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2006-2013 Mac Pro and alternatives

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I guess I either have to continue to live with this problem, buy new drives (again) and hope they work internally or get an external case that will hold four drives. Not excited about either option, but I guess there is nothing else I could do. Any suggestions for external cases that connect via USB 3?
I have two eSATA PCI cards that no longer have drivers to work, so USB3 or Firewire 800 is all I have ...
You could give Toshiba drives a try. OWC might be able to tell you whether the recent Toshibas exhibit the problem.

I am using the older OWC dual-bay FireWire 800 enclosures for externals. I haven’t tried any of their quad cases.
 


I wasted over 30 hours trying to get Mojave stable on my Mac Pro 4,1 flashed to 5,1. After I upgraded my Late 2012 iMac from Sierra to Mojave, I've been pushing its 16GB RAM to the limit. My Mac Pro has 32 GB, so it seemed like a logical move.

On the Mac Pro, Icon Services went berserk far too often, consuming as much as 53GB of RAM and bringing the Mac to a near halt. This also happens on my iMac, but far less frequently. I'm writing a script to monitor Icon Services and kill it once it consumes more than some fraction of available memory.

This issue isn't new to Mojave, just more chronic: I used three SSDs mounted on sleds in the Mac Pro. Some would randomly disappear from macOS. When they disappeared, they didn't even show in System Information; it's as if the hardware had been physically removed. Powering off and resetting the SMC restored them.

I have a USB 3 card in the Mac Pro. The exact same USB 3 drives spontaneously dismounted more often on the Mac Pro than on my iMac. On both, the drives are plugged in directly (no hubs).

I tried using Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) to control the Mac Pro from the iMac. But ARD is limited to using a single display on the local computer. After both Macs were running Mojave, ARD became far, far, slower than previously.

Given ARD's issues, I tried using my Dell 24" U2412M display on the Mac Pro. I bought it based on many recommendations. In my opinion, it has poor video quality. I've tried DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI. I've calibrated it several times and tweaked every setting it has. It still looks cartoonish. I used it for half a day but started getting a headache.

After that, I gave up and decided to cut my losses and go back to my iMac. The Mac Pro has dual Xeons at 3.46GHz. I should be able to get a good price for it.
 


I wasted over 30 hours trying to get Mojave stable on my Mac Pro 4,1 flashed to 5,1.

After that, I gave up and decided to cut my losses and go back to my iMac. The Mac Pro has dual Xeons at 3.46GHz. I should be able to get a good price for it.
I can offer no explanations or solutions to the trouble you have had.

However, it can be done.

I also have a Mac Pro 4,1, firmware upgraded to 5,1, 28GB RAM, with four internal hard drives, one internal boot-drive SSD mounted on a PCI card, and a USB3 card, and a Sapphire 8GB video card running a center 32" monitor with two side 27" monitors, and have been running Mohave with no problems for almost a year.

Perhaps we do different things; perhaps I just got lucky.
 


Here's a memory issue that I didn't readily find a solution to: I bought six used 16GB DIMMs for my two Mac Pro 4,1's and a dual-Xeon server (running Linux). I also have some 8GB DIMMs and many 1GB and 2GB DIMMs. All are ECC.

When I use the two 16 GB DIMMs, any other DIMMs are ignored. This is true in all three computers. I tried many permutations of DIMMs in slots on all three computers. Depending on the DIMM arrangement, I can end up with less than the 32 GB of the two DIMMs that are causing the problem.

I've added the non-16GB DIMMs to every slot on all three computers — only the 16GB DIMMs cause others to be ignored.

Does the Xeon detect something about these DIMMs that causes it to ignore others?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's a memory issue that I didn't readily find a solution to: I bought six used 16GB DIMMs for my two Mac Pro 4,1's and a dual-Xeon server (running Linux). I also have some 8GB DIMMs and many 1GB and 2GB DIMMs. All are ECC. When I use the two 16 GB DIMMs, any other DIMMs are ignored. This is true in all three computers. I tried many permutations of DIMMs in slots on all three computers. Depending on the DIMM arrangement, I can end up with less than the 32 GB of the two DIMMs that are causing the problem....
DIMMs must be placed in exactly the right arrangement in a Mac Pro or you'll lose access to some of the RAM. And, confusingly, the arrangement is different among different years/models!

I saw exactly this problem when a client bought a bunch of memory and installed it himself in a Mac Pro 1,1. I later got the computer back to install Linux and it showed minimal RAM, oddly, so I bought more. When I opened it to install the new RAM, I found it loaded with RAM that wasn't showing up. It took a while, but I eventually got the arrangement correct and all the RAM showed up.

(This, however, doesn't preclude the possibility that you just bought bad RAM.)
 


DIMMs must be placed in exactly the right arrangement in a Mac Pro or you'll lose access to some of the RAM. And, confusingly, the arrangement is different among different years/models.
(This, however, doesn't preclude the possibility that you just bought bad RAM.)
Ric is correct in that you need to install it in the correct order. Follow this guide, based on your model, and pay particular attention to the table at the end that tells you where to install the DIMMs.

Bad DIMMs are also a real problem. I had a bunch of RAM in a Mac Pro 2010 that was giving me all kinds of problems, everything from crashing or not POSTing to various amounts of RAM not being detected. I eventually isolated the problem to a single DIMM that was defective. Removing that from the mix made all the problems disappear.
 


Here's a memory issue that I didn't readily find a solution to: I bought six used 16GB DIMMs for my two Mac Pro 4,1's and a dual-Xeon server (running Linux). I also have some 8GB DIMMs and many 1GB and 2GB DIMMs....
I just did some more testing to refresh my memory. ;)
When any other DIMMs are added beyond the two 16GB ones, the Mac Pro's power light flashes, indicating that no memory is installed. I populated all 8 slots in my Mac Pro – that worked properly until I added the 16GB DIMMs. When testing my dual-Xeon server, it also reported no memory was installed.
DIMMs must be placed in exactly the right arrangement in a Mac Pro or you'll lose access to some of the RAM. And, confusingly, the arrangement is different among different years/models!
I followed the directions in Apple's Technician Guide. I even tried permutations outside of the recommendations.
(This, however, doesn't preclude the possibility that you just bought bad RAM.)
I've tested the RAM and tried swapping and mixing the DIMMs between computers. The only consistent result is that when any of these 16GB DIMMs are used with any other DIMMs, all three computers think they have no memory installed.
 



What are the specs of the 16GB modules and the other DIMMs you’re trying to use them with?
Apple spec' the Mac Pro's memory at PC3-8500 (1066 MHz). The Xeon X5690s I have can use 800, 1066, or 1333 MHz. My 16- and 8-GB DIMMs are 1333, the 2- and 1-GB DIMMs are 1066. I can mix and match the 8-, 2-, and 1-GB DIMMs, I just can't use the 16's with anything else.

The Technician Guide says each DIMM can have up to 18 memory ICs (16 + 2 for ECC); the max size is 4GB/DIMM. My 16- and 8-GB DIMMs each have 36 chips, but the 8GB ones work with additional smaller-sized DIMMs, while the 16 GBs don't. (FWIW: the 2 GB DIMMS have 18 chips, the 1 GB DIMMs have 9 chips.)

One other spec that may contribute: the rank and number of banks, e.g. 2Rx4 means dual-rank with 4 banks. My 16- and 8GB DIMMs are both 2Rx4; my 2GB ones are 2Rx8, my 1GB ones 1Rx8. I know some computers can't mix 2Rx4 and 2Rx8 or 1R and 2R, yet my Mac Pro mixes the 8GB 2Rx4 with 2GB 2Rx8 and 1GB 1Rx8. But it won't mix the 16 and 8 GB DIMMs, which are both 2Rx4.
Ric is correct in that you need to install it in the correct order. Follow this guide, based on your model, and pay particular attention to the table at the end that tells you where to install the DIMMs.
The online guide is more up-to-date than the Technician Guide I've been using. The main difference is that it says each DIMM can have 36 ICs (chips).
Bad DIMMs are also a real problem. I had a bunch of RAM in a Mac Pro 2010 that was giving me all kinds of problems, everything from crashing or not POSTing to various amounts of RAM not being detected. I eventually isolated the problem to a single DIMM that was defective. Removing that from the mix made all the problems disappear.
Although I tested in the past, and swapped the 16GB between different computers, I'll run memtest extensively to be sure. (Since it's DOS based I'll have to put my original GPU back in and hookup a keyboard and mouse. Tomorrow...)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's a memory issue that I didn't readily find a solution to...
I just did some more testing to refresh my memory....
Look what I found, while I was looking for a time- and cost-effective solution to your problem....
OWC said:
32.0GB OWC Memory Upgrade Kit
...
IMPORTANT OWC NOTE:
OWC p/n OWC1333D3MPE8GB (8GB modules) and OWC1333D3MPE16G (16GB modules) require that all installed modules be of the same p/n OWC 8GB and/or 16GB modules. Other existing Apple or 3rd party 1GB, 2GB and 4GB modules are not supported for use with these kits and need to be removed when these modules are added.
 


When I use the two 16 GB DIMMs, any other DIMMs are ignored.
This sounds a lot like you might be trying to mix R(egistered) DIMMS and U(nregistered) DIMMS, which won’t work. Virtually all 16GB DIMMS are RDIMMS, smaller sizes could be either. There’s no way to tell by just looking at them, you have to check the part numbers. (Or hmm, maybe if you boot the machine with just the smaller ones the detailed memory readout from About this Mac/System Report will say which type they are - I can’t quite remember if it does on a Mac Pro or not.)

FWIW I believe this is also the source of the OWC 16GB memory incompatibility Ric mentions above...
 


Look what I found, while I was looking for a time- and cost-effective solution to your problem....
IMPORTANT OWC NOTE:
OWC p/n OWC1333D3MPE8GB (8GB modules) and OWC1333D3MPE16G (16GB modules) require that all installed modules be of the same p/n OWC 8GB and/or 16GB modules. Other existing Apple or 3rd party 1GB, 2GB and 4GB modules are not supported for use with these kits and need to be removed when these modules are added.
This sounds a lot like you might be trying to mix R(egistered) DIMMS and U(nregistered) DIMMS, which won’t work. Virtually all 16GB DIMMS are RDIMMS, smaller sizes could be either. ...
FWIW I believe this is also the source of the OWC 16GB memory incompatibility Ric mentions above...
We have a winner! All six 16GB DIMMs are now in the Mac Pro (it has 96 GB).

Months ago, I tried more than two 16GB DIMMs at once, but apparently I put them in the wrong slots (in spite of having the manual telling me exactly what to do...).

Four of the 16GB DIMMs are an exact part number match. They're made by Micron and labelled by Dell for their servers. The other two are also from Micron, with part numbers very close to the Dells', they were certified by a 3rd-party for Dell servers.

FWIW: I burned a CD with Memtest86 and tested the 32 GB that were in the Mac Pro earlier today. No errors found.

Many thanks to Ric, Todd, and John for sleuthing this out. It's very helpful having the great knowledge of MacInTouch plus new perspectives on a problem.
 


I installed High Sierra on my two 3,1 (2008) Mac Pros over the summer and ran into a perplexing problem.

Both computers had 64 GB of RAM installed, one with a matched set from OWC and the other with a set from Hynix. Both worked fine with Sierra, but when I tried to install High Sierra using the dosdude1 patcher, the install took hours on both. The one with the Hynix RAM was painfully slow to boot into High Sierra and was beachballing every few minutes for long periods once booted. The one with the OWC RAM was also painfully slow booting but never reached the desktop.

I was stumped. A few hours of googling found someone on MacRumors reporting the same thing.

It turns out that removing RAM would make the Mac Pros blazingly fast, but having the full amount would slow them to a crawl. I'm not sure what's causing this but am currently running both with six 8GB DIMMs.
 


I finally found the old GT120 video card that came originally with my Mac Pro 2009; I've been looking for it for months. I installed it today in the one empty PCIe slot (not connected to any monitor), but the Mac wouldn't boot. Rearranging cards to different slots, the Mac simply wouldn't boot with the GTX120 card installed.

My Mac Pro 4,1 (firmware updated to 5,1) is running Mojave and has a Sapphire RX580 8GB video card installed. It has not been flashed from PC to Mac, so I don't get any startup screen or startup options visible. I wanted to install the GT120 because it is a single-slot video card, so if I needed the startup options, I wouldn't have to pull out the dual-slot RX580 and put in the older dual-slot ATI Radeon 5870 that I was running previously to purchasing the RX580.

I know that Mojave needs a Metal-capable video card but can't remember if some aspects of Mojave wouldn't run properly or if the Mac simply won't boot with a non-Metal GT120 installed (but not connected to any monitor).

Anyone with knowledge of Mojave's limitations with non-Metal video cards?

I suppose there might be something wrong with the card, even though it's been in an anti-static bag for years. I'll have to see if I have an older High Sierra boot disk in a drawer to test further.
 


... Anyone with knowledge of Mojave's limitations with non-Metal video cards?
Bottom line: a fully updated Mojave will boot with the GT120 and a Metal GPU, but will not recognize the GT120 after part of the boot process completes.

I tested on my single-CPU 2009 Mac Pro flashed to 5,1 running Mojave 10.14.6 with all updates. I removed one of its two Radeon RX560s and put in the original GT120, hooking up a DVI display to monitor progress. When the startup progress bar got about half-way, the GT120's display froze and never updated after that. Once Mojave booted, the Radeon RX560's display worked. The GT120 did not appear in the Displays System Preference.

This behavior has changed in the last few months, I don't know which update was responsible. Back around May Mojave wouldn't install without a Metal GPU but would boot and run without one. In fact, it booted and ran with only the GT120 installed.

Since I run this Mac Pro headless, I use dummy plugs on the Radeon RX560s' DVI ports so they are recognized and appear in the Displays System Preference. Most dummy plugs fake common standards, mine are set to 1080p (1920x1080).
 


I just tried my 2009 Mac Pro flashed to 5,1 running Mojave with an nVidia GT120 and it works fine. Normally I run it with an r280x card, but I just shut down the machine and removed the r280x and put in its place the GT120 card as the only video card in the machine. It boots up just fine, with video working perfectly.

I'm running macOS 10.14.6 with the latest security updates. The monitor I'm using is a 1280x800 11" monitor, using an HDMI cable plugged into the DVI port of the card via an adapter. Here's an image of the about screen showing the card being used.

I've also just popped in a Catalina boot SSD (built using DosDude's Mac Pro Catalina patch) and selected that drive via the bootscreen. That boots just fine, as well, with video working.
 


I just tried my 2009 Mac Pro flashed to 5,1 running Mojave with an nVidia GT120 and it works fine.
An update on this... I now have the GT120 and the 280x in the flashed 2009 Mac Pro 5,1, with the 1280x800 monitor plugged in to the GT120. The video screen looks like a frozen boot, with the grey screen, the apple logo, and a 2/3-finished progress bar. But I can connect via screen sharing, and the computer is working. I even get the same About this Mac screen, saying I've got an nVidia GT120 with 1280x800 resolution.

When I have monitors plugged into both the 280x and the GT120, then, as Sam Herschbein said, only the monitor plugged in to the 280x worked and the GT120 card does not even show up.

So, in conclusion, it seems that you can only use a GT120 with Mojave if it's the only video card in your computer. It won't work at all if monitors are plugged in to both cards or just the Metal-compatible card. You will get no video output at all if plugged into only the GT120 with a Metal-compatible card unused but still accessible via screen sharing.
 


Since I run this Mac Pro headless, I use dummy plugs on the Radeon RX560s' DVI ports so they are recognized and appear in the Displays System Preference. Most dummy plugs fake common standards, mine are set to 1080p (1920x1080).
If I can ask, which exact plugs are you using?
 



My experience has been that, when using patches to install updates on a Mac, you are limited to the type of video card you can use. While Mojave is still supported on 2009 Mac Pros, Catalina is not, and I believe sometimes it requires that you use a supported Nvidia graphics card. While the GT120 sometimes works as a test card, the Quadro K5000 or GeForce GTX680 may be better choices, since they are Mac-supported graphics cards.

Once the macOS reached Mojave, there were no supported drivers for Nvidia cards other than these two.
 


This is a followup to my post #22399 where I ran into an issue installing High Sierra on a Mac Pro 2008 with 64 GB of RAM installed. With the full set of RAM, the Mac was painfully slow to boot and laggy when running after boot, but would run fine with 48 GB.

I still don't know why this happens, but I found a post on MacRumors about how you can use up to 62 GB of RAM and not have the slowdown. You just need to run a command in Terminal to restrict the amount of RAM the Mac uses
Bash:
sudo nvram boot-args="maxmem=63488"
I then reinstalled the extra 16 GB of RAM and am happily working away with About This Mac showing 62 GB.
 


This is a followup to my post #22399 where I ran into an issue installing High Sierra on a Mac Pro 2008 with 64 GB of RAM installed. With the full set of RAM, the Mac was painfully slow to boot and laggy when running after boot, but would run fine with 48 GB....
I think the same may be true (in a way) with the Mac Pro 2009-2012. If you lower the RAM number down from 64 you'll get better scores from Geekbench and such. I will do this test when I get home today.
 


I think the same may be true (in a way) with the Mac Pro 2009-2012. If you lower the RAM number down from 64 you'll get better scores from Geekbench and such. I will do this test when I get home today.
I tried this on my Mojave 2009 Mac Pro flashed to 5,1 with 96 GB of RAM. Limiting it to 62 GB showed no appreciable difference in Geekbench 5 scores. For the short time I was running at 62 GB, I did not notice any change in responsiveness.

I ran this Mac with 32 GB for a while before upgrading to 96 GB. I never noticed any slowdown after the increase – in fact, performance is better since I can run a lot of memory-hog apps and not run out of memory.
 


I tried this on my Mojave 2009 Mac Pro flashed to 5,1 with 96 GB of RAM. Limiting it to 62 GB showed no appreciable difference in Geekbench 5 scores. For the short time I was running at 62 GB, I did not notice any change in responsiveness. I ran this Mac with 32 GB for a while before upgrading to 96 GB. I never noticed any slowdown after the increase – in fact, performance is better since I can run a lot of memory-hog apps and not run out of memory.
I think the same may be true (in a way) with the Mac Pro 2009-2012. If you lower the RAM number down from 64 you'll get better scores from Geekbench and such. I will do this test when I get home today.
I did try the lower RAM script in Terminal
Bash:
sudo nvram boot-args="maxmem=66488"
and it did not improve anything, and actually made it worse, so I will stay with the 64 GB of RAM. Thanks for this verification.
 


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