Is upgrade a 2009 24" iMac wasting money?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MrMJS, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. MrMJS macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2014
    The old girl is getting kind of long in the tooth. It's a 2009 24" iMac 2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo, 8 GB Ram [maxed out]. It is currently running Snow Leopard. I've been thinking of upgrading to Mavericks, but I am unsure how the machine would run it.

    At any rate.. I've been kicking around the idea of replacing the HD with a 480 GB SSD from OWC. I would use the SSD for OS and Apps only and store data on an external drive. My question is.. is this a waste of money? Will I see a boost in performance? I mostly use run photoshop, illustrator, indesign [graphic design].

  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    If the machine is making use of scratch disks, it might speed things up there. It won't change anything with any processes that are cpu bound, which might be a smaller subset of them.
  3. eduardrw macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2013
    I have done the upgrade with a late 2009 27" iMac (I7) - like a new computer.
    Boots in under 15 sec. Apps open much faster. I like it.
    I did replace the DVD drive with a 240GB OWC SSD (OWC data doubler) and kept the internal !TB HDD. I did not want the dreaded Fan spin up problem you get if replacing the HDD (Temp sensor inside HDD missing ).

    I think yours is a mid 2009 - there should be noTemp sensor problem.
  4. MrMJS thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2014
    Would it improve work flow though? I understand start up time will be improved, as well as the time it takes for an App to launch, but does it improve performance too?

    My thought is perhaps the entire system is a bottleneck. My current HD is about 85% full, that could be part of the problem too.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    As noted system booting up, and applications starting up will be helped by the SSD but general computing - that won't see much of a improvement imo.

    I'll also say at this point upgrading to Mavericks probably won't help matters that much either.

    The system is going on 5 years old, perhaps its time to bite the bullet and upgrade?
  6. leventozler macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2009
    It would definitely improve your workflow. BTW, your mac doesn't support SATA 3, so you can save some $ by buying a SATA 2 drive.
  7. MrMJS thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2014
    I think that's it in a nut shell. The machine is just outdated.. I was hoping I could do a simple HD upgrade to get me by until the next generation iMacs come out [Fall??]


    This is the drive that is currently in the computer... 640 GB (7200 RPM) Serial ATA (3 Gb/s). I was looking at one of these drives Will these work with my system?
  8. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Agree - did one last year. It makes a difference.
  9. MrMJS thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2014
    I just talked with OWC. If I decide to do this upgrade my iMac is only compatible with these drives... SSD Drives & I'll need this mounting bracket
  10. photosmike macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2010
    SSD In Late 2009 iMac 21.5

    I added a Samsung 840 EVO, 256GB SSD earlier this year and as an earlier poster wrote, it is like a new computer.

    I use Photoshop CC and it helps a lot. PS and the photo files load quickly. If you update to Mavericks make sure your version of PS is compatible.

    I replaced my hard drive without any problem. Make sure you use the same brand.

    iFixit has very good guides on this upgrade. See , I am not positive this is the guide for your computer so check it out.
  11. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Boot comparison of original drive vs SSD in my old iMac:

    It made a BIG difference in the general usability of the machine, day to day operations were a lot quicker and it extended the life of the machine for at least a year for my use as a designer.
  12. excommie macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    I upgraded my 24" iMac about a year ago with SSD. I'm amazed how well it performs. Normally, I would upgrade by now, but this SSD makes the entire system a pleasure to use. I mainly use it for iPhoto (library on SSD) and iMovie (movies are on external FW800 drive).
  13. eduardrw macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2013
    I would not upgrade to a 480G SSD.
    My upgrade with a 240GB SSD keeps all the programs and the Libraries for itunes, Aperture and 2 Virtual Machines on the SSD with some room to spare.
    That upgrade cost < $250 (data doubler + SSD) which is reasonable for a machine which is limited by the processor.
    You will get another year or two out of it at least.

    Putting more money into it would not be justified.

    Just my humble opinion.
  14. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I already gave you an accurate answer. Your HDD is definitely too full. If you notice more problems with large file sizes, that is indicative of scratch disk use. If you can really hear the disk going, it needs some breathing room. There are some settings that can be tuned, such as the use of thumbnails, history states, etc. If I was a graphic designer, my setup would be a mini with 16GB of ram, an NEC display, and a very large graphics tablet. I would call that ideal budgeting for around the price of a decked out imac.
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I agree with the two posts directly above this one.

    It's NOT worth it to put a 480gb SSD into an older iMac. Too much $$$.

    Also -- I would advise you NOT to upgrade to Mavericks. OS 10.8 would probably perform 'way better for you on that machine.

    You ARE running out of space, and it's my guess that your internal HDD is badly fragmented after four+ years of use.

    My suggestions would be:
    You need to create some more free space on the internal drive by off-loading nonessential files to an external drive. The goal would be 25-35% free space, or even more if you can get it.

    I would suggest that you "rebuild" the internal drive (after file off-loading above) by doing this:
    1. Use either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone the internal drive to an external drive (or drive partition)
    2. Boot from the external drive
    3. Re-intialize the INTERNAL drive
    4. RE-clone the external drive clone BACK TO the internal drive
    This will re-concactenate all the files and re-group all the fragmented free space to "the rear" of the drive.

    You might consider an SSD to be used as "an external booter". I would suggest buying a 240-256gb SSD, as these seem to be the "sweet spot" insofar as bang-for-the-buck is concerned right now.

    I believe the fastest means of connecting a drive to a 2009 iMac would be firewire 800. I'd find a 2.5" firewire800 enclosure that also has USB3. You will then have an external drive that will offer decent speed with the old iMac and very fast speed with any replacement Mac you buy down the line.

    Firewire 800 will not boot as quickly as having the SSD mounted internally, but remember that the internal SATA bus on the iMac is not fast enough to take advantage of all the speed a new SSD offers, in any case. Once up-and-running, any internal/external speed differences will be far less perceptible.
  16. MrMJS thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2014
    I thinking after hearing what everyone had to say I'm going to just clean my current HD up and wait it out until the Fall and see what the newest iMacs have to offer. Thanks for all of your help!
  17. ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020


    Dec 8, 2009
    I would recommend you upgrade to a Samsung 840 EVO SSD from

    I bought a low capacity 120 GB drive and replaced my old internal 1TB HDD. I know some people replace the DVD drive with an SSD but I decided to remove it because I find HDDs noisy. I used this ( to fix the fan speed issue and this( to enable trim support.

    For 100 dollars this was easily the best upgrade ever. The computer boots up in less than half the time and opening applications is very snappy. Likewise I can feel the speed difference searching files or emails. Did I mention the noise? Ya it's great not hearing that HDD search or click.

    I would highly recommend upgrading to a Samsung SSD. (best bang for the buck). Alternatively if you want to stick with the HDD look into a good defragmentation app like iDefrag (
  18. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    i would ignore the sata2 advice since sata 2 drives are older than sata 3. sata 3 drives are newer, and have much less issues than sata 2 drives.

    have you also considered going with something other than owc? their drives seem a bit expensive compared to something like samsung 840 evo 500gig...
  19. excommie macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    I would get at least 500 GB SSD.
    The prices are low enough that it shoudn't break anyone's budget.

    If you plan on using OS only on the SSD, then 256GB should be enough.
    However, moving the iPhoto library and some more frequently used files from external FW800 drive to the internal SSD will make a huge difference in performance.

    With my iPhoto library constantly growing, I need at least a 500GB SSD. Once I tried iPhoto with SSD, there is no way I'm going back to a mechanical drive for my photo storage.

Share This Page