Xserve Nehalem (Mid 2009)

Apple upgraded the Xserve to the same Nehalem CPUs found in the Mac Pro. Even though the clock speed of these chips is lower than on the 2008 Xserve, the efficiencies of the Nehalem architecture power it well past last year’s models. The Nehalem chips also support Hyperthreading, so each core can emulate two cores, and Turbo Boost, which allows some cores to run faster than their rated speed when other cores are not being used heavily (for instance, a 2.93 GHz core can run at up to 3.33 GHz).


Another efficiency is energy efficiency, and for the first time Apple is offering a Solid State Drive (SSD) option for Xserve, which reduces power draw, heat, and noise vs. a normal hard drive – and it costs $500. Apple says the SSD is ultrafast, with minimal seek time (0.16 ms) and the same throughput as a 7200 rpm hard drive – all this while sipping less than 1 Watt of power (vs. 12-18 for a typical hard drive). And because the SSD is so small, it doesn’t use a drive bay, leaving all three bays available for hard drives.

For optimal memory performance, RAM is installed in sets of 3 matching modules, as Nehalem’s memory controller can work most efficiently that way. Mac OS X 10.5 supports up to 24 GB (4-core) or 48 GB (8-core) of RAM – and double that when running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later.

Like other 2009 Macs, Xserve uses Mini DisplayPort for video output. This means anyone using it with an existing monitor will need to purchase an adapter. This was the last Xserve model before Apple discontinued the line.

Xserve RAID

Xserve supports up to 3 TB of internal storage, RAID ($700 option), hot swappable drives, and remote management while running Mac OS X Server. It supports the SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) interface, which gives it access to 15,000 rpm hard drives.

Xserve includes an unlimited user license for Mac OS X Server.

Although it is not officially supported, the 2009 Xserve can run macOS Sierra using Colin Mistr’s Sierra Patch Tool. See our macOS Sierra page for more details and a link.

Got an Intel-based Xserve or thinking about buying one? Join the Macintel email list.


  • introduced 2009.04.07 at $2,999 with one 2.26 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon 5500 Nehalem CPU; dual 2.26 GHz, $3,599; dual 2.66 GHz, $4,999; dual 2.93 GHz, $6,199
  • Requires Mac OS X Server v10.5.1 or later
  • CPU: 1 or 2 quad-core Intel Xeon 5500 CPUs, dual CPUs available at 2.26, 2.66, or 2.93 GHz
  • Bus: 1.6 GHz
  • system performance:
    • Geekbench 2, 32-bit: 7292 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 12188 (2.26 GHz 8-core), 14561 (2.66 GHz)
    • Geekbench 2, 64-bit: 8254 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 13647 (2.26 GHz 8-core), 15571 (2.66 GHz)
    • Geekbench 3, 32-bit, single core: 1723 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 1653 (2.26 GHz 8-core), 2022 (2.66 GHz), 2085 (2.93 GHz)
    • Geekbench 3, 64-bit, single core: 1907 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 1850 (2.26 GHz 8-core)
    • Geekbench 3, 32-bit, multicore: 6189 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 12107 (2.26 GHz 8-core), 15042 (2.66 GHz), 15253 (2.93 GHz)
    • Geekbench 3, 64-bit, multicore: 7126 (2.26 GHz 4-core). 14057 (2.26 GHz 8-core)
  • RAM: 3 GB standard
    • 4-core: expandable to 24 GB with OS X 10.5 using 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC FB-DIMMs in 12 slots (48 GB with OS X 10.6 or newer)
    • 8-core: expandable to 48 GB with OS X 10.5 using 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC FB-DIMMs in 12 slots (96 GB with OS X 10.6 or newer)
  • video: Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 256 MB RAM
  • L2 cache: 256 KB per core
  • L3 cache: 8 MB per processor
  • Hard drive: 160 GB 7200 RPM, 128 GB SSD optional, 1 TB drive optional, 450 GB 15,000 rpm SAS available, 3 drive bays, Serial ATA
  • optical drive: 8x SuperDrive DL
  • 2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots
  • no 400 Mbps FireWire port
  • two FireWire 800 ports on back
  • two USB 2.0 ports on back, one on front
  • one DB-9/RS-232 port
  • dual 10/100/1000Base-T ethernet
  • size (HxWxD): 1.73″ x 17.6″ x 30″ (44 x 447 x 762mm)
  • Weight: 30.8-38.3 lbs. (14.0-17.4 kg)
  • PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
  • upgrade path: none yet
  • Part no.: MA882

Accelerators & Upgrades

  • none yet

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