iMac 2011, should I upgrade to new Imac or just boost it?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by skunkyjosh, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. skunkyjosh macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013

    I've been thinking for a while about updating my iMac mid-2011 (i5 2.5Mhz, 4GB, Radeon 6750 512MB). I do very light gaming, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and World of Warcraft. I've been wondering what you recommend between maybe adding 4GB (2x2GB) and maybe booting and launching app from a Flash drive/SSD drive instead?

    I've checked the benchmarks on: and the difference between the Single core is like 3167/2464.

    What you guys think I should do?
  2. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Upping the memory will help for sure. As far as any other upgrade such as replacing the HDD with an SSD, unless you're prepared to open your iMac up and do the work yourself, it's not worth having it done by an authorized Mac service center. Check the procedure at They also sell the glass suckers and tools you'll need.
  3. skunkyjosh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    External ones, not internal ones. I'm not too techy.
  4. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    External drives are only going to be as fast as the USB bus they're running off. And your iMac only supports USB 2; it's not worth it unless you install it internally.
  5. skunkyjosh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    Oh wow, such a bummer. :(
  6. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    What speed problems are you currently facing?

    RAM will help with general system responsiveness, but if your frame rates in the games you play are unacceptable the only way to fix that is with a more powerful GPU. Which means upgrading to a newer model.
  7. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    The mid 2011 iMac does have Thunderbolt. So if skunkyjosh got a Thunderbolt SSD drive and upped the RAM it should boost the speed quite a bit.

    So all in all, yes you could do some upgrades to the system. But are you also interested in things like a retina display etc.? And can you afford to upgrade to a new system?
  8. skunkyjosh, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2015

    skunkyjosh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    Thanks for bringing that up.

    So we'd be looking at this option:
    $120 ($30x4)

    Around $470-$500 total or getting a new back at $2000+ right?

    Games and system are a bit slow to load up apps, games and just to boot up overall. Not really any major issues with the FPS.
  9. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2015
    You're gonna need to replace the 5400 RPM HDD with an SSD to take full advantage of the TB connection. Otherwise it's no better than a USB.

    Best deal on the market is this one:
  10. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    How much storage do you need? Is 250GB enough or do you need more? An alternative to buying the drive you linked to is to buy the cheapest HDD option for $136 ( and then pair it with an SSD of your choice. Depending of your needs it could for example be one of these Samsung SSD's.
    250GB, $114:
    500GB, $197:

    This would bring the external SSD up to $250/$333 depending on your choice of size. I have not tried exchanging the HDD with an SSD myself, but I have read that other users have done this. It should be as easy as unscrewing a few screws and exchanging the HDD with an SSD. There is a guy here that made a YouTube video of how to do it:

    What do you have in mind in terms of size and performance of a new computer? The price would highly depend on that. Also, remember that you can always sell you current iMac which will bring the overall expenses down.
  11. skunkyjosh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    That's another interesting option. I guess it's a matter of how much work I want to put into this. Looks like I'm forced to replace the HDD inside the iMac to get any real speed increase which is a lot of work. I'm assuming Apple store won't do it even If I pay them, right?

    P.S. I would never sell my old Mac... but that's just me. I'm a Mac lover. :D
  12. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2015
    They may not but I'm sure any computer repair store near your area would be willing to do it. Just a matter of how much they charge you and how much you trust them not to **** things up.
  13. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    You should still gain a significant speed boost from an external SSD with Thunderbolt. AFAIK Thunderbolt (1) is still significantly faster than even the SSD. That way you could also keep the internal drive in the iMac for storage.
  14. imacken macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2010
    Hi there, I had a mid-2011 until I replaced it recently with a new late-2015 5k iMac.
    All i can say is that when I added a SSD internally, in addition to the existing HDD, it was the best thing I ever did!
    Yes, the procedure was a little tricky as per the ifixit site, but it went OK with just a little bit of sweat here and there!
    The effect was dramatic, and my 2011 iMac felt like a new machine! I put in a Samsung 850 EVO 500Gb.
  15. skunkyjosh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    I see that you now got the iMac 2015. How do you feel about the difference in effectiveness and speed between your boosted iMac 2011 vs your new iMac 2015?
  16. maconservative macrumors regular


    May 1, 2006
    Republic of Texas
    I have the same iMac. I added 4GB (2GB X 2) RAM from Crucial. For me, it was a night and day difference. It made Yosemite tolerable and El Capitan runs smoothly for me. Definitely extended the life of the iMac for me.
  17. dogslobber, Dec 6, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015

    dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    You can run an SSD in an External FW800 drive. If you boot from that then it'll feel much faster than the internal spinner. Something like this
  18. ElCani macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2012
    I have same 2011 iMac as you and added a 256GB SSD myself, internally (under the SuperDrive). It was an easy enough job using the iFixit guide but if you're not confident I'm sure you could find an IT shop that would be happy to do it. The 2TB HDD and the SSD are configured as a Fusion drive and combined with 12GB RAM, the machine runs really well - I can't see myself replacing it for another 2-3 years at least.
  19. Macmamamac macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2015
    2011 model iMacs were the last models to have the screen attached with magnets. From 2012 they started using adhesive tape which is extremely time consuming and difficult to remove for beginners.

    So if i were you i would definitely take the gamble and change the HDD to an SSD manually. I did the same to my 2007 iMac a few years ago and it was like a new machine.
  20. imacken macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2010
    OK, so the first big difference is the retina display which is amazing!
    In terms of speed, here are some benchmark comparisons I did:
    Geekbench - Single 4282 vs 2883, Multi 15976 vs 10962
    Cinebench - OpenGL - 109 vs 66, CPU 874 vs 590
    Heaven - FPS 21.2 vs 11.2, Score 535 vs 285.
    All scores are 2015 vs 2011.
    So you can see a huge difference!
  21. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
  22. bassjunky macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2009
  23. muadibe macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2010
    I also have a mid 2011 iMac. After contemplating the same issue, I decided to get the new 27 inch. Want that screen. I took advantage of the Discover/Applepay in store promotion which, as a new member, gets me 22% cash back. Something worth looking into if you decide to go the new purchase route.

Share This Page