2011 iMac SSD upgrade or purchase 2017 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Surf760, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. Surf760 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2017
    Hey everyone, just trying to get some thoughts on either trying to extend the life of my 2011 iMac (2.5ghz, 12GB Ram, AMD 6750M) by swapping the 500gb HDD for a 1TB SSD or purchasing a new 4k 21.5 inch iMac.

    I am an attorney that primarily does Mail, Safari, and massive PDF reading/editing/OCR work. I really don't do any video editing anymore as I just don't have the time, similarly my gaming has become limited to a couple of hours here and there so I just really am what I would consider a power office user.

    My current iMac is surviving but it is certainly dragging and I had been hoping that the update to the iMac would throw me a touchbar external keyboard as I could see those being useful in adobe and office.

    So ultimately the question is do I spend about 350 on a 1TB Western Dig SSD with the replacement kit and wait for a real refresh cycle or do I drop down 1500 and just finally bite the bullet? Ultimately I'm going to have to replace this thing at some point, but I was hoping for more from the refresh

    Thanks in advance!

    Side Note - I already have an m7 12" MacBook from last year, so no need to recommend I get a laptop, small screens aren't practical for my job unless traveling.
  2. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    If what you really wanted was a touch bar keyboard, I don't see why such a thing couldn't be an add-on to a current iMac, assuming that it ever appears at all. Is your current iMac 21 or 27 inch? If it's the 27 inch I'd get rid of it. If it's the 21.5 inch, the choice is less clear; I'd still lean towards replacing it to get USB3 (I think your iMac is limited to USB 2?) and a generally faster machine. Given your usage I think you might be a good candidate for a 2 Tb Fusion drive, although if the money is there, pure SSD is always faster.
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    Have you considered using the new 13" Macbook Pro? Pair it with dual 27" monitors, keyboard and mouse. While using a docking station to quickly connect.

    By doing this you won't have to juggle two computers and keep them in sync. You'll have excellent portability for travel. When at the office. You will have two big displays. Multiple monitors can help productivity. If you want to recoup part of the cost. Selling the 2016 Macbook and old iMac will help. Get VESA mountable displays use a dual monitor stand. It looks cleaner, keeps them aligned and frees up desk space.

    $350 is a lot to spend on a computer which is six years old. Who knows how long it is until the screen burns out, PSU fails or motherboard fails. You can get that cost down to about $300 for a 1TB SSD. Once your factor in adapters. That iMac only has SATA-II. There won't be any real benefit using a higher end SSD as virtually any SSD on the market will max out the SATA II BUS.

    Don't forget a 2.5 to 3.5 bay adapter which has a corrected SATA connector alignment and screw pattern.

    You will also need a thermal sensor kit.

    Considering all the cost and the age. I'd take a good look at the Macbook Pro, Dock and monitor suggestion. Otherwise i'd say look at a new iMac. As the iMac is a business expense. It really isn't $1,500. As it should be tax deductible.
  4. mjsweet, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017

    mjsweet macrumors newbie


    Jun 9, 2017
    Adding more RAM is probably going to be the easiest thing to do. Bought the same model you have from my university surplus for $100, came with 16GB of RAM too. Ended up putting two SSDs in raid 0 and rewiring the sata data wires to the original HDD so that it runs off of the SATA 2 port for the DVD drive and the two SSDs run off the SATA 3 ports. Also swapped the i5-2400s for an i7-2600s (upgrade costs about $250 including the SSDs and new CPU). Somethings to note are that the 2011 iMac, even the base one has 3 SATA ports but if you upgrade the factory HDD you'll need to buy a temperature sensor sata cable from OWC. RAID 0 gives you 2x of a normal SSD in terms of read speed, the computer boots in about 10 seconds.

    Overall upgrade was worth it, but an absolute pain in the butt especially if you don't have experience working with computers. If you've never opened an iMac up I don't recommend it. The computer performs as fast as a brand new 2017 one if not better with the CPU upgrade, and for less than $400 I can't complain. PM me if you have questions on the upgrade I can send you the official technician guide for opening it up so you know what you're getting into.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    You're an attorney -- you can afford a new iMac.

    But don't settle for the 21" -- get the 27" instead. You'll NEVER regret having spent the additional $$$ once you get used to that big display.

    The strongest advice I can give is -- DON'T buy an iMac with a 1tb fusion drive, because it uses only a 24gb SSD for the "SSD portion" -- WAY too small to be practical over the long term.

    You'd do better to get either a 256gb or 512gb SSD. The price upgrade is $100/300 (respectively) -- the speed boost will be worth far more.

    IF over time you need more storage space, you could just buy a USB3 or USB3.1 Gen2 external SSD and plug that into the back -- cheap, easy, fast.

    From your usage requirements above, I think you'd do fine with the 3.4ghz 27" iMac (1,800). Choose the build-to-order option and add the 256gb SSD for $100 (or the 512gb SSD for $300).

    That should serve you well for at least 5 years into the future. Probably longer.
  6. Surf760 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2017
    First of all thanks for the replies everyone.

    Velocity you're correct as to the tax deductible part so I basically get 33% off is how it'll calculate out - which is obviously pretty sweet. But after 5 years of working for someone else I started my own firm so every dollar I can pinch at least for a little while longer still counts.

    As to the 13" MBP, I just love my 12". I took over 60 flights for work alone last year so every ounce counts when you run through as many airports as I do. This is almost funny to say seeing as I'm the guy who in high school saved up a ton of money from work and bought a 17" powerbook g4 and lugged that beast around everywhere in college like it was normal, but times and screen resolutions have changed.

    I operate with a 3TB WD MyCloud connected via ethernet to my hub so that will always be my main storage location for work files so I think I would lean towards the 512 SSD as opposed to Fusion if I go that route.

    Everything MJ is saying is enticing, and I've had plenty of experience working on the internals of normal towers whether that be the old powermac or a traditional PC, but never the iMac.

    Fishrrman, I'd love the 27" but neck and back problems have forced me to a standing desk conversion that only supports 20 pounds and that beast is 21.5, already checked. Not to mention I have a 23" monitor rotated 90 degrees in vertical mode right next to it also on the stand. Hoping the bump to 4k on the 21 inch would provide me enough extra real estate

    I think you guys have me leaning towards replacing this thing, my hesitance is just that I feel like with a little help my current machine is plenty capable of my workload, but as velocity pointed out it's also a real factor to put another 300-400 after the kits into a machine that might have something else might burn out soon.
  7. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    My advice for someone that is hesitant in buying a new machine would be to do the SSD swap and go from that point.

    I completely understand how the incoming cash flow is when starting a new business and the beginnings can be very tight.
    My game plan would be go ahead and plan everything you need. Check amazon for the SSD, they have a good lengthy return policies.
    Do the swap and give yourself 1 to 2 weeks of normal use scenario and you should have the information to make the decision to keep or shell out potential large amounts of unneeded cash. If the SSD doesn't make a large enough difference then think about the new mac but list and sell your previous one unless you can sell it to your business then still have the business buy the new one. Regardless, a brand Mac has a 14 day return period so use it and make the decision so you don't get stuck with a purchase you don't want only because of putting it off.

    Don't let someone else talk you into spending more on anything than you're comfortable with.

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