Mac Pro Hands-On: Adding Additional SSD Storage Using a PCIe Slot
When the Mac Pro became available for purchase a few weeks ago, we bought a base model and have since been demonstrating upgrades with third-party components for those interested in boosting their Mac Pro's capabilities without having to shell out for Apple's upgrades.
We covered upgrading the RAM in a Mac Pro in our last video, and today, we're demonstrating how to add additional SSD storage using one of the Mac Pro's PCIe slots.
The base model Mac Pro comes with 256GB of storage space, which isn't a lot in a professional machine. Luckily, it's easy to add additional storage if you purchase a compatible third-party SSD.
Completely replacing the SSD in a Mac Pro with a new one requires visiting an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider because the built-in SSD is tied to the T2 chip that provides encryption and other security benefits, but the existing storage can simply be augmented if you have a free PCIe slot.
The Mac Pro has eight PCIe expansion slots, which allow for extra USB ports, graphics cards, audio cards, and more storage, so that's an easy way to get additional storage space. Note that what we've done here means the SSD we're installing is extra storage space and not a boot disk - it's been added in addition to the existing 256GB SSD the base Mac Pro ships with.
We added a 4TB NVMe SSD from OWC, which is priced at $950. That's a good deal cheaper than the 4TB SSD upgrade option from Apple, which is priced at $1,400. You don't need to use OWC, but third-party SSD options are much more affordable than what Apple is offering.
Installing a new SSD is as simple as popping the case off of the Mac Pro, unlocking one of the PCIe slots, unscrewing the brackets and inserting the card. That's all there is to it. Once the case is back in place and the Mac Pro is booted up after installing a new SSD, the drive will show up on the desktop.
The OWC Accelsior 4M2 SSD we installed claimed to offer transfer speeds up to 6000MB/s. In our testing, we didn't quite see those speeds, but we did see write speeds at 4786MB/s and read speeds of 5360MB/s, which is much faster than the built-in SSD, which hit write/read speeds of 1312 and 2232MB/s, respectively.
When it comes to real life usage, that meant we were able to transfer 50GB of RAW video files to the OWC SSD in just about 20 seconds, a process that took 40 seconds with Apple's SSD. So it's entirely possible to get a faster SSD than what Apple's offering at a lower price. An OWC model is not required, of course, and for those with a Mac Pro interested in upgrading, it's worth doing some research to find the best price to save money.
We'll have more Mac Pro videos coming in the future, including a look at the Promise Pegasus R4i MPX RAID storage module designed for the Mac Pro.