iMac late 2013 SSD upgrade options

Discussion in 'iMac' started by alex_ivaylov, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. alex_ivaylov macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #1
    Hi Guys,

    I know there have been threads about this before but I thought i will ask again as there might be new advancements in the recent months.

    So I have a 27" iMac Late 2013 which doesn't have an SSD. It is so slow that it is unusable under Sierra (it only serves me as a monitor).

    A while ago I bought a USB caddy with an SSD, installed OSX on it but OSX was freezing. Last week I thought I will try another USB caddy (from Currys) and to my surprise it works perfectly! I now get a speed of around 260MB/s so the iMac is usable again. However, my feeling is that it can go even faster (plus i don't like that caddy hanging out at the back).

    I guess there are 4 options and I would like your opinion on them.

    Option 1: USB
    Currently the SSD I have in the caddy is not the fastest but USB 3 is supposed to go up to 5Gbps (640MB/s). Is it worth buying a faster SSD? Is it possible to get this speed? Will it work on this speed without freezing again?

    Option 2: Thunderbolt
    Apple gurus recommended getting a Lacie Thunderbolt external hard drive but I have had Lacie before and it was horrible. Plus I know that this iMac still uses Thunderbolt 1. What is the speed for thunderbolt 1?

    Option 3: Replace current HDD
    I could replace the current sata hard drive with an SSD. What speed would that give me?

    Option 4: Install blade
    I read somewhere that this model has the slot for the m2 blade at the back. If I was to do that what speed does that give me? Also these blades seem very expensive and very difficult to get and difficult to install. Are they worth it?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    thanks
     
  2. Taz Mangus, Jul 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #2
    iFixit steps to install SSD in 2013 27" iMac: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+EMC+2639+Teardown/17828.

    Basically have to disassemble everything to get to the SSD. Honestly, that is something you have to be serious to even tackle.

    SSD benchmarks: http://barefeats.com/haswel2.html.

    Thunderbolt 1 has the same performance as USB 3.1, 10Gb/s. The advantage that Thunderbolt has over USB is that Thunderbolt supports Trim. The exception to this is this USB SSD which does seem to support Trim over USB: https://www.angelbird.com/prod/ssd2go-pkt-1031/?category=2.
     
  3. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #3
    Thunderbolt is going to cost a bundle for a good enclosure, plus I've read that many if not most TB 1 enclosures have a relatively slow SATA interface and you don't get full SATA 3 speeds. (I don't recall the reference but it was in these forums.)

    I'd say either dig for a top rated USB 3 enclosure with a full speed SATA interface and UASP, see how your SSD runs in it, and then upgrade the SSD if necessary; or, open up the iMac and replace the HDD.

    I wouldn't expect >600 MB/s whatever you do, unless you run artificial benchmarks, but you should be able to hit 350-400 Mb/s either internal or via a good USB3 box. Maybe more under real but ideal conditions.
     
  4. alex_ivaylov thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #4
    Thanks for the replies. Those benchmarks are really useful. I have a late 2013 macbook with flash storage and the speeds I get are the same (~700MB/s). The USB hard drive with trim support looks like it is a very high class product but it costs nearly the same as a thunderbolt one and it also costs nearly the same as an m2 blade. So I think I will go with the m2 blade. Is there a place where I can see the list of compatible m2 blades? OWC are only offering sata hard drives. I would still like to know what the sata ssd speed is.

    After I install it, will OSX report it as fusion drive? Would it be better if I remove the old hard drive and just leave the blade? I have a NAS so I don't need it. What about APFS? I read somewhere that it doesn't support fusion drives.
     
  5. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #5
    You will probably need to go to eBay to find the blade SSD. The Fusion drive is setup through Disk Utility from the terminal: https://create.pro/blog/how-to-create-a-fusion-drive-in-os-x-from-a-hdd-ssd-diy-sshd-for-mac/. Right now APFS is in the beta phase so will have to wait until the official 10.13 is released.
     
  6. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #6
    I don't know if the Delock 42490/42510 is available in the UK or at what price but it can be purchased in the USA for $85 plus shipping. I used it for 3.5 years to boot a Late 2013 iMac with zero issues and full SATA III speeds.

    Now that I have a new 2017 iMac with a 512GB SSD the 500GB Samsung 840 EVO in the Delock is used solely for BootCamp, still running great.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    Option #1 is your answer.

    It's easiest (you don't have to open the iMac, and risk breaking something inside)
    It's fastest (just plug in the drive and go)
    It's cheapest.

    Just about any USB3 drive will do.
    You can buy one "ready-to-go" like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    ... or buy a "bare" 2.5" SSD and a USB3 enclosure in which to put it.

    Don't be put off by those who are going to come in after this post and give you dire warnings that "USB3 doesn't support TRIM, and you're drive will slow down!"

    It -doesn't- (that's true), and it -won't- (their "warnings" are, for the most part, unfounded).

    I've been booting and running my main machine (2012 Mini) from a USB3 SSD for almost FIVE YEARS now, and the SSD benchmarks as fast today as the day I first powered it on.

    My fearless prediction:
    Your iMac will be long dead before you see any noticeable deterioration from lack of TRIM.

    Again, an external USB3 SSD is the way to go, it will give you 3-4 more years of life from the iMac, and it will feel "like a new machine".
     
  8. Taz Mangus, Jul 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #8
  9. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
  10. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #10
    If you:
    a) expect to fill your SSD to near capacity, especially with large-ish files, or
    b) write really large files to it, a significant fraction of the SSD size, and don't want slowdowns, or
    c) need to extract every byte-written of lifetime from the SSD,
    then you should worry about TRIM. Otherwise, you can probably get away without thinking about it, especially with newer SSD controllers.

    TRIM makes life very much easier for the SSD and reduces internal write amplification. It's not an essential except as I indicate above.
     
  11. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #11
    I agree that if you're the type who doesn't worry about increased write amplification stressing the drive and decreased performance then you're very unlikely to worry about whether TRIM is enabled or not.

    Even the latest high end SSDs benefit from it and that is not going to change.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    OP:

    Once again, I predicted the naysayers would jump into this thread in quick order, and -- here they are.

    You can ignore my advice if you wish, makes no difference to me.

    All I can report are my own experiences.
    And those experiences prove -- at least for me -- that issues of "TRIM", "write amplification", etc. are meaningless in terms of ACTUAL performance when you boot and run from a USB3 SSD.

    The posters above have no personal experience about which they can post.
    They have no ACTUAL RESULTS that they can post based on their own usage.
    I -DO- have such results, based on my own tests when my drives were new, vis-a-vis how they run NOW.

    If you want fast boots, FAST performance, LOW cost, and easy installation, get a USB3 SSD and boot and run from that.

    The drive will outlast your iMac and the speed boost will nearly overwhelm you.
     
  13. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #13
    Personally the first thing I would do is see what is actually wrong with the Mac. I have a 2013 with an HDD and its fine. Granted no where near the performance of a model with an SSD but its perfectly usable. I understand the "usable" is subjective because maybe what I find fine, you find unreasonable.

    I'm currently running messages, safari, iTunes, editing a photo in gimp, and ripping a BD with MakeMKV and everything is smooth albeit utilizing all 24gb of RAM (however thats mostly due to MakeMKVs output).

    I would run all the basic test on the HDD and Apples hardware test. You could have a failing HDD and in that case I would recommend opening the iMac and replacing it with an SSD or having it done for you. This will get you the most out of an SSD (minimal overhead) and remove failing components that will help with resale on 2 level since its an SSD.

    If the test come back fine I would see what else could be going on. How much RAM do you have? Anywhere in particular you notice the slow downs?
     
  14. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #14
    Wait, who jumped into this thread? o_O
    --- Post Merged, Jul 14, 2017 ---
    And that makes posting links to threads with the ACTUAL RESULTS of others who did have personal and very negative experiences less valid why?
     
  15. cynics, Jul 14, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017

    cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #15
    This is all true but I feel compelled to play devils advocate. Not as an attack toward you but merely a technical debate.

    Without TRIM read performance is unaffected like you say. Boot times, opening programs, etc all very fast.

    However write performance will be affected because the data in the cell will need to be deleted than written too.

    We only need to look at Linux to see how much data is typically trimmed since Linux trims SSDs weekly (cron.weekly). This is a screenshot of a force trim done on a 238GiB SSD, keep in mind trim last ran at the absolute maximum of 7 days ago (weekly).

    fstrim.png

    203GiB of a 256GiB SSD in under a week. This is also indicate while its difficult to get a benchmark.

    As far as longevity, knowing how much data is trimmed and knowing SSDs have limited write cycles is what makes me skeptical of not having it. The SSD will perform garbage collection and move data that should have been otherwise deleted (write amplification) if trimmed. Basically unnecessary wear and will hinder wear leveling.

    "TRIM is never a requirement, but it always helps, and you’re always better off with it than without it."

    Overall I agree with you though. It is the lowest cost, fastest and easiest install option. And I wouldn't hesitate to go that route IF there were no other options available.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 14, 2017 ---
    I think I've devised a way to test performance.

    Turn off the weekly trim of my Linux machine.
    Use it for a couple weeks.
    Perform a read/write test.
    Trim it.
    Perform a read/write test.

    This is kind of annoying because the drive needs to be unmounted, its in EXT so I think I can just boot from a Live Linux USB and test it. But for the sake of science.... :)
     

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