baumi's blog

baumi's personal blog … Linux, OS X, Windows, Random things, …

SSD Upgrade for Mac Pro 2008 (upgrade to 6 GBit/s!)


1) Even though the mainboard of Mac Pro 2008 offers two unused SATA ports on the mainboard (hidden behind the big fan on the bottom front), those are still SATA II ports, so you’re not wanting to put a fast expensive SSD on those, because they will slow down the speed of your SSD because the SATA II bandwidth is not high enough. However, you may want to get a slotcover with two eSATA connectors for approx. 5 EUR, which will allow you to plug external eSATA devices for backup etc. to your Mac Pro, and it will make perfect use of the already existing SATA onboard ports. – I’ve done it, and it works perfect and is a lot faster than external USB drives for backup …

2) You need a bootable (!) SATA III controller. Most controllers are NOT compatible to Mac OSX and therefore will not allow you to boot from the disks connected to them, so you really want  to make sure you have a controller that is bootable by OSX. – I have purchased this one, and it boots nicely, even in Raid 0 SSD mode (running two SSDs simultaneously) …: Syba (=IOCrest) SATA3 2Port Internal PCIe Controller SY-PEX40039 (Ebay:  Probably the main factor is, that this controller uses the ASM1061 chipset, so other controllers with the same chipset might be working, too.

3) When you plug in the new SATA controller, make sure it is connected to Slot 2 (!).  Slot 1 is the one on the bottom (typically graphics card).  Above the gfx card there is one slotcover free which actually doesn’t even have a PCIe connector (i have put my eSATA slot here, which is connected to the mainboards two spare SATA connectors).  The slot above this “empty” slot actually is the real Slot 2, which also does have the PCIe slot to plug in the controller. – If you put your controller on Slot 3, it will work too, but it will be slower! (My test: slot 3 = 208 MB/sec, slot 2 = twice the speed!!) Find more information about the slot speeds/configuration here:

4) You will need a power plug, which takes the power from the optical bay’s 4-PIN connector, and splits it into two SATA 15-pin power-connectors. – I got one for 4,90 EUR …

5) Do the cabling, and plug your SSD’s. – Currently i’m running two Crucial C300 disks, the newer Crucial m4 should be fine, too.

Enjoy !

p.s. Here some additional notes:

1) The order in which the SSDs are plugged to the PCIe card (or to the multiple cards) DOES make a difference in the negotiation speeds (3 GBit or 6 GBit)!

2) I have now tried to put the graphics card away from the X16 slot into a X8 slot. – I cannot feel ANY noticable difference on my system, however i have now WRITE speed of 370 MB/sec and READ speed of 720 MB/sec using Black Magic Disk speed (first test run).  Disks: 2x Crucial M4 128 GB in RAID-0, mounted as boot volume, raid block size default 32kb.

3) I have installed TWO (!) ASM 1061 PCIe cards, one into the X16 slot and one into the X8 slot. The graphics card went into one of the two X4 slots.  For maximum speed i had to connect both hard disks in correct order (slot-wise) as well as on the correct port (port 2 not 1) to gain maximum speed. – Don’t ask me, why this happens. You can easily verify it by checking the “negotiation speed” on the SATA ports in the system Profiler …

Comments are currently closed.