Disappointing iMac Performance

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mattjurd, May 14, 2019.

  1. mattjurd macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2011
    Hi all,

    Ive just bought a brand new base model 27" iMac to replace a ten year old MacBook that died about six months ago.

    Frankly the performance is a bit underwhelming. Typically I have about 6-8 apps open in the background (Safari, Mail, Calendar, Pages, iTunes, Numbers). Safari and Pages get the most use, hardly taxing I would have thought.

    I don't see much of a performance increase over my old MacBook in terms of opening or closing an app, or in fact any other regular function. I honestly didn't think I would have to wait 30 sec for an app to close or open on a brand new machine. Is this normal?

    I know people talk a lot about upgrading to SSD and more RAM but I genuinely thought that a brand new machine would have significantly better speeds that something from ten years ago.

    Does anyone have any thoughts?


  2. mdelrossi, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019

    mdelrossi macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2005
    What’s your configuration?


    Return it and spend a $100 extra and get the 512ssd. Then get some ram from a third party. Add usb storage for the rest
  3. Lee_Bo macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2017
    Greenville, SC

    So what's the hardware config on both units?

    I have a 2011 iMac, i5, 500 gig ssd, 16 gigs ram and also a 2016 MacBook Pro, i7, 500 gig ssd, 16 gigs ram and performance is similar but photos process a bit faster on the MBP.
  4. mj_ macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    The base model comes with a 1TB Fusion Drive, which means 30s application launch times are not an exception. After all Apple still considers a more than 30-year old technology consisting of spinning magnetic disks sufficient enough for most users, and quite frankly I don't necessarily disagree.

    If you want instanteneous application launches you need to get an SSD or don't shut your iMac down but put it to sleep instead. That way applications remain in RAM once launched and will reopen instanteneously.

    In all other aspects the new iMac is going to run circles around your ten-year old MacBook.
  5. jagolden macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2002
    Base ram just doesn’t cut it. Can it be easily upgraded as in the 2017 models? If so, get at least another 32g.
    My 2017 has 40g total. I typically run Audio-Highjack Pro, Audacity, couple of Safari windows, Affinity Photo, Photoshop CS3, mail, calendar, iTunes all open at same time and it’s quite snappy. It is the 2017 27" base with an added 32g ram.
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    RAM’s not the issue. MacOS sings on 8GB+ with its great memory management. It’s down to the hard drive bottleneck.
  7. jagolden macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2002
    Well, since my iMac’s performance was significantly improved by that additional ram, I can’t strictly support statements like that. And my internal drive is the basic 1T Fusion.

    Long before ssd, the way to improve performance was more ram (baring being able to upgrade the processor), that basic premise still holds true. Ssd will certainly speed thing up too, but they’re not the only solution.
  8. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yep, long before SSD when OS X was designed on spinning drives for spinning drives, a RAM upgrade made a massive difference. Now if you’re buying a Mac with a spinner, that’s almost certainly going to be the bottleneck.

    You’re absolutely right: if you leave apps open and have lots of RAM, it’ll certainly improve performance as the apps will stay loaded into the RAM and take less time to load.

    However if we’re trying to identify the fundamental bottleneck as the OP is, especially as they mentioned opening/closing apps as an indicator for this poor performance, I think it’s disingenuous to suggest a RAM upgrade would be most beneficial for their experience. Between increasing the RAM beyond 8GB and going pure SSD, there’s no question which one is overwhelmingly the better option for them.
  9. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    an SSD would def open apps faster. but how does the imac feel when you're using apps? that should be the bigger concern; i mean, once you open an app, it's...open. how does it behave using it?

    i see a lot of people, will different versions of Word, on different macs, and, for some reason, for some of them... it opens really slowly. but once you get past that, the app works as it should.

    personally, that's my main concern; how apps work. (on my 2019 imac, logic x, my main app, is killing it)...
  10. Michael Scrip macrumors 603

    Mar 4, 2011

    I never understood why "app loading time" became some great benchmark.

    An app might take 5 seconds to load... but you'll actually be using the app for 5,000 seconds. That's where the performance matters! :p
  11. aman88 macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2019
    I just got the base 27 inch and I love it... it’s light years faster than my old 2010 21 inch iMac... I also paid an extra $300 for the SSD and it’s turns on in 10-15 seconds...
  12. mattjurd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2011
    Base spec where I am (does it vary worldwide?) isRetina 5k 2019, 3ghz i5, 8gb ram, 1tb fusion drive. My MacBook was a 2009 base spec for the time. Im not in the USA so prices are a bit higher, if it was just a $100 upgrade I would have done it.

    Changing between apps I often get the spinning beachball. Within apps there is a delay carrying out functions.

    Im just really surprised at the performance. If I was using photoshop, running intensive games or similar I would understand needing an upgrade. What Im doing though is about as basic as it gets, these are built in apps that surely can't be that much of a strain on a brand new machine!

    On the plus side the 27" screen is great, love the space, just a bit annoyed that it doesn't feel appreciably quicker than a machine from ten years ago.
  13. aman88 macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2019
    Dude I literally just opened basically every app on my bar at the bottom... ran fast... closed within seconds... it turns on in about 10-15 seconds(the computer from being off)... its light years above my 2010 imac... i have the base model (3.0 ghz, 8 gb ram, 570x, but with the 512 ssd....).
  14. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2017
    Spinners haven't changed much in ten years ... if anything they have gotten worse. They have slowed them down so that they don't generate as much heat.
  15. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    then something is up; did you migrate everything from an earlier mac? are you using desktop and documents in the cloud? try resetting nvram perhaps.

    wish i had more ideas, but hard to know from here. good luck with it!
  16. Benz63amg, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019

    Benz63amg macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2010
    OP: I have the 2299$ 2019 27 inch iMac with a 2TB Fusion Drive and 40GB of Ram and the computer is stellar, performance is smooth and fast throughout. I use it for all basic tasks that every typical user would use among with Logic, GarageBand, Photoshop etc and I’m not sure why you’re experiencing mediocre performance with your new Mac.
    Don’t believe the naysayers in this thread trying to make you feel bad for getting a fusion drive.
    Apple only sells Fusion drive equipped iMacs at all of their retail stores nationwide in the US and they wouldn’t have done so if they the fusion drive did not perform as intended. I see way too many people on this forum bashing the Fusion drive pretending to know better than Apple and the hardware engineers at Apple.
  17. Nojslokin macrumors newbie


    May 15, 2019
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2019 ---
    I get exactly the same performance issues you describe on my new 2019 27” iMac. I bought the top spec and upgraded to 3tb fusion drive and 32gb ram. I’m convinced it is the fusion drive that’s the issue. My 2016 MacBook Pro with 512Gb SSD opens apps much faster.

    That said, when the apps are open things seem to be okay, but I do randomly get the occasional beach ball which is annoying.

    Running all the usual apps plus Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop.
  18. LeeW macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2017
    Glasgow, Scotland
    With only 24GB of SSD I am fairly sure that is probably why you are not feeling any performance difference. Likely you are already using that and it's hitting the HDD. The performance is going to be affected.
  19. Mejoco_LC475 macrumors newbie


    Jul 6, 2017
    United Kingdom
    My No. 1 piece of advice for anyone considering a new iMac – SSD.
  20. JustMartin macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2012
    Might be worth looking at activity monitor just to check there's nothing hogging CPU and memory. I'm surprised that you would see beach balls when you switch between applications, does imply they've been swapped out. Depending on how you migrated from older computer, there may be other stuff going on like spotlight indexing. And Fusion drive, like any other caching system will take a while to 'adjust' to your workflow and it will get faster.
  21. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    The 2TB Fusion drive has 128GB of solid-state storage. The 1TB Fusion Drive has only 32GB.

    The fusion drive is a decent-enough solution but the 1TB drive is crippled with 1/4 the solid-state storage of the 2TB+ drives. Makes a big difference in performance because there's just not enough room to store all the most commonly-used apps and files in such a small space.
  22. jagolden macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2002
    Exactly! I stand firmly behind my original "more ram" statement. The computer should be running to the ram before running to an ssd during usage. Start up is not his main issue, it’s the overall sluggishness.
    Yes, the computer starts and apps load faster with more ram, but most importantly the apps run faster, period.
    I am frequently editing 8-9 hour long audio files using Audacity. It’s clear with the additional ram I installed the files open, edit, and save much faster.
  23. PlayUltimate macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2016
    Boulder, CO

    100% agree. I have a 2017 sitting on my desk. Was truly weighing the difference between getting the 2TB Fusion vs a basic 500GB SSD; chose the latter. My logic was a) removes a point of failure from the HD spinning b) since it was a desktop, it would be relatively stationary and I could plug in as many HDs as needed for additional storage. Thus all of my photos and music reside on an external 2TB drive. There is a additional delay in opening those two apps. But few problems with anything else.
  24. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "I know people talk a lot about upgrading to SSD and more RAM but I genuinely thought that a brand new machine would have significantly better speeds that something from ten years ago."

    What follows is cold hard truth, and you're not going to like it.

    You're NEVER going to happy with this iMac (at least with the configuration you bought).

    Without an SSD, it will probably NEVER perform to your expectations (of what a new Mac should be).

    Best advice:
    RETURN IT IMMEDIATELY and get a refund.
    Then, order one with an SSD inside.
    You CANNOT "buy these at stores" -- they MUST be special-ordered via Apple's "build-to-order" pages online.
    (Note: is IS possible to buy Apple-refurbished Macs with SSDs, but these will be the 2017 design)

    A very few Apple resellers (such as B&H Photo in NYC) pre-stock Macs with SSD's already installed. A friend bought from them and was satisfied with the purchase. Be advised that some folks don't care for B&H's return policy regarding computers (essentially, once you open them, they're aren't returnable).

    But again -- if you don't like the iMac's performance NOW, know that it's never going to "get better".
    Return it and get one with an SSD inside.
  25. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2007
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    Unfortunately they are still using hard drives that are way older technology than 10 years ago.

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