:14 PM
.....

Macfury
Oct 27th, 2018, 10:17 AM
I just fitted my Mac Pro 3,1 with a 1TB WD SSD to replace an older hard drive. The difference is stunning. Boot time way down, quiet and snappier in everything. The 1TB cost me $185 but lots of deals in the 500GB range. I attributed a lot of the sluggishness in web browsing to the idea that the computer and OS were simply getting older, but browsing experience has also improved remarkably.

pm-r
Oct 27th, 2018, 01:31 PM
I just fitted my Mac Pro 3,1 with a 1TB WD SSD to replace an older hard drive.


Good to hear that there seems to be lots of good life left in that Mac Pro, and not just to hear that the times were really fast!!!

As for older HDD spinner drives slowing/bogging down, even though defragging is suggested as not necessary on a Mac, I have found that cloning the slow drive with Carbon Copy Cloner(CCC), erasing the drive and using the zero-out option(one pass security wipe, then using CCC to clone back all the data from the previous backup clone provides a dramatic speedup.

This hint was provided by an ehMac member several times several years ago and it still works. Thank you whoever you were as I have forgotten your name.

PS: it's nice that Apple finally provided TRIM and SSD Garbage Collection support for third-party drives with their OS X Versions as it took them long enough to do so, but at least there was some other third party support available to do so.

PPS: it's also nice that a lot of the good and better SSDs have come down quite drastically in price lately. ;)




- Patrick
======

polywog
Oct 28th, 2018, 07:37 AM
As for older HDD spinner drives slowing/bogging down, even though defragging is suggested as not necessary on a Mac, I have found that cloning the slow drive with Carbon Copy Cloner(CCC), erasing the drive and using the zero-out option(one pass security wipe, then using CCC to clone back all the data from the previous backup clone provides a dramatic speedup.


Not sure if this applies to APFS, since it's supposed to 'intelligently defrag' in the background.

pm-r
Oct 28th, 2018, 01:29 PM
Not sure if this applies to APFS, since it's supposed to 'intelligently defrag' in the background.



I would avoid messing about with such formatted drive until it matures a bit more. And just skip SSDs, and that's why I said: As for older HDD spinner drives slowing/bogging down,




- Patrick
======

eMacMan
Oct 29th, 2018, 11:30 AM
I just fitted my Mac Pro 3,1 with a 1TB WD SSD to replace an older hard drive. The difference is stunning. Boot time way down, quiet and snappier in everything. The 1TB cost me $185 but lots of deals in the 500GB range. I attributed a lot of the sluggishness in web browsing to the idea that the computer and OS were simply getting older, but browsing experience has also improved remarkably.

Did you get an adaptor sled or just plug it straight into the SATA slot?

eMacMan
Nov 3rd, 2018, 02:18 AM
So the first change I made was to add an Inateck KT4004 USB-3 PCIe card to the mix. Needed an extra rear USB slot and figured I might as well add USB-3 capability.

Worked right out of the gate with El Cap, but Snow Leopard not quite as easy. Found a third party driver, but mis-remembered the install directions and turned my Snow Leopard sandbox into a Kernal Panic. Tried again with directions in front of me and it works OK. Thankfully it only takes me about 5 minutes to restore from my latest asr disk image so no harm no foul, but it sure shows the importance of testing things out before you install and having a sound back-up strategy.

Tested by copying a 2.3 GB group of photos to a 16GB USB 3 memory stick. Took 2 minutes in El Cap but three and a half minutes in Snow Leopard. Then tried transferring to a usb-2 thumb drive on the front of the tower. Five minutes in El Cap and seven minutes in snow Leopard. So it was at least twice as fast writing.

Copy back was another story 20 seconds in Snow Leopard and 15 seconds in El Cap. The USB 2 copy back times were 8-10 times longer.

pm-r
Nov 3rd, 2018, 01:34 PM
Needed an extra rear USB slot and figured I might as well add USB-3 capability.

Worked right out of the gate with El Cap, but Snow Leopard not quite as easy. Found a third party driver, but mis-remembered the install directions and turned my Snow Leopard sandbox into a Kernal Panic. Tried again with directions in front of me and it works OK.


I'm really quite surprised, amazed actually, that someone would have written a driver for that for Snow Leopard compatibility.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you got it all working, and both in Snow Leopard and El Capitan. Nice.




- Patrick
======

eMacMan
Nov 3rd, 2018, 02:33 PM
So gave the SSD drive a test non-spin. Temporarily hooked into the empty SATA-2 cable in the second optical drive bay.

Boot times, chime to splash Snow Leopard: 15 secs. HD, 8 secs SSD
Boot times, chime to splash El Cap: 22 secs HD, 10 secs SSD

Cut PS Elements launch from 15 to 13 secs. Graphic Converter launch increased from 5 secs to 7 secs. Everything else is very quick to launch regardless the boot drive. In ElCap MS Office crap does launch somewhat faster, but I never use it so not too relevant.

In Snow Leopard overall experience is similar, probably because I have Stoplight and TimeMachine completely disabled, I close applications I am not using, have 32 GBs of RAM, and disable auto updates. There is just not much disk shuffling activity to slow things down. Have not used El Cap enough on this computer to make real comparisons, but overall any improvements would be at most subtle rather than blazingly obvious. Again having disabled StopLight, TimeMachine and auto-updates would probably explain the why.

For my set-up not enough of an improvement to justify the cost, but the money was not wasted as the Laptop could really benefit from the increased size. May also consider making it permanent just for the improved boot times.

eMacMan
Nov 10th, 2018, 04:19 PM
A thought here. Was noticing that my Snow Leopard build which is about 19 GB was occupying closer to 50GB of disk space. Tracked the main culprit down to the sleepimage, which mirrors the memory on a disk cache.
32GB of RAM = 32GB Sleep Image.

I can disable this feature via Terminal. Since I never use auto sleep and never set sleep when logged in, I cannot think of any downside to doing so. Had not really thought about this when I was running 4GB of RAM on the previous Mac Pro, but with 32GB and shifting the OS to an SSD it seems to me that disabling the sleepimage would be a good idea.

Can anyone think of any cons?

pm-r
Nov 10th, 2018, 07:07 PM
Had not really thought about this when I was running 4GB of RAM on the previous Mac Pro, but with 32GB and shifting the OS to an SSD it seems to me that disabling the sleepimage would be a good idea.

Can anyone think of any cons?


No cons that I can think of as far as removing it goes, but I can think of a few if you if you don't disable it, like wear and tear with all the extra writes/rewrites on the SSD that apparently is not very good for them.

Actually, I didn't think that Snow Leopard even used or supported Sleep Image, and if it did, it was only enabled with the portable Mac laptops.




- Patrick
======

eMacMan
Nov 10th, 2018, 08:41 PM
Tracked it down. A sizeable chunk was an asr disk image I had transferred to the admin desktop to speed a restore test. Was staring me in the face the entire time.

Snow Leopard Volume is back to it's normal 19GB

eMacMan
Nov 14th, 2018, 01:08 AM
So the first change I made was to add an Inateck KT4004 USB-3 PCIe card to the mix. Needed an extra rear USB slot and figured I might as well add USB-3 capability.

Worked right out of the gate with El Cap, but Snow Leopard not quite as easy. Found a third party driver, but mis-remembered the install directions and turned my Snow Leopard sandbox into a Kernal Panic. Tried again with directions in front of me and it works OK. Thankfully it only takes me about 5 minutes to restore from my latest asr disk image so no harm no foul, but it sure shows the importance of testing things out before you install and having a sound back-up strategy.

Tested by copying a 2.3 GB group of photos to a 16GB USB 3 memory stick. Took 2 minutes in El Cap but three and a half minutes in Snow Leopard. Then tried transferring to a usb-2 thumb drive on the front of the tower. Five minutes in El Cap and seven minutes in snow Leopard. So it was at least twice as fast writing.

Copy back was another story 20 seconds in Snow Leopard and 15 seconds in El Cap. The USB 2 copy back times were 8-10 times longer.




Interesting. As mentioned flawless in ElCap. In Snow Leopard there is a bug. Once you put the computer to sleep, devices won't mount without doing a reboot. An irritant rather than a serious issue.

eMacMan
Nov 14th, 2018, 12:40 PM
A thought here. Was noticing that my Snow Leopard build which is about 19 GB was occupying closer to 50GB of disk space. Tracked the main culprit down to the sleepimage, which mirrors the memory on a disk cache.
32GB of RAM = 32GB Sleep Image.

I can disable this feature via Terminal. Since I never use auto sleep and never set sleep when logged in, I cannot think of any downside to doing so. Had not really thought about this when I was running 4GB of RAM on the previous Mac Pro, but with 32GB and shifting the OS to an SSD it seems to me that disabling the sleepimage would be a good idea.

Can anyone think of any cons?

Interesting. While the sleepimage was disabled in Snow Leopard and on my ElCap build. It was active on my laptop. Since I do not do anything critical when running the Laptop on batteries, I disabled it there. Frees up 8GB of drive space but more importantly should increase the lifespan of the SSD on that computer.

Wish I had discovered that a year or so ago.

An aside here, I have not used Carbon Copy Cloner in several years as I find SuperDuper a better tool for creating asr disk images. To be safe I did a CCC clone of the laptop OS before making the modification. Took 11 minutes via FW800 to the SSD on the MacPro.

Next need to explore TRIM and make sure it is active on the laptop and on the ElCap SSD set-up on the Pro

eMacMan
Nov 16th, 2018, 12:44 PM
Enabling TRIM support proved extremely easy. However it has to be done in every boot volume that will see the SSD.

For El Capitan:
https://support.4it.com.au/article/how-to-enable-trim-on-mac-osx-el-capitan/

For Snow Leopard:
https://mackonsti.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/enable-trim-ssd-snow-leopard/

eMacMan
Nov 19th, 2018, 01:12 PM
I just fitted my Mac Pro 3,1 with a 1TB WD SSD to replace an older hard drive. The difference is stunning. Boot time way down, quiet and snappier in everything. The 1TB cost me $185 but lots of deals in the 500GB range. I attributed a lot of the sluggishness in web browsing to the idea that the computer and OS were simply getting older, but browsing experience has also improved remarkably.

I wonder if the difference relates to Stoplight, which nowadays also indexes webpages? Perhaps to sleepimage as well? OS X writes a mirror of the current memory to disk, to utilize should the machine be put to sleep.

I run with Stoplight, TimeMachine and sleepimage all disabled.

I've just finished running a comparison between disk and SSD version of my Snow Leopard OS. Biggest difference is chime-to-splash boot times, 9 versus 20 seconds SSD to Disk. Launching apps was a complete wash except PhotoShop Elements, 13 secs SSD versus 15 secs Disk. Log out and shutdown times were also identical, again probably because StopLight and TimeMachine are disabled.

Seems to me that the big performance boosts from SSD must have a lot to do with the continual disk writing overhead caused by those three resource hogs.

Another thing I do differently from most users is all non OS files reside on a separate partition. That makes it easier to back-up files with a simple drag and drop. Times for backing up and restoring the OS are also greatly improved. Finally from my 68040 days of memory starvation, I close apps that are not in use.

Anyways my verdict here is that I will continue to run Snow Leopard from the normal Hard drive.

eMacMan
Nov 19th, 2018, 01:46 PM
NOTE: I also have FireFox set-up to use RAM as cache.

pm-r
Nov 19th, 2018, 02:58 PM
Anyways my verdict here is that I will continue to run Snow Leopard from the normal Hard drive.


I believe that Snow Leopard was also the first OS X version to actually use memory differently and more efficiently and very little support for SSDs.

PS: maybe you recall using a RAM disk in your '040 days. That could sure make things fast and I don't know why the feature seems to have disappeared.

Heck, I have as much RAM installed in my iMac now that is way larger than the hard drive sizes in my first '030/'040 Macs!!!




- Patrick
======

eMacMan
Nov 20th, 2018, 10:42 AM
I believe that Snow Leopard was also the first OS X version to actually use memory differently and more efficiently and very little support for SSDs.

PS: maybe you recall using a RAM disk in your '040 days. That could sure make things fast and I don't know why the feature seems to have disappeared.

Heck, I have as much RAM installed in my iMac now that is way larger than the hard drive sizes in my first '030/'040 Macs!!!

- Patrick
======
Nowadays apps like PhotoShop use memory as their scratch file, up to a point at least. Then they use a scratch disk. This is where the difference between an SSD and a normal HD becomes glaring. This newer mac Pro is running 32GBs of RAM so I have as yet to see a page out and the resulting beachball. IOW no real need for a RAM disk. I suspect most Mac users never really discovered that feature, or had enough extra RAM to properly utilize it.

...

Still fine tuning El Cap, but honestly the big difference there also seems to be boot times, with shut-down time a bit reduced as well. Otherwise also seems a wash.

One huge difference is in creating the asr disk images. If they are saved to a volume on the SSD then build time is cut in half, to about 15 minutes. Since I am up to the 6th generation for El Cap that's an hour and a half potential time savings so far.

I have run one CCC clone from my laptop to the SSD via FW800. That took only 10 minutes. Really nothing to compare it to as I only created that clone as a quick back-up for the laptop, before doing some minor updates. I basically use the laptop as a pseudo TV having ditched the TV portion of the cable bill sometime past. Obviously I'm not to worried about having to start from scratch on that computer.

eMacMan
Nov 22nd, 2018, 02:04 PM
Settled on how to best utilize the SSD. It contains my now finalized ElCap boot volume, a test partition, and the lions share is dedicated to a back-up data partition.

Easy on the spot, drag & drop back-ups when I make changes to my music or photos files or any other personal file I want to keep up to date.

eMacMan
Jan 17th, 2019, 05:24 PM
So checked the firmware on the SSD (CrucialMX500). Even though it was very recently purchased it appeared to be at least 2 maybe 3 versions behind.

So down loaded the updater, as directed burned the .iso disc image and attempted to boot from the CD "Windows partition". Simply failed to boot and asked for a boot volume.

Turns out the instructions were FuBARed. You need to boot from the "EFI Boot" partition. Doing that will put the updater on autopilot ez-peazy.

I did send a comment to the support team but surely I can't be the first to notice, so I would not expect the website instructions to be fixed in the near future.

Edited to remove the extra space between paragraphs that ehMac inserted for some strange reason.

Further I note that burning and booting from a CD appears to be the only way to update firmware on this puppy, so best not to purchase a Crucial SSD for any of the new and improved macs that have abandoned the optical drive. If you have already done so, I would suggest using CCC or SuperDuper to clone the .iso disk image to a USB stick formatted for Mac. Then option boot from that and select the EFI Boot partition.

pm-r
Jan 17th, 2019, 06:53 PM
I would suggest using CCC or SuperDuper to clone the .iso disk image to a USB stick formatted for Mac. Then option boot from that and select the EFI Boot partition.


OK, I'll bite. How does one boot from an EFI Boot partition using a Mac???



- Patrick
======Moon

eMacMan
Jan 17th, 2019, 07:28 PM
OK, I'll bite. How does one boot from an EFI Boot partition using a Mac???



- Patrick
======Moon

You burn a CD from the .iso disk image you down load from the site. When you boot holding down the option key besides your normal boot volume(s) you will see two CD boot volumes. One is named Windows, the other EFI boot.

The instructions for Mac OS tell you to select the one named Windows, which fails. Correct choice is Boot EFI. Once you do that the firmware update runs automatically

pm-r
Jan 17th, 2019, 07:39 PM
You burn a CD from the .iso disk image you down load from the site. When you boot holding down the option key besides your normal boot volume(s) you will see two CD boot volumes. One is named Windows, the other EFI boot.


Thanks, I guess that gives a pretty good indication as to how small a boot system can be.

My Mavericks Disk Utility tells me that partition is only:
Partition Type : EFI Capacity : 209.7 MB (209,715,200 Bytes)

I guess we do need all the other stuff normally!!! :heybaby: :o



- Patrick
======

eMacMan
Jan 17th, 2019, 09:18 PM
Thanks, I guess that gives a pretty good indication as to how small a boot system can be.

My Mavericks Disk Utility tells me that partition is only:
Partition Type : EFI Capacity : 209.7 MB (209,715,200 Bytes)

I guess we do need all the other stuff normally!!! :heybaby: :o



- Patrick
======


The entire double boot partition and script for the firmware update is 17MB.

eMacMan
Jun 15th, 2019, 01:01 PM
So turns out to have been a fairly sound investment. Straight $100 for the SSD. Adapted a sled from the old MacPro 1,1 so no extra hardware.

Quick and easy boot for the rare occasions I need to be in ElCap. Love it for the daily back-ups. Just a quick drag and drop of the individual files. Automatically replaces the previous version. Lightning fast, no waiting for a thumb drive to mount and dismount.