Inherited iMac 27in late 2013: tips, suggestions, upgrades?

Greymarch

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 31, 2012
30
4
I was given a late 2013 27in iMac with 16GB of RAM, i5 3.4GHZ processor, Nvidia 775M and a 1TB regular HD.

Any suggestions on how to make it run faster? Run better? Any particular suggestions for cheap upgrades to the machine could make a significant difference? Any free software I should install to improve my user experience? Etc.
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,054
332
I don't think there is anything cheap / easy to do to that machine, other than a clean OS reinstall if you haven't already. The big winner would be replacing the hard disk with SSD, and while it's entirely doable, it's a nontrivial dive into the machine. Current 1 Tb SSD prices seem to be running around US$275 and up.
 

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,795
263
Troutdale, OR
Rather than cracking open the computer to install a SSD internally, I would use an external USB 3 SSD drive to boot from. Another option would be using an external thunderbolt SSD drive, but USB 3 will probably be just as fast and much cheaper.

I run my 2011 iMac from a thunderbolt 1 SSD (this model only has USB 2, which forced me to use a thunderbolt drive), and it really improved the performace.
 

danielwsmithee

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2005
1,119
401
Upgrading to an SSD is the obvious upgrade. How you want to do it is debatable. If you're not squeamish about working on electronics opening the the iMac and replacing the HD with an SSD is likely most affordable solution.

If it were me I would likely buy an external TB JBOD enclosure like the OWC ThunderBay 4. Install a pair of SSDs (~512GB), and a pair of High capacity 3.5" drives (~4TB). Raid 0 the SSDs and use it as your boot volume, use the current internal 1TB HD for storage of media/iTunes library etc, then Raid 1 the 2 high capacity hard drives and use that volume as your TimeMachine backup disk.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,100
493
Takamatsu, Japan
This review is over three years old now but it was done on my Late 2013 iMac which I ran for 3.5 years off a Delock Thunderbolt enclosure. That drive is now exclusively for BootCamp on my new, all-SSD iMac.

Although the review is of the USB3 enclosure, I highly recommend the Delock Thunderbolt option because of the ability to use TRIM commands.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,106
6,550
I strongly concur with Richdmoore's advice in reply 3 above.

Fastest, cheapest, easiest way for MUCH FASTER booting and running is to buy an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD, and just plug it in and set it up to be your "external booter".

Put the following on the external:
- The OS
- Your applications
- Your home folder(s), BUT
- Leave LARGE libraries (pictures, music, movies) on the internal drive

The idea is to keep the external booter "lean and clean" for the best performance.

If you try this, you'll be AMAZED at the speed increase.

Others are going to appear in this thread shortly to berate the advice to use a USB3 SSD, because they don't support "TRIM".
DON'T WORRY about this. I predict it will be a complete non-issue for you.

Insofar as RAM goes, add it yourself if necessary. Don't scrimp on cheapo RAM -- get decent DIMMs!
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,054
332
I'll agree with an external SSD for this machine. For some bizarre reason I was thinking 2010, not late 2013. A USB3 external will work fine. A Thunderbolt external will work even better, but it's questionable whether an average workload will expose the "better". For many users, and for many reasonably up-to-date SSD's, TRIM is not a big deal. SSD over HDD is a big deal. (If you really need TRIM, there's a reasonable chance you already know why ... large sequential writes, collectively covering a big chunk of the SSD.)
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,100
493
Takamatsu, Japan
TRIM is not a big deal. SSD over HDD is a big deal. (If you really need TRIM, there's a reasonable chance you already know why ... large sequential writes, collectively covering a big chunk of the SSD.)
Not to mention decreased write amplification, the ability to update firmware on the SSD and the fact that garbage collection is not a TRIM replacement. It's not that much of an additional expense for a lot of additional benefit.

I highly recommend Thunderbolt over USB3 for booting the OS on a Late 2013 iMac.

Additionally, if you ever upgrade to an all SSD Mac in the future and want to use the TB enclosure for BootCamp as I am doing, there is no need for convoluted hacks to get it running. It just works.
 

Racineur

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2013
300
61
Montréal, Québec
Hello. This is the machine I have. Same processor. I upgraded the RAM to 24, I have a 1 T FusionDrive and I bought 2 Samsung external SSD. One has El Capitan installed and the other macOS Sierra. It makes three bootable solutions: original OS X Mountain Lion, El Capitan and Sierra. I think it's a very capable machine yet and it has never flawed me: no wheel of death, no problem with memory, the FusionDrive. My 2 cents.
 

Greymarch

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 31, 2012
30
4
Not to mention decreased write amplification, the ability to update firmware on the SSD and the fact that garbage collection is not a TRIM replacement. It's not that much of an additional expense for a lot of additional benefit.

I highly recommend Thunderbolt over USB3 for booting the OS on a Late 2013 iMac.

Additionally, if you ever upgrade to an all SSD Mac in the future and want to use the TB enclosure for BootCamp as I am doing, there is no need for convoluted hacks to get it running. It just works.
After reading the suggestions, I am leaning towards an external thunderbolt SSD drive. Since I will be storing media/pics/misc files on the internal HDD, a small external thunderbolt SSD will suffice. Where can I find the best price for an external thunderbolt SSD?
 
  • Like
Reactions: SaSaSushi

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,100
493
Takamatsu, Japan
After reading the suggestions, I am leaning towards an external thunderbolt SSD drive. Since I will be storing media/pics/misc files on the internal HDD, a small external thunderbolt SSD will suffice. Where can I find the best price for an external thunderbolt SSD?
Are you in the US? I linked you to the Delock 52510 at Synchrotech for $85 in my post above. Aside from that you just need a Thunderbolt cable and, of course, the SSD. It is also available on Amazon.com for $118 with free shipping.

It is a great enclosure which I can recommend highly. I don't think you will find a 2.5" TB enclosure for less.
 

Greymarch

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 31, 2012
30
4
Are you in the US? I linked you to the Delock 52510 at Synchrotech for $85 in my post above. Aside from that you just need a Thunderbolt cable and, of course, the SSD. It is also available on Amazon.com for $118 with free shipping.

It is a great enclosure which I can recommend highly. I don't think you will find a 2.5" TB enclosure for less.
Not exactly great reviews on Amazon. Will keep it in mind, but will look for other external thunderbolt SSD options.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,100
493
Takamatsu, Japan
Not exactly great reviews on Amazon. Will keep it in mind, but will look for other external thunderbolt SSD options.
I saw the negative reviews and I have no idea what they're talking about. One guy said the slightest touch causes it to disconnect. He may have a bad cable (or a bad unit) because I can pick mine up and put it down and I've never had one single disconnect in over 3.5 years. Another guy apparently got a bad unit which the vendor promptly replaced.

Whatever though, best of luck to you.
 
Last edited:

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,106
6,550
OP:

Didn't the "USB3 doesn't support TRIM" naysayers show up, just as I'd predicted?

Do yourself a favor and skip thunderbolt. It will cost more and may actually run more slowly.

For a 4-year-old iMac, USB3 will be fine and the drive will outlast the iMac without any degradation in performance.
 

Taz Mangus

macrumors 68040
Mar 10, 2011
3,652
484
  • Like
Reactions: SaSaSushi

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,100
493
Takamatsu, Japan
OP:

Didn't the "USB3 doesn't support TRIM" naysayers show up, just as I'd predicted?
Says the guy with amazing powers of prediction who's apparently completely oblivious that the fact that the naysayers posted before he even showed up. :rolleyes:

I confirmed in my 2014 review of the Inateck USB3 enclosure linked to above that it was marginally faster than the Delock TB enclosure but that it was more than compensated for by the advantages that Thunderbolt affords.

Go have a look at the posts from some of the users in here who saw write throughput drop to 20MB/s without TRIM enabled only to have it magically recover by enabling TRIM and running fsck -fy.

Speaking of naysayers showing up, do note that Fishrrman magically popped up in that thread too, this in spite of the fact that it had nothing to do with USB3. You start to see a pattern.
 
Last edited:

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,554
1,871
An SSD will provide the best increase in overall "felt" performance.

This might sound presumptuous but considering you obtained the Mac at no charge (little to lose) I would considering installing an SSD internally. You'll get the maximum benefits of an SSD with minimal overhead. While you are in there take the time to clean it out using compressed air, maybe even replace the thermal compound (adds a bit of difficulty to the job though).

If doing that seems unreasonable consider an external SSD connected via a Thunderbolt enclosure like mentioned above. Then make it your boot drive.

If even that seems like too much of a hassle get a high quality external USB SSD option like the Samsung T3. Again making it your boot drive.

In my experience I can feel the difference between a SATA SSD installed internally and external USB SSD. I've never used an SSD via thunderbolt to comment on that although I've seen impressive speed test. Regardless of the method you choose you'll see a large increase in performance.
 

danielwsmithee

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2005
1,119
401
Not exactly great reviews on Amazon. Will keep it in mind, but will look for other external thunderbolt SSD options.
I'd go for the OWC Thunderbay 4 mini. While it is more expensive and bulkier than just an individual enclosure, it allows add additional SSDs or HDs very quickly with the extra 2.5" SATA bays. I'd start with 2 SSDs in RAID0.
 

danielwsmithee

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2005
1,119
401
Did you miss the part where the OP wrote "cheap upgrades"?
Cheap is relative... ~$650 for a system that has much better long term use and has very proven reputation and performance sounds like a bargain to me, given that you'll be able to easily re-purpose it for your next iMac.
 

Greymarch

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 31, 2012
30
4
I'd go for the OWC Thunderbay 4 mini. While it is more expensive and bulkier than just an individual enclosure, it allows add additional SSDs or HDs very quickly with the extra 2.5" SATA bays. I'd start with 2 SSDs in RAID0.
That's not cheap, and its not relative to me. Not going to spend that kind of money. Need different, cheaper recommendations than the above.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Richdmoore

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,795
263
Troutdale, OR
That's not cheap, and its not relative to me. Not going to spend that kind of money. Need different, cheaper recommendations than the above.
Hello again, here is my suggestions.

Roll Your Own External SSD costs:

Option 1: Thunderbolt (Supports TRIM commands)

Delock thunderbolt drive enclosure:
1. Wall Powered: $85 http://www.synchrotech.com/products...sd-drive-external-enclosure-delock-42510.html
2. Bus Powered: $125 http://www.synchrotech.com/products...sd-drive-external-enclosure-delock-42513.html

Both drives do NOT include a thunderbolt cable. You will need to buy one in addition to the enclosure.

Thunderbolt Cable $30 or $40 depending on length: https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MD861LL/A/apple-thunderbolt-cable-20-m?page=2

Option 2: USB 3.0 2.5" enclosure with USAP support (Does not support TRIM commands)
1.: Many options available on amazon, just ensure the one you choose supports USAP like this one: $20
https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-2-5in-SATA-Drive-Enclosure/dp/B00JQJURMM

Obviously USB 3.0 enclosure is much cheaper than a thunderbolt enclosure & cable. You will have to decide if you want to go the expensive route Thunderbolt route for TRIM support, read up on it yourself as people are very passionate on both sides of the debate. Full disclosure, I am using a delock thunderbolt as my 2011 model only can boot USB 2, so I was forced into the expensive option.

2.5" SSD drive cost varies, I would get a 1tb economy model myself, but you may choose a smaller drive for the cost savings:
http://www.techradar.com/news/best-solid-state-drives-ssds
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,106
6,550
Again, for a 2013 iMac (already 4 years old), I predict that the OP can just plug in a USB3 SSD, run it for an additional 3-4 years, and never experience a lick o' trouble...
 

Similar threads

  • snow755
0
Replies
0
Views
163
  • r6mile
0
Replies
0
Views
207
  • Fernandez21
0
Replies
0
Views
224
  • Mazz889
1
Replies
1
Views
442
  • davvanc
3
Replies
3
Views
674
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.