Third Party Memory Modules

As we noted in our initial Mac Pro article, Apple's memory upgrades are pretty expensive and other than a fancy heatsink, they are standard DDR2 FB-DIMMs. We wondered if we could buy third party memory from companies like Crucial or Kinston, with much better prices, and use it in the Mac Pro. We got 512MB, 1GB and 2GB FB-DIMM modules from Crucial with standard heatspreaders and tried them in the Mac Pro. Thankfully the memory worked just fine, however we did have concerns about cooling. Apple clearly outfitted its FB-DIMM modules with a very large heatsink for a reason and it wasn't for bragging rights.

We had no problems running all of our benchmarks with the standard Crucial FB-DIMMs; however, if we ran a memory stress test for even just a short period of time the modules quickly reported correctable ECC errors. Apple's original modules did not generate any ECC errors, so it looks like the additional cooling is necessary under the most extreme situations.

In response to the issues, companies like Crucial have released revised FB-DIMMs that meet Apple's thermal specifications. We have yet to receive any for review but we're assuming that they will work fine given that Crucial guarantees proper operation in a Mac Pro. So although regular FB-DIMMs that work in other Intel 5000X based motherboards will work in the Mac Pro, we would suggest selecting modules that meet Apple's thermal specifications in order to be on the safe side.

Index Upgrading the Mac Pro's CPU
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  • Calin - Wednesday, September 13, 2006 - link

    I suppose this appeared in some service pack. I've thought that XP is somehow physically limited in using just two apparent processors (one processors with HyperThreading, one dual core processor and so on). I was not referring to the licensing limitation (which I know very well - Microsoft counts one processor package as processor, no matter how many cores inside).
    So, will Windows XP use all the 8 cores in a 2 socket quad core configuration?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 13, 2006 - link

    I don't have a 2S quad core setup (damn!), but I do know that XP Home works fine on dual core with SP2. Heck, the PC Club I reviewed a couple weeks back was Core 2 Duo with XP Home. I actually talked with a Microsoft rep a year ago and he said XP worked based on sockets, so basically there's just code to prevent XP from using more than a certain number of sockets.

    It's rather if you ask me, and I think MS should forget about what hardware is being used and simply sell/license the software, but that's one way they like to make money. "Want a 4 socket server? Oh, you'll have to pay thousands of dollars for the OS now. It's no different from the $150 OS, except we flipped a switch to support more sockets."
  • blwest - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    This is flawed in many ways.

    Intel Xeon 5150 2.66Ghz $729 ***times two***, the mac pro has two!!!

    3x 250GB Western Digital in raid 5 $65 each = $195
    **current asking price is 70** $240

    Pionere 110D = $50

    7900GT $260
    **$290** for a decent model

    2x 1GBx2 OCZ PC2-5300 $200 each = $400
    **the 5000 series mainboards all run fbdimms, must buy them $109 each for 512 meg sticks***

    TYAN S5370G2NR-RS Dual Socket 771 Intel 5000V SSI CEB Server Motherboard $319 supports 16GB ram

    **where's your price on this??*** $320

    Cool Master Stacker $154
    *crappy case compared to apple**

    Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W SLI Ready $70
    **can you go any cheaper? the apple has a 1000 watt unit**

    Linux OS , Microsoft Windows XP Professional X64 Edition Single Pack $139

    $2316 **NOT**

    Given 2x 512 sticks and 2 processors, a little better video card and his other components, you get $2800+/-. If you include a 1000 watt powersupply add at least 100 dollars. How much time will it take you to build this system? What is your time worth? Like the other poster said, add firewire, sound, keyboard, mouse and a 1 year warranty to the whole system. I threw those items in a cart at newegg and we're also looking at another 75+ in shipping costs.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    You actually need two Xeon 5150 processors, since the Mac Pro comes with two in its $2499 configuration; therefore you need to add another $729 to your second configuration. As surprising as it may be, the Mac Pro is actually a pretty good buy for the hardware you get, I know it shocked me when I actually calculated it out.

    Take care,

  • don42 - Sunday, March 21, 2010 - link

    I know that myself who has been dealing with pc\s windows(microsoft) and the whole 9 yards is just sick of it. My first computer was a Vic 20, with a cassette tape for external memory, I never did go the commodore 64 route I was too busy working. My next computer was an Amiga 500, at that time there was nothing that could come even near that was so good I sprung for an Amiga 2000, that was the best of the best at that time.....I have always had a leaning towards graphics and that time there was Deluxe Paint from EA....that was before scanners, there was something called Digiview where one could bring digital images into their system by using a security camera with a rgb wheel that was turned.
    I am sure someone is reading this that went through the torment of those. But that Amiga was so far ahead of anything else that I'll end this now. Then I went to PC and now even with windows 7 still look back on that amiga and shake my head. I still have a huge collection of the old amiga mod. files...8 tracks of total genius on some of them.
    Now.....that brings to why I am writing this huge dialogue......I am sitting on a precipice waiting to be pushed over the edge and falling into the world of MAC. One hates to leave what one is familiar with, but I find myself drooling when I look at those new mac pros with the intel nehelams in them. I actually was on the mac store and went as far on ordering until the last few digits of my VISA. Has anyone on here taken that plunge?
    Also can one add a second CPU to a quad core at a future date?
  • Questar - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Now include building it, warranty, support, sound card, firewire, software.
  • motoxpress - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Clearly you have not priced out an equivilant system. Even at Newegg prices, you can't touch the MacPro for price. The whole "Macs are too expensive" arguement is tired, outdated and false.

  • JeffDM - Sunday, October 8, 2006 - link

    Clearly you have not priced out an equivilant system. Even at Newegg prices, you can't touch the MacPro for price. The whole "Macs are too expensive" arguement is tired, outdated and false.

    It really depends. It is false if you take a very restricted view of computers and that you don't regard flexibility to have a value in the consumer markets. The Mac Pro isn't really helping the argument because it's a workstation and as such the comparison is other workstations. As such, comparing it to an equivalent computer isn't going to win much because very few people are buying workstations, a relatively obscure type of computer, making it not a relevant product or relevant comparison for most people.

    Heck, the Mac Pro isn't even that comparable to the Dell Precision 690, which Apple compared it against. The Mac Pro offers only half the memory slots of a comparable Dell. The Mac Pro uses a consumer video card for all but the top end, the Dell Precision video cards are all Quadro units. The level of stock support isn't the same either. Dell offers three years of on-site warranty support standard, Apple charges extra for three years and it's not on-site.

    I even found a Core Duo-based 17" Toshiba notebook at Sam's Club for $1200. Apple's base price for a 17" is $2800. Granted, the Apple unit does have several features that aren't found on the Toshiba, but I think it's tough to argue that those extra features are worth the extra $1600, especially when you can buy two of the 17" Toshibas with money to spare for more upgrades, for the cost of one Apple 17". You could have an entire redundant machine or money saved for one. For the price of the Apple, I think they should either offer on-the-spot replacement or a loaner machine if the original needs repairs, that's what I'd expect of support for a pro machine, particularly at those price points. As far as I'm aware, they don't offer that level of support.

    Don't get me wrong, I do like Macs, I own a couple, but I don't like the specious reasoning used to argue for or against them. It's very tough to make a reasonably valid comparison to Windows units because Apple only offers three consumer computer models (Mac Book, mini & iMac), and two of those are oddities in terms of form factor.
  • msva124 - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    What Apple craze?
  • robvoigt - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    I know it has been a while since this article on upgrading the 2 Ghz Mac Pro, but I'm finally getting around to it. I have some software that says "best run with 3Ghz processor or faster".

    So I am looking for some encouragement to try this process but, more importantly, some hard facts about processors that a user has tried... and found successful. Anybody out there want to recommend a specific processor that they know works?

    My vitals...
    Mod: A1186 EMC No:21'3 100-120V
    MAC PRO/2.0QX/2X512/7300OT/160SD
    Ser No: G86322MRUPZ

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