Hot hard drive! -temp reading/solutions?

macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
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We have an iMac 8.1 which seems slow (lots of beachball) despite 4GB memory (should be enough for mail, web and regular everyday stuff) and a 50% full 500GB hard drive. It's running OSX 10.6.8.
I recently read some articles on the iMac's design not being the best to combat heat buildup and to make things worse, dust builds up inside as well. Finally, a mechanical hard drive generates a lot of heat, so thinking an overheated hard drive could be the culprit I installed the free version of Disk drill which can display the hard drive temperature in the menu bar. Likewise I installed SMC fan control and found out the hard drive temperature was quite high (right now Disk drill says 42 C while SMC fan control says 36 C -I have no idea why they show different numbers since I assume there's only one temperature sensor, but despite this I feel the temperature is too high -anyone know?).

So with the iMac getting close to the ending of the warranty period I'm thinking that replacing the hard drive with an SSD could solve a lot of the problem -what do you think?
 

bmcgrath

macrumors 65816
Oct 5, 2006
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55-60 is the max for a hard drive.

Mine mid 2011 iMac usually hovers between 45-50 and the machine is on 24/7. No issues so far.

I would suggest more memory for the beachballing.
 

macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
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Good to hear the drive is within temperature limits though I'm still considering an SSD upgrade :)
With my typical Firefox use (many tabs open at once) I get the following result in Activity monitor:

Virtual memory size: 175.3 GB
Page ins: 274.5 MB
Page outs: 1012 MB
Swap: 4 MB
 

toddzrx

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2012
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May as well throw in another 2GB of RAM (which is all your model can handle).

The SSD is a massive win: it runs cool and much faster than the HD you have now. You will not want to return to using a hard drive after using an SSD.

These two mods to your machine will make it feel brand new. It'll add a couple years to the life of it, so that the cost of the parts over those years make the mod quite economical (so long as you don't mind staying with OS X 10.6.8, which is not a bad thing), especially compared to the cost of buying a brand new iMac.

It seems your data needs aren't all that high: I would recommend a 128GB SSD, then put the old internal HD in an enclosure and put your media files on it. Unless you access them constantly, you won't notice the HD latency.
 

macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
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There are only two RAM slots as far as I can remember so I'd have to scrap one of the memory modules if I was to upgrade to 6 GB. According to my Activity monitor findings, am I already exhausting the available 4 GB memory? It may seem so from the explanation link posted earlier on system memory readings in the Activity monitor, as "page outs" should be at zero if there's enough RAM available, right?
DDR2 RAM is quite costly compared to DDR3, so it might not be worth doing unless I'd really have use for it. Perhaps I can find some cheap ones at eBay.

Yes, the majority of large files are media files in iTunes, so a 128 or 256 GB SSD should do, then put the media files on an external drive (with the cost of drives these days it wouldn't surprise me if buying an external 2.5" drive would cost less than just the enclosure/power supply for the (now internal iMac) 3.5" drive and I'd have one less set of cable mess to deal with.

By the way, is there a utility which will allow me to power down drives until I need them? My experience is that "sleeping" drives always wake up whenever a Finder file-selector is opened.
 

Arfdog

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Jan 25, 2013
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The SSD is a massive win: it runs cool and much faster than the HD you have now. You will not want to return to using a hard drive after using an SSD.
SSDs aren't massive wins yet. You pay extremely dearly for the performance.

SSD: $1/GB
HDD: $0.06/GB.
 

toddzrx

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2012
722
258
SSDs aren't massive wins yet. You pay extremely dearly for the performance.

SSD: $1/GB
HDD: $0.06/GB.
You must be an accountant. But if you are, your numbers are wrong; a quick look at Newegg shows plenty of SSD's that are significantly less the $1/GB. A 128GB SSD can be had for around $100; hardly a bank-breaker.

My "massive win" comment was not aimed at a strict cost comparison between HD and SSD. If you re-read my third paragraph, the SSD will actually be a cost-saver in the end by increasing the performance of the old machine, making it relevant for another two years or so instead of buying a brand new one.

That was my experience: I was considering replacing my 1st gen 17" MBP with a new mac, when a friend suggested installing an SSD. I went the SSD route and used the MBP for another 2 years before replacing it with a used iMac about 6 months ago.

And that used (2010) iMac, which inherited the SSD from the old MBP, was half the cost of a brand new base iMac, and mine is far faster in normal usage than that new iMac.

Point being: you have to look at more than just $/GB when considering an SSD install.
 
Nov 28, 2010
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SSDs aren't massive wins yet. You pay extremely dearly for the performance.

SSD: $1/GB
HDD: $0.06/GB.
256 GB of SSD can be had for 150 USD with good deals, which comes to 59 cents per GB.
Anyway, an SSD is a massive win if you like fast response times from the OS and applications. SSDs are not yet meant for data storage, that is what HDDs are still good for and fast enough, but for starting the OS or applications and accessing cache files an SSD is a massive win.

Anyway, if you would only look for the money and the specs, you would not buy a Mac, but if you buy a Mac and have done some research and have some experience with Mac OS X, you buy the Mac for the experience it delivers and for how it works with you (if Mac OS X is tailored to your way of thinking), thus you buy an SSD for the faster experience it provides and the nearly instant access to your OS and applications. If that is not valuable to you, then of course you look at the costs and just put the higher cost aside as atrocious and wait for SSDs to fall to HDD prices.
 

Arfdog

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2013
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256 GB of SSD can be had for 150 USD with good deals, which comes to 59 cents per GB.

Anyway, if you would only look for the money and the specs, you would not buy a Mac, but if you buy a Mac and have done some research and have some experience with Mac OS X, you buy the Mac for the experience it delivers and for how it works with you (if Mac OS X is tailored to your way of thinking), thus you buy an SSD for the faster experience it provides and the nearly instant access to your OS and applications. If that is not valuable to you, then of course you look at the costs and just put the higher cost aside as atrocious and wait for SSDs to fall to HDD prices.
Fine $0.59/GB. What i'm saying is the price for speed is 9.8x the price of a normal HDD. Which makes things like Fusion a huge accomplishment since it feels the same as an SSD.

I actually did this same cost efficiency exercise and came to the opposite conclusion. iMacs don't give up anything in specs vs a comparable AIO and cost about the same. Like the Dell XPS One 27 All-in-One, which costs $2100 with a lower GPU (GT 640) and no Fusion Drive. Instead, the Dell comes with a touchscreen and a 2TB HDD. Big deal.

So it comes down to preference, and I think most people would buy the iMac if they knew the parity between the two.
 

toddzrx

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2012
722
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Fine $0.59/GB. What i'm saying is the price for speed is 9.8x the price of a normal HDD. Which makes things like Fusion a huge accomplishment since it feels the same as an SSD.
But the Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD. :confused:

The setup I have, and the one I advise for anyone with an older iMac, is a smaller internal SSD with a large external HD. A fusion drive has the same components, plus the software to make the drives appear and be automatically managed as one.

No one is arguing SSD's are cheaper; that's obviously not the case. But you are ignoring the subjective experience of the increased performance an SSD provides. Have you tried one?
 

Arfdog

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2013
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But the Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD. :confused:

The setup I have, and the one I advise for anyone with an older iMac, is a smaller internal SSD with a large external HD. A fusion drive has the same components, plus the software to make the drives appear and be automatically managed as one.

No one is arguing SSD's are cheaper; that's obviously not the case. But you are ignoring the subjective experience of the increased performance an SSD provides. Have you tried one?
:confused: the Fusion drive is 1.128 TB, not 128 GB.

Yes i've tried one. They're quite fast. I've also tried the FD, which are just as fast as far as I can tell. I now own one, and I honestly cannot tell the difference between my friend's Macbook (obviously with an SSD). Problem with just slapping on an SSD is you don't have the Fusion algorithm in order to realize all the speed gains and none of the file management headaches.
 

toddzrx

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2012
722
258
:confused: the Fusion drive is 1.128 TB, not 128 GB.

Yes i've tried one. They're quite fast. I've also tried the FD, which are just as fast as far as I can tell. I now own one, and I honestly cannot tell the difference between my friend's Macbook (obviously with an SSD). Problem with just slapping on an SSD is you don't have the Fusion algorithm in order to realize all the speed gains and none of the file management headaches.
Come on, man; read what I wrote.

I said: "But the Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD". I was only referring to the SSD portion.

The problem here is that a Fusion drive is not an option for the OP: he's running 10.6.8 and plans to stay that way. A small SSD is a great way to: 1. cool his machine down overall, 2. enjoy faster performance, and 3. extend the usable life of the machine instead of buying a new one. He'd still have a mass storage capability by putting the (formerly internal) HD in an enclosure.

I question the usefulness of the Fusion Drive algos. I would imagine the typical consumer is similar to me: most of the large data files are music, photo, and TV/movie files (the OP falls in this category too). Without those, I'd be surprised if the rest of most consumer's data is more than 40 to 50GB. Given that assumption (we know what those do), it's not hard to manage media files (they all go on the external storage) and everything else (on the SSD).

Finally, I would submit that anyone with the skills to take apart a machine can do their own Fusion Drive cheaper than what Apple charges you. Or, they can leave the drives separate if they choose (which is what I have running ML).
 

Arfdog

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2013
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I question the usefulness of the Fusion Drive algos. I would imagine the typical consumer is similar to me: most of the large data files are music, photo, and TV/movie files (the OP falls in this category too). Without those, I'd be surprised if the rest of most consumer's data is more than 40 to 50GB. Given that assumption (we know what those do), it's not hard to manage media files (they all go on the external storage) and everything else (on the SSD).
I just have a hard time believing even experienced computer "hobbyists" can out-do a team of engineers who design the algorithm and test it. Also, fyi, the logic works down to the block level, not just the files. So very fine control of the data and where it resides.

Secondly, this is a computer. It's supposed to do things for you. Why would I want to manage something internal to the computer? I would "assume" most computer users don't want to manage it either. I don't care about files, I care about getting my spreadsheets calculated and watching videos.
 

macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
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Norway
Come on, man; read what I wrote.

I said: "But the Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD". I was only referring to the SSD portion.

The problem here is that a Fusion drive is not an option for the OP: he's running 10.6.8 and plans to stay that way. A small SSD is a great way to: 1. cool his machine down overall, 2. enjoy faster performance, and 3. extend the usable life of the machine instead of buying a new one. He'd still have a mass storage capability by putting the (formerly internal) HD in an enclosure.

I'm the OP and I don't think I said I must stay with OSX 10.6.8 (although I don't see any reason why I need to upgrade -if it works why fix it? I don't know too much about the Fusion drive except it being very expensive and similar as the SSD/HDD hybrid drives from Seagate and Samsung. Does the Fusion drive only work with OSX later than 10.6?
 

toddzrx

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2012
722
258
I'm the OP and I don't think I said I must stay with OSX 10.6.8 (although I don't see any reason why I need to upgrade -if it works why fix it? I don't know too much about the Fusion drive except it being very expensive and similar as the SSD/HDD hybrid drives from Seagate and Samsung. Does the Fusion drive only work with OSX later than 10.6?
Right; my assumption that you planned to stay with 10.6.8 (obviously you don't HAVE to with the machine you've got). A lot of Macs are still running that OS, due to it's Rosetta capability among other things.

Remember: the Fusion Drive is actually 2 physically separate drives: a 128GB SSD, and then either a 1 or 3TB HD. 10.8 manages the two physically separate drives as one (virtual?) drive, so to the user, you have one drive volume. What keeps the Fusion Drive running fast is that it keeps the OS and apps on the SSD at all times, and then puts the data you use the most on the SSD as well; everything else gets put on the HD.

The Seagate and Samsung hybrid drives are obviously similar, but they have a much smaller SSD portion, and the drives are physically in one enclosure. In the case of the Seagate drives, they only have an 8GB SSD, so all of OS X doesn't even fit on it. While you'll see a bump in performance, they can't match Fusion.
 

macstatic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 21, 2005
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Norway
I found that I had an unused 3.5" Firewire/USB enclosure we could put the iMac internal drive inside (cloning it first), then put a 128 or 256GB SSD inside the iMac. This will probably be the most cost effective solution right now, despite the added AC power adapter/cables for the enclosure (the thing I like about the iMac is the clutter-free environment): media files on the external drive and everything else on the SSD.

I assume I also need some sort of 3.5" to 2.5" adapter to mount the SSD inside the iMac? Apart from that, is there anything else I need to keep in mind before doing "surgery" inside the iMac 8.1?