Shoot­ing for max­i­mum per­for­mance on a Mac Pro

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

I have an early 2009 Mac Pro with eight cores and 20GB of mem­ory, run­ning Mav­er­icks. It also has 2TB and 750GB hard drives, in ad­di­tion to the orig­i­nal 640GB hard drive, and it backs up to an ex­ter­nal 4TB drive us­ing Time Ma­chine. It’s used mainly for post-pro­cess­ing still images us­ing Pho­to­shop, Light­room, Per­fect Photo Suite and so forth.

I’m won­der­ing if I should fit an SSD into the last bay to boost per­for­mance. Are there other hard­ware up­grades that I should con­sider as well? David Cooper

You won’t see the full per­for­mance ben­e­fit if you put the SSD in the fourth drive bay, be­cause it’ll just be used for over­spill data. The drive do­ing the most work is the one with OS X and your apps on it – prob­a­bly the orig­i­nal one.

A bet­ter plan is to swap that for a hy­brid drive, such as the 2TB Sea­gate Desk­top SSHD (£80 from dabs.com). In­stall OS X on it and re­store your apps and data from Time Ma­chine. The solid-state part of the drive will cache fre­quently used data, and if you use the same few apps most of the time, this can be al­most as fast as a pure SSD, but with more ca­pac­ity for the price.

For fur­ther im­prove­ment, up­grade the graph­ics card. Macup­grades.co.uk has some re­fur­bished Radeon 5770 cards that were orig­i­nally for Win­dows PCs and have been re­flashed with Mac firmware. For £144, one of th­ese will give you roughly four times the graph­ics pro­cess­ing power.

A Fu­sion Drive is a great and af­ford­able way to in­ject ex­tra per­for­mance into your Mac.

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