Bump up RAM or buy new (used) iMac?

Racineur

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 11, 2013
297
60
Montréal, Québec
Hello to you all. I'm asking your opinion on behalf of a friend who has a 10 years old Core 2 Duo 2.0 20-Inch with 1 GB of RAM and 250 GB HDD. Runs on Snow Leopard. This iMac is fine for some light Word and Mail but as soon as she wants to browse the Net and do some Facebook or any social media, Safari or Chrome (versions to fit with SL) grind to a halt. Now, there are alerts urging to upgrade to a newer OS now. What is the better thing to do? Bump up the RAM to 6 GB and install the latest OS X possible in that case 10.11 (as mentioned on everyman.com) but I find that a bit too much to ask to a Core 2 Duo. So here we are: bump up or buy? Please help me give her the best advice.
Thanks merci beaucoup
R.
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,026
322
It depends on the budget. If you add RAM, I'd also probably want to replace the HDD with SSD; it's 10 years old anyway and liable to fail at some point. A good used 2013 or 2015 vintage iMac would probably be a better option unless the cash simply isn't there.
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,739
409
Nambucca Heads Australia
If your friend were to install a maximum of 4GB of memory, 2 x 2GB, and a 250GB SSD, it would be decent enough to get by on for a little longer, but it will still be a ten year old computer with ten year old graphics etc. It all comes down to what the budget of your friend can stand.

For instance memory will cost $45 and an SSD, the biggest bang no doubt, around $150 with install kit, both posted. Is it worth $200 is a question your friend will have to answer. For mine I would go for late 2013 27" iMac form about $1,000.00.
 
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cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,303
1,695
Get a new system.

RAM and a SSD will certainly help however the Core 2 Duo lacks native support for more modern video codec. And a lot of it its not powerful enough to decode via software. Youtube for example, outside of Safari uses VP9 and the Core 2 Duo can struggle with it, sometimes dropping to many frames to make videos watchable.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,160
5,521
OP wrote:
"This iMac is fine for some light Word and Mail but as soon as she wants to browse the Net and do some Facebook or any social media, Safari or Chrome (versions to fit with SL) grind to a halt."

RAM isn't going to help with a Mac that old.

Time for something new, or at least... "newER" ...
 

Racineur

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 11, 2013
297
60
Montréal, Québec
Hi. I get it. That's what I thought also. Thanks for your hints. I'm now looking for a 2012-2015 iMac with an i5 processor., a FusionDrive and at least 8 GB memory. My friend doesn't really need a 2017 iMac. Too much power computing for her needs.
Thanks so much
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,160
5,521
If you can get Apple factory refurbs in Canada, that's the way to go.
I'd look for a 2015 production year.

Re the fusion drive:
Get the 2tb fusion, and NOT the 1tb.

The 2tb fusion has a 128gb "SSD portion" and a 2tb "HDD portion".
The SSD portion on the 1gb is a measely 24gb -- far too small!

If she can afford a 27" display, get one.
She won't regret it!
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,020
96
Canada's South Coast
I have the exact same iMac sitting next to me now; although I have bumped it to 4GB RAM it still has its original 250GB "spinny" HDD. It's running OS X 10.11.6 "El Capitan". Your friend could easily install 4GB RAM for as little as $25 CDN (kijiji.ca) and that alone would allow her to install El Capitan and all its benefits. For anything short of intensive video encoding that remains a perfectly usable iMac that runs virtually everything except Siri. And yes an SSD upgrade makes everything faster, but once the "spinny" HDD has booted & loaded its apps it will still feel fast enough. Unlike in the Windows world, a decade-old Mac running a two-year-old OS is still perfectly usable and will probably make your friend very happy with day-to-day use.
 

Kyle4

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2010
526
378
Canada
My parents have a late 2009 Core 2 Duo iMac that I upgraded the RAM on (it now has 12GB) and it runs smoothly. For tasks like internet surfing with several tabs open I notice no slowdown. I'm trying to get them to upgrade to an SSD as well but for their uses they don't see the need. I push it pretty hard when I visit and it does what I want it to, albeit slightly slower then my late 2013 quad core i5 iMac (which has 8GB of ram).
 

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thestickman

macrumors regular
Nov 21, 2010
203
8
Jacksonville, FL
Hi. I get it. That's what I thought also. Thanks for your hints. I'm now looking for a 2012-2015 iMac with an i5 processor., a FusionDrive and at least 8 GB memory. My friend doesn't really need a 2017 iMac. Too much power computing for her needs.
Thanks so much
I just ordered a 2012 i7 21.5" with 16 ram iMac from Mac of All Trades at a great (I thought) price. Give them a look-see. I don't work for them, btw. Just a regular customer.
 

gian8989

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2015
259
70
Hello to you all. I'm asking your opinion on behalf of a friend who has a 10 years old Core 2 Duo 2.0 20-Inch with 1 GB of RAM and 250 GB HDD. Runs on Snow Leopard. This iMac is fine for some light Word and Mail but as soon as she wants to browse the Net and do some Facebook or any social media, Safari or Chrome (versions to fit with SL) grind to a halt. Now, there are alerts urging to upgrade to a newer OS now. What is the better thing to do? Bump up the RAM to 6 GB and install the latest OS X possible in that case 10.11 (as mentioned on everyman.com) but I find that a bit too much to ask to a Core 2 Duo. So here we are: bump up or buy? Please help me give her the best advice.
Thanks merci beaucoup
R.
I also have that iMac but with 4GB RAM and have 2 partition snow leopard and El Capitan. Ram won't help, you would also need an SSD but at this point it would be a waste of money. It is just too old.
I love this iMac (more than my iMac 5k 2017) but no browser is updated anymore for 10.6 and El Capitan is too heavy, you won't receive new OS and no support for windows 10.
You would get a better cost/value with a used more recent iMac or a PC.

I don't know were you live but in Italy usually ddr2 cost too much to think of an upgrade. If you want to reduce cost wait for blackfriday for ssd.