Early-2009 iMac upgrade recommendations

Discussion in 'iMac' started by BertieWooster96, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. BertieWooster96, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016

    BertieWooster96 macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2015
    Hi all, asking on behalf of someone else.

    20 inch iMac Early 2009
    OS X Yosemite
    Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    RAM: 2GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9400 256MB
    Storage: 320GB SATA HDD

    They have owned the computer from new but for the past couple of years it has been painfully slow, I couldn't use it myself. I have kept recommending them to upgrade the machine like I did with my mid-2010 MBP, especially as theirs isn't supported for Sierra. Nevertheless, they would prefer to upgrade parts than forking out for a new machine, but if a new machine is not much more than upgrading the parts then they will consider it.

    What's everyone's recommendations, especially on which RAM and SSD?
    They mainly use the computer for business work, minimum amount of storage required is 512GB I would say.
    How much do you think they could sell it for? It's like new with not a scratch on it. They are more likely to buy a new one then.


    Edit: I am going to keep an eye out for Black Friday deals on iMacs.
  2. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Upgrading the memory to 8 Gb should be very simple and would be my first step. If it's still too slow they could drop an SSD in there, pretty much any SATA SSD would work. With those two upgrades I think the machine is good for a couple more years, unless they need Sierra.
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    8GB RAM for that model would be $60 or less (macsales.com price).

    Amazon has a Crucial MX300 525GB SATA SSD currently for $120.

    RAM is easy to replace. The hard drive is more difficult but you can find instructions on ifixit.com for that particular model. Be sure to read the comments under the instructions. You may need to buy some inexpensive tools to perform the swap as well as a bracket for the new, smaller SSD and perhaps an adapter (not sure) to connect it.

    So, the upgrade would be around $200 self-done. It could be as much or more than twice that if you have a shop do it and purchase the parts through them.

    The computer could be additionally slow due to some sort of software issue.

    Also, offhand I don't know how well this model would perform with the two upgrades...perhaps someone else can chime in. I upgraded my 2007 MacBook Pro with RAM and SSD but the model struggles with playing video. I still use it everyday, though, and don't feel like spending thousands to upgrade it.
  4. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    Up the ram and SSD.

    The machine CAN run Sierra with a minor hack as per unsupported thread here or osxhackers.net
    Only thing that may not work after is wifi card depending on which one is installed in the imac.

    the 2.66 and 2.8GHz models support the SSE required for Sierra.

    It also has a 9400M GPU so should play videos fine, suspect your macbook pro has a lower card in it.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    As others have said, add RAM and an SSD (not an easy job), but even with those upgrades, a 2009 iMac is already nearly 8 years old and will only be good for a couple more years if something else doesn't give out first…

    Best choice:
    New or "Apple refurbished" Mac...
  6. Dae macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2009
    I wouldn't bother with upgrades. Sell it and buy a used 2011 model with Core i5.
  7. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Mar 10, 2011
    The 2011 model only had USB2 ports. The 2012 came with USB3 ports. The 2012 would be the one I would suggest getting used.
  8. cookies81 macrumors newbie


    Feb 16, 2014
    Honestly I love my 2009 Imac. I recently put a kingston 240gb SSD($130 at my local best buy) in it, and it makes a WORLD of a difference. Im noticing the issues with only 4gb ram though... The install itself was not difficult, just be careful when you change to the SSD, there is HDD heat sensor that needs to be dealt with. When I first did the SSD install, the fans ran at full blast because the heat sensor was not plugged in. OWC sells a kit to fix that, but I downloaded "ssdfancontrol" and that fixed it :) -http://exirion.net/ssdfanctrl/

    I would say it is certainly sufficient for daily use once you upgrade SSD and at least bump ram to 8gb. Mine is going strong!
  9. infinity69, Nov 23, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016

    infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    I was wondering if it's running at SATA II speed (3 Gigabit) or is it negotiating at SATA I speed (1,5 Gigabit) ?

    Check under ABOUT THIS MAC > MORE INFO > SYSTEM REPORT > SERIAL ATA (or SATA) > select the right NVIDIA MCP79 AHCI and report the NEGOTIATED LINK SPEED.
  10. cookies81 macrumors newbie


    Feb 16, 2014
    SATA II speed. 3 Gigabit :)

    Attached Files:

  11. infinity69, Nov 24, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016

    infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    Sweet ! I asked Kingston's tech about the negotiated speed and they told me the SUV400 might work because it's using the Marvell 88SS1074 controller. Now I have the confirmation that it's fully capable of SATA II on iMac 10,1 (still to be tested on 9,1). :) Thanks !
  12. cookies81 macrumors newbie


    Feb 16, 2014
    No problem !
  13. Cisto1983 macrumors newbie


    Jan 29, 2015
    I too want to upgrade my early 2009 iMac (9,1) to a SSD drive; I search a lot online about this MCP79 issue and... well, it seems the same MPC79 controller negotiates different link speeds depending on the iMac/Macbook model you put the SSD into. So for example an SSD working at SATA II speed on a late 2009 iMac could or could not work at SATA II on an iMac 9.1, early 2009. Seems absurd, right? Yet that's what people are saying. There's a long discussion in the apple forums about this absurdity.
  14. infinity69, Nov 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017

    infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    You are correct. This issue is reported here : https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5934089?start=105&tstart=0
    For instance, someone reported SATA I speed on his iMac 9,1 (early 2009) and someone else reported SATA III on his 10,1 (late 2009) with the same Crucial BX300 which use the same Marvell 88SS1074 controller as the Kingston UV400.

    EDIT : After my research, looks like the Crucial M500(Marvell 88SS9187), BX200 (SM2256) are safe picks for the iMac 9,1. The BX200 with the SM2256 controller is the newest of the list (still old compared to nowadays SSD). Pick one of theses if you can (hard to find in my area).

    SATA II (3gigabit) negotiated speed SSD

    - Crucial --> M500 [Marvell 88SS9187]
    - Crucial --> M550 [Marvell 88SS9189]
    - OCW --> Mercury Electra 3G [JMicron 562]
    - Samsung --> 830 [Samsung MCX]
    - SanDisk --> Ultra II [Marvell 88SS9189 (480 and 960 GB)] (not booting sometimes : link)
    - Kingston --> UV400 [Marvell 88SS1074]
    - Adata --> SP550 [Silicon Motion SM2256]
    - PNY --> Optima [Silicon Motion SM2246EN]

    When in HDD position
    - Samsung --> 850 EVO [MGX (120/250/500GB/1TB)]
    - Samsung --> 750 EVO [MGX (120/250GB)]
    - PNY --> CS1311 [Phison PS3110-S10C-12 (120 and 240 GB)] (Unexpected !)
    - Mushkin --> ECO3 [Silicon Motion SM2256] (1/3 of the time at 3G)
    Crucial --> BX200 [Silicon Motion SM2256]
    SSD reviews : http://www.anandtech.com/

    SATA I speed (1,5gigabit) ONLY
    - Any SSD with SandForce controller
    - Samsung --> 840 EVO [Samsung MEX]
    - Samsung --> 840 PRO [Samsung MDX]
    - Sandisk --> Extreme Pro [Marvell 88SS9187]
    - Sandisk --> Extreme II [Marvell 88SS9187]
    - Sandisk --> SSD Plus (SDSSDA-120G-G25) [Silicon Motion SM2246XT]
    - Crucial --> MX300 [Marvell 88SS1074] (link 1. and 2.)
    - Toshiba/OCZ in general [Phison S10 (or rebranded variants like Toshiba TC58)]. (link 1. and 2.)
    - Intel --> X25-M [Intel controller]


    Additional information :
    More SSDs with the SM2256 (anyone tried theses?):
    -Mushkin Triactor/ECO3
    -Adata SP550

    Or the new SM2258? - Intel 540S, Adata SU800

    If you have an iMac 9,1 (20" and 24" early 2009) with the nVidia MCP79 chipset please report your SSD negotiated link speed. We will build a compatibly list for this model.
    Check under ABOUT THIS MAC > MORE INFO > SYSTEM REPORT > SERIAL ATA (or SATA) > select the right NVIDIA MCP79 AHCI and report the NEGOTIATED LINK SPEED.
  15. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Ok, here's one: 24 inch 9,1 with Mushkin ECO3 480 Gb (MKNSSDE3480GB) SM2256 controller, negotiated link speed is not consistent, sometimes 1.5 and sometimes 3.0 Gbs. As near as I can tell, it picks one at boot time and sticks with it. The interesting thing is that even at the slow link speed it's still faster than the original hard drive for our use (email, web, some word/adobe word processing). The SSD has been in place for 6 months and I've not noticed any other issues, no data corruption of any sort.

    (I find myself wondering if maybe that MCP79 chip is simply wonky and was running the hard drive at 1.5 some of the time...!)
  16. infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    Thanks for sharing! Someone reported similar issue here with the 850 EVO as replacement for the optical bay. Switching to the HDD position solved the problem. Where is your SSD located ?
  17. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    I swapped out the going-on-7 year old hard drive and installed the SSD in its place. That was about 6 months ago, no user visible issues so far and the machine has been performing very well, much better than with the HDD.

    Now that I've been sensitized to the situation, I think I'll poke around in the system logs and keep an eye on it to see if it consistently sticks with the boot value, or varies after sleep, or what. I tried rebooting it about 6 times and got 1.5 Gbs 4 times and 3 Gbs the other two ... !
  18. infinity69, Nov 27, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016

    infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    Alright, I updated my post to reflect your observations.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 27, 2016 ---
    You can also try to power on your SSD (no data/SATA cable, only the power cable) for 8 hours. Crucial suggests this to fix the garbage collector. It might work with your drive as well ?
  19. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Given the difficulty of getting at the drive, I think I'll reserve that unless we start experiencing actual problems. So far the SSD has been trouble free from a user standpoint.
  20. infinity69, Dec 3, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016

    infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    Added new drives to the list.
    Adata SP550 and PNY Optima are negotiating at 3Gb/s.
    The old intel X25-M (SATA II SSD) is only negotiating at 1,5Gb/s. So does the Sandisk SDSSDA-120G-G25.
  21. TyShawn macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2010
  22. infinity69 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2016
    Great ! What size is your SSD ? Is it stable or does it toggle to 1,5Gb/s sometimes ? Is it in HDD position or is it in a caddy as replacement for the optical drive?
  23. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    So would a Samsung 850 EVO 500GIG or 1TB be fine in the old hard drive's slot, and negotiate correctly for SATA II speeds?
  24. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502


    Jan 25, 2008
    Like an earlier poster, I'm doubtful upgrading this Early 2009 iMac makes sense if increasing speed is the goal. As mentioned by others, the HD interface is 3.0 Gbps SATA which will throttle a good SSD that could easily use a 6.0 Gbps SATA connection. Max memory is 8 GB. This machine is unsupported by Apple ( meaning they don't stock parts for it to do repairs ), so it's a tad more difficult than when Apple can help. The OP was posting for someone else, so they don't seem like the types to want to dabble with the machine's internals. Current USD retail on this machine is approximately $130, so investing money in it may not make financial sense if you encounter a major failure right after investing in upgrades. I would save my money and invest in a younger machine. FWIW: this machine will accept El Capitan and it might work a touch better than Yosemite, although I wouldn't expect it to miraculously cure overall slowness.
  25. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Well, the OP was looking for a way to speed up the machine and expressed a preference for an upgrade. The memory and SSD upgrade will cost something like $150 if done themselves, maybe even less. (I think I spent about $150 on mine.) That's not a big gamble. The SSD is much faster than the original hard drive, so I couldn't care less whether I'm leaving even more performance on the table. For $150 the machine absolutely will perform better, and they can get another couple of useful years out it. It's not the right move for everyone, but it's definitely the right move if you aren't interested in forking out another couple grand any time soon.

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