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Old 12-11-2020, 04:41 PM
Howardk Howardk is offline
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Default Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

Hi

I am helping an associate build a system with a focus on Virtual Instruments. We are penny pinching on this build and decided on the Mac Pro 5,1 platform for a number of reasons. . . long story. I have been Googling/reading threads and specs, but unfortunately getting more confused, as I am sure many others are that are on a similar trek.

This system will NOT be running HD or HDX, all Native. It has a 12-Core processor, with 64GB RAM (8x8), we will may switch to 96GB (6x16) to realize the performance gain of 3 channel RAM access, later if needed.

This system we are building will be for music/score development for TV/Film production. . . there are often hasty last minute changes to bits and pieces in that game, so hoping things are pretty snappy when opening and closing sessions, and also want it to restart quickly, because we wish to be able to flip to other instances of Mac OS and not loose flow (system will have another purpose).

From my past experience:
  • Performance of 2.5" SATA SSDs in the trays on these 5,1 computers is poor (3Gbps SATA). I usually see mid 200MB/s R/W testing with Black Magic Speed test.
  • Performance is in the mid 400MB/s with a Sonnet Tempo SSD Card (6Gbps SATA, 2 x SATA 2.5" SSDS).

Wondering if there is a low cost way to get double or triple the performance on this computer platform, say around 1000MB/s, we don't need to glean the bleeding edge of what a modern NVMe PCIe x4 SSD can transfer, but faster than a 2.5" SATA SSD.

With modern NVMe PCIe SSDs on these Mac Pro 5,1, I realize there is an issue with PCIe v2 versus PCIe v3, and switched lanes, beyond my pay-grade. . . but we can relinquish some performance to reduce cost, so hope to avoid spending big money on Adapter Cards, although the IO CREST SYBA SI-PEX40129, Sonnet M.2 4x4 Silent PCIe Card and OWC Accelsior 4M2 all look tempting but 4 SSDs are not required. I have not found a low cost dual SSD Adapter card for NVMe PCIe drives. Most are Single Drive, or a combination of PCIe and SATA, but not 2 x PCIe SSD, and many have no heatsink whatsoever.

Am I missing a decent choice for a dual, or are we destined to single SSD Adapters if we are on a budget?

What are the recommended "dumb" Adapter cards with decent heatsink? Is this a safe bet OWC Accelsior 1M2 PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD Card?

What kind of performance will be realized with a dumb adapter and a NVMe m2 SSD?

Are there specific NVMe PCIe m-key SSDs Brands/Models to avoid or specific drives that are proven for this purpose, or are any of the consumer grade NVME from Crucial, Intel, Samsung, WD, etc. . . all fine at this point in the evolution?

Are there any issues with this as a startup drive on Mojave on a 5,1? I have heard some of these cards cause a long startup delay, hoping to avoid that.

My associate already owns some 2.5" SSDs he can repurpose, so we are thinking the a) Mac OS and b) Samples SSDs best be the NVMe m2 drives, and the Sessions Data can just be on a Normal SATA 2.5" SSD, for best realized performance. Does this make sense?

So in summary looking for a solution with 2 x NVMe PCIe x4 SSD drives, performing around 1000MB/s each, staying safe/cool, hopefully on a dual Adapter taking up only one PCIe slot, on a budget.
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Last edited by Howardk; 12-11-2020 at 09:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2020, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

You should get into 1000 MB/s range with a "dumb" card that can only do PCI-e 2.0 x4 but if you want more speed you need to buy the switching type card that uses multiple lanes to mimic 3.0 speeds.
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Old 12-12-2020, 11:50 AM
atticmike atticmike is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

You need to get a new mac, the computer's single core speed is abhorrent, which is crucial for audio applications, which tend to sometimes overabuse a single core, which to some degree is also due to Avids bad cpu load management inside Pro Tools.

You'll get less cpu errors with less cores and higher single core performance.

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Old 12-12-2020, 06:44 PM
Howardk Howardk is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

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Originally Posted by atticmike View Post
You need to get a new mac, the computer's single core speed is abhorrent, which is crucial for audio applications, which tend to sometimes overabuse a single core, which to some degree is also due to Avids bad cpu load management inside Pro Tools.

You'll get less cpu errors with less cores and higher single core performance.

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Hi, appreciate the advice but that is not the question. I know this Mac will do this job to the extent required. Just looking to make it snappier to load sessions, on a budget. Things get a whole lot better for running VI’s when not running an HDX card, and this will be Native. I’d like to stay on topic, which is adapters/NVMe SSD drives on a Mac Pro 5,1 for decent performance on a budget, and insights toward that end... thanks!
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Last edited by Howardk; 12-12-2020 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 12-12-2020, 08:28 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

Yes, simple question and here is the simple answer...

You want this card https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYZY7P2...I1H6S17ULNPOCS which needs a x16 electrical slot. and it does 16 x PCIe 2 to 8 x PCIe 3 lane aggregation to drive two M.2 drives at their full speed.

And get two of these Samsung 970 Evo Plus drives https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-970-E.../dp/B07MFZXR1B

Done.

I would not RAID those two drives, just keep stuff simple. Including because you might want one as a backup bootable drive etc.
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Old 12-13-2020, 10:35 AM
Howardk Howardk is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

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Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
Yes, simple question and here is the simple answer...

You want this card https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYZY7P2...I1H6S17ULNPOCS which needs a x16 electrical slot. and it does 16 x PCIe 2 to 8 x PCIe 3 lane aggregation to drive two M.2 drives at their full speed.

And get two of these Samsung 970 Evo Plus drives https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-970-E.../dp/B07MFZXR1B

Done.

I would not RAID those two drives, just keep stuff simple. Including because you might want one as a backup bootable drive etc.

Hi Darryl

Yes no raid for sure. I did look at this adapter card and it does look like a nice solution, however still a couple hundred $ and hoping to avoid that cost. I realize we may be spending dimes-of-time to count pennies here, but that's were its at for some people, so I believe it helpful to go further down the road.

On aside >>this requires the x16 connector in the Mac Pro 5,1, which while available in this config and the performance would be nice, it could not be migrated to an HDx 5,1 rig down the road (HDx requires the 2nd slot for the Core card some reason, at least that is what I remember from the install guide). Maybe the HD cards do work bumped down the line one slot, contrary to the install guide recommendation, I have not researched. I realize this not in the original question, but could be a consideration for some.<<

I understand that bus speed of PCIe version 2 x4 lanes is 2.0 GB/s. In the case of a dumb dual card, does this mean we should see around 1GB/s r/w per m.2 SSD if both busy on one x4 dumb adapter card? If so, that would be perfect for this case. . . sure it would not be leveraging the speed of these m.2 x4 SSDs, but it would be very good performance on a low budget, plus when it is time to upgrade to a different computer these m.2 SSDS can be moved forward to the next system and the greater performance realized.

I still feel I am on the hunt for a dumb dual m2 adapter card with decent cooling. What am I missing in my thinking?


Thanks. . .
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Old 12-13-2020, 11:41 AM
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howardk View Post
Hi Darryl

Yes no raid for sure. I did look at this adapter card and it does look like a nice solution, however still a couple hundred $ and hoping to avoid that cost. I realize we may be spending dimes-of-time to count pennies here, but that's were its at for some people, so I believe it helpful to go further down the road.

On aside >>this requires the x16 connector in the Mac Pro 5,1, which while available in this config and the performance would be nice, it could not be migrated to an HDx 5,1 rig down the road (HDx requires the 2nd slot for the Core card some reason, at least that is what I remember from the install guide). Maybe the HD cards do work bumped down the line one slot, contrary to the install guide recommendation, I have not researched. I realize this not in the original question, but could be a consideration for some.<<

I understand that bus speed of PCIe version 2 x4 lanes is 2.0 GB/s. In the case of a dumb dual card, does this mean we should see around 1GB/s r/w per m.2 SSD if both busy on one x4 dumb adapter card? If so, that would be perfect for this case. . . sure it would not be leveraging the speed of these m.2 x4 SSDs, but it would be very good performance on a low budget, plus when it is time to upgrade to a different computer these m.2 SSDS can be moved forward to the next system and the greater performance realized.

I still feel I am on the hunt for a dumb dual m2 adapter card with decent cooling. What am I missing in my thinking?


Thanks. . .
You don't need hdx card in slot 2 with 16 lane slot. I have used in slot 3 fine. Also slot 3 with a magma chassis fine for hdx3. I am not sure the exact requirements though.

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Old 12-13-2020, 01:56 PM
Howardk Howardk is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

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Originally Posted by arche3 View Post
You don't need hdx card in slot 2 with 16 lane slot. I have used in slot 3 fine. Also slot 3 with a magma chassis fine for hdx3. I am not sure the exact requirements though.

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Good to know. That makes the x16 card more useable
in the 5,1. Thanks for that!

Anyone have further comments on a budget dumb dual SSD drive adapter, with cooling, or am I out-too-lunch in my thinking?
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Old 12-13-2020, 04:00 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howardk View Post
Hi Darryl

Yes no raid for sure. I did look at this adapter card and it does look like a nice solution, however still a couple hundred $ and hoping to avoid that cost. I realize we may be spending dimes-of-time to count pennies here, but that's were its at for some people, so I believe it helpful to go further down the road.

On aside >>this requires the x16 connector in the Mac Pro 5,1, which while available in this config and the performance would be nice, it could not be migrated to an HDx 5,1 rig down the road (HDx requires the 2nd slot for the Core card some reason, at least that is what I remember from the install guide). Maybe the HD cards do work bumped down the line one slot, contrary to the install guide recommendation, I have not researched. I realize this not in the original question, but could be a consideration for some.<<

I understand that bus speed of PCIe version 2 x4 lanes is 2.0 GB/s. In the case of a dumb dual card, does this mean we should see around 1GB/s r/w per m.2 SSD if both busy on one x4 dumb adapter card? If so, that would be perfect for this case. . . sure it would not be leveraging the speed of these m.2 x4 SSDs, but it would be very good performance on a low budget, plus when it is time to upgrade to a different computer these m.2 SSDS can be moved forward to the next system and the greater performance realized.

I still feel I am on the hunt for a dumb dual m2 adapter card with decent cooling. What am I missing in my thinking?


Thanks. . .
I don't know the performance number on PCIe 2, it may not be a simple fractional calculation. OTOH for a few hundred $ you get known performance with that Syba card that not long ago would have cost you $100k. The other reason to go with the Syba card is they are widely used in Mac Pro for this purpose, that peace of mind should be worth a lot. The cost of PCIe switches adds to these cards, and the problem in the PCIe switch space is PLX/Broadcom was the dominant vendor and focused on high-end expensive server applications. The Syba card uses a lower-cost AS Media switch, and we are hopefully going to see more competition and lower prices... but for now this is a $ for performance _bargain_ for your use.
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Old 12-13-2020, 04:17 PM
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Default Re: Mac Pro 5,1 Cost effective NVMe SSD drives

Quote:
Originally Posted by arche3 View Post
You don't need hdx card in slot 2 with 16 lane slot. I have used in slot 3 fine.
HDN = x1
HDX = x4
HD (TDM) = x1
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