Category Archives: Mac Pro Models

Which Mac Pro Models can be upgraded to 12-core 3.33 GHz CPU models?

If you are considering the 12-core 3.33 GHz upgrade (our most popular), and are wondering if your machine is compatible, or are considering buying a base model and then getting the upgrade done, here are some facts that might clarify things for you.

First, figure out what generation of Mac Pro you have.

– There are two generations of Mac Pros that can be upgraded to 12-core, the 2009 and 2010 models. (The 2012 model is essentially a rebranded 2010, so it can be thought of as identical to the 2010 model here.)

– Both 2009 and 2010 generation have two subvariants. The only difference is the processor tray, which comes in either single CPU or dual CPU varieties. So the four possibilities are:
1. 2009 (Single CPU Socket)
2. 2009 (Dual CPU Socket)
3. 2010 (Single CPU Socket)
4. 2010 (Dual CPU Socket)

– Other than the processor trays, all four of these machines are virtually identical physically, including the main the logic board That’s why you can upgrade the firmware from 2009 to 2010 to take advantage of the newer CPUs.

– We can upgrade any of these four machines to a 12-core 3.33 GHz machine. But, if the machine has a single CPU socket processor tray, you will need to pay for a dual CPU socket processor tray and heatsinks, which runs an extra several hundred dollars. However, if you could find a good deal on a single CPU socket machine, it may be worth considering this route. This method takes a little bit of extra time as we don’t stock the processor tray parts, and would need to special order them for the upgrade. We can send you a more detailed quote for this if you are interested.

So in short, if you are planning to get the upgrade done through us, any 2009 or later Mac Pro will work. But, you will pay more if your machine is a single CPU (4- or 6-core) machine.

Are My Mac Pro Expansion Slots PCIe 2.0 or 1.0?

Every Mac Pro comes with four expansion slots on the motherboard, which can easily be accessed by taking off the side panel of your machine. Your graphics card will be in slot 1, which is double wide.


PCIe 2.0 (PCI Express version 2.0) supports double the transfer rate compared to PCIe 1.0.

MacPro 4,1 (2009) and 5,1 (2010):

  • Slot 1: PCIe 2.0 (x16)
  • Slot 2: PCIe 2.0 (x16)
  • Slot 3: PCIe 2.0 (x4)
  • Slot 4: PCIe 2.0 (x4)

Mac Pro 3,1 (2008):

  • Slot 1: PCIe 2.0
  • Slot 2: PCIe 2.0
  • Slot 3: PCIe 1.0
  • Slot 4: PCIe 1.0

Mac Pro 1,1 (2006) and 2,1 (2007):

  •  All Slots PCIe 1.0

Not sure which Mac Pro model you have?

PCI Express Lanes

What does “(x16)” mean? “x16”, pronounced “by 16”, refers to 16 lanes of connectivity in the slot. A 16 lane connection has 2 times the transfer rate of an 8 lane slot. This lane limit per slot is hardwired in the 2009 and 2010 Mac Pro models. Therefore, if you want to plug in an expansion card that takes advantage of more than 4 lanes, you would want to plug it into slot 2 (since slot 1 is already being used by your graphics card).

In the earlier Mac Pros, you can use the Expansion Slot Utility to alter the distribution of lanes across slots.


Which Mac Pro Model Do I Have?

The first step in determining which upgrades are available for your Mac Pro is to figure out which model Mac Pro you have. Since the Mac Pro models look (almost) the same physically, you’ll need to power on your computer to check.


1. Click on the Apple logo at the upper left corner of your screen. If you’re in fullscreen mode, mouse to the top of the screen to make the menu bar appear. Choose “About This Mac”.


2. Click on the “More Info” button.


3. Click on “System Report…” (Snow Leopard and earlier does not have this step.)


4. Look where it says “Model Identifier” – you will see something like “MacPro5,1”.


Here is a list of the possible Mac Pro Identifiers:

  • MacPro1,1 (2006 Mac Pro)
  • MacPro2,1 (2007 Mac Pro)
  • MacPro3,1 (2008 Mac Pro)
  • MacPro4,1 (2009 Mac Pro)
  • MacPro5,1 (2010 and 2012 Mac Pro)