//Jason Burk

Mac Pro Upgrade Project - Part Two: Hardware (Planning)

In Part One of this upgrade, I updated all the software (and firmware). Go check that out to get caught up. Now it’s time for the hardware, which as the name suggests, will, in fact, be harder. In this post, I am going to cover the “plan” for upgrading hardware on the system. Let’s jump in!

The table below shows:
1. The various components of the system
2. What is currently installed
3. What I plan to replace it with
4. The priority I am placing on each upgrade

  Original Part Upgraded Part Upgrade Priority
CPU 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 3.46GHz 12-Core Intel Xeon 3
GPU ATI Radeon HD 5870 Radeon PULSE RX580 8GB 1
RAM 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC 32GB 1066 MHZ DDR3 ECC 2
HDD Bay 1 1TB 5400RPM 240GB SSD (Boot Drive) 1
HDD Bay 2 1TB 5400RPM 4TB 5400RPM (Storage) Already Done
HDD Bay 3 1TB 5400RPM 6TB 5400RPM (RAID 0) Already Done
HDD Bay 4 1TB 5400RPM 6TB 5400RPM (RAID 0) Already Done
Optical Drive (Upper) Apple SuperDrive N/A N/A
Optical Drive (Lower) Apple SuperDrive N/A N/A
WiFi AirPort Extreme 802.11N OSXWiFi 802.11AC 4
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR OSXWiFi Bluetooth 4.0 2
USB USB 2.0 x5 ports (add) USB 3.0 PCIe x4 ports 1


  • The graphics card will give excellent performance while being very compatible out of the box. This will enable Metal support on the system. The current 5870 card does not support Metal.
  • The memory will be stuck at that clock speed no matter what since the CPU governs it, so there is no reason to get “better” RAM.
  • I already have the hard drives that are going in Bay 2-4.
  • I have no plans for the optical drives at this time. I could replace one or both with Blu-ray drives for ripping, but I haven’t done that in a long time, so they will just stay Super Drives. One side benefit is being able to use ‘Remote Disc Sharing’ with macOS for any system in the house that should need to access data on a CD/DVD.
  • WiFi is a VERY low priority since I have it connected via gigabit ethernet.
  • USB 3 ports are going to be very helpful! I forgot how SLOW USB 2 is!!

There you have it, that is the list! Pretty doable I would say. In the next (and final) part of this post I will cover how the actual upgrades went, what worked / what didn’t, and of course “Was it worth it!?”. Until next time..

Question? Send me a message!
jason at burk dot io