Mac Pro | Delidding a soldered CPU (Upgrade to 12 cores)

Back in 2009 when Apple released the 4.1 Mac Pro they used CPUs without an Integrated Heat Spreader on the Dual CPU system. The Single CPU and later 5.1 systems don’t use these. They use the standard CPU with IHS. When upgrading my 4.1 Mac Pro to 2×6 core X5675 CPUs I had to make a decision. Modify the Mac Pro or delid the X5675 CPUs. Since the Mac Pro CPU tray is worth a multiple of the new CPUs I decided to use an electric heat gun to modify the CPUs.

The word „lid“ refers to the IHS on a CPU and therefore, in simple terms, delidding means removing the lid. Delidding got really popular in late 2011 with the launch of the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture which was the third generation of processors based on the 22nm manufacturing process developed by Intel®. The new CPU was the upgrade of the Sandy Bridge architecture and should have brought better power efficiency, lower TDP, and lower temperatures. However, users noticed that their Ivy Bridge processors spiked higher temperatures than the old Sandy Bridge CPUs. This made overclocking a bit of an issue, and overclocked processors were hitting 100°C very easily.

Because of this overclockers found ways to remove the IHS from the CPU and upgrade the cooling solutions on these CPUs.

So how is delidding actually done? The very first deliddings were done with a razor blade or any other very sharp tool. And as we said, the IHS is glued to the PCB, and you can work your way around the CPU die, cut the glue, and thus release the IHS. This is a tricky task because the blade can scratch the PCB and that can ruin your CPU. You also need to make sure that you don’t push the blade in too deep – some processors have various SMD components (resistors, capacitors, diodes etc.) under the IHS.

There are various delidding methods know. Some use a hammer and a vice and the safer ones use special developed delidding tools.

The problem with the x5675 Westmere Xeon CPU is that the IHS is soldered to the CPU and there are no knows delidding tools available for these CPUs. It is just not a very common CPU to delid I guess. Since it’s only real delidded use is in a 2009 Dual CPU Mac Pro 4.1.

Still wanting to upgrade my Mac Pro to 12 core Westmere Xeon goodness I got the electronic heat gun from the shed and did the delid myself.

You can follow my delidding adventure on my YouTube Channel.

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At first, I had a hard time finding the single edge blades. This is because I was looking for shaving blades. Turns out that these blades are not used for shaving but for cleaning windows. You can find them on Amazon

The Geekbench 4 benchmark  improved nicely to just over 23k

And my BruceX went from 38s to 30s. The system now also support faster PC3-10600 DDR3-1333MHz

Not a bad upgrade in my opinion.

Mac Pro | EFI flash an R9 280x

Apple uses special bios firmware on the video cards or GPU they install in their machines.

You can, however, install a PC based GPU in a Mac Pro. It has standard PCI-E slots and if you install a GPU that is supported by either the Apple AMD drivers or the NVidea Web Driver the card will function in OSX just like an Apple GPU. There is one thing that won’t work though.

The Apple boot screen. So you won’t be able to do anything with the machine until OSX has started and loaded the GPU driver. This can be a real pain in the behind when you want to boot from a USB drive for instance.

Luckily there are video cards that can unofficially be flashed with an Apple EFI enabled bios. You can even make such a bios yourself by extracting the bios from the card and adding the EFI bit to the rom file using a hex editor and a lot of knowledge. I didn’t feel like going down the DIY make-your-own bios road and started looking for an R9 280x made by MSI. And only this card because I had found a bios rom file that someone had already made and tested.

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Mac Pro | I bought a 2009 4.1 and am running High Sierra

The Mac Pro is a series of workstation and server computers designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Inc. since 2006. The Mac Pro, in most configurations and in terms of speed and performance, is the most powerful computer that Apple offers. It is the high-end model of the three desktop computers in the current Mac lineup, the other two being the iMac and Mac Mini.

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