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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  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I have to agree with the first part of your post. I read the article and thought.."Why?". I have always understood the appeal of a Mac to be that you could upack it and get to work. If we start talking about running other OSs on a Mac or hacking software/drivers for better hardware supprt, then why pay the premium for a Mac? Reply
  • michael2k - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Because a Mac is cheaper than an equivalently configured dual dual-core Xeon workstation from Dell orr HP? Reply
  • greylica - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I see the rendering results and I Think its really will be a dream machine for 3D Rendering and not a gaming dream machine like allienware ( Now dell ) is, and therefore are a bunch of problems into running XP in this hardware that is not related here, XP is caped to the switch of 3GB and limited to 2GB per app, it´s nearly impossible to compare XP with Mac OS-X, the other downside is that I Didn´t see any review tolding you that you can read XP partition under Mac OS-X or even write to it.
    I Have so many doubts that windows Vista will not be caped in some way after seeing that the switch can really prejudice us to upgrade to another OS that MS is trying to sell.
    I will only switch my opinion about Microsoft when they finnaly release a patch to solve this caped windows in relation to this memory issue under adressing really what the hardware can do. If Mac OS-X haves 16GB of memory, XP only will see 3GB and 2GB per app, PAE ( Page adress extension ) is a nightmare for users and a dream for Microsoft.

    They are saying for all of employees now:
    - Memory Issues ? Push them to Vista !!!

    And it is not all, I discovered that windows 2000 is stronger than XP under heavy loads, and abandoned XP to rendering services, Linux, Mac OS-X and 2K are the best choices if you are a 3D professional and you hve a good workstation.

    Mac-OS-X have its own problems too before 10.3/10.4, it´s limited too to 2GB per app. But right now this is completely solved, giving to you all of your machine.

    I Have certainty to tell that professionals will really benefit from 2- quad core clovertowns under 3D content creation.

    XP was not designed to meet professionals demands, its a S.O. to play games.
    Then, do not polute your Mac, and do not buy a mac to use XP, use a budget computer that deserves XP if you wish to use this.

    If you are a pro, use windows 2000 instead of XP, it´s faster, reliable, secure.
    Windows 2000 helps your productivity. Course... Without the cosmetics...
    Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Are there any decent 64-bit rendering apps like Maya/Lightwave/etc that run natively on XP x64? Reply
  • splines - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    After seeing what you've said about wishing for a C2D/DDR2 Mac, I'd be interested in how the new iMac C2D with perhaps the 7600GT option stands up in gaming to a comparable PC. Sure, it's nowhere near as configurable (or as boast-worthy) as a Mac Pro, but it does seemingly offer a solution somewhere in the middle.

    That said, the 24" iMac is the only one currently supporting a 7600GT upgrade, and it does boost the price a bit. On a cost - performace ratio, in GPU-limited applications the Mac still seems to be overpriced compared to a PC.

    For interest's sake, however, it's something I'd read carefully.
    Reply
  • JackPack - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Just wondering, what's the stepping on the Clovertowns used? Reply
  • Imaginer - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I am not entirely convinced of the apple craze. I still prefer my own customability of my system and XP is really not a bad OS to work with. That and I am cheap and really dont want to shell out money for the apple package deal they have going. Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I just want to tell you that the MacPros are workstations - and their price reflect that. You buy one for lots and lots of reasons, the last of them are games.
    Those are used to make money - and in some cases, having twice the horsepower lets the employee that use them work twice as fast.
    I do prefer my own customability of my system (even if I barely used it), and XP is (now) not a bad OS to work with. But MacPros are for me just as much as an SGI Octane would be (very useful for tasks I wouldn't touch with a barge pole)
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    <b>I just want to tell you that the MacPros are workstations - and their price reflect that. You buy one for lots and lots of reasons,</b> the last of them are games.
    Those are used to make money - and in some cases, having twice the horsepower lets the employee that use them work twice as fast.
    I do prefer my own customability of my system (even if I barely used it), and XP is (now) not a bad OS to work with. But MacPros are for me just as much as an SGI Octane would be (very useful for tasks I wouldn't touch with a barge pole)

    What the hell are you talking about :*(

    Windows Workstation with the same spec that cost cheaper could do everything that Mac workstation could do :*( only real real reason i would buy a new Mac pro if i was Video editing.
    Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    Assuming you want a workstation capable of accessing 16GB of RAM (and using two processors), your options are a bit more reduced. There was an article on Anandtech, and the Mac Pro (the most expensive) was just a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the sum of its components (and operating system I think). Reply

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