Guaranteed compatible upgrades for:

RAM and SSD Upgrades | Apple Mac Pro 2008 (Early) 8-Core 2.8 GHz (MacPro3,1)

System Specifications
Maximum Memory:
  • 32GB
  • 8 Sockets (4 banks of 2) on two memory riser cards
Standard Memory:
  • 2GB (Removable)
  • Dual 2.8 GHz Intel Quad-core Xeon E5462 (Harpertown/Penryn) processors
Bus Architecture:
  • SSD - SATA 3.5-inch, SATA 2.5-inch 9.5mm
  • SSD - SATA 3.5-inch, SATA 2.5-inch 9.5mm
Mfr's System P/N's:
  • A1186; MA970LL/A
Upgrade Path:
  • Single module configurations will not work. At least two RAM modules must be installed. Any combination of 2, 4, and 8GB kits can be installed to reach configurations up to 32GB.
  • MacPro3,1 8-core 2.8 GHz 2008 Model A1186 EMC 2180
  • Latest Supported OS: OSX 10.11.x (El Capitan)
  • EFI Architecture: 64-bit


  • - RAM upgrade guide
  • - HDD/SSD upgrade guide
  • - PCI Express card upgrade guide (for installing a blade SSD or GPU)

  • RAM Upgrade

  • Up to 32GB of RAM can be installed. Single module setups will not work and there must be at least two RAM modules installed in the machine. The modules must be ECC, fully buffered with custom Apple-specific heat sinks. No tools are required. Follow this guide to install the RAM modules.

  • High Speed Blade SSD

  • For a super-high speed bootable storage solution, you can't go past a M.2 PCIe (AHCI) SSD. It's compatible in any version of MacOS and in any of the square-shaped Mac Pro models from 2006 up to 2012, and also supports dual-SSD RAID 0 configurations for even higher speeds. See the extensive review on how well these SSD's perform on

  • Look left for the supported models of the Samsung XP941 or SM951 which, when combined with the Lycom DT-120 or Angelbird WIPX1-FWKF PCIe adapter card, allow you to install and boot one (or more) of these SSD's in a spare PCIe slot.

  • To install one of these cards, see the PCI Express card install guide for more information, and checkout the DT-120 product page for an extensive video on how to populate it with a blade SSD.

  • HDD->HDD

  • The Mac Pro 2008 models have a 320GB 3.5-inch factory HDD with a 3 Gb/s SATA port, with 3 additional HDD storage bays. Due to the different screw hole patterns on larger capacity drives, only the 1/2/4TB WD Blue or WD Black models are compatible, and unfortunately a replacement for the drive sled to accomodate the different screw hole patterns is only available for the 2009 and later model Mac Pro. To upgrade the existing HDD, purchase a larger 3.5-inch HDD and follow this guide to install it.

  • HDD->SSD (replace or add in)

  • To upgrade the factory 3.5-inch HDD to an SSD, purchase any 2.5-inch SSD. You will also need either the OWC Adaptadrive or Angelbird SSD Bay to properly adapt your new SSD to fit the Mac Pro drive sled. Follow this hdd install guide to install the SSD as the procedure is the same.

  • To clone your existing OS/app setup from your old HDD to the new HDD / SSD, purchase a cloning cable or 2.5-inch HDD/SDD enclosure to connect your new SSD to your mac, (or just install it in a spare internal drive bay) then use the Super Duper app to perform the clone, then switch the drives or change the startup volume. If you don't plan to keep them installed internally, your old 3.5-inch HDD's can be housed in this 3.5-inch HDD enclosure.

  • Graphics Card Upgrade

  • The MacPro3,1 factory GPU is a ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256MB DDR3 VRAM. A popular Macrumours forum post shows that AMD GPUs will not work with 2008 Mac Pros due to a lack of SSE4.2 support. However, NVIDIA Kepler GPUs, like GTX 680/770/780 will.

  • A tried and tested option (if you can still find one) is the EVGA Geforce GTX 680 with 2GB (or 4GB) DDR5 VRAM which offers considerable performance improvements. Note, if the GPU is meant for PC (rather than a rare made-for-mac version), then it will work out-of-the-box on your Mac, but you won't be able to see boot screens (if you want to run bootcamp), single user or verbose mode. To access these features, you will need to flash the GPU with a custom Apple ROM from a windows machine. (Do this at your own risk, as it will void your warranty!)

  • Instructions for flashing a GTX680 are here.