iMac "Core i5" 3.1 21.5-Inch (4K, Late 2015) - Slow and hanging up

Discussion in 'iMac' started by kaeferfan, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. kaeferfan macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2019
    I have this iMac that I have been trying to make it work GOOD for a long time without much success. The machine works, however, its performance is much poorer than it is expected/supposed to be. Why do I say this? Well, we only use Macs in my enterprise and even the oldest ones (2010 and 2011) work so much smoother and faster! This newer Retina computer “hangs up” unexpectedly and takes much longer to do any basic everyday task. Please note, we are a small company selling vintage car parts and all we use our computers for is Internet (Chrome browser - no we don’t keep a lot of windows open at the same time) and Excel spreadsheets (this is why I like to work with big screens in high resolution - love to see everything on our Excel sheets!).

    This iMac is still under warranty (Apple Care). I took it 4 (yes, four times already) to Apple and they STILL don’t fix the issue nor give any satisfactory answers. I will try to summarise:

    1. First time I took it to an authorised service center. They received the computer and called me back 2 or 3 days later saying it had been fixed and that I would pick it up. I went there and talked to the lady who gave me my computer back. They said they only reinstalled the operating system and that solved the problems (at this point I was already frustrated since I had already done that and that did NOT fix the issue). Came back home, turned it on and that’s exactly what happened. Computer was still running slow and hanging up at certain points.
    2. Second time I scheduled with Apple again and took it back to the same authorised service center and BEGGED them not to call me back saying it was fixed and saying it was already fixed and that all they had done was simply reinstall the operating system. Well, you guessed right. Thats exactly what they did 2 days later. To have of course the issue not fixed one more time. I was pretty pissed off so I asked to talk to the technician / owner or whoever it was. He finally admitted to me the computer was indeed having a poorer performance than expected but that was all they could do - since they were only able to run some Apple-approved tests and my computer passed them all. Again, nothing.
    3. This third time I decided I was done with the authorised service centers and took it to the only Apple Store in town. I had to wait around 10 days for a slot since it is pretty busy. I went there, I was treated very nicely, my computer was received for repair and they said - this time no other questions asked - that they were going to replace ALL defective parts at no cost (computer is under Apple Care as mentioned earlier). I was pretty happy with the outcome and thought this would solve it all since they promised to refurbish the whole computer (except power supply and display). Thats exactly what they did. Did this solve the problem? Well, unfortunately not. The computer started acting even weirder on top of the slow performance. (At this point I started making videos of the computer behaviour).
    4. Fourth time I took it to Apple. This time I didn’t want to wait 10 more days for an appointment so I went directly to the Apple Store. They didn’t want to take my case however seeing how pissed off I was they called Elton, who is one of this stores technicians. Elton was very friendly as well, I showed him the videos and explained the whole situation. He agreed this was indeed very strange and he asked me to leave my computer with him, that he would try to “stress out” the computer to find out what the deal was. He called me next morning just to say he ran all the tests and that everything was fine. But that he would try harder to find out what was going on. He did call me a few days later. He confirmed the computer acted weird in certain situations and that he called some other technicians (?) and they concluded the problem is the graphics card which shares the memory with the computer. He asked me if I used the computer at the highest resolution which I do. He said that was exactly the problem. And that I should lower the resolution to use this computer since it was “the first generation of 4Ks”. I told him that was the reason why I bought this computer in the first place, as I wanted a big screen on high resolution for our Excel sheets. Again he said this computer was not good enough for my tasks. He suggested I should get an external dedicated video card. At this point I was pretty lost, I never thought I would hear this from an Apple technician. I asked him if there was another solution and he said “well you can always sell it and buy a newer computer”. I don’t have to explain how disappointed I was with his suggestion, I guess. I asked him if Apple would solve the problem for me somehow and he said unfortunately they couldn’t do anything else, as they had already replaced the hardware and that didn’t solve the problem.

    So, that’s exactly where we stand now. I have a 4K retina iMac with Apple Care that’s not even able to run Google Chrome and Microsoft Excel at the same time without hanging up. And Apple doesn’t stand behind their products any longer I guess. Too sad, I have been a happy customer for over 10 years now. If I wanted a slow computer and a bad customer service I would have gone with another brand… much cheaper by the way. I did not expect this from Apple. Can any one help? Can Apple really leave me out in the dark on this one?

    Thank you.
  2. mikehalloran macrumors 68000

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    Where’s the necessary info? What do you have—SPECS? HOW MUCH RAM?

    What OS? What apps besides Chrome browser? Are you using a CRM such as SalesForce?
  3. kaeferfan thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2019
    Sorry about that. It has 8gb of RAM and a 5400rpm 1GB hard drive. OS was updated to the latest version. Any other specifics that can vary? I assumed in the title was all the needed info now I see there wasn’t.

    No other software at all! Just 3-4 Chrome tabs and perhaps Excel and Word open.
  4. mikehalloran macrumors 68000

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    That's barely enough RAM and only if you reboot every day. The RAM is soldered in and cannot be upgraded but lots of users can run Word, Excel and Chrome with no problem.

    You reboot daily, don't you? If not, do so and see if that doesn't solve most of the problem.

    if you want any speed out of that machine, you need to replace that HDD with an SSD. Apple will not do this. The HDD only version does not have a PCIe slot so a SATA III SSD is your only choice. These are excellent and inexpensive and about 4–6x faster than what you have.,aps,197&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

    Around here, you'd expect to pay $75 to install it. You'll notice that Amazon has an option for $100 incl. data transfer. I have no idea what that's about but, if real, not a bad price.

    To hell with AppleCare which is probably almost expired. A MX500 is less expensive than any Mac you buy to replace it. It's a work machine.
  5. D4walker macrumors member


    May 26, 2019
    I had the exact same iMac and the exact same problem, in my case I had to replace it, but in yours I think you could use an external SSD to boot the iMac, that way it will be MUCH faster. Once I did that on my iMac, I could open Excel and many programs without a problem, BUT in my case I couldn’t open let’s say Photoshop and Illustrator and/or Chrome at the same time, otherwise it would restart by itself, or it would freeze until I had to force reset it.

    Since your case is not the same as mine, I think the external SSD would help you. After installing Mojave on an SSD and use it as the boot drive, my iMac was faster in every way, and without counting my specific case, it opened apps very fast, and it boot way faster than before. I think you should give it a try, especially now that SSD are not that expensive. I bought a 500GB Samsung 860 and an enclosure to connect it to the iMac (you have to get an enclosure or cable with USB since that iMac doesn’t have thunderbolt ports).

    Now, the 8GB RAM is still a problem, at least for the multitasking part, so just keep that in mind. It’s possible for a technician to open up the iMac and install 16GB but I wouldn’t risk it since not only you would lose your warranty, the screen could break.
  6. mikehalloran macrumors 68000

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    You got a tech who replaces soldered RAM?

    8GB is enough for what the OP is doing unless not rebooting often enough.

    If the OP gave us the correct info, this has 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports. I certainly wouldn’t pay $179 for a TB dock + $40 for a cable to avoid $75–$100 installation charge for throwing a SATA III inside that iMac where it belongs.
  7. kaeferfan thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2019
    I would really prefer to avoid having to open the machine. The Apple technician blamed the video card, but common opinion all over the internet is that the HDD is guilty for making the computer slow. I went ahead and already ordered an external Samsung T5 500gb SDD to boot this computer from. I read good comments on these and they were on sale. I am planning on connecting via USB 3.0. Do I need to use Thunderbolt? Is TB much better?

    I believe the external drive will solve most of the problems even not upgrading RAM. I use 8GB on every other iMac we have and all of them run perfectly fine, even the older models. We dont stress out the computers too much here at the office.

    The big question now is, since I am still under Apple Care warranty. Dont you think Apple should be resposible for giving me a computer that actually works? Nope, they will not solve the problem by replacing the hard drive with an SSD or even a faster HDD. They will not break their policies which I am fine with. But still, I have a pretty decent relatively new Apple computer still under their extended warranty problem which is not being able of handling the most basic tasks of todays computing. I think they should give me some sort of solution. Whats your opinion??
  8. CheesePuff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2008
    Southwest Florida, USA
    Just get a 500 GB Samsung T5 external SSD for $80 on sale now at Amazon and use it as your boot drive - significant improvement in performance right there.
  9. nemoryoliver macrumors member


    Apr 9, 2013
    If you want a faster SSD that's cheaper than Thunderbolt 3 External SSDs you could build your own NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Enclosure with 10Gb/s speeds
  10. whosthis macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2008
    Little RAM, slow HDD, unknown load from applications... hard to tell what's exactly giving problems.

    The current MS Office applications work pretty well. Are you using the current ones? How complex are those files? There's lots of opportunities to make it feel bad.

    If the RAM get's low, and virtual memory kicks in just to fall back to the incredibly slow hard drive (maybe almost full and fragmented), the fun ends right there.

    "this is why I like to work with big screens in high resolution"... 4k iMac has quite a small screen. What did you hook up externally? Is it behaving ok without the screen? What resolution are you running? (Also, some settings that one thinks speeds up the computer might actually slow it down, like reducing transparency.) What graphics card is installed (probably the base one)? What OS are you running on? Any other software installed that might interfere? Have you tried a fresh install with no additional stuff?

    There are *many* things to look at...

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9 July 20, 2019