iMac - 27-inch Mid 2011 Upgrade Options

Discussion in 'iMac' started by darossi81, May 15, 2019.

  1. darossi81 macrumors newbie

    darossi81

    Joined:
    May 15, 2019
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Hello All

    This is my first post on MacRumours. Whilst I'm a long time Apple customer (have been using iPhone since 3G and have had a couple of iPads along the way...), I got my first iMac a few weeks ago.

    I was keen to learn iOS development (as a hobby) and a friend happened to be selling his Mid 2011 model, so I bought it from him.

    I appreciate it's a few years old, but seems to be doing just fine so far (for what I'm using it for anyway!).

    I reset the iMac to factory settings and installed High Sierra without any issues (it's too old for Mojave it seems). I've been using Xcode 10 and following a iOS development course from Udemy with no real problems (the course is actually really great so far!). I've also started using it for my day-to-day work in place of my Windows laptop, which wasn't the idea when I got it, but I'm loving the huge screen :)

    The only real thing I have noticed is that the build times for completed projects in Xcode seem to take a fair bit longer than shown in the tutorials I'm following. Not a major issue, but I wondered if it might be worth upgrading certain elements of the iMac - maybe the RAM or HDD? I don't want to spend the money if it won't make any noticeable difference.

    The specs of the machine I bought are:

    27 inch Mid 2011 model
    8GB RAM (2x 4GB)
    1TB HDD
    3.1 Ghz Core i5

    There are 4 slots available for RAM, so I could put another 2x 4GB in fairly cheaply, or would I be better off upgrading to an SSD/Fusion drive? Or both?

    Any advice appreciated!

    Thanks
     
  2. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #2
    Personally, I would do both RAM and and SSD.

    These models have potential GPU issues, so removing the heat from the HDD could help. Besides, you would see a huge improvement with a SSD over the HDD.

    There are some SSD install guides out there, and us mostly straightforward.

    The only thing that is worth mentioning is the OEM HDD has a built-in internal temp sensor, and the SSD install will require a SATA cable with an external sensor, or you can use a software solution.

    Otherwise, the fans will be run at full speed.
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2019 ---
    EDIT: I think the 8GB of RAM is probably fine, but the SSD would be a huge improvement.
     
  3. mikehalloran, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 15, 2019

    mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #3
    You can up the performance significantly by replacing that HDD. You'll need an SSD ($236 for a 2TB Crucial MX500 or less for 1TB), Temp sensor ($40), Bracket ($12) is optional but recommended, a few tools and about a half hour.

    Don't need the tools if paying someone to do it. An experienced tech will have it done in 15 minutes but will likely charge $75 or so.
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2019 ---
    The software solution sucks. It requires you to monitor the temperatures and adjust manually. Plus, you get to hear the fans roar at full speed while booting till the extension kicks in. No thanks!
    Do not follow any of those that tell you to remove the screen. Not necessary for this job on a late 2009–2011. I've done over a hundred of these.
     
  4. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #4
    I agree with this, you might as well just install the external sensor while everything is open.

    I just figured I'd mention it as an option.
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2019 ---
    For the bracket, I would use one, or some 2.5"/3.5" adapter. You can find them for less than $10. I like the Icydock ones, and have used them in a bit much of different Macs, but the cheaper ones would work too.

    Some people use tape to secure the SSD, but you can get a bracket or adapter for so cheap, you might as well use one as they are the most secure.
     
  5. darossi81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    darossi81

    Joined:
    May 15, 2019
    Location:
    London, UK
    #5
    Thanks both for all the advice!

    Quick question - you mention not needing to remove the screen to install an SSD - I have seen some YouTube videos where this is done - how is it done without doing this?

    Also - would an SSD completely replace the existing HDD, or would it just run along side it?
     
  6. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #6
    I think you they are referring to removing all the cables that are on the display. You might be able to lift the display, or prop it up, but it is just a little more work, and a lot safer to just remove all the cables and disconnect the display.

    Maybe someone else can chime in here, as it has been a while since I opened up a Mid-2011.

    You can hook up a second drive on the Mid-2011. Actually, I think it is possible to do 3 drives if you remove the disk drive. At least one of the ports are SATAII though, IIRC.

    It is even possible to have multiple SSDs in a RAID0 if you wanted the extra speed, but definitely not necessary.

    You can keep the HDD and install a SSD. You can create your own Fusion Drive using the two.

    But, if it was me, I would just remove the HDD due to the heat. Replace it with one, two, or three SSDs, but get rid of the spinning drive.
     
  7. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #7
    iFixit sells a complete kit for installing a secondary SSD in that machine, which I can recommend (Both an SSD in the machine, but also the kit). No need to remove the old HDD, as it won't have a significant heat effect.
     
  8. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #8
    That is not correct. You are leaving in the old problem and adding to the complexity of the job. Absolutely unnecessary. Replace that old, spinning heat pump. Get it out of there.
    It is a lot less work. With the iMac on its back, remove the screen screws. Lift the screen from the top about an inch and pull about 1/4" till the bottom clears the slot. Now lift a little further. You'll be prevented from going further by the only cable you need to disconnect (other than the SATA cable, of course) This is the microphone and you pull the connector up from the motherboard—pay attention to which side is which for easy reassembly. Once disconnected, you can now lift the screen 6–8" or so which gives you plenty of room.
     
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #9
    Yes, that is correct. I have that machine, I have the HDD still in there, I monitor my heat closely because my GPU has failed twice already. The HDD is not in any way contributing significantly to the heat in that machine.
     
  10. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #10
    Only if you have it disconnected — in that case, you are blocking air circulation only.

    Otherwise, you couldn't be more wrong. Heat from the HDD is exactly what caused GPU failure. In 2013, Apple went to a slower, cooler HDD to solve this exact issue.

    I have replaced the HDDs in hundreds of iMacs for my school district clients. This was done around the 5 year mark to cut costs and extend the life. Since High Sierra end of support isn't till Sept. 2020, all of the late 2009–2011 iMacs are still in use that I know of. Total number of GPU failures: 0
     

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9 May 15, 2019