Is it worth upgrading my iMac??

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ByteTheBooty, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. ByteTheBooty macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2015
    I have a 2012 21.5 iMac with 1TB HHD and 8gb ram. I love it in everyday except its getting a little slow, taking sometimes up to 4-5 min to boot up. Also I do many photo editing for my program at school and I will soon start working with #d design animation and 3d Matrix animation...So I think a ram update would make it MAYBE more future proof..I need this computer to last me 4 more years before I buy a new one. So would changing the Hard drive to an SSD and upgrading to a 16gb ram make it future proof????
  2. Aggie83 macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2015
    My 2011 MBP was in a similar situation. I started with putting in an SSD. Feels like a new computer. I had planned to bump the ram from 8 to 16 but I've been monitoring the memory "pressure" indicator in the Activity Monitor and it barely increases at all. I canceled my plans to upgrade the ram.

    So a 1TB Samsung 850 Pro is $539 today on Amazon as example. You just have to ask yourself how much longer that 500 bucks will buy you.
  3. azentropy macrumors 68020


    Jul 19, 2002
    I have a 2012 21.5 iMac as well. There has been extremely minor updates since that model was released. In fact the lower end is actually much slower now.

    The 1TB HDD is a dog. But still shouldn't be taking anywhere near 4-5 minutes to book. You should run disk utility to see if anything is wrong (search for it for instructions). You also might want to consider doing a fresh install of the OS if nothing else is found wrong. However, upgrading it to a SSD is by far the best thing you can do. I upgraded mine a few months ago and my boot times are < 20 seconds now, apps launch instantly etc. It is like a new system. Unfortunately they made the iMac a pain to upgrade yourself. If you are handy and patient you can do it, but you basically need to remove the screen adhesive to even get to the drive, and then reattach later.

    Replacing the memory is even more difficult as you basically need to take out everything in order to get to it. When I upgraded mine with a SSD I did the memory too even though for what I use it for I really didn't need it. But didn't want to go through the hassle of taking of the screen and reattaching again if in the near feature I did. There are good guides on how to do both upgrades (I used iFixit and their tools).

    Again if you are not very technically inclined it would be worth paying someone to do it for you. The parts themselves are cheap (paid $90 for a 256gb Crucial SSD, and about the same for the 16gb). You can get an inexpensive USB 3.0 case ($10) and hook up the 1TB drive for backup or additional storage.
  4. Aggie83 macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2015
    I admittedly haven't tried to take the screen off my 21.5 late 2009 iMac. But I have changed out the ram and that was simple access from the bottom. The guides I've been reading refer to the glass being held on by magnets and the display by torx screws.

    Not sure about the glue stuff. I had read you can't upgrade the ram in the current 21.5 base model. Perhaps it's glued together as well to save some pennies?
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wonders above:
    [[ So would changing the Hard drive to an SSD and upgrading to a 16gb ram make it future proof???? ]]

    Nothing you can do will make it "future-proof", as eventually all upgrades will get outdistanced by technological improvements.

    But -- adding an SSD and RAM will "extend" the life of the iMac considerably further ahead.

    Because you have a 2012, it's easy (and less hazardous) to add an EXTERNAL SSD. You have the choice of either thunderbolt or firewire.

    Thunderbolt is considerably more expensive and will let you use the TRIM command, even with an externally-mounted drive.

    USB3 is cheaper, but just as fast as thunderbolt. However, you can't enable TRIM via USB.
    Having said that, TRIM doesn't seem to be quite as important or effective (at least through my own experience with using externally-mounted USB drives) as some on this forum would tell you. I've been using an external USB3 SSD with this Mini for a year now with NO perceptible decrease in speeds.

    If you're using either Mavericks or Yosemite, the SSD will make FAR MORE of a difference in boot and running speeds, than will increasing the RAM. You should upgrade the drive first, worry about RAM later on.

    I'd suggest trying an externally-mounted SSD first. I predict you'll be VERY pleased at the speed increase, without having to open up the iMac.
  6. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    There's nothing wrong with upgrading hardware, but just so you know, I have two iMacs that are significantly older than yours (early 2008 w/5 GB RAM, mid-2011 w/6 GB), both running Yosemite, both with conventional HDDs, and neither of them needs anything like 4-5 minutes to boot. As azentropy already suggested, there could be reasons other than RAM and intrinsic HDD speed slowing you down.

    If you give yourself a new boot drive, then you (naturally) are starting with a fresh install of OS X - that would "fix" possible issues with HDD disk errors and your current OS X installation (among other things), but it's like replacing your car's engine when it may only need a tune-up or has a bad spark plug wire.

    Running Disk Utility and reinstalling OS X cost you nothing but time and effort. When you're done, you may still want the added speed of an SSD, but again, maybe not. (First run Disk Utility > Verify Disk - if the disk needs to be repaired, it's best to do that before reinstalling OS X - you might not even need to reinstall OS X.)

    You may also need to reset NVRAM

    When you say it takes 4-5 minutes to boot - does it take that time to get to the system login, or for your desktop and startup items to finish loading? If it's the latter, your login items and/or apps and files that automatically re-open from your previous session may be part of the problem. There are several ways to troubleshoot that.

    As to RAM... Maybe you do need more than 8 GB, but relatively few people do. What does Activity Monitor have to say about Memory Pressure and Swap Used (if you're not familiar with what those measurements mean, refer to Activity Monitor's Help pages)? Basically, unless you're seeing a lot of Swap Used and Memory Pressure consistently goes into orange or red, your issues aren't RAM-related. If you do see a lot of Swap Used and Memory Pressure issues, and haven't restarted your system for a while, restart, and see if/how long it takes for those statistics to go bad.

    There are other possible causes unrelated to HDD or RAM, but this is probably enough for now.

    In the end, you may still benefit by SSD and more RAM, but maybe you'll find a better way to spend your money.
  7. matreya macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    The 5400 RPM HDD inside your iMac is a bit of a dog. Upgrading to an SSD will boost speed considerably.

    There are guides to replacing the HDD on, but if you don't feel confident to do it yourself, and if you can't afford to pay a technician to do it for you, then your other option is to get an external SSD.

    You can get a pre-made external SSD with Thunderbolt, such as the Lacie:

    Or you can opt for a cheaper USB3 enclosure and put an SSD into it yourself.
  8. chogue23 macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2015
    Waco, TX, USA
    Before I venture into SSDs, I would first try a full wipe and refresh. Contrary to popular belief, Mac's can get bogged down over time just like PCs. It could be that your drive is filling up and wearing out, but the cost of a large capacity SSD is too high to use as a main drive in my opinion. I would replace it with a 2TB Hitachi or HGST hard drive with 5 year warranty for about $100 off newegg and a fresh install of Yosemite. That should make it feel like a new machine because all the extra stuff is gone. Then you can transfer all your files over and get a good backup drive. I would go against transferring using the migration utility because it would just bring back all the old problems.

    For booting, unless you have a boat-load of startup processes, you should not be using more than the 8GB of memory that you have. Upgrading to 16GB would be great if you were doing any video or photo editing, or virtual machines, but for most other tasks 8GB should be fine.

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7 March 15, 2015