MacPro 5,1 – NVME Turbo Charging the Disks

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Putting SSD drives into the MacPro was a total change in experiencing OSX. The increases in speed and responsiveness gave new life to this aging platform (mine is a Mid 2010).

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The next step in performance is using NVMe drives on the PCI buss. And this is surprisingly easy to do. Asus has an amazing carrier card that can hold 4x NVMe M2 drives and connect them to your PCI bus. This card supports x16 PCI slots- which is amazing, but useless to MacPros. We have x4 PCI slots, which is fast- faster than SSD drives (see below).

After reading about these and in order to make sure it worked I ordered the Asus and the cheapest 512G M2 card I could from Amazon. The Asus card was $60 and the ADATA M2 512G was a special at ~$80. Cooling the NVMe cards is essential to stop them from thermal throttling and the Asus comes with a massive heatsink that covers all the m2 drives. Installing the m2 card was simple and I then popped it into an open slot on my MacPro. It booted up and recognized the drive right away.

IMG 8525

The Asus Hyper Card v2

 

IMG 8527

Significant Heat Sink ensures cooling for the m2 drives

 

IMG 8520

The carrier itself looks imposing with the heat sink covering the entire board.

 

Speed Testing

The speed increase from SSD was significant… From 140MB/s to 1400MB/s.

 

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Hitachi HUA722020ALA330 Spinning Disk / SATA

 

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SanDisk SD8SB8U1T001122 – 1TB SSD / SATA

 

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ADATA SX8200PNP / PCI-Express

Now one other issue popped up – OSX thinks the drive is a removable drive.

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This was annoying and potentially an issue when I moved my boot drive to NVMe. Accidently clicking on the eject icon in the Finder window would not be a good experience. Luckily, people have solved this issue with some kernel extensions.

Finding Innie was able to install the Lilu kernel extension and fix this issue.

From MacRumors:

The kext is called “Innie” and is a Lilu plugin. Lilu is an open-source kext that provides a unified platform to apply various fixes (see https://github.com/acidanthera/Lilu). For the latest version of Innie, I recommend the latest release version of Lilu (see the releases page).

 

Specific directions to install Lilu and Innie are here on this forum post.

Once done, and a reboot my drive was changed to an Innie drive: 

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Now OSX Mojave is treating the disk as an internal disk. My next steps are to purchase some 1TB m2 disks and migrate my OS drive from the SSD to the NVMe.

 

 

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