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Old Jan 14, 2013, 08:57 AM   #1
ozone
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Upgrade 2007 iMac or get a new iMac vs Mini + Monitor combination

I've got an old iMac (circa 2007) - still runs fine, but is quite slow now. It's a work computer, so I don't run anything terribly demanding, but things that used to run fast are now slowing down noticeably.

It still only has 2 GB of RAM: I tried several brands of RAM chips locally - none worked. I was considering just ordering the 6 GB RAM upgrade from OWC. Does anybody know just "how much" improvement I will see?

My other option is to just get a new 27" iMac, or if shipping times are just too long, possibly a Mac Mini + 27" monitor (either Dell or Apple branded).

I'm conscious that this computer is now heading into its sixth year of continuous use. I try to replace my hardware just before I need to (that is, before things fail).

Any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:03 AM   #2
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If the same software used to run faster as in you're not running software versions with significantly higher system or memory requirements and you didn't switch to a much more memory hungry version of OSX, it's either a problem with hardware or the installation of OSX. Putting in ram wouldn't solve either of those problems. If it's slow due to updates that place greater demands on the hardware, then it's possible. Just make sure you check how much ram it can actually take, and make sure you memtest any memory you order prior to placing the machine back in normal service. I'm sure someone will say get an ssd or something like that. Once again if it was faster running the same hardware, that's a hardware problem somewhere, even if the hard drive is a reasonably common cause of this.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:08 AM   #3
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If the same software used to run faster as in you're not running software versions with significantly higher system or memory requirements and you didn't switch to a much more memory hungry version of OSX, it's either a problem with hardware or the installation of OSX.
Well, I did upgrade most software, with the exception of the last Mac OSX. Perhaps I've just hit the limit, RAM aside.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:21 AM   #4
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Well, I did upgrade most software, with the exception of the last Mac OSX. Perhaps I've just hit the limit, RAM aside.
I'm not sure which OSX you're on. I was trying to discern if this slowdown came independent of software. 2GB was tight even with Snow Leopard. It's extremely tight with Lion or Mountain Lion. The only thing that shipped with 2GB on Lion was the Air, which of course leveraged the SSD to minimize slowing. SSDs are a fairly popular option. If you choose to go that route, make sure you have a use in mind for it when you buy your next machine. If you're running Lion or Mountain Lion, I'd definitely bump the ram, assuming it's not too expensive. They are extremely memory hungry. It's quite annoying for me even with maxed ram, as I use some memory hungry applications. Having to deal with that at the OS level too is irritating.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:31 AM   #5
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I'm not sure which OSX you're on. I was trying to discern if this slowdown came independent of software. 2GB was tight even with Snow Leopard. It's extremely tight with Lion or Mountain Lion. The only thing that shipped with 2GB on Lion was the Air, which of course leveraged the SSD to minimize slowing. SSDs are a fairly popular option. If you choose to go that route, make sure you have a use in mind for it when you buy your next machine. If you're running Lion or Mountain Lion, I'd definitely bump the ram, assuming it's not too expensive. They are extremely memory hungry. It's quite annoying for me even with maxed ram, as I use some memory hungry applications. Having to deal with that at the OS level too is irritating.
Thanks... I'm running OSX 10.6.8. I decided to forego the Lion update given that I really didn't need much more in the way of an OS and to keep the computer running without investing too much.

So a RAM upgrade still seems reasonable for a six year machine?
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:50 AM   #6
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So a RAM upgrade still seems reasonable for a six year machine?
It depends how much it costs and how long you intend to keep it. I mentioned an ssd simply because you could probably pass it on to the next machine. If you have disk warrior, I'd run it. It can clean the directories up, which does seem to reduce lag. I wouldn't suggest buying it unless you already have it. I kind of wonder how long it will be around given that you still have to use a dvd to boot from it. The drive isn't considered a user serviceable part on the mini if you get one later. the same goes for the newer imacs, so you'd need to be careful.

You could also go for a newer machine. It's up to you, and obviously I have no way of knowing the current state of your hardware. I get that you're concerned about eventual hardware failure. It's possible to spend less than the Apple branded displays if cost is a factor. I expect they'll update the thunderbolt display to be more like the imacs in the near future. I expect NEC will also update their offerings, and I prefer them to Dell or Apple whenever pricing is similar.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:00 AM   #7
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It depends how much it costs and how long you intend to keep it. I mentioned an ssd simply because you could probably pass it on to the next machine. If you have disk warrior, I'd run it. It can clean the directories up, which does seem to reduce lag. I wouldn't suggest buying it unless you already have it. I kind of wonder how long it will be around given that you still have to use a dvd to boot from it. The drive isn't considered a user serviceable part on the mini if you get one later. the same goes for the newer imacs, so you'd need to be careful.

You could also go for a newer machine. It's up to you, and obviously I have no way of knowing the current state of your hardware. I get that you're concerned about eventual hardware failure. It's possible to spend less than the Apple branded displays if cost is a factor. I expect they'll update the thunderbolt display to be more like the imacs in the near future. I expect NEC will also update their offerings, and I prefer them to Dell or Apple whenever pricing is similar.
Thanks... I never considered Disk Warrior - is it that good?

Also, with respect to NEC, I assume you're referring to their monitors, yes?

I have admit... new hardware would probably mean USB 3.0 - the lack of which is driving me crazy these days given the number of USB 3.0 enabled peripherals coming out!
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:02 AM   #8
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Honestly I'd say try to sell it and get a new iMac. It might get you 1/4-1/2 of the way there, not sure.

Also, Lion was not "the last OSX." There has also been one more, Mountain Lion. You should keep up.

Shipping will probably take about a month for the 27" right now. I ordered mine on 21 Dec and it just went to "Preparing for Shipment" on Sunday which means it should ship within a couple of days. The 21" would be significantly less time, but the RAM is not user-upgradeable in that.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:04 AM   #9
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ive got the mid 2011 mac mini and it is brilliant its quiet and can deal with whatever i throw at it ive got it set up with a 32" and a 22"
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:05 AM   #10
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If you're only noticing a bit of a slowdown and it's not adversely effecting your work then theres no real reason to get a new machine. A RAm upgrade will probably help, even up to 4gb will help with OSX 10.6 and RAM for this machine is so cheap it's worth it just to see. Make sure to check the max RAM for your machine on the Apple site, you may only be able to go to 4gb rather than 6gb.
Swapping out the drive with a SSD is another option but you won't see a performance jump except with your startup and in the opening/saving of programs and files, actual applications will run the same. It will give your machine a "snapper" feel, so that might be worth the expense and time.

If you do open the machine be sure to replace the PRAM battery on the motherboard, they last 3-5 years and keep things like the clock and such from resetting.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:09 AM   #11
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It sounds like more RAM would probably do the trick for you, but if you're going to need to keep upgrading software, at some point you will need a new computer. Also, depending on what you're running the speed boost from more RAM while noticeable may not be as much as you would like.

Also, if you've been living with the speed this long, don't let a month shipping time be a factor in your decision on which system to order.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:24 AM   #12
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Well, perhaps a new computer would not be unjustified. It's amazing how quickly we forget, but another PhD student of mine just finished, and editing her thesis was an absolute chore. It was 200 pages, full of graphs, and the template was insane to work with.

I recall opening it up on my MB Air (2011) model, and with its SSD and 4 GB of RAM, just so much faster than my iMac. It wasn't even just speed: my old iMac just felt "clumsy". Not very technical, I know....
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 06:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozone View Post
Thanks... I never considered Disk Warrior - is it that good?

Also, with respect to NEC, I assume you're referring to their monitors, yes?

I have admit... new hardware would probably mean USB 3.0 - the lack of which is driving me crazy these days given the number of USB 3.0 enabled peripherals coming out!
Disk Warrior is probably an unnecessary purchase. It helps with some things, but like I mentioned you need to boot from a dvd. They haven't even updated the dvd in some time. I kind of wonder how long it will remain at this point. If usb3 is a factor to you, it's a good time to upgrade. I mentioned NEC because I think at the price point of the Apple display, they make a better display. I've had fewer problems. They don't have the hub functionality of the thunderbolt display, but the thunderbolt display doesn't have usb3 yet. That's one of the things I would expect in an update. My best guess on an update is the first half of this year.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ozone View Post
Well, perhaps a new computer would not be unjustified. It's amazing how quickly we forget, but another PhD student of mine just finished, and editing her thesis was an absolute chore. It was 200 pages, full of graphs, and the template was insane to work with.

I recall opening it up on my MB Air (2011) model, and with its SSD and 4 GB of RAM, just so much faster than my iMac. It wasn't even just speed: my old iMac just felt "clumsy". Not very technical, I know....
Ozone,

I have an older iMac 24" alu (2007 2.4, with 4GB ram) and although it's pretty solid, my lack of ram is impacting the performance. I am often getting page outs and when this happens my computer slows down to a crawl.

There are two solutions to extend the life to this excellent computer

1.) Increase ram to 6GB (120$ at OWC) (it cannot be easier)
2.) Install an SSD (more complex)

I would suggest that with the age of this computer, that you make sure to have a proper backup as the original 320gb HD is known to fail. Knock on wood, mine has been running almost 24/7/365 for 5 years straight

Best of luck
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 08:13 AM   #15
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Ozone,

I have an older iMac 24" alu (2007 2.4, with 4GB ram) and although it's pretty solid, my lack of ram is impacting the performance. I am often getting page outs and when this happens my computer slows down to a crawl.

There are two solutions to extend the life to this excellent computer

1.) Increase ram to 6GB (120$ at OWC) (it cannot be easier)
2.) Install an SSD (more complex)

I would suggest that with the age of this computer, that you make sure to have a proper backup as the original 320gb HD is known to fail. Knock on wood, mine has been running almost 24/7/365 for 5 years straight

Best of luck
Thanks - sounds like you have the same iMac as I do.

Given that you already have 4GB and are still experiencing performance bottlenecks, I'm not sure if 6GB will be all that effective (yes, I was looking at OWC). As for the second suggestion, for the money invested in an SSD, I think it might be better to just leverage that money against a new computer.

Yes, all my data is backed up regularly. Errr... I didn't know that the original 320GB is prone to failure... that's a bit disconcerting!
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 08:58 AM   #16
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Others will say to do so isn't necessary, but I suggest you defrag the internal hard drive.

To do this, you can use either "iDefrag" or "Drive Genius" (there are other apps out there that can do this, but those are two with which I'm familiar).

Alternate method, more involved (but produces same results):
Clone the contents of your internal hard drive to an external drive using CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. Then, boot from the clone, re-initialize the internal drive, and RE-clone the external back to the internal. The files will be copied contiguously, and you will have effectively defragmented your drive.

Do any of the above, and I'll bet you notice the results!
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 09:03 AM   #17
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Others will say to do so isn't necessary, but I suggest you defrag the internal hard drive.
I used to defrag my old Windows 95 machines regularly, but I *thought* advanced systems like Mac OSX did not require such steps.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 02:31 AM   #18
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Do not defrag HFS+ volumes! If you really feel fragmentation is an issue, back everything up, erase and reinstall, and throw it back on. minimal fragmentation, its free, and you get a clean start.

HFS+ works very differently from FAT and NTFS.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 02:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by ozone View Post
I've got an old iMac (circa 2007) - still runs fine, but is quite slow now. It's a work computer, so I don't run anything terribly demanding, but things that used to run fast are now slowing down noticeably.

It still only has 2 GB of RAM: I tried several brands of RAM chips locally - none worked. I was considering just ordering the 6 GB RAM upgrade from OWC. Does anybody know just "how much" improvement I will see?

My other option is to just get a new 27" iMac, or if shipping times are just too long, possibly a Mac Mini + 27" monitor (either Dell or Apple branded).

I'm conscious that this computer is now heading into its sixth year of continuous use. I try to replace my hardware just before I need to (that is, before things fail).

Any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.
1) Ram from Newegg.ca and check the type from OWC
2) Add an SSD from Newegg.ca - you can get a 512gb crucial m4 or get a Momentus XT 750gb hybrid. Works very well.

This is your best $$ option.

3) Sell your imac
4) mac mini is great - get a decent ips monitor for cheap -- google korean ips monitor and see which are $300 or so for a 27"
5) if you have the money, I love my new 2012 imac 27"

GL!
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 03:26 AM   #20
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OP, from your posts it seems clear you are trying to justify the purchase of a new machine. If that is what you want, then just do it.

RAM, for the slowdowns you describe, will work wonders for you and is cheap. And yes, order from OWC.

How full is your HD? If you are reaching capacity you will notice a slow down. Move stuff you don't use off the HD (but as mentioned before, do not use any "disk optimization" software.

If the RAM does not speed you up to your liking, then I would consider a new machine. While an SSD will speed you up, this upgrade price is getting to be a larger % of the purchase price of a new machine and might tip the decision.
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