iMac lifecycle talk

petercw2

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 1, 2003
125
15
In doing a SSD swap and RAM upgrade of my wife's late 2012 (13,2) and seeing how well it now performs I began to reconsider my intent of replacing my mid 2011 (12,2) 27" and instead, just performing updates to it.

Because of its age, I cannot update macOS beyond High Sierra, doesn't have USB3.0 and has limited screen resolution. But it is a i7 core and I could easily drop a 2TB SSD and a bunch of RAM for way less than a new iMac. It also runs pretty hot, the fans blow a lot - but it also retains that optical drive I still occasionally use.

So, the question for discussion is: what is the general lifecycle for iMacs? While you can sustain and update hardware, at what point does that become diminishing returns and the better path eventually becomes buying new gear?
 

ncrypt

macrumors 6502
May 16, 2012
314
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UK
Great that you managed to get good milage out of the late 2012 iMac, however I definitely wouldn't spend anything on the 2011 model given that it no longer can run the latest version of macOS, meaning in 2 years time you'll also lose security updates.

I suppose it depends what you want to do with it, if you're not banking or keeping anything important on it then the upgrades are quite good value, but for me personally, once the OS stops supporting it I think it's time for a new machine.

Hope that helps :)
 

BigBoy2018

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2018
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What I can tell you first and foremost is that adding an SSD is going to transform that iMac. Any mac that has a spinning drive (especially an older one like that) gets a huge boost from that.
As far as ram goes, that's of course a law of diminishing returns, and you won't notice the difference much, if at all. That said, if you're at 4gb, or even 8gb, bringing it up to 16gb is probably you're best bet, especially if you edit video or use programs like after effects.

As far as processing power goes, the current iMacs are close to twice the speed of your machines. In every day work, that won't matter one bit, but again, if you're rendering videos, that will take longer and you may have to scale down the video quality during edits at times to make it run smoothly.

So the my endgame answer to your question is that, yes, keeping an older mac and upgrading is just fine, unless you're doing heavy work (like video editing and rendering) where time and smooth performance matters a lot to you.
 

TimJohn

macrumors newbie
Dec 8, 2018
9
5
Vancouver
I have a late 2009 iMac 27" i5 core (3.06 mHz)and as soon as Apple released Mojave, I decided to replace my iMac. Since the latest operating system was no longer supported, the decision was easy. The iMac I purchased was the mid range model but just the i5 core because I heard the i7 could be noisy. The best decision I made was have the 500TB SSD installed and then I upgraded the memory with non Apple product to 24 GB. I love the retinal display! Nice and sharp. I think the retinal display started with the late 2014 models so if you upgrade that will be a bonus.

To answer your specific question as to the lifecycle... there are rumours and maybe facts that Apple will update the iMac to this spring. So that would put this lifecycle to 2 years or so.

To answer your second question...are you brave enough rip into your hardware and I think you are. I think with a 2 TB SSD it would most likely run much cooler. But I would and like I did, upgrade just because of the display. My two cents...Timothy
 

BigBoy2018

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2018
874
1,553
I have a late 2009 iMac 27" i5 core (3.06 mHz)and as soon as Apple released Mojave, I decided to replace my iMac. Since the latest operating system was no longer supported, the decision was easy. The iMac I purchased was the mid range model but just the i5 core because I heard the i7 could be noisy. The best decision I made was have the 500TB SSD installed and then I upgraded the memory with non Apple product to 24 GB. I love the retinal display! Nice and sharp. I think the retinal display started with the late 2014 models so if you upgrade that will be a bonus.

To answer your specific question as to the lifecycle... there are rumours and maybe facts that Apple will update the iMac to this spring. So that would put this lifecycle to 2 years or so.

To answer your second question...are you brave enough rip into your hardware and I think you are. I think with a 2 TB SSD it would most likely run much cooler. But I would and like I did, upgrade just because of the display. My two cents...Timothy
The thing about the SSD upgrade is, you can do it, keep that iMac for a while longer, and if/when you decide to send it to it's grave, pull out the SSD and use it as an external drive elsewhere, so you're not really 'losing' the expense of that upgrade.

As far as worrying about whether your mac can run Mojave, I don't think that's a very big deal. Sierra, high Sierra, and Mojave are all basically the same, with a few minor tweaks here and there. I haven't seen any software yet that runs on Mojave only, and I frankly doubt we'll see that anytime soon (let me know if I'm mistaken).

I currently have all my macs on High Sierra and though they all could take Mojave, I have no interest in upgrading and no reason to.
 
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petercw2

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 1, 2003
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Love this discussion and thanks for the guidance.

further info - 4-5 years ago I was forced to upgrade the 2011's spinner HD and when I did (yes, I did it myself) I hack installed a Fusion drive (my model was the one prior to the introduction of Fusion drive). I just completed the upgrade install of the SSD in my wife's thin 2012 and replaced her native Fusion with a single SSD. This was slightly more hairy if only because the glass is held on with adhesive that has to be cut, then removed and then reinstalled, vs my 2011 which is magnets.

I tend to agree the 2011 is near its end, and the aforementioned loss of security updates would seal its fate.
 

Lankyman

macrumors 68000
May 14, 2011
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Love this discussion and thanks for the guidance.

further info - 4-5 years ago I was forced to upgrade the 2011's spinner HD and when I did (yes, I did it myself) I hack installed a Fusion drive (my model was the one prior to the introduction of Fusion drive). I just completed the upgrade install of the SSD in my wife's thin 2012 and replaced her native Fusion with a single SSD. This was slightly more hairy if only because the glass is held on with adhesive that has to be cut, then removed and then reinstalled, vs my 2011 which is magnets.

I tend to agree the 2011 is near its end, and the aforementioned loss of security updates would seal its fate.
I have upgraded my 21.5 inch mid-2011 iMac (twice now). It has the SSD and a decent amount of RAM. The wife now has sole use of it and only uses it for general computing i.e. email, Word documents, web browsing etc. etc. It's running High Sierra and I see no reason in the short to medium term to get rid of it.

Even when HS is no longer supported, given she doesn't have any banking apps or other stuff on there like that and given it's a Mac not Windows, I think it would still be pretty safe to continue using it.
 
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rjtiedeman

macrumors 6502
Nov 29, 2010
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Stamford, CT
My office has 4 2010 iMacs that have been running 24-7 since new and they work fine. 2 have had their hard drives replaced last year and have been upgraded to 32GB ram. They were Apple refurbs and have been a good investment.

It should be noted we don't mess with the office machines. System updates are done only after testing off site.We work oft a server and the HDs are not full of music and home videos. Also our software is limited to Adobe suite and word ect. Nothing that would cause issues. They just work.
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
17,405
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Any Mac without USB3 is just getting a little "too old" in my opinion.
That doesn't mean they won't still boot and run.
I have a 2006 white Intel iMac that still runs "well enough".

Insofar as the lack of a DVD/CD drive on modern Macs is concerned...
... just buy an external USB DVD/CD drive and be done with it. About $25.
 

Lankyman

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May 14, 2011
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Any Mac without USB3 is just getting a little "too old" in my opinion.
That doesn't mean they won't still boot and run.
I have a 2006 white Intel iMac that still runs "well enough".

Insofar as the lack of a DVD/CD drive on modern Macs is concerned...
... just buy an external USB DVD/CD drive and be done with it. About $25.
TBH I’m yet to use any device that is USB3 never mind USB type C.

My self-build PC has all the connections though I’m still happy to continue using USB2. Besides, the iMac does have a Thunderbolt connection.
 

kittiyut

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2007
234
1
I still have an iMac from 2009 that's still chugging along quite fine. I have taken out the internal HD and DVD and replaced it with a SSD and 2.5" HD. OS is still 10.10 and maxed out the RAM.

On the other hand, my 2015 just crapped out on me... it refused to turn on :( Taking it to the Apple Store today to get it fixed.

Waiting anxiously for an announcement of a new iMac Pro or Mac Pro...
 

Matz

Contributor
Apr 25, 2015
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Rural Southern Virginia
My iMac is a mid 2010 27” i7, which I upgraded a couple of years ago with an SSD. As @BigBoy2018 said, it transformed my iMac. It went from being painfully slow to pretty snappy.

It can’t run Mojave, which has yet to be a problem. And there are a few minor annoyances, such as not being able to unlock it with my Apple Watch, or use a newer trackpad. And while the screen resolution is pretty good, it’s not great. I haven’t spent any time in front of a newer iMac, which is probably just as well. That way I don’t really know what I’m missing. ;)

I don’t really need an i7, so an i5 would probably do the trick. But any new(er) iMac I acquire would have to have an SSD, period. With that in mind I’m looking at around $2k or so to replace what I have. Fortunately it’s not urgent, so I’ll wait and see when the new iMacs are announced.

In the meantime, my old iMac with an SSD and 24GB of RAM chugs along pretty well. :)
 
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EdwardC

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Jun 3, 2012
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Georgia
I have a late 2013 i5 21" i Mac and did upgrade to Mojave but after a multitude of issues went back to H.S. I did do an easy upgrade to it by installing (loose term) an external USB3 256 gig SSD. Great update that was super cheap and really makes a big difference. I have transitioned over to a HP Prodesk running Win 10 Pro for my daily driver but my i Mac is still my baby and as far as I'm concerned will run it with H.S. until the day it dies. Best wishes on your upgrade journey. Ed